It’s now been nearly two weeks since Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election, but President Donald Trump, members of his administration and campaign, and his most partisan supporters continue their attempts to thwart the will of U.S. voters.
Dangerous conspiracy theories and lies about the extent of voter fraud — plus a series of dubious legal challenges — have continued to fan the flames of misguided outrage over the election results. Under cover of these claims, administration officials have refused to take steps that are essential for a peaceful transition of power to a new administration. These attempts to delegitimize a free and fair election are not only a serious impediment for a new administration, but a threat to democracy as well.
False claims about widespread voter fraud and election irregularities have been pushed from the top down, from Attorney General William Barr and the government’s chief information security officer to the two Republican election officials in Wayne County, Mich., who initially refused to certify the vote counts before finally reversing course, with the president reportedly even personally calling to thank them for having supported him. (They have since reversed course again and signed affidavits saying the vote should not have been certified.) In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been resisting undue partisan pressure from both the Trump campaign and Republican lawmakers.
As the evidence of massive fraud remains nonexistent and as the Trump campaign’s legal challenges wither away, the White House has turned to its authoritarian strategy of purging dissenting officials. A week ago, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) posted a statement from election officials and private-sector partners announcing that the 2020 election “was the most secure in American history.” On Wednesday, CISA chief Chris Krebs shared a link to a separate letter from dozens of outside experts denouncing the false claims of fraud. Trump fired Krebs in a tweet that evening.
American Oversight immediately filed Freedom of Information Act requests to DHS for communications and records related to the firing. Through our investigation into the efforts to undermine the 2020 election, we’ve also been seeking information from officials in various states who have sought to cast doubt on the vote totals.
This week, we also launched an investigation into the actions of political appointees to delay the presidential transition. Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, still has not issued the letter of ascertainment allowing the transition to officially begin. On Wednesday, Biden said that the administration has refused to share information with his team on national stockpile numbers. Immigration officials have been instructed not to communicate with the transition team, according to BuzzFeed.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been carrying out troubling purges, hiring controversial figures, and pushing through a number of extreme measures that seemingly evince their awareness that their final months in power are upon them. Of course, very few if any of those measures are apparently tackling the pandemic that has cost more than a quarter of a million Americans their lives and that is currently spreading throughout the country at its most frightening pace yet.
Anti-Immigrant Extremist Groups
This week, we published a report on public records we obtained revealing the alarming extent to which far-right anti-immigrant groups — including some designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center — have been in contact with key administration officials. Their high level of access was aided by the fact that some of their alumni are now holding top government positions.
The documents show these groups and administration officials engaged in efforts to falsely tie immigration to crime; to impose greater visa and immigration restrictions; and to attack sanctuary cities. Read more here.
Stephen Miller’s Influence
White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller’s fingerprints are on some of the administration’s harshest immigration restrictions, and we’ve been collecting all our records showing his communications and meetings. You can view the updated timeline here.
The Pandemic in Prison
We also reported on records we obtained from the Bureau of Prisons, which include a number of emails that provide additional information about how detention facilities were responding to the threat of Covid-19 during the early months of the pandemic. From messages about inadequate testing procedures to memos about the ill-advised promotion of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment, the records offer a glimpse of a pandemic that has taken a devastating toll on incarcerated people.
Trump sought options for attacking Iran to stop its growing nuclear program (New York Times)
FBI is investigating Texas attorney general (Associated Press)
Amazon debuts online pharmacy, taking on a new set of rivals (Washington Post)
Federal judge approves landmark $8.3 billion Purdue Pharma opioid settlement (NPR)
U.S. investigators were told to take ‘no further action’ on Caterpillar, ex-client of Barr (Reuters)
Betsy DeVos’ legacy: transforming how the Education Department treats civil rights (HuffPost)
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