On Thursday, Cyber Ninjas — the firm hired by the Arizona Senate to conduct its partisan recount of Maricopa County ballots — finally released documents containing its policies and procedures for conducting the audit. In posting links to the documents, the audit’s official Twitter account claimed the disclosure was part of Cyber Ninjas “ongoing efforts to be transparent and ensure this information gets out to the public.”
That statement made no mention of the fact that the records were released because a judge had ordered them to be released, and that the judge had rejected Cyber Ninjas’ argument that such information be excluded from the court case challenging the audit. Moreover, media outlets and election experts had faced difficulty in being allowed to observe the proceedings.
And it’s not just the lack of transparency over procedures at issue — there are also questions about how the operation is being funded. The state Senate has put up $150,000 for it, but private donations have been solicited by the Arizona Republican Party, the pro-Trump One America News Network, the audit’s Senate liaison, and promoters of voter-fraud conspiracy theories.
Then there are the alarming reports about the “audit” itself. On Wednesday, the Arizona Republic reported that audit workers hired by Cyber Ninjas — whose leader pushed lies about a stolen election before his firm was hired by the Senate — were shining ultraviolet lights on the ballots. What those lights were supposed to show isn’t clear. Last week, the same reporter had spotted workers using blue pens, instead of using the required red ink.
On Thursday, election experts from the Brennan Center for Justice, Protect Democracy, and the Leadership Conference sent a letter to the top official in the Justice Department’s voting section, requesting that the department send federal election monitors to oversee the recount. The letter mentions serious concerns about the security of the 2.1 million ballots as well as the potential for voter intimidation as a result of Cyber Ninjas’ plan to “physically canvas” voters.
Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists, former President Trump himself, and supporters of his lie that the 2020 election was stolen continue to cling to the “audit” as another potential way to overturn the vote. And keeping that lie fed is what fuels the thin rationale for enacting new voter restrictions. Here are some headlines related to voting rights from across the country:
Also this week, the Census Bureau released population figures from the decennial count and announced which states gained seats in Congress, and which states lost. One startling figure: New York would not have lost a seat had 89 more residents been counted. We’re keeping our eye on upcoming redistricting battles:
Giuliani Investigation and the Firing of Yovanovitch
On Wednesday, federal investigators searched Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s apartment and office, seizing cell phones and computers, as part of the ongoing criminal investigation into Giuliani’s role in the Ukraine scandal. Through our FOIA litigation, we already know a lot about his involvement in the campaign to pressure Trump to fire Amb. Marie Yovanovitch, which is reported to be at the center of the Giuliani investigation.
We obtained records showing Giuliani was in contact with then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in March 2019, in the midst of the effort to dig up dirt on Yovanovitch, and that Trump’s Oval Office assistant had connected Giuliani to Pompeo’s office. Evidence provided to the House during the first impeachment inquiry indicates that at that time, Yovanovitch’s movements were being tracked by people in contact with Giuliani associates. For more on what we currently know, read this.
More Taxpayer Spending at Trump’s Overseas Golf Resorts
We obtained more evidence of taxpayer spending at Trump properties, this time in the form of Secret Service records that detail more than $20,000 in expenses during Eric Trump’s trips to the former president’s golf resorts in Scotland and Ireland. The records, reported on by the Scotsman last weekend, provide yet another example of taxpayer money lining the pockets of Trump family members who visited their own properties.
Early Covid-19 Testing Issues
We obtained more than 2,000 pages of documents from the early months of the pandemic that illustrate the CDC’s struggles to create and implement reliable Covid testing. Significant issues marred the CDC’s first testing kit, and the emails we uncovered, sent by CDC and FDA officials, provide a window into those early difficulties.
Homeland Security will assess how it identifies extremism in its ranks (New York Times)
The secret footage of the NRA chief’s botched elephant hunt (New Yorker)
Mike Pence’s Covid rule-busting Vail vacation cost public $757,000 in security costs alone (HuffPost)
Minutes before Trump left office, millions of the Pentagon’s dormant IP addresses sprang to life (Washington Post)
Investigation suppressed by Trump administration reveals obstacles to hurricane aid for Puerto Rico (Washington Post)
Justice Department to probe Louisville’s policing practices (Axios)
1 verdict, then 6 police killings across America in 24 hours (Yahoo News)
Part of Investigation: