Publish Date:April 28, 2023
News Roundup: Voting Machine Breaches, Jan. 6 Investigations, and Trump Administration Middle East Trips
We’re still learning more about the plot to overturn the 2020 election, and about the wide-ranging efforts to undermine democratic processes in the months that followed.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen reported that in early 2021, operatives of former President Trump — including Doug Logan of Cyber Ninjas fame — discussed the possibility of using data from a breached Georgia voting machine to decertify the state’s Senate runoff results.
- Some background: Logan and Trump allies had just worked with the company Allied Security Operations Group to use voting data from Michigan to produce a widely debunked report on supposed voter fraud in that state.
- Early on, Phil Waldron of ASOG — a key player in the plot to overturn the presidential election — had been considered to run the Arizona Senate’s bogus election “audit,” as revealed through our litigation for related records.
- According to CNN, Logan and Trump ally Jim Penrose planned to create a Georgia report similar to the Michigan one with the help of ASOG lawyer Charles Bundren.
- CNN’s story cites documents we obtained through our Arizona litigation showing that even after ASOG had been dropped in favor of Cyber Ninjas, Bundren and other ASOG employees remained involved in the “audit.”
The story is yet another summary of evidence of how election deniers worked across multiple states — including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and elsewhere — not only to hunt for evidence of voter fraud, but also to overturn democracy. You can read more about our investigation into this network of anti-democracy activists here.
- The Detroit News reported that a secret grand jury in Michigan has been looking into the improper examination of voting machines there after the 2020 election. Logan was named in the investigation announced last summer by Michigan AG Dana Nessel.
- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court sanctioned Fulton County and its lawyer “for engaging in what it referred to as ‘bad faith conduct’ and disobeying a court order, in a legal dispute over the county granting access to its voting machines for an audit.”
Meanwhile, in Georgia’s Fulton County, District Attorney Fani Willis has said that she plans to announce by mid-July any indictments in the investigation of Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in Georgia.
- Former Vice President Pence appeared before the federal grand jury investigating Jan. 6 and Trump’s attempt to stay in power.
- A recording revealed Sen. Ted Cruz having outlined a plan to challenge the election’s results. “The Jan. 2, 2021, recording … sheds new light on the scope of Cruz’s scheming to assist Donald Trump in overturning Biden’s victory,” reported the Washington Post.
- A second firm hired by Trump’s campaign after the 2020 election also found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. According to the Washington Post, the firm “studied more than a dozen voter fraud theories and allegations … and found they were ‘all false.’”
Here are other headlines related to election denial and threats to democracy:
- ‘A dangerous trend’: Florida Republicans poised to pass more voter restrictions (Guardian)
- Cochise County hires elections director who has spread misinformation (Votebeat)
- Youngkin’s top election official attended Heritage Foundation conference (Virginia Public Media)
- ‘Get cancer’: How election lies morphed into a plague of hate in Arizona (Guardian)
- Arizona’s self-styled ‘American Sheriff’ wants to go to Washington (Bolts)
- Both Republicans tapped to replace Liz Harris are closely aligned with her (Arizona Mirror)
- Recall efforts to oust Cochise County supervisor met with harassment, threats (Arizona Republic)
- Massive turnover in local election officials likely before 2024, says new survey (NBC News)
- Tarrant County likely will struggle to find new elections administrator (Texas Tribune)
On the Records
Kushner’s and Mnuchin’s Middle East Trips
During the final weeks of the Trump administration, Jared Kushner and Steven Mnuchin took trips to the Middle East, touting a U.S. government-sponsored fund purportedly intended to raise $3 billion for projects in the region.
- When Trump left office, the fund vanished — but Kushner and Mnuchin each launched private equity funds that within months received billion-dollar investments from Persian Gulf nations.
- The investments brought renewed scrutiny on the trips, raising serious questions about whether they had used their officials positions to set up lucrative business dealings for their return to the private sector.
Last July, we sued the Treasury Department and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation for records from the trips, and recently obtained flight itineraries, travel authorizations, and expense records. According to the documents, Mnuchin’s January 2021 trip cost more than $287,000 — read more about the records we uncovered here.
Other Stories We’re Following
In the States
- GOP uses state capitol protests to redefine ‘insurrection’ (Associated Press)
- Disney sues Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, claiming ‘government retaliation’ (NPR)
- DeSantis hates the media — but not this one outlet (Politico)
- Florida State Guard could triple in size, gain military police-like arm (Florida Phoenix)
- Florida surgeon general altered key findings in study on Covid-19 vaccine safety (Politico)
- State-sponsored, campaign-style video surfaces on TV airwaves boosting Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s name recognition (KSDK St. Louis)
- Texas House approves sweeping limits on local regulations in GOP’s latest jab at blue cities (Texas Tribune)
- “A way to throw kids away”: Texas’ troubled juvenile justice department is sending more children to adult prisons (Texas Tribune)
- ‘DEI is dead’: At VMI, Youngkin’s diversity chief slams diversity, equity, inclusion (Washington Post)
- As GOP lawmakers target university tenure, faculty and campus leaders sound the alarm (NC Newsline)
- Montana House votes to formally punish transgender lawmaker, Rep. Zooey Zephyr (NPR)
- Judge delays Missouri’s limits on transgender care for all ages until at least Monday (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
- Transgender Texans of all ages could lose access to transition-related care under Senate bill (Texas Tribune)
- Texas education board could ban textbooks that discuss gender identity under proposed bill (Texas Tribune)
- Many states are trying to restrict gender treatments for adults, too (New York Times)
- Kansas legislators impose sweeping anti-trans bathroom law (Associated Press)
- Health care access for trans youth is crumbling — and not just in red states (Politico)
- Democrat with trans child opposes anti-trans bill — and draws ethics probe (Washington Post)
- ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill gains traction in Louisiana (Louisiana Illuminator)
- In Oklahoma, a woman was told to wait until she’s ‘crashing’ for abortion care (NPR)
- North Dakota governor signs law banning nearly all abortions (Associated Press)
- Kansas Legislature overrides governor’s veto of anti-abortion bill (Kansas Reflector)
- Colorado hearing on “abortion reversal” reveals nationwide chaos on reproductive health (Colorado Sun)
- Details about multimillion-dollar stock holding concealed in abortion pill judge’s financials disclosures (CNN)
- Six-week abortion ban dies in Nebraska Legislature (Omaha World-Herald)
- Senators defeat latest push to ban nearly all abortions in SC, ending possibility for 2023 (Post and Courier)
- A cruise ship for Florida’s migrant crisis had nowhere to dock (New York Times)
- Immigrants report dehumanizing treatment at Aurora ICE facility (Colorado Newsline)
- Texas House bill would create new security force at Texas border (KVUE)
- Measures to tweak Pennsylvania Right-to-Know law advance (New Castle News)
- Youngkin withholds correspondence in flap over GOP nomination method (Smithfield Times)
- Transparency advocates sue WA over ‘legislative privilege’ exemption (Seattle Times)
- Inside a private portal from GOP campaigns to local news sites (Washington Post)
- Supreme Court on ethics issues: Not broken, no fix needed (Associated Press)
- Law firm head bought Gorsuch-owned property (Politico)
- Clarence Thomas billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow bought citizenship in island tax haven (Project on Government Oversight/Intercept)
- Clarence Thomas’s billionaire friend did have business before the Supreme Court (Bloomberg)
- The conservative campaign to rewrite child labor laws (Washington Post)
- We Build The Wall founder sentenced to 4 years in prison (Associated Press)
- Trump lawyers: Notes for calls with foreign leaders are among classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago (Politico)