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One America News Played Key Role In Trump’s Fake Elector Scheme

Image via screengrab and modified by National Memo

It’s been over a year since President Joe Biden took office — but damaging information continues to emerge about the many illegitimate efforts mounted by former President Donald Trump and his campaign to nullify the results of the 2020 election.

The latest wave of stories stems from the involvement of top campaign figures, including Trump’s then-attorney Rudy Giuliani, in submitting fake slates of “alternate” Electoral College votes for Trump from multiple swing states that Biden had won. Another figure involved in this effort to undermine Biden’s election, it turns out, was Christina Bobb from the pro-Trump channel One America News.

The extent of Bobb’s involvement demonstrates the ways in which the endangered far-right outlet functions as a propaganda machine spreading an alternate reality about the 2020 election, which Bobb has helped take the lead in performing.

Bobb previously confirmed to The Washington Post that she volunteered with the Trump campaign’s legal team, after it was first reported by The Daily Beast in November 2020. The Post has now reported that Bobb was on at least one phone call about putting together the fake Electoral College slates for Trump.

Furthermore, a former Trump campaign official has told CNN that Bobb had worked with Giuliani on the fake electors: “They were all working together. Rudy, John Eastman, and Christina Bobb, in tandem, to create this coverage for OAN, to advance the Big Lie.” (Eastman is the lawyer who drafted a memo calling for then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally refuse to count Biden’s electoral votes.)

Giuliani has also said under oath in a civil deposition that the campaign “brought Christina on and she took over a lot of Michigan” and “eventually got involved in Georgia,” Arizona, and Nevada as part of the campaign’s work to overturn the election results in those states. “She came over to the campaign and she offered to help us,” Giuliani also explained, and that she had “gathered a lot of information” as a reporter.

Bobb’s legal work with the campaign raised some obvious red flags about how journalism is supposed to work. For example, Bobb sent an email to Arizona state Senate President Karen Fann in December 2020 about supposed election fraud — specifically saying that she was acting on Giuliani’s behalf — and since then has interviewed Fann on the air about continued efforts to investigate the election.

How the Trump campaign created its own fake Electoral College votes

On December 14, 2020, the Electoral College delegates from across the country gathered to cast votes in their respective states, depending on whether Biden or Trump had won in each of them. The Trump campaign, however, arranged in a number of states for the people who had previously been candidates for the Electoral College in the November elections to gather and fill out supposed electoral votes for Trump — even though Biden had actually won those states. (In a few cases, though, there were original elector candidates who did not participate in this illegitimate activity, and were instead replaced by backup candidates.)

The maneuver was announced that morning on Fox & Friends, by Trump adviser Stephen Miller: “This will ensure that all of our legal remedies remain open. That means that if we win these cases in the courts, that we can direct that the alternate slate of electors be certified. The state legislatures in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, can do the same, and likewise Congress has the opportunity as well to do the right thing.”

Miller thus conflated some very separate avenues for challenging the election results, with regular court challenges on the one hand, versus the Trump campaign’s maneuvers to have state legislatures simply throw out their states’ certified popular votes from November, which he characterized as “doing the right thing.” And somehow, the existence of these supposed “alternate” electors was supposed to provide a basis for doing so.

By this point, however, Trump’s legal challenges to the election had failed literally dozens of times, and even in cases heard by judges Trump himself had appointed to the bench. Trump had also failed to persuade Republican-majority state legislatures to attempt to file separate slates of electors, overriding the state election results based on a propaganda campaign claiming there had been mass voter fraud. So then, his campaign simply acted on its own initiative, and falsely claimed that these “alternate” slates had any legal significance whatsoever.

Short history lesson: Hawaii’s dueling elector slates in 1960

The Trump campaign and its right-wing media boosters engaged in a rhetorical bait-and-switch for their fake electors, often citing a peculiar incident that occurred in the 1960 election between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. This event provided one unusual precedent for “alternate” elector slates — but on closer examination, what the Trump campaign attempted was wildly different, as part of a plot to subvert the actual results of an American election.

The state of Hawaii had a very close vote in 1960, and was in the middle of litigation and an ongoing recount on December 19, the date that year when the Electoral College delegates voted across the country. As a result, on that day the Nixon electors filled out their presidential votes, as they had previously been certified as having won the November election. But so did the slate of Kennedy electors, in case the recount were to show that Kennedy had instead won the state.

As it turned out, the recount indeed flipped the state’s result from Nixon to Kennedy, and the state’s Republican governor duly signed a second certificate of election in the Kennedy electors’ favor. It was this second slate that was then counted, on the basis of its corrected election results, when then-Vice President Nixon presided over the joint session of Congress to certify Kennedy’s election win.

The Trump campaign’s fake electors were an attempted coup against the election results

The major difference here was that the Kennedy slate in Hawaii had cast their votes on the contingency that the state’s recount would show Kennedy had actually won the election — not via the state legislature or other officials acting by some fiat to nullify the people’s votes from November. And if the recount had ended up still showing Nixon winning the state, then the governor would certainly never have signed a second election certificate for Kennedy.

The fake Trump electors, by contrast, were part of a maneuver to delegitimize the election regardless of the failed court challenges or actual vote results. For example, a hand recount in Georgia had already reaffirmed Biden’s victory in the state in November — and yet that state’s fake electors still submitted their own “alternate” votes in December, in a continued effort to throw out the election result.

Likewise, one of Trump’s electors from Ohio claimed two days later during an appearance on Fox Business that “technically, Joe Biden is not the president-elect because seven states are sending competing slates of electors to the Congress,” and that Congress would have to decide which to count. (Each state had officially sent only one Electoral College slate.)

Trump White House press secretary and campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany also told Fox host Sean Hannity on December 17, 2020, that “there has been an alternative slate of electors voted upon that Congress will decide in January.” (McEnany is now a Fox News commentator.)

How OAN promoted the fake electors

On December 14, 2020, OAN anchor Mike Dinow cited “the 1960 precedent set in Hawaii” and reported that “the White House expects to win fraud cases in courts, and then certify results by alternate electors.” But in the following interview segment between Bobb and then-OAN anchor Patrick Hussion, Bobb further conflated the separate idea of a court victory changing the certified election results versus state legislatures nullifying the voters.

Bobb did not disclose any of her own involvement with the Trump campaign, or in possibly having helped to formulate this specific maneuver.

CHRISTINA BOBB (POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT): What this does, having the GOP electors cast their votes in these states, it preserves the legal remedy should Donald Trump win, either in court or in a state legislature, in the future. So, the Republicans cast their votes today, saying, hey — we’re basically saying that we believe that there is a possibility that this state could flip or turn because there’s enough election fraud in here that it’s still contested. In every state there’s either pending litigation or, you know, negotiations with the state legislators.

On the same day, OAN reporter Pearson Sharp played a video of Trump’s fake electors in Michigan, as they were barred entry to the state Capitol by police. Sharp claimed that they had been the “official state electors,” and said the Michigan state legislature would have to decide which slate to send to Washington. (Just to be clear on this point, the Michigan Capitol was closed to the public that day due to to “credible threats of violence” while the state’s proper electors met to cast their votes for Biden.)

PEARSON SHARP (REPORTER): That video is all you need to see to understand the lengths being taken to undermine the election. Official state electors are being barred from performing their constitutional duties. Regardless, the electors signed affidavits, and for legal purposes their votes are as good as counted. Now, state legislators must choose which set of electors are sent to Washington, D.C., on January 6. And since the legislatures are largely controlled by Republicans, it could pave the way for victory for President Trump.

Sharp also later claimed in the run-up to the January 6 joint session of Congress that Pence would have to consider the “competing votes” from different states.

The next day, Bobb interviewed Arizona state legislator Kelly Townsend, who cited the 1960 precedent of Hawaii’s dual slates of electors and said that it was necessary to cast the alternate votes to preserve the option of an audit process or court decision changing the election result. But Townsend went much further, urging Congress to “recognize that there’s an alternate slate, to not award any electors until the issues are resolved in Arizona” — and she also maintained that the state legislature could at any time select new Electoral College members separate from the state election result.

“So it’s not treason,” Townsend told OAN’s audience. “Some people are saying, ‘Oh, it’s treasonous, it’s seditious.’ It’s not any of that, it’s constitutional."

Joe Biden took office a year ago, but OAN’s pro-Trump election propaganda has lived on

On January 9, 2021 — three days after the siege of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to overturn Biden’s election — Bobb castigated state legislators who “sat helplessly by” and refused to change the election results.

“I personally had conversations with many of them, who went to great lengths to explain to me how they have no authority to do anything,” Bobb said. “They’re so upset about the state of affairs surrounding the election, but they can’t do anything ab

out it.”

Bobb has since set up a nonprofit organization, Voices & Votes, and relentlessly fundraised on the channel to finance the discredited “forensic audit” of the election result in Arizona, which Bobb has hoped to turn into a nationwide movement to discredit the 2020 election. Bobb’s group raised over $600,000 for the effort.

Bobb has shown no sign of stopping her propaganda campaign. On her signature show Weekly Briefing and other OAN programs, Bobb can be seen chatting with fringe lawmakers and far-right pundits about bizarre petitions to recall electors, interviewing election workers about alleged fraud claims, and recapping the latest audit campaign or conspiracy theory of the week to OAN’s glassy-eyed hosts. Bobb was most recently spotted attacking the Wisconsin Election Commission and arguing that there was enough fraud for Wisconsin to decertify the 2020 election.

Last year, Sharp declared that the result of the audit movement, spearheaded by Bobb, would reveal the crimes committed by election officials in covering up the supported fraud, and would then result in potentially “hundreds” or even “tens of thousands” of mass executions. Sharp has also vociferously claimed that the violence committed on January 6, 2021, was really perpetrated by “members of the far-left radical, Stalinist organization known as antifa,” and that Trump supporters had been unfairly swept up and subjected to “torture” since then.

“There was no insurrection,” Sharp has said. “Democrats weaponized the events of January 6 to wield against the American people.”

Bobb, meanwhile, has declared that “Donald Trump's greatest service to this nation is that he exposed the communist takeover of the United States.”

The truth, of course, is that there was an attempted far-right coup — one in which OAN played a major part, along with many other figures in right-wing media.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

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