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Tag: steve bannon

Bannon’s 'Private Border Wall' Partner Indicted For Tax Fraud

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Florida man who served as the co-founder of the "We Build The Wall" project has been indicted on another charge for tax fraud, according to a report from the Associated Press. The latest charges are in addition to his previous tax and fraud charges.

On Tuesday, July 6, Brian Kolfage of Miramar Beach, Florida, was indicted by a grand jury for filing a false tax return. This new charge expands on allegations first brought against Kolfage two months ago. In May, the prosecutors offered details about Kolfage's involvement in a previous scheme "to defraud the government in relation to his 2019 federal income tax returns." The leaders of the "We Build the Wall" project were first indicted for allegedly defrauding donors in August 2020.

Per the AP:

"Kolfage received hundreds of thousands of dollars from multiple organizations during 2019, including We Build the Wall Inc., which were deposited into his personal bank account, prosecutors said. Kolfage failed to report this income to the IRS, officials said. The new charge is related to Kolfage filing a false amended tax return in December 2020, investigators said."

Last year, Kolfage and Steve Bannon were indicted by a New York federal grand jury as prosecutors alleged they "worked to divert some of the $25 million raised for the wall project for their own personal use." Former President Donald Trump pardoned Bannon for the charges prior to leaving office.

Attorneys for Kolfage have not yet responded to the AP's requests for comment.

‘Critical Race Theory’ Was Weaponized Against Obama In 2012 — And Flopped

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A few weeks before he died, Breitbart News founder Andrew Breitbart teased his masterplan to take down President Barack Obama ahead of the 2012 election. In part, the plan relied on associating Democrats with the little known academic study of systemic racism called "critical race theory" and rendering it radical and toxic enough to damage them in the upcoming election cycle.

"This election we're going to vet him from his college days to show you why racial division and class warfare are central to what hope and change was sold in 2008," Breitbart declared during a speech at Conservative Political Action Conference. "The videos are going to come out."

The most-hyped video among the ones Breitbart promised was ironically already publicly available and had been reported on during the 2008 election. It finally surfaced after Breitbart's death in early March 2012. The footage showed a law-school era Obama who was then the president of the Harvard Law Review talking about and hugging an academic named Derrick Bell at a 1990 protest. The video was supposedly evidence of Obama embracing — literally in this case — extreme anti-white views.

As Joel Pollak, then-editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, would tell CNN's Soledad O'Brien, "Derrick Bell is the Jeremiah Wright of academia. He passed away last year, but during his lifetime, he developed a theory called critical race theory which holds that the civil rights movement was a sham and that white supremacy is the order and it must be overthrown."

Ultimately, the smear attempt flopped. But it marked conservative media's first crack — led by Breitbart, Steve Bannon (who at the time was a board member of Breitbart News Network), and their employees — at poisoning the specific phrase "critical race theory" and seeding it in the wider public discourse.

This attempt may also partly explain why the current fear-mongering about critical race theory spread so fast and successfully. Right-wing media and activists, as well as their peers at conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Manhattan Institute, seem to know exactly what they are doing because they have dusted off the same playbook from 2012. And they even share some of the same funders.

Hug-Gate: Breitbart's Campaign Against Derrick Bell

Back in 2012, Breitbart and the rest of the conservative media apparatus were laser focused on painting Obama as a secret radical ahead of that year's general election — a tactic not all that much different from what they had tried in 2008. In fact, Andrew Breitbart's final written piece, published posthumously, connectedObama to famed leftist organizer Saul Alinsky.

Once the hug video was published, Breitbart flooded its homepage with stories about Bell and his supposed transgressions. Between March 7 and March 14, 2012, the site published dozens of video clips and articles purportedly exposing Bell, Obama, and critical race theory.

Then-Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, a familiar face from the current discourse on critical race theory, painted Bell as a Louis Farrakhan-loving antisemite whose work Obama loved and assigned as reading in his law school classes.

On March 7, 2012, Shapiro authored a story headlined "Obama: 'Open Up Your Hearts And Your Minds' To Racialist Prof" in which he wrote: "This is just the beginning. And this video is a smoking gun showing that Barack Obama not only associated with radicals, he was their advocate."

Open up your hearts and minds -- Shapiro

Pollak and Shapiro also appeared on Hannity on March 7 to discuss their "exclusive" scoop.

On March 11, 2012, Shapiro penned a supposed critical race theory explainer in which he claimed that Obama's entire administration was "an ode to CRT."

In the months that followed, Shapiro's "CRT" motif was apparent in Breitbart's coverage of the administration. There were suggestions that Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who graduated from Harvard Law in 1986, was suddenly an ardent proponent of critical race theory, as was deputy White House counsel Cassandra Butts.

At one point, Pollak suggested that then-Attorney General Eric Holder's infamous statement about the United States being a "nation of cowards" on race was evidence that Holder — and likely the rest of the Justice Department — were also under the spell of critical race theory.

In the end, the effort to paint the Obama administration as a bunch of secret radicals stationing critical race theorists at the head of every public institution was short-lived. Even reactionary Fox personalities like Geraldo Rivera and Bill O'Reilly panned Breitbart's big scoop in March.

Same funders, same playbook, different year

Fast forward to 2021 and right-wing circles are rabid with critical race theory outrage. Republican state legislatures are promoting legislation to curb it — even when they don't know what it is. School board meetings are being overrun by conservative activists who are organizing online. At every level, the GOP is betting on its new boogeyman to convert "racial anxiety into political energy" ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

And once again, Breitbart is publishing scores of articles about "critical race theory." Some are even written by the same guy, Joel Pollak, who was pushing the same narrative back in 2012.

Ben Shapiro, now one of the most popular conservative pundits in the country, is once again helping lead the right-wing media campaign against critical race theory. But this time his megaphone is bigger, broadcasting the same talking points about critical race theory to his millions of followers on major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Per Media Matters' internal data, Shapiro is responsible for 13 of the top 20 posts (receiving the most interactions) about critical race theory on Facebook since the 2020 election. Last month, we reported that among Facebook pages that post about politics, nearly 90 percent of the posts that mention critical race theory were by right-leaning pages.

There are even similarities in the dark money behind the 2012 and 2021 efforts. Robert Mercer (advised by Bannon, who became executive chairman of Breitbart after Andrew Breitbart's death) infamously financed Andrew Breitbart's early smear campaigns. His daughter Rebekah has donated large sums of money to two think tanks that seem to be behind the newest weaponization of critical race theory. Bannon, for his part, is now predicting the current anti-"critical race theory" campaign will not only win the House of Representatives back for Republicans in 2022, but may also prove to be a right-wing presidential winner in 2024.

Nearly a decade later, Breitbart News' failed smear of critical race theory is back — and this time it appears to be working.

Research contributions from Carly Evans.

Texas Governor Says He Will Solicit Donations To Build ‘Border Wall’

Reprinted with permission from The Texas Tribune

When Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week that Texas would build its own border wall, one of the immediate questions was who would pay for it.

Abbott has not fully detailed the plan yet, but he said in a podcast interview released Tuesday that the state will be soliciting donations from across the country to help fund the wall.

"When I do make the announcement later on this week, I will also be providing a link that you can click on and go to for everybody in the United States — really everybody in the entire world — who wants to help Texas build the border wall, there will be a place on there where they can contribute," Abbott said on the podcast, a show about Republican politics called Ruthless.

Abbott made national headlines with his announcement Thursday in Del Rio that Texas would build its own wall at the Mexico border, though he provided no further details and said he would lay out the plan this week.

In the meantime, Abbott has faced threats of legal action and a bevy of questions about where, when and how such a wall could be constructed.

Abbott said in the podcast interview that the donations to Texas' border wall will go to a fund "overseen by the state of Texas in the governor's office." He promised "great transparency," saying "everyone will know every penny in, every penny out, but the sole purpose for those funds will be going to build the border wall."

Abbott's plan would not be the first attempt to crowdfund a border wall. There was We Build The Wall, a private fundraising effort that raised more than $25 million after originally planning to construct three miles of fence posts in South Texas. Last year, four people involved in We Build The Wall — including Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Donald Trump — were charged with allegedly defrauding donors to the effort. Trump pardoned Bannon before leaving office in January.

A closer parallel to Abbott's plan may date to 2011, when the Arizona legislature passed a law establishing a fund, complete with a fundraising website, to construct a fence along the state's border with Mexico. The fund received almost $270,000 by 2014, and a state border security advisory committee decided to give most of the sum to a county sheriff in 2015. The sheriff instead invested the money in border security technology such as GPS systems and binoculars, according to the Arizona Republic.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

Greene Blames Fauci For Virus Because ‘I Don’t Believe In Evolution’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) asserted on Tuesday that COVID-19 was a "bioweapon" and said she did not believe otherwise "because I don't believe in evolution."

Greene made her statement during an appearance on the Real America's Voice network's War Room: Pandemic, a program hosted by disgraced former Donald Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon.

Greene accused Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of being "criminally liable" for the pandemic outbreak because, she charged without evidence, he "was using American tax dollars and sending it to the Wuhan lab to fund this research that was creating viruses."

"That's a bioweapon," Greene said. "There's no other reason to create a virus that makes people sick, spreads so quick, and kills people. There's no other intent but it's a bioweapon."

Bannon then asked her if she found it implausible that the virus was the subject of research meant to find vaccines and somehow the material evolved into COVID-19.

"No, I don't buy it because I don't believe in evolution," Greene replied. "I don't believe in that type of so-called 'science.' I don't believe in evolution. I believe in God."

The origins of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 remain unclear, but no evidence has emerged to verify any claim that the virus was a "bioweapon" created in a Chinese lab.

President Joe Biden in May ordered the intelligence community to prepare a report "on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of COVID-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident."

Greene is well-practiced in advancing conspiracy theories. She has expressed belief in and support for the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory that celebrities and politicians are running a satanic global child-trafficking ring.

Greene also falsely claimed that a 2018 California wildfire was caused by a laser beam from space financed by the Jewish Rothschild family's "international" banking firm, long a favorite target of anti-semitic rhetoric.

From the June 8 edition of Real America's Voice's War Room: Pandemic:

STEVE BANNON, host: Why do you say you're just not for firing [Dr. Anthony Fauci], you're for bringing criminal – you think he ought to face criminal charges?
MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: Well, my Fire Fauci Act asks for a full investigation, because we've suspected all along that he is criminally liable. Here's why: If you go back, you can go back to 2012, you can go back to 2014, where Anthony Fauci was using American tax dollars and sending it to the Wuhan lab to fund this research that was creating viruses.
Why is there any need to create a virus that can spread rapidly through a population, make people sick and kill them. That's a bioweapon. So we need to be very clear about what was the intent of COVID-19 and these viruses that they experiment with like some sort of Dr. Frankenstein experiments.
These are bioweapons. There's no other reason to create a virus that makes people sick, spreads so quick, and kills people. There's no other intent but it's a bioweapon. And then our American —
BANNON: You don't – hold it, hang on – you don't buy that, you don't buy the argument that says the gain of function is all because we've got to take these viruses and we've got to power them up to look for vaccines and to look for other solutions in case somehow they come up with this. You don't buy the logic of that, is that what you're saying?
GREENE: No, I don't buy it because I don't believe in evolution. I don't believe in that type of so-called "science." I don't believe in evolution. I believe in God.
And these viruses were not making people sick until they created them and made them into – weaponized these viruses to be able to attach to our cells and make us sick. This has caused so many people to die all over the world.
This is a bioweapon. You can call it – people can call it whatever they can for research, and to create vaccinations, but there's no need for a vaccine if the virus doesn't make the human population sick to begin with.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Trump For House Speaker Is A Bannon Brainstorm

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Following former President Donald Trump's June 4 remark that the idea of becoming speaker of the House after the 2022 midterm election is "very interesting" to him, political media has been abuzz with speculation. The idea has been making rounds in right-wing spheres in various iterations since January, when it was first championed by former White House chief strategist, election conspiracy-theorist-in-chief, and enchanted pile of dirty laundry Steve Bannon.

On January 21, conservative influencer Rogan O'Handley, who goes by "DC Draino" online, appeared on Bannon's show War Room: Pandemic to discuss his tweet, in which he had proposed that "Trump run for Congress in Florida in '22" and become speaker of the House, after which he can "impeach Kamala" -- a remark that suggests Biden would not be president in 2023.


During the show, Bannon effusively praised O'Handley's idea. He said the possibility of Trump, the only former president to incite an insurrection, becoming speaker in 2023 means "we don't have to wait until 2024 to have a presidential election. This nationalizes the midterm elections" and "gives a unifying message" for Trump's base to rally around.

Bannon also correctly noted that Trump could be elected speaker without being a member of Congress, and he endorsed focusing on winning "the House of Representatives, [which is] what thwarted Donald J. Trump" in his last two years in office. O'Handley implored Trump to not "let them end your presidency by what they did to you, get revenge plus take back the country." (Just over a month after this appearance, O'Handley was permanently banned from Twitter for "repeated violations of its civic integrity policy.")

In February, Bannon floated the idea in remarks he gave to the Boston area West Roxbury Ward 20 Republican Committee. According to the Boston Herald, Bannon said Trump's base will "totally get rid of" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the midterms "and the first act of President Trump as speaker will be to impeach Joe Biden for his illegitimate activities of stealing the presidency."

In April, right-wing publication the Washington Examiner ran a piece with the headline "Buzz: Trump for speaker and Pence unlikely to head Heritage." The opinion piece cited former CNN commentator Ed Martin, who said, "I'm serious. We need the Trump voters. … With the possibility of having Donald Trump as speaker, conservative voter turnout would be through the roof nationwide."

Trump's June 4 remarks to his friend and conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root calling the idea "very interesting" thrust the simmering rumor back into the spotlight. On June 5, Fox contributor Jason Chaffetz noted on Fox & Friends Weekend that "you don't need to be a member of Congress to be elected the speaker of the House," saying Trump becoming the speaker "would make for great TV."

On the morning of June 7, Fox Business' Stuart Varney asked Trump about a potential run in 2022, to which Trump said it was "highly unlikely" he would seek a seat in the House of Representatives.

Still, Bannon remains bullish on the idea. The same day as Trump's comment to Varney, Bannon appeared on right-wing radio personality John Fredericks' show and said, "Donald Trump will take over, at least on an interim basis, as speaker of the House to take the gavel from Nancy Pelosi and then to gavel in the impeachment panel to impeach Joe Biden." He credited O'Handley for originating the idea and said, "I helped take it to the next level. He wanted him to run for Congress. You do not have to be a member of Congress to be speaker."

Steve Bannon Predicts Trump will Become U.S. House Speaker in 2023 www.youtube.com

Not everyone in Trump's orbit is in line with Bannon's latest scheme. For his part, dirty trickster Roger Stone, who has despised Bannon for years, said in a video posted online on June 6, "So, sloppy Steve Bannon thinks that former President Trump should run for the House of Representatives, become speaker, and lead the impeachment of Joe Biden. Here's the problem with this plan: What happens if Trump himself is elected to Congress, but the feckless, gutless, weak-kneed Republicans fail to take a majority?"

Far Right’s Covid Conspiracy Blames Fauci For Virus

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The far right has a favorite new conspiracy theory: Dr. Anthony Fauci, it seems, conspired with nefarious globalists to manufacture the COVID-19 virus in a Wuhan, China, laboratory and unleash it on the unsuspecting world in order to seize control of the global population. Or something along those lines.

But watching its progression into more mainstream settings—including a recent White House press conference—provides a vivid illustration not only of the ways that conspiracy-fueled extremists twist quasi-legitimate debate to their own ends, foisting their fantasies on a larger public in the process, but how they can almost instantaneously transform government-created information vacuums into fetid hothouses for their fearmongering and smears.

Far right promotes conspiracy theory blaming Fauci for COVID-19 www.youtube.com

"COVID-19's greatest power is fear," intoned conspiracy-meister Alex Jones in the introduction to a recent episode of his Infowars show, behind a distorted video portrait of Fauci and creepy soundtrack. "It is a psychological warfare weapon that has been deployed against the people of the world—to be the cover for a controlled global collapse, to consolidate power in the hands of the globalists, and establish their New World Order.

"If this power grab is ever to be defeated, we must meet it head on, and expose the fact that the virus was deliberately released from the Wuhan lab, and that Fauci was publicly in control of the gain-of-function coronavirus project," Jones asserted.

The stories about the Wuhan laboratories are not new. A number of far-right conspiracists, ranging from Jones to Donald Trump, have made similar claims in the past but were knocked down by leading scientists. However, their assertions have come under fire due to questions raised by an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists suggesting that the weight of evidence points to the likelihood that the COVID virus was produced in a Wuhan lab—which in turn has set the far-right aflame.

The article, by onetime New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, argued that the consensus among leading virologists that the virus originated in wildlife and was transmitted to humans has no data to support it, and that the theory that it had leaked out of a laboratory—specifically, the Wuhan Institute of Virology—due to so-called "gain-of-function" research was supported by the weight of the evidence. Its primary conclusion, however, is that none of the theories are conclusive because of a lack of evidence—almost entirely due to the refusal of the Chinese government to allow a transparent investigation of the lab's role in the global pandemic.

That was all the opening the conspiracy crowd needed. As usual, Jones was only leading a parade of hysterical theorists eager to add their take on the Wuhan-lab controversy. "Did The Pandemic Start in Fauci's Lab?" asked one YouTube video. "Chinese Virologist Claims Coronavirus Was Man-Made In Wuhan's Laboratory," and "Is the Coronavirus a Chinese Bioweapon?" read others. At World Net Daily, the headline read: "New evidence ties COVID-19 creation to research funded by Fauci."

Wade's article was careful to specify that the evidence for any of the lab-leak theories is inconclusive, and acknowledges the natural-origin theory could yet prove correct. He complains that the lab-leak theories have been unfairly dismissed as conspiracies, but spells out clearly that "the idea that the virus might have escaped from a lab invoked accident, not conspiracy."

What he fails to acknowledge, however, is that reportage such as his becomes malleable putty for the conspiracy theorists. Jones was adamant about suggestions that the lab release was accidental: "None of it's accidental. You had the Rockefeller Foundation lockstep, you had the Event 201 with Gates and Fauci and the U.N.," he told his audience.

Jones blamed research under the auspices of "Fauci and Bill Gates" for the creation of what he called a "bioweapon." One of his guests went on to assert that the COVID-19 virus was not an accidental product, either: "This is clearly an offensive biological warfare weapon," he said.

On the "Real America's Voice News" podcast by former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, another ex-White House adviser, Peter Navarro, held forth at length about the Wade article, plainly eager to blame Fauci for it all: "If it came from the lab, Fauci did it," Navarro told Bannon. He also claimed that Fauci used contract legalese to "get around the Trump White House to give the Chinese Communist Party weaponization capability through gain of function."

"You know, Fauci pulled a fast one on the House of Trump, I'm telling ya," he said. "This Nick Wade article, Fauci is goin' down."

He concluded: "For whatever reason, Fauci wanted to weaponize that virus. And he is the father of it, he has killed millions of Americans, and now we are 99.99 percent sure of that."

A number of Republican politicians—notably Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul—have now called for an official investigation into whether U.S. taxpayers were helping finance "gain of function" research in Wuhan. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson blamed Fauci, saying: "So what were we doing cooperating with China?"

The extent to which the Wuhan-lab-leak-theory is becoming a right-wing obsession was manifested late last week when reporter Emerald Robinson of the conspiracy-friendly Newsmax operation tried to grill Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the matter. She asked a question similar to Johnson's: "Given that gain-of-function research is dicey, why would the U.S. fund that in China?"

When Psaki suggested she ask the National Institutes of Health that question, Robinson continued: "Who does the president agree with, Dr. Fauci or the other officials? Does he think it was a lab leak?"

"Well, the president has said, and I have said from here many times, that there needs to be a credible, independent investigation through the World Health Organization, and one that relies on data, that relies on participation from China and other countries that may have information," Psaki answered. "That's certainly something everybody has called for and we look forward to that happening."

The article that sparked the controversy is also deeply problematic, in no small part because of the author: While Wade is indeed a formerly well-regarded science writer, his reputation was permanently tarnished in 2014 when he published a book—titled A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History—contending that race is a biological reality, and that recent natural selection had created racial differences in economic and social behavior—claiming, as he is in the case of the COVID-19 theories, that "politics" suppressed a robust discussion of the matter.

The book was denounced in a letter signed by 140 senior geneticists who said that Wade had misrepresented and misinterpreted their findings, and that his conclusions fell well outside of any grounded hypothesis based on the science: "We reject Wade's implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not."

An American Scientist review of the book concluded: "A Troublesome Inheritance is itself troubling, not for its politics but for its science. Its arguments are only mildly amended versions of arguments discarded decades ago by those who methodically and systematically study human behavioral variation across cultures."

Wade, it seems, has a knack not only for distorting and misrepresenting science, but for promulgating "apolitical" discussions of scientific issues that just happen to become grist for white nationalists and far-right conspiracy theorists. His recent piece on the Wuhan labs is filled with similar key omissions.

For instance, he claims that the only evidence supporting the argument that the COVID-19 genomes indicate a natural origin is a letter by two scientists based on ostensibly slipshod claims, saying: "And that's it." But in fact another letter he cites (and dismisses), published in the medical journal The Lancet in February 2020, specifically references a list of studies by scientists from multiple countries who "have published and analyzed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2),1 and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens."

A recent debunking by Politifact of the claims regarding Fauci notes that, while Fauci was indeed involved in approving a grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, all parties involved deny that it involved gain-of-function research.

"We have not ever participated in gain-of-function research. Nor have we ever been funded to participate in gain-of-function research," Robert Kessler with the EcoHealth Alliance told PolitiFact.

"The research supported under the grant to EcoHealth Alliance Inc. characterized the function of newly discovered bat spike proteins and naturally occurring pathogens and did not involve the enhancement of the pathogenicity or transmissibility of the viruses studied," the NIH told Politifact.

Fauci himself recently addressed the underlying issue in an interview with National Geographic, calling the whole debate a "circular argument."

"If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species," Fauci said.

For conspiracy theorists, however, actual science, facts, and logic don't really matter. They have just learned how to trot out enough of them to seem interested in a good-faith discussion, and then using them to springboard into the bizarre alternative universe of fabricated smears where they dwell.

On Bannon’s Show, 'MyPillow Guy’ Promises Supreme Court Will Void 2020 Election

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

MyPillow founder and conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell appeared on former top Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon's streaming TV show promising he has information that will convince the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the 2020 presidential election and return Donald Trump to the Oval Office.

"What I'm talking about Steve is what I've been doing since January," Lindell said on Real America's Voice. "All the evidence I have – everything is going to go before the Supreme Court and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye."

"It was an attack by other countries, communism coming in, I don't know what they're going to do after they pull it down but –" Lindell rambled.

"Hang on," Bannon pleaded repeatedly, but Lindell kept going.

"Donald Trump will be back in office in August," he declared.

Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Lindell.

Watch: