News Roundup: Deliberate Lies

There are those who believe lies about a stolen 2020 election, and those who promoted those lies while knowing they weren’t true.

That was a major conclusion of the Jan. 6 committee’s investigation — that Trump was told that his claims of widespread fraud had no merit, but repeated them anyway. And like the audio recording from the days after the election that showed Trump’s campaign in Wisconsin knew they had lost in the state, we’re still learning about the extent to which purveyors of misinformation were aware of the actual reality:

  • Legal filings in Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News reveal behind-the-scenes messages in which the network’s top executives and hosts called the false claims that they chose to broadcast after the election “mind-blowingly nuts,” “totally off the rails,” and “completely bs.”
  • The Washington Post reported this week that after the election, the Trump campaign commissioned a report from an outside research team to prove voter-fraud claims — but kept the findings secret.
  • Relatedly, an excerpt of the grand jury report from the Georgia investigation of Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss in that state revealed that “perjury may have been committed’ by some of the witnesses.

While state officials and others are pushing back against the waves of misinformation, purveyors of “election integrity” fears — such as former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake — continue their efforts. Here are other stories related to election denial and threats to democracy:

  • Republicans want to audit the 2022 midterm elections in Maricopa County (Arizona Mirror)
  • Kansas GOP picks election conspiracy promoter as new leader (Associated Press)
  • Sanctions for bogus election lawsuits spurs GOP proposal to protect attorneys from punishment (Arizona Mirror)
  • What to know about Tarrant County’s new election-fraud unit (Dallas Morning News)
  • Pennsylvania Senate GOP committee head is non-committal about continuing a 2020 election probe (WITF)
  • DeSantis signs migrant relocation, election fraud bills (Associated Press)

Trump Administration Accountability
This week, the Washington Post reported on new details on the billions that a firm created by Jared Kushner after he left the White House received from a sovereign wealth fund chaired by the Saudi crown prince.

  • In the final weeks of the Trump administration, Kushner and former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made trips to meet with Saudi officials, ostensibly to discuss the “Abraham Fund,” a program intended to raise $3 billion for projects in the Middle East.
  • The fund reportedly ceased to exist when Trump left office, but within six months both Kushner and Mnuchin had received billion-dollar investments.
  • We’re suing the Treasury and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation for records related to Kushner’s and Mnuchin’s late 2020 and early 2021 trips, including travel itineraries and reimbursement records.

On the Records

Election Denial in Pennsylvania’s Butler County
Localities in Pennsylvania have witnessed a surge in “election integrity” activism. In just the past few months, Luzerne County failed to certify its midterm results by the deadline, and Lycoming and York counties launched hand recounts of 2020 and 2022 ballots following organized pushes from groups like Audit the Vote PA.

  • Last summer, Pennsylvania’s Butler County Board of Commissioners authorized a hand recount of 2020 election ballots. We obtained communications that county commissioners had with “election integrity” groups, including Audit the Vote PA. 
  • The documents provide snapshots of voter-fraud alarmists’ sustained efforts to work with sympathetic local government officials to further the election denial movement — and illustrate how Butler County’s two Republican commissioners appear to have led their own efforts without needing persuasion by activists.

Post-Dobbs Confusion in Louisiana
In 2006, Louisiana passed a trigger law that would ban abortion if Roe v. Wade were overturned. But following the Dobbs decision in June 2022, unclear state health guidelines led to confusion and turmoil for doctors and pregnant people in the state. 

  • Records we obtained from that month show that the state health department was unprepared to provide guidelines about new abortion restrictions. 
  • “Thank you but that potentially puts a lot of women across the state in harm’s way as we have physicians practicing in the real world not on paper,” wrote the CEO of the state’s medical society after he was told that requested guidance on exemptions to the ban were not yet available. Learn more about these documents on our Twitter.

Other Stories We’re Following

Jan. 6 Investigations
  • Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows subpoenaed by special counsel in Jan. 6 investigation (CNN)
  • Pence to fight special counsel subpoena on Trump’s 2020 election denial (Politico)
  • Messages: Officer often fed information to Proud Boys leader (Associated Press)
  • Jan. 6 documents: Georgia legislators answered Trump’s call to overturn election (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Voting Rights
  • Evers’ budget pushes automatic registration, voting changes (Associated Press)
  • Texas taxpayers face a $100 million bill to update voting machines with equipment that doesn’t exist yet (Texas Tribune)
  • GOP election tactics no surprise to Wisconsin’s Black voters (Associated Press)
  • Republicans push plan tightening Indiana mail voting rules (Associated Press)
  • Luzerne County, Pa., plagued by election issues (Spotlight PA)
Trump Administration Accountability
  • Did Trump’s PAC funnel money to Georgia election audit? (CREW)
  • Special counsel is locked in at least 8 secret court battles in Trump investigations (CNN)
  • Prosecutors seek Trump lawyer’s testimony, suggesting evidence of crime (New York Times)
  • How the fake electors scheme explains everything about Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election (Talking Points Memo)
  • Hundreds of immigrant families split apart under Trump remain separated (Washington Post)
In the States
  • DeSantis got a glowing reception during a secretive, high-profile conservative summit at Trump Doral — then the ex-president called in (Business Insider)
  • DeSantis, aiming at a favorite foil, wants to roll back press freedom (New York Times)
  • Doug Mastriano makes Dan Cox, QAnon-sympathizing insurrectionist, chief of staff (HuffPost)
  • Arizona-based sheriff group promotes members with ties to white nationalism (Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting)
  • Families of men who died in custody at a Houston jail demand Justice Department probe of the facility (CNN)
  • Justice Department taking over Texas AG corruption probe (Associated Press)
Anti-LGBTQ Attacks
  • Montana bill would let students misgender classmates (NBC News)
  • Rep. Debbie Lesko proposes anti-transgender ‘women’s bill of rights’ (Arizona Republic)
  • Texas Gov. Abbott promises to pass ban on transgender collegiate athletes this year (Dallas Morning News)
  • School librarians could face criminal charges under Georgia bill (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Abortion Rights
  • Attorneys general from 23 GOP-led states back suit seeking to block abortion pill (Ohio Capital Journal)
  • Republicans clash with prosecutors over enforcement of abortion bans (Politico)
  • In a tight labor market, some states look to another type of worker: Children (Washington Post)
  • Kentucky Supreme Court leaves abortion ban in place (Politico)
  • Youngkin opposes effort to shield menstrual data from law enforcement (Washington Post)
Public Records and Government Transparency

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