On Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on the Arizona Senate’s alarmingly partisan and widely ridiculed “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results — a sham election review that last month reached the same conclusion that had already been confirmed multiple times: that Joe Biden won.
Despite that conclusion, lead “audit” contractor Cyber Ninjas’ final report contained enough baseless insinuations about fraud and irregularities to still wield election-undermining and conspiracy-elevating power, a danger highlighted during Thursday’s hearing in the House. “When you give people the facts, and they still do not accept them, that’s a problem,” said witness Jack Sellers, a Maricopa County supervisor and Republican who has criticized the Senate’s effort.
- During the hearing, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs falsely claimed that “we don’t know” who won the election, saying there were “a lot of issues.”
- Lawmakers made reference to documents we’ve obtained through litigation, including emails and texts showing that “audit” officials were in touch with President Trump and Rudy Giuliani, both directly and through intermediaries.
- At one point, hearing witness and “audit” liaison Ken Bennett said he “never witnessed any evidence” that they were looking for bamboo fibers in the ballots. But we obtained his text messages, including one exchange in which they discuss the hunt for “bamboo threads.”
- Noticeably absent was Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, who refused to attend.
- Late last week, election experts released a report finding that the contractors “made up the numbers” in their final report.
In American Oversight’s lawsuit, Cyber Ninjas has still not turned over its “audit” records despite court rulings, effectively upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court, finding that the documents are public records that must be released. We’ve asked the trial court to hold the Senate in contempt for failing to comply with those court orders.
Arizona’s bogus election review continues to have far-reaching, democracy-undermining effects, including in Texas, where this week we launched an investigation of the recently announced “forensic audit” in that state, and in Wisconsin, where on Friday we sued the State Assembly and Speaker Robin Vos for failing to release records related to its own partisan election review.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee released a report on Trump’s efforts to pressure the Justice Department to help him overturn the 2020 election. Among the report’s findings:
- Jeffrey Clark, the DOJ official and Trump loyalist whom the former president had sought to install as a replacement for then acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, told Rosen and another official that he would decline Trump’s offer — if they went along with Trump’s efforts.
- “Stop the Steal” supporters, including U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, and Trump campaign adviser Cleta Mitchell (who, as revealed in documents we obtained, was involved in funneling money to the Arizona “audit”) also pressured the Justice Department.
Here are more headlines from around the country related to sham election investigations and the Big Lie:
- California sheriff admits he once was member of far-right Oath Keepers group linked to Capitol rioters (Washington Post)
- How Facebook is misleading the public about its role in Jan. 6 (Just Security)
- Top Trump aides set to defy subpoenas in Capitol attack investigation (Guardian)
- ‘God’s will is being thwarted.’ Even in solid Republican counties, hard-liners seek more partisan control of elections (ProPublica)
- Good government advocates, voters request to join lawsuit to block Senate election investigation (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)
- GOP Macomb County clerk announces ‘forensic audit’ of election server (Michigan Advance)
- Lake County GOP demands Florida election audit, despite Trump’s win (Orlando Sentinel)
- Youngkin continues call for ‘audit’ of election machines in Virginia (Politico)
On the Records
Jeff Sessions’s Family Separation Emails
We obtained emails sent by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in which he praised the results of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated thousands of migrant children from their families. He also discussed religious justifications for the cruel policy with Ralph Drollinger, who led the Trump cabinet’s Bible study. “[Y]ou are biblical,” Drollinger told Sessions.
New Arizona ‘Audit’ Records
While the Arizona Senate has failed to release records held by Cyber Ninjas, our lawsuit continues to force the release of other “audit” records that add to the ever-growing pile of evidence of the Senate’s partisanship and deference to conspiracy theories. The latest set of documents include indication of the early support of U.S. Election Assistance Commission member Christy McCormick, as well as a text to Ken Bennett from a Republican identified as “audit personnel” saying that she hoped the effort would “make AZ ruby red again.” Keep an eye on our website for continual updates on what we find.
Trump Officials Spending Money at Trump Properties
We’ve obtained yet more records showing that Kelly Craft, Trump’s ambassador to Canada, helped line the former president’s pockets, in this case by using his Washington, D.C., hotel for a September 2018 meeting with Canadian officials.
Other Stories We’re Following
The Coronavirus Pandemic
- We’re already barreling toward the next pandemic (Atlantic)
- The summer coronavirus surge has started to ebb, but Delta’s danger remains (Washington Post)
- Prisons, border wall: How GOP is looking to use Covid money (Star Tribune)
- Johnson & Johnson to seek FDA authorization for booster shot (New York Times)
- As coronavirus cases mount and vaccine mandates spread, holdouts plague police and fire departments (Washington Post)
- ‘This is a crisis’: Tens of thousands of children affected by pandemic-related deaths of parents (Washington Post)
- More Americans died of Covid this year than all of 2020 (ABC News)
- Los Angeles requires proof of vaccination to enter many businesses, one of the nation’s strictest rules (New York Times)
- California will require all students to get the coronavirus vaccine when it gets full FDA approval
- FDA authorizes another at-home rapid test for Covid-19 (Wall Street Journal)
- Pfizer asks FDA to authorize its Covid-19 vaccine for children 5 to 11 (New York Times)
- Key findings from the Pandora Papers investigation (Washington Post)
- Biden administration temporarily expands student loan forgiveness program for public servants (Washington Post)
- Top Republicans rub shoulders with extremists in secretive right-wing group, leak reveals (Guardian)
- Federal judge halts enforcement of Texas abortion law (New York Times)
- USPS begins postal banking pilot program (American Prospect)
- Justice Dept. will address ‘disturbing spike’ in threats against school personnel (New York Times)
- Francis Collins, who guided NIH through Covid-19, is exiting (New York Times)
- How AT&T helped build far-right One America News (Reuters)
- Top State adviser leaves post, rips Biden’s use of Trump-era Title 42 (Politico)
In the States
- Texas aims to crack down on abortion pills sent by mail (Wall Street Journal)
- Alabama spends more than a half-million dollars a year on a Confederate memorial. Black historical sites struggle to keep their doors open. (Washington Post)
- Arizona Gov. Ducey goes to Texas in border push with other GOP governors (Associated Press)
- Texas prison officials refused to release migrants a judge ordered freed (NBC News)
- Idaho governor repeals political rival’s executive order (Politico)
- Oversight committee Republicans vote to move Wisconsin Elections Commission to Wausau (Wisconsin Examiner)
Climate Change and the Environment
- In your Facebook feed: Oil industry pushback against Biden climate plans (New York Times)
- Climate change is devastating coral reefs worldwide, major report says (New York Times)
- California oil spill closes beaches and renews call for drilling ban (New York Times)
- Before O.C. oil spill, platform owner faced bankruptcy, history of regulatory problems (Los Angeles Times)
Trump Administration Accountability
- DOJ inspector general investigating Trump-era car emissions case (Politico)
- How Trump’s health department fell in love with charter jets (Washington Post)