As new details emerge about the planning of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, proponents of the Big Lie — including lead Arizona “audit’ contractor Cyber Ninjas — are fighting to keep details of their efforts hidden from the public.
Jan. 6 and Efforts to Overturn the Election: Last weekend, Rolling Stone published an eye-opening report on the involvement of several members of Congress and their staff in meetings with organizers of the protests that preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. The report is based on information from two anonymous protest organizers, who said that Rep. Paul Gosar assured them of a “blanket pardon” from President Trump. They also said that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was warned that a rally at the Capitol could turn violent.
The same week as the attack, according to a new Washington Post report, Trump allies, including Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, were using an upscale D.C. hotel as a “command center” for their plot to overturn the election using a dubious (and dangerous) legal strategy.
The Influence of the Big Lie and Far-Right Ideology on Local Politics: The presence of far-right militia members at the Jan. 6 attack has led to increased scrutiny of the reach — including within government — of groups like the Oath Keepers.
The Big Lie of a stolen election, along with increasingly dangerous rhetoric, also continues to permeate state and local politics. “Constant threats” of violence against secretaries of state who have been targeted by Trump’s voter-fraud lies have led to requests for more protection. And those who back those lies are seeking to replace any Republican election officials who upheld 2020’s election results.
Bogus Election Reviews: Of course, one of the most visible consequences of the Big Lie remains the proliferation of election “audits” and demands for ballot reviews. In Wisconsin, where we’ve sued for the release of records related to the partisan investigation initiated by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Republicans are using the results of a separate audit by the state’s Legislative Audit Bureau to call for yet another election review, seizing on the auditors’ recommendations for new rules.
Vos said this week that his investigation, led by attorney Michael Gableman, could stretch into 2022 and could involve even more subpoenas. He also called for the resignation of the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s administrator, Meagan Wolfe. Meanwhile, Gableman has hired a taxpayer-funded lawyer to fight to keep the investigation alive. And a woman named Carol is helping with the review — but as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote, “just don’t ask Carol or her bosses what her last name is.” Here are some headlines from other states:
Cyber Ninjas’ Not-So-Transparent Audit: Cyber Ninjas, the lead contractor who ran the Arizona Senate’s partisan election “audit,” promised it would conduct “the most transparent election audit” in U.S. history. But despite court orders ruling that its records related to the “audit” are public and must be released, the company still refuses to turn them over.
We obtained records, reported on by the Tampa Bay Times, that show officials in the Florida attorney general’s office mocking the December 2020 lawsuit, brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, seeking to overturn the election results. Attorneys ridiculed the widely criticized lawsuit as “batshit insane” and “weird,” and speculated about whether it was Paxton’s “request for a pardon” from Trump. Read more here.
We conducted an analysis of 171 résumés of successful candidates hired by the Trump administration in 2017 and 2018 for the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, and found that 143 listed backgrounds in immigration enforcement, prosecution, or other law enforcement. The Biden administration, which has been criticized by immigration reform advocates for similar hiring practices, this week announced 24 new immigration judges that appear to come from more diverse backgrounds.
Earlier this month, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis published a report on the Trump administration’s Farmers to Families Food Box program, finding that USDA awarded large contracts to unqualified companies and used the program for political gain. The report cites records obtained by American Oversight, including emails regarding a self-praising Trump-signed letter that contractors were required to include in the food boxes.
This week, the Arizona Senate released more records in response to our lawsuit. The records offer new details about the involvement of election conspiracy theorist Jovan Hutton Pulitzer, including emails suggesting that Cyber Ninjas’ team shipped data to Pulitzer.
On Monday, the Washington Post published an investigation of the secretive Council for National Policy, detailing how the conservative group came to embrace Trump and its involvement in the push for more voting restrictions. “I came to see that it would be a mistake to underestimate the group’s significance,” reporter Robert O’Harrow Jr. wrote. The article mentions an invitation we obtained for a CNP strategy summit this month called “Saving the Country: The Pathway Forward.”