So long as any purported evidence remains in short supply — or more often, remains non-existent — so-called “investigations” into election fraud can be sustained on lies and vague assertions.
Those false election claims were the subject of a gathering this week at former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Trump, who on Wednesday told the Washington Post that he wishes he had marched to the Capitol with his supporters on Jan. 6, was hosting the premiere of a conspiracy-theory-fueled film. And during the party, he repeated the lies that have spurred partisan election investigations in states across the country.
Also present at what the Post dubbed a “fraud fete” was Michael Gableman, the attorney leading the — still ongoing — review of the 2020 election in Wisconsin. Gableman, whom Trump praised as having “been unbelievable,” is one of the most prominent voices still calling for the legally impossible “decertification” of the election’s results.
- Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who ordered the review last year, has tried to dampen those demands. But as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, he may have inadvertently “breathed life into the movement when he met with attorney John Eastman a week and a half before a federal judge determined Eastman had likely committed a crime by trying to help Trump stay in office.”
- In the same story, the Sentinel also reported that Gableman’s review, which had already been extended for months longer than its original end date, could remain “ongoing” through July or later.
- A Thursday hearing concluded that no more would be done to recover potentially related records that had been deleted from Vos’ personal cell phone and personal email. Read more here.
And if you thought the Arizona Senate’s discredited “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 election, conducted by Cyber Ninjas, had laid to rest such partisan efforts in that state, you’d be mistaken: On Wednesday, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich released an “initial” report on its investigation of the audit’s purported findings.
- Brnovich’s office said it found “serious vulnerabilities,” but provided no evidence of any wrongdoing or that the election’s outcome was compromised.
- He then went on Steve Bannon’s podcast and said that “we all know what happened in 2020.”
- Meanwhile, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit brought by the state’s Republican Party claiming that Arizona’s early voting system was unconstitutional.
In other states, Trump allies are pushing to require that ballots be hand counted, a change that experts say would make tallying votes slower, more expensive, and less accurate. More news from across the country:
- The Washington Post offered an analysis of the “next front in the unending fight over 2020”: so-called ballot harvesting.
- Reveal took a look at how Michigan Republicans have “mobilized against GOP officials who didn’t go along with Trump’s plan to stop the certification” of the election.
- In Georgia, lawmakers passed a bill that gives state authorities the power to investigate voter fraud, which critics called a waste of taxpayer money meant to further undermine faith in election integrity.
Of course, also “ongoing” are the multiple investigations into the Jan. 6 attack and Trump’s attempt to overturn his election loss. Here are some recent related headlines:
- Ivanka Trump testifies to House panel investigating Jan. 6 attack (New York Times)
- Court orders Jan. 6 defense lawyer disbarred (Politico)
- Jan. 6 committee chair suggests panel doesn’t need Pence’s testimony (CNN)
- House votes to hold Dan Scavino and Peter Navarro in contempt (Politico)
- The Justice Department is blocking National Archives from sharing details on Mar-a-Lago boxes with congressional probe (CNN)
The Coronavirus Pandemic
Congress had rushed to approve a $10 billion pandemic-relief bill before both the House and Senate go on break at the end of the week, but the funding package has been derailed by Senate Republicans who want a vote to extend Title 42 immigration restrictions. The package does not include the global aid that both public health advocates and the Biden administration have argued is necessary to prevent the emergence of new variants worldwide.
Cases nationwide are declining, but the rate of decline has slowed significantly, with many states like New York and Massachusetts now seeing increases. The nationwide daily average for hospitalizations has dropped to slightly more than 15,000, and deaths are under 600 a day.
- A number of Cabinet officials and congressional leaders have tested positive for Covid-19 following a high-profile dinner in Washington, D.C.
- While the CDC stopped short of explicitly recommending the second booster dose it authorized last week, Director Rochelle Walensky said this week that she “really would encourage” those who are elderly or over 50 with underlying medical conditions to get the shot.
- FDA researchers are working on plans to develop new vaccine boosters for the fall, with decisions about the composition of the booster likely needing to be decided by May or June.
- A leading test provider in Arizona is shutting down 60 testing sites across the state, part of a nationwide trend after the federal government said it could no longer pay for testing and treatment for uninsured patients.
Other Stories We’re Following
- Senate confirms Ketanji Brown Jackson to be first Black woman to sit on Supreme Court (CNN)
- Senate passes $107 billion overhaul of USPS, lauding mail agency’s role in pandemic response (Washington Post)
- Supreme Court uses ‘shadow docket’ to revive Trump EPA clean water rule (Reuters)
- The growing religious fervor in the American right: ‘This is a Jesus movement’ (New York Times)
- Homeland Security watchdog omitted damaging findings from reports (New York Times)
- N.Y. attorney general seeks to hold Trump in contempt (New York Times)
- Inside the consulting firm run by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (CNBC)
- Inside Ginni Thomas’ ‘insane’ hiring memos for Trump (Daily Beast)
In the States
- MyPillow CEO says he gave as much as $800,000 to Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ legal defense fund (Colorado Sun)
- Texas takes new border action; ex-Trump officials want more (Associated Press)
- Texas’ border operation is meant to deter cartels and smugglers. More often, it imprisons lone men for trespassing (ProPublica/Texas Tribune)
- Detroit is largest city to challenge 2020 census numbers (Associated Press)
- Minneapolis officer who fatally shot Amir Locke won’t be charged (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
- Oklahoma lawmakers approve near-total ban on abortion (New York Times)
- DeSantis slammed a special Disney carveout. His staff helped write it. (Tampa Bay Times)
- Ohio Republicans introduce H.B. 616, their version of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law (Columbus Dispatch)
- Texas is quietly using redistricting lawsuits to launch a broader war against federal voting rights law (Texas Tribune)
- Once again, Alabama is the battleground over Black voting rights (Washington Post)