Tag: elections
Donald Trump

Trump's Plot To Steal The Election Is What Set 2020 Apart

Fox News pundits have pivoted from declaring Donald Trump a free speech martyr being prosecuted for simply saying that fraud tainted the 2020 presidential election to citing Democrats making supposedly similar claims about past races, seeking to portray him as the victim of a two-tiered justice system in which only Republicans are charged for claiming an election was rigged.

Their narrative is nonsensical — contrary to the Fox depiction, the former president isn’t actually being prosecuted for his myriad, notoriously false election fraud lies and conspiracy theories. Instead, Trump faces federal and Georgia state charges for using those false claims as the basis for an allegedly unlawful scheme to overturn the election results, something none of those Democrats attempted.

Trump engaged in a “multi-part conspiracy to overturn the lawful results of the 2020 Presidential election,” as chronicled by the House select committee on the January 6 insurrection. Prosecutors have since alleged that aspects of that plot — notably, the organizing of fraudulent electoral certificates and fake electors and the pressuring of Vice President Mike Pence to reject duly appointed electors to keep Trump in power — broke an array of federal and state laws.

Their indictments hinge on Trump’s actions, not his false public statements. As Alan Z. Rozenshtein, an associate professor of law at the University of Minnesota Law School and a senior editor at Lawfare, wrote for The Atlantic:

The crimes that Trump is charged with in the January 6 indictment—obstruction, fraud, and conspiracy—fall squarely into the category of speech, in the ordinary sense of the word, that is not protected by the First Amendment. (The same is true for the racketeering, solicitation, and conspiracy charges that Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, has brought against Trump for his attempt to interfere with Georgia’s presidential-election results.) This should not be controversial. After all, tax cheats, witness tamperers, and financial fraudsters all commit their crimes by communicating with others, and many go to prison on the basis of that speech. Many violent criminals also act through speech—think of a mob boss ordering a hit or a group of bank robbers planning its next heist. None of this speech furthers the values of the First Amendment, and so it does not deserve constitutional protection.

Indeed, the federal indictment specifically notes, “The Defendant had a right, like every American, to speak publicly about the election and even to claim, falsely, that there had been outcome-determinative fraud during the election and that he had won.” Trump was charged, the indictment states, because as his use of “lawful and appropriate means” of challenging the results failed, he attempted “unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting the election results.”

Commentators on Fox, in highlighting Democrats they say have avoided prosecution despite making similar statements about fraud regarding other elections, are ignoring this distinction.

Alan Dershowitz, who was part of Vice President Al Gore’s legal team following the 2020 election but now regularly appears on Fox to argue that Trump’s various actions are not illegal, kicked off the latest iteration of this bogus narrative on Monday night. While awaiting news of the August 14 Georgia indictment on Fox’s Hannity, Dershowitz argued that the actions of Gore and his team were “pretty much the same thing” as Trump and his team attempted.

“So, if you look back at the 2000 election and the protests, I still think to this day and I'll say it here on television that that election was stolen from Al Gore by Bush, that he won the actual election. I'm saying that,” Dershowitz said. “Are they going to come after me now? I guess the statute of limitations is gone.”

“They” did not “come after” Dershowitz because Gore’s conduct was not actually similar to Trump’s. After his legal challenges failed, Gore conceded and subsequently gaveled down Democratic House members who objected to Florida’s electoral votes, even though, by the standards of the plot Trump laid out, he had the right to unilaterally reject them and make himself president.

The next night, Fox host Laura Ingraham drew another inapt comparison.

“If aggressively challenging the outcome at an election is now somehow a state or federal crime, I have a question tonight,” Ingraham said. “Where's the indictment against this woman?” She then aired a series of clips of Democratic Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams criticizing the 2018 election she lost, including saying, “It was not a free and fair election,” and, “If it looks like it’s rigged, it probably is.” (Ingraham went on to cite the Gore campaign’s role in the 2000 recount, as well.)

Right-wing pundits have tried to excuse Trump’s behavior by pointing to Abrams since shortly after the 2020 election. But Abrams ended her bid for governor 10 days after the 2018 election, concluding her legal challenges even as she continued to say that aspects of the race had been unfair, as Parker Molloy noted when those faulty comparisons were first made.

The comparison makes even less sense now. Abrams’ rhetoric may have been inaccurate or unwise, but it was not coupled with a plot to subvert the results and have herself declared governor. If Trump had simply spent his time going on TV and criticizing the 2020 election, he wouldn’t be facing charges.

Fox’s Sean Hannity picked up the same angle later that night. He claimed that the United States has a “dual justice system” and the Justice Department has been “weaponized” because Trump is being prosecuted, whereas “if you are a prominent Democrat, last names Clinton or Biden, it's totally OK to deny election results.” To buttress this argument, Hannity later aired clips of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Democratic members of Congress stating or agreeing that Trump is “illegitimate.”

You can look at those comments and say that it's reasonable to describe as “illegitimate” a president who lost the popular vote, was nonetheless elected based on tiny margins in states providing an electoral vote majority, and benefited from a Russian scheme to help him win. Or you might say that this is toxic rhetoric that lowers faith in elections in search of partisan gain. But either way, it’s not a plot to actually reverse the results of the election — Clinton conceded the race almost immediately rather than assembling fake elector slates and pressuring Biden to unilaterally declare her president.

Trump’s actions following the 2020 election were unique in modern American history. After declaring victory in a race he’d clearly lost, citing false claims of voter fraud that were laughed out of court, Trump tried to subvert the results to remain in office. His machinations culminated with a mob of followers he had summoned to Washington, D.C., storming the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of electoral votes. That’s what happened, much of it out in public, whether or not Trump is ultimately convicted of crimes over the scheme.

Fox’s hosts inevitably support Trump. In late 2020, that meant playing key roles in his plot to destroy American democracy. Right now, that means trying to minimize what he did with these frivolous comparisons to Democrats. But they clearly have no regrets, and if given the opportunity again, they will do everything in their power to further a similar conspiracy to steal a presidential election.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Far-Right Message Boards Threaten Fulton County Grand Jurors

Far-Right Message Boards Threaten Fulton County Grand Jurors

Users on far-right message boards are targeting the Fulton County, Georgia, grand jurors who voted to indict former President Donald Trump, including supposedly doxxing their addresses, threatening them with violence, and digging up their supposed online presences.

On August 14, Trump and 18 others were indicted “over their efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss” in Georgia, “with prosecutors using a statute normally associated with mobsters to accuse the former president, lawyers and other aides of a ‘criminal enterprise’ to keep him in power.” The grand jurors who indicted Trump were named in the indictment, per state law.

A Media Matters review found that following the release of the indictment and the grand jurors’ names, users on far-right message boards began targeting them in retaliation.

On a message board that has been the home of “Q,” the central figure of the QAnon conspiracy theory, a user posted the names of the jurors alongside their supposed addresses (Media Matters has blurred the supposed doxxing to protect the jurors, and has chosen to blur and remove other material posted by message board users). And on another message board, where the QAnon conspiracy theory initially emerged, a user seemed to threaten to “follow these people home and photograph their faces.”

Other users on the message boards also issued direct threats against the jurors. One user wrote that the grand jurors’ names was a “hit list” to which another user responded, “Based. Godspeed anons, you have all the long range rifles in the world,” while another wrote that they were “about ready to go Turner Diaries on these treasonous n***** fucks” (referring to a violent white nationalist book). And another user ominously wrote that the jurors were “committing election interference” and so they “should indeed be careful.”

Additionally, message board users tried to dig into the jurors’ online presences and backgrounds, posting images of jurors’ supposed Facebook and LinkedIn pages as evidence that they were biased against Trump and posting a link to their supposed political contributions pages from the Federal Election Commission. (According to The Washington Post, “several of the jurors disabled their profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook.“) Users also tried to determine the ethnic and religious backgrounds of the jurors.

Outside of the message boards, users on right-wing social media platforms like Truth Social and GETTR also tried to dig into the jurors’ backgrounds.

The supposed doxxing and targeting of these grand jurors comes after users of these far-right message boards have repeatedly targeted entities and figures with troll campaigns, harassment, and death threats.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Abortion Rights

Abortion Rights At Stake In Ohio Ballot Measure Tuesday

On Tuesday, Ohio voters will decide Issue 1, a ballot initiative that would make it harder to pass constitutional amendments in the state. The outcome of the special election could dramatically impact the future of abortion rights.

If Issue 1 passes, it would require citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to get 60 percent of the vote to pass, up from the simple majority currently required by law. And that would have immediate consequences for a reproductive freedom constitutional amendment, which will be on the ballot this November.

That amendment states, “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.”

Republicans in the state have been campaigning for Issue 1. Secretary of State Frank LaRose said outright that the initiative is a direct effort to change the rules to block the reproductive freedom constitutional amendment from passing, stating in May, “It’s 100 percent about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our Constitution.” LaRose is running in the Ohio GOP Senate primary to take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2024.

A USA Today/Suffolk University poll from July found that 58 percent of Ohioans support the reproductive freedom amendment, just shy of the 60 percent threshold Issue 1 would impose.

Anti-abortion groups in the state support Issue 1.

Catholics for Catholics, a religious group that has the support of a number of far-right figures, including former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, held a prayer rally on Sunday in Ohio to urge support for Issue 1.

“Thousands rallied in support of #VoteYesOhio today in Cincinnati with @CforCatholics. I was proud to stand with them to protect Ohio’s constitution from the all out assault which radical coastal liberals have launched against us,” LaRose tweeted along with photos of himself at the event.

PBS Newshour reported that Protect Our Constitution, another group supporting Issue 1, is funded almost exclusively by Richard Uihlein, a Republican billionaire who also funded efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, abortion rights groups are urging voters to vote no on Issue 1.

“The good news: Via a ballot measure, Ohio voters will soon have the opportunity to enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution! The bad news: anti-abortion Republicans are trying to make it harder to pass ballot measures in the state,” NARAL Pro-Choice America tweeted on July 31. “Anti-abortion lawmakers are quietly dismantling our democracy to push their extreme agenda — but we won’t let them get away with it. If you live in Ohio, VOTE NO on Issue 1 on August 8.”

Aside from raising the vote threshold needed to pass constitutional amendments, Issue 1 would also make it much harder to get constitutional amendments on the ballot in the first place. It would require those proposing citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to collect signatures from five percent of voters in all 88 counties in Ohio. Currently, constitutional amendment petitions need signatures from 44 Ohio counties. The ballot initiative would also get rid of the current 10-day period that those proposing amendments have to replace signatures that have been determined to be invalid after the petitions are filed with the secretary of state’s office.

Polling from July showed that Issue 1 was headed to defeat, with 60 percent of voters in the state opposing the GOP effort to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments.

The Associated Press reported that early vote totals are higher than in the past two midterm election primaries in the state. As of August 4, 533,000 people had voted early in person or by mail, almost double the 288,700 people who voted early in the 2022 primary.

L2, a political data firm that is tracking early voting in the state, said as of August 4 that Democrats were casting more votes than Republicans by a margin of 52 percent to 40 percent.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

E. Jean Carroll

Judge Tosses Trump's Defamation Suit Againt Carroll -- Because He 'Raped' Her

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan dealt another blow to Donald Trump’s attempts to cloudy up the $5 million liability ruling against him in the sexual assault and defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll. Kaplan entered a new opinion, dismissing Trump’s counterclaim against Carroll that she defamed him during a 2023 CNN interview after the ruling.

This decision comes after Kaplan denied Trump’s request for a new trial and a reexamination of the $5 million compensatory and punitive decision awarded Carroll. In that judgment, Kaplan wrote that while Trump had not “raped” Carroll by the “narrow, technical meaning of a particular section of the New York Penal Law,” the jury’s decision and the damages awarded Carroll proved that Trump’s had indeed “raped” her by what most “people commonly understand” the word to mean.

Monday’s decision relied heavily on Kaplan’s previous decision explaining that Trump’s actions, proven in court, showed that Carroll’s assertions that the disgraced former president raped her were “substantially true.

The decision comes as Carroll is bringing her second defamation lawsuit against Trump, where she is asking for $10 million in damages. Kaplan’s latest decision is in line with the previous one:

Ms. Carroll’s claim that Mr. Trump defamed her in his 2019 statements never has hinged on the precise manner in which she claimed he raped her, “rape” being a term of various meanings. It instead has been centered on whether Mr. Trump defamed her by asserting that she made up an entirely fictitious account of a forcible sexual assault by Mr. Trump in order to increase sales of her book and/or carry out a political agenda, among other things. While Ms. Carroll has used the word “rape,” the controversy between the parties has always centered on whether Trump attacked Ms. Carroll sexually, thus rendering his 2019 statements false and defamatory, not about the specific anatomical details of the assault.

Trump’s team of winner lawyers has tried to launch their defense based on the idea that because New York Penal law defines “rape” as having one’s vagina penetrated by a penis, Carroll was defaming the scumbag Trump because he was found guilty of forcibly penetrating her with his fingers.

“The finding that Ms. Carroll failed to prove that she was 'raped' within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr. Trump 'raped' her as many people commonly understand the word 'rape.' Indeed, as the evidence at trial recounted below makes clear, the jury found that Mr. Trump in fact did exactly that.”

Let that sink in. This guy is going to be the Republican nominee for president.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.