State-level law enforcement units created after the 2020 presidential election to investigate voter fraud are looking into scattered complaints more than two weeks after the midterms but have provided no indication of systemic problems.
That’s just what election experts had expected and led critics to suggest that the new units were more about politics than rooting out widespread abuses. Most election-related fraud cases already are investigated and prosecuted at the local level.
Florida, Georgia and Virginia created special state-level units after the 2020 election, all pushed by Republican governors, attorneys general or legislatures.
“I am not aware of any significant detection of fraud on Election Day, but that’s not surprising,” said Paul Smith, senior vice president of the Campaign Legal Center. “The whole concept of voter impersonation fraud is such a horribly exaggerated problem. It doesn’t change the outcome of the election, it’s a felony, you risk getting put in jail and you have a high possibility of getting caught. It’s a rare phenomena.”
Since Rep. Liz Cheney accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s offer to serve as the vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Wyoming Republican has exerted a remarkable level of control over much of the committee’s public and private work.
Now, less than six weeks before the conclusion of the committee’s work, Cheney’s influence over the committee’s final report has rankled many current and former committee staff. They are angered and disillusioned by Cheney’s push to focus the report primarily on former president Donald Trump, and have bristled at the committee morphing into what they have come to view as the vehicle for the outgoing Wyoming lawmaker’s political future.
Fifteen former and current staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, expressed concerns that important findings unrelated to Trump will not become available to the American public.
The feuding brings to the fore a level of public acrimony within the Jan. 6 committee that previously had largely played out behind the scenes, as public attention was focused on a series of blockbuster public hearings focused on Trump’s role fomenting the attack.
Several committee staff members were floored earlier this month when they were told that a draft report would focus almost entirely on Trump and the work of the committee’s Gold Team, excluding reams of other investigative work.
Potentially left on the cutting room floor, or relegated to an appendix, were many revelations from the Blue Team — the group that dug into the law enforcement and intelligence community’s failure to assess the looming threat and prepare for the well-forecast attack on the Capitol. The proposed report would also cut back on much of the work of the Green Team, which looked at financing for the Jan. 6 attack, and the Purple Team, which examined militia groups and extremism.
“We all came from prestigious jobs, dropping what we were doing because we were told this would be an important fact-finding investigation that would inform the public,” said one former committee staffer. “But when [the committee] became a Cheney 2024 campaign, many of us became discouraged.”
Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler issued a blistering statement Wednesday to The Washington Post in response to the criticisms.
“Donald Trump is the first president in American history to attempt to overturn an election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” Adler said. “So, damn right Liz is ‘prioritizing’ understanding what he did and how he did it and ensuring it never happens again.”
Adler added, “Some staff have submitted subpar material for the report that reflects long-held liberal biases about federal law enforcement, Republicans, and sociological issues outside the scope of the Select Committee’s work. She won’t sign onto any ‘narrative’ that suggests Republicans are inherently racist or smears men and women in law enforcement, or suggests every American who believes God has blessed America is a white supremacist.”
Simon Lazarus for TNR.
New Twitter owner Elon Musk said Thursday that he is granting “amnesty” for suspended accounts, which online safety experts predict will spur a rise in harassment, hate speech and misinformation.
The billionaire’s announcement came after he asked in a poll posted to his timeline to vote on reinstatements for accounts that have not “broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” The yes vote was 72%.
“The people have spoken. Amnesty begins next week. Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted using a Latin phrase meaning “the voice of the people, the voice of God.”
Musk used the same Latin phrase after posting a similar poll last weekend before reinstating the account of former President Donald Trump, which Twitter had banned for encouraging the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Trump has said he won’t return to Twitter but has not deleted his account.
Reinstating banned accounts could mean bringing back the “worst offenders” including neo-Nazi trolls, people who maliciously posted intimate images of people without their consent and other accounts that repeatedly violated Twitter’s rules against hate speech, cyberstalking or harassment, said Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Virginia.
Both parties entered the latest redistricting cycle seeking to press their advantages where they could.
The first election held under the new lines showed both succeeded — though Democrats had their most ruthless gerrymanders thrown out in the courts and the GOP did not, giving Republicans an edge that just might have carried them to a narrow House majority.
“The Democrats’ redistricting strategy was right. I think it worked,” said Kelly Ward Burton, the president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which oversaw the party’s 2022 mapmaking.
Democrats’ excesses in New York and Maryland — where they drew maps to excise the few Republican seats remaining — were checked by the courts, even though similarly gerrymandered GOP maps were allowed to stand by conservative jurists. But independent commissions and strategic Democratic maneuvering did help blunt larger Republican gains.
“If they would have been able to do everywhere what they did in Florida,” Ward Burton said of Republicans, who netted four districts in the state, “we would be having a totally different conversation about the House right now.”
Now that the 2022 midterms are in the books, here are five takeaways about how the map lines drove the results — and what comes next.
Before Election Day, anxiety mounted over potential chaos at the polls.
Election officials warned about poll watchers who had been steeped in conspiracy theories falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump did not actually lose the 2020 election. Democrats and voting rights groups worried about the effects of new election laws, in some Republican-controlled states, that President Joe Biden decried as “Jim Crow 2.0.” Law enforcement agencies were monitoring possible threats at the polls.
Yet Election Day, and the weeks of early voting before it, went fairly smoothly. There were some reports of unruly poll watchers disrupting voting, but they were scattered. Groups of armed vigilantes began watching over a handful of ballot drop boxes in Arizona until a judge ordered them to stay far away to ensure they would not intimidate voters. And while it might take months to figure out their full impact, GOP-backed voting laws enacted after the 2020 election did not appear to cause major disruptions the way they did during the March primary in Texas.