Amid another week of somber headlines, American Oversight achieved a victory for accountability in the world of bogus election reviews. A judge on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Wisconsin Office of Special Counsel from deleting records related to its year-long partisan investigation of the 2020 election.
- Last week, we sued OSC to stop its practice of destroying public records in its custody — a practice that OSC and Michael Gableman, who heads the office, had previously admitted to.
- It’s been one year since Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired Gableman to conduct the partisan investigation. Despite racking up a $1 million cost to taxpayers, the review has, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it, “turned up little information not previously known” and found no evidence of fraud sufficient to cast doubt on the election’s results.
Those lack of results, of course, have not deterred the lies that have proved politically fruitful to so many.
- NPR reported on four prominent election conspiracy promoters — Mike Lindell, Douglas Frank, David Clements, and Seth Keshel — and the election denial movement they’re taking on tour across the country.
- Many of the lawyers who abetted former President Trump’s election-undermining schemes “remain in good standing or have no record of disciplinary action with their respective bar associations or licensing authorities,” Politico reported.
- As recently as this last week, lawyer John Eastman, an architect of Trump’s attempted coup, has participated in a private email chain run by a Colorado election-conspiracy activist group, Colorado Newsline reported.
- In advance of this year’s midterm elections, the baseless claim that the results will be untrustworthy because of fraud (unless, of course, a preferred candidate wins) is already a feature of conservative radio, reports the New York Times.
The scourge of misinformation has damaged not just Americans’ perceptions of election integrity; people seeking abortions must sift through a growing amount of misinformation, and far-right conspiracies have even become a feature of the response to the nation’s disturbingly frequent number of mass shootings.
- Last month, American Oversight sued the offices of the Texas governor and attorney general for any communications with the gun lobby following the Uvalde shooting.
On Wednesday, Rolling Stone reported that Peggy Nienaber, an evangelical activist, had bragged about praying with sitting Supreme Court justices — and that the conservative majority had cited her organization, the Liberty Counsel, when it overturned Roe v. Wade. Here are other stories about the ongoing fallout from the Dobbs decision:
- Colorado will not cooperate with other states’ abortion investigations after Polis issues executive order (Colorado Sun)
- Louisiana Supreme Court refuses to lift order not to enforce the state’s ban on abortions (The Advocate)
- Scramble as last Mississippi abortion clinic shuts its doors (Associated Press)
- Missouri AG Schmitt will sue to block plans by St. Louis city, county to help women get Illinois abortions (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Another major story this week was the revelation that both former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe — both of whom infuriated Trump by being insufficiently loyal to him personally — were subject to intensive and invasive IRS audits, raising questions about whether Trump, who frequently tried to commandeer the federal government to help him politically, ordered the audits. The IRS has asked its inspector general to investigate.
Hearings in the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection resume next Tuesday, with a focus on connections between right-wing extremists and Trump’s election-overturning attempts. The committee has also reached an agreement with former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone for an interview following his subpoena, and Sarah Matthews, who served as deputy press secretary in the Trump White House, has agreed to testify at an upcoming hearing. Here are other headlines related to the Jan. 6 investigation:
- Republicans plot vengeance on Jan. 6 committee (Axios)
- Alex Holder’s Trump documentary will show never-before-seen Jan. 6 footage Sunday — ahead of next hearing (Forbes)
- Cheney says January 6 committee could make multiple criminal referrals, including of Trump (CNN)
The Coronavirus Pandemic
The FDA is allowing pharmacists to prescribe Paxlovid, which will make it significantly easier for people to access the antiviral treatment. While the drug is effective at reducing severe illness, some doctors have expressed confusion over prescribing guidelines and criteria for who should receive the treatment.
- Pulse oximeters — devices used to measure blood oxygen levels — can sometimes fail to detect low oxygen amounts in people with dark skin, leading doctors to miss serious Covid-19 symptoms in people of color. The FDA plans to convene an advisory panel on the problem later this year, but advocates say the agency is moving too slowly.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is proposing a rule that would shield from public view data about hospitals’ safety records and to waive $350 million in penalties for hospitals with poor records of patient safety.
- A nursing home is paying a $1.75 million settlement to the federal government after it redirected vaccine doses meant for residents and staff to wealthy donors.
- New research found that Covid-19 led to a 33 percent increase in maternal deaths and exacerbated racial disparities in maternal mortality, thanks to a combination of the virus itself, health conditions worsened by the virus, and the pandemic’s burden on health care system capacity.
- Pfizer’s revenue doubled from 2020 to 2021.
As of writing, official case counts are exceeding an average of 107,000 per day. Hospitalizations are around a daily average of 35,000 and deaths are around a daily average of 320.
- The Florida Department of Health reported more than 260,000 new vaccinations since its last update less than one month ago, but would not explain the reason for the unusually high increase.
- Just as New York City’s test positivity rate surpassed 10 percent — the highest level since January — the mayor’s office removed the color-coded Covid-19 alert system from its website.
- Republican state leaders are going to court to attempt to use federal pandemic relief money to subsidize tax cuts.
- Researchers are trying to better understand data on the impacts of long Covid, an umbrella term for symptoms that last beyond the infection period.
On the Records
Subpoenas to Arizona Lawmakers
Late last month, the FBI issued subpoenas to Arizona Senate President Karen Fann and state Sen. Kelly Townsend for texts and emails as part of the Justice Department’s investigation of efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
- In reporting on the subpoenas, CNN noted that American Oversight had obtained previously obtained emails in which Fann claimed to be in direct contact with Rudy Giuliani and election denier Phil Waldron.
Border Military Operations
On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order allowing state authorities to return apprehended migrants to the border. While the move does not involve using state resources to deport migrants, it “appears to be testing the limits of state authority,” as the Texas Tribune reported, because immigration law enforcement is a federal responsibility.
Earlier in the week, several Texas counties near the border had declared that they were under “invasion” and called on Abbott to use state resources to deport migrants, leaning on a questionable interpretation of the Constitution, which says states may not go to war “unless actually invaded.” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who is running for office, also asked Gov. Doug Ducey this week to declare immigration an “invasion” and authorize military force at the border.
Former Trump administration official Russ Vought and Ken Cuccinelli, the former senior official performing the duties of deputy DHS secretary, have long attempted to persuade state leaders to embrace the theory.
- We obtained a November 2021 email sent to Ducey’s office by former Trump administration official Russ Vought, in which he asked the governor to embrace the “invasion” theory.
- “Governors in border states should cite state war powers and activate and deploy all [National Guard] units to the southern border … to detain and return illegal immigrants back across the border, turn back illegal immigrants to Mexico at the border, and defend against Cartel operatives,” the email said. “Ken [Cuccinelli] and I would welcome getting on the phone with your team or traveling to AZ to discuss with the governor.”
Other Stories We’re Following
- U.S. sues Arizona over proof of citizenship voting law (Arizona Mirror)
- Ballot drop boxes not allowed in Wisconsin, state Supreme Court rules (Washington Post)
- Arizona activists want a vote on expanding access to voting (Washington Post)
- GOP-connected group under investigation for asking residents to provide voting records (Houston Chronicle)
The Big Lie
- The insurrectionists’ clubhouse: Former Trump aides find a home at a little-known MAGA hub (Grid)
- Georgia grand jury subpoenas Sen. Graham, Giuliani and Trump legal team (Washington Post)
- Seven Pa. lawyers involved in Trump’s legal fight to overturn the 2020 election are hit with ethics complaints (Philadelphia Inquirer)
- ‘It’s a sham’: Fears over Trump loyalists’ ‘election integrity’ drive (Guardian)
In the States
- How a small, conservative Michigan college is helping DeSantis reshape education in Florida (Miami Herald)
- Akron police release bodycam footage of fatal police shooting of Jayland Walker (Cleveland.com)
- Youngkin appoints Trump EPA chief to new post after failed Cabinet bid (Washington Post)
- Far more could have been done to save Uvalde massacre victims, a new report says (NPR)
- Embattled over public records requests, Gableman weighed in on several public records cases (News from the States)
- Gender discrimination in the courtroom (Wisconsin Public Radio)
- Justice Department is investigating Texas’ Operation Lone Star for alleged civil rights violations (Texas Tribune)