The lies, misinformation, and post-election scramble to dig up any evidence of significant voter fraud has shown us that schemes don’t need to be legally possible, or even ground in reality, to be dangerous.
The most glaring example this week came from the report prepared by attorney Michael Gableman, who is leading the partisan investigation of Wisconsin’s 2020 election. The “second interim investigative report,” which was released on Tuesday in concurrence with a hearing in the state Assembly’s elections committee, was rife with misleading conclusions — and advanced dangerously undemocratic demands already churning among fringe lawmakers.
- “The Legislature ought to take a very hard look at the option of decertification of the 2020 Wisconsin presidential election,” Gableman said on Tuesday.
- Such a move, which has also been pushed by state Rep. Timothy Ramthun, is illegal and impossible, something the Legislature’s lawyers have already determined.
- Gableman also took aim at the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, and decried measures that increased turnout, such as the use of absentee ballot boxes and grants provided to cities to administer elections.
- As Gableman continues to insist on close-door interviews with various local officials he’s subpoenaed, a Wisconsin mayor has said he would rather go to jail than sit for a private interview.
- Updates from our ongoing lawsuit are below, and you can read more here about the major takeaways from the report — including the potential for future Arizona-style “audits” in the state, and the significant questions about the status of Gableman’s contract.
The current calls for “decertification” of a free and fair election that occurred well over a year ago can, of course, be traced back to similarly illegal efforts to overturn the will of voters in December 2020 and January 2021, when allies of former President Trump sought to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s win.
- The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack this week said that it “has a good-faith basis for concluding” that Trump and members of his campaign “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
- The committee’s filing focuses heavily on the role of lawyer John Eastman, the author of memos that argued then-Vice President Pence should reject valid electors from several swing states during the congressional certification.
- Eastman, who has claimed attorney-client privilege to withhold thousands of documents from the committee, has been the subject of an ethics investigation by the State Bar of California.
- On Tuesday, the committee issued subpoenas to six people tied to the scheme to block the certification, including lawyers Cleta Mitchell, Katherine Friess, and Kurt Olsen. Olsen’s letter indicates that he had “multiple telephone calls” with Trump on Jan. 6.
- The panel has expanded its probe of the former president’s handling and destruction of official documents, and is still seeking information about the actions of lawmakers who supported Trump’s election-subversion goals.
Wisconsin and Arizona Investigations
As Gableman’s investigation draws on months longer than its original end date, so too has our fight for the release of related public records. But this week saw key wins in one of our lawsuits for those documents.
- On Wednesday, a Wisconsin judge ruled that the Assembly, Speaker Robin Vos, and Gableman’s Office of Special Counsel violated the law by failing to release records and had each “arbitrarily and capriciously denied or delayed access to records.”
- The decision came after the judge examined documents OSC turned over following his January order for a private, in camera review. Read more here about what we know from that review.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, where we are still fighting for transparency in the state Senate’s 2021 sham “audit” of Maricopa County, an Arizona judge denied Cyber Ninjas’ motion to dismiss our lawsuit, the firm’s latest attempt to thwart the release of records multiple courts have ruled are public.
- The onslaught of efforts in the state to make voting harder continues, with Arizona’s Republican Party filing in the state Supreme Court seeking to end early voting.
- A new ballot measure this November will ask Arizona voters whether to require more ID requirements when returning early ballots.
The Coronavirus Pandemic
About 70 percent of the country can safely enter public indoor spaces without masks, according to CDC guidelines announced last week that state only those living in high-transmission areas are urged to wear masks. The changes are based on updated metrics calculated using hospitalization data; under the previous metrics, nearly all of the country was designated as having high or substantial transmission levels. Schools are included in the new guidance, while mask requirements for public transportation remain until at least March 18.
President Biden focused on moving forward from the pandemic during his State of the Union address on Tuesday, but some experts worry that the administration’s shift toward individual risk management will put the most vulnerable people at risk.
- As mask mandates disappear, immunocompromised and disabled Americans are feeling left behind, worried about the risk they still face from Covid-19.
- The ACLU filed a lawsuit against ICE on Tuesday claiming that the agency denied booster vaccines to medically vulnerable detainees.
- New York City school vaccination rates are drastically different between rich and poor districts, ranging from 80 percent of students in wealthy neighborhoods with at least one dose to 38 percent in poorer areas. These geographical disparities correlate with race.
- On Wednesday, the White House released a “road map” outlining plans to better track new variants, to provide antiviral pills if people test positive at select clinics or pharmacies, to avoid economic and educational shutdowns, and to expand worldwide vaccination distribution.
Cases are averaging more than 50,000 per day. The daily average for hospitalizations are slightly more than 45,000 and for deaths around 1,800. All three figures are on the decline.
- New data show that the Pfizer vaccine is less effective in preventing infection in young children than in adults or children over 12. Researchers said this may stem from the lower dosage.
- ProPublica took a look at what has accounted for the delay in approving vaccines for children under 5.
- A Kaiser survey of 1,500 adults found that more than half believe that the worst of the pandemic has passed. However, nearly half of those same respondents are worried about increased deaths or overwhelmed hospitals if public health precautions are lifted, and 61 percent are concerned for the well-being of immunocompromised people.
- About 43 percent of the country — or 140 million people — have been infected with coronavirus, according to blood test data from the CDC. About 58 percent of children under 18 have been infected.
Other Stories We’re Following
Election Investigations and the Big Lie
- Giuliani’s legal problems deepen as ‘false electors’ scheme investigated (Guardian)
- Trump just endorsed an Oath Keeper’s plan to seize control of the Republican Party (ProPublica)
- Georgia secretary of state race pits an election denier against an election defender (NPR)
- New Mexico leaders warn Otero County voters not to share personal information amid ‘vigilante audit’ (Alamogordo Daily News)
- As defamation case goes to trial, Arizona Rep. Mark Finchem fundraises for false election claims (Arizona Republic)
In the States
- D.C. mayor’s WhatsApp use spurs stronger public records law (Axios)
- Absentee ballot rejections in Texas spike after new voting law (New York Times)
- Virginia Education Department rescinds diversity, equity and inclusion programs in compliance with an executive order from Gov. Glenn Youngkin (Washington Post)
- Texas government has begun investigating families over medical treatments for trans youth, recent lawsuit says (New York Times)
- New York is about to let noncitizens vote. It could reshape local politics forever (Politico)
- SCOTUS says Kentucky AG can jump in to defend state’s abortion ban (Politico)
- DeSantis defends scolding students over masks — and fundraises off it (Politico)
- These Native Hawaiians waited years for homes on their ancestral land. Then the problems began (ProPublica)
- Judge blocks Texas investigation of one transgender teen’s parents (NPR)
- Arizona Sen. Wendy Rogers censured by Senate after calling for public hangings, attacking Ukraine’s president (Arizona Republic)
- Biden administration requests $32.5 billion in Ukraine aid and coronavirus funds as spending talks continue (Washington Post)
- Let’s recall what exactly Paul Manafort and Rudy Giuliani were doing in Ukraine (ProPublica)
- Poll: GOP confidence in 2020 election results rises slightly (AP)
- One in five applicants to white supremacist group Patriot Front claim current or former military status, private chats reveal (Southern Poverty Law Center)