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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: steve bannon

Facing Certification Deadline, Arizona Election Deniers Refuse To Admit Defeat

By Ned Parker

As Arizona counties face a Monday deadline to certify their midterm election results, Republican candidates and activists promoting false theories of voter fraud are refusing to back down.

State Senator-elect Jake Hoffman, head of Arizona’s Freedom Caucus, a group of largely pro-Trump Republican state lawmakers, told Reuters he will lead an investigation into the state’s election when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Right-wing activist Steve Bannon, a former Trump administration official and promoter of election conspiracy theories, said voting machine mishaps on the November 8, Election Day, tainted Democrat Katie Hobbs’ victory over Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor who has refused to concede.

Hobbs “will never be considered legitimate,” said Bannon, who has been providing Lake counsel. "That's going to cripple her ability to govern. So that's why this is a crisis. There's a crisis for the entire state.”

Lake, a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump, was one of dozens of Republican candidates who questioned or denied the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and lost in the midterms.

The defeat of Lake and other election deniers was seen as a powerful rebuke of candidates who echoed Trump’s myths of a stolen election.

Lake, however, has remained defiant after her 17,116-vote loss.

“We know we WON this election and we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that every single Arizonan’s vote that was disenfranchised is counted,” Lake said in an interview posted on her Twitter account on Saturday.

Lake’s team filed a lawsuit in state court on Wednesday against the Republican government of Maricopa County, demanding information on voters whose ballots were affected by voting machine problems. Her Republican colleague, Abe Hamadeh, who ran for attorney general and lost by 510 votes, has filed a lawsuit against his Democratic opponent as well as state and local officials, seeking to overturn his defeat.

In Maricopa County, tabulators at 71 of 223 polling stations were unable to read ballots because of printer ink problems on Election Day.

County officials said the issue was quickly addressed. Affected voters could deposit ballots in a secure on-site container called “box three” or wait for another ballot or travel to another polling center.

Republican activists urged voters not to use the secure box on Election Day, according to Maricopa County officials. Some activists expressed concerns on social media that ballots placed in secure boxes would not be counted.

“It certainly was not helpful as far as we were concerned because it was contradicting the official elections department information that we were trying to get out to voters in real time,” said Maricopa County spokesman Jason Berry.

Rejecting the secure boxes backfired, said David Becker, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research. “If they followed instructions, there would've been no lines. There would've been no delays. They would've moved through the process very, very effectively.”

Becker, who consults for Republican and Democrat election officials around the country, said Maricopa’s technical problems were not unusual and occur in every election at hundreds of polling centers nationally.

Maricopa officials, who are Republicans, have said that an estimated 17,000 voters were impacted by the problem with the printer ink.

Maricopa County on Sunday released a report detailing voter numbers by location on Election Day and was scheduled to certify election results on Monday.

DELAYS IN CERTIFICATION

Elsewhere in Arizona, two conservative counties, Mohave and Cochise, do not plan to certify election results until Monday, the final day to formally do so, following pressure by election deniers.

The chairman of Mohave County’s Board of Supervisors, Ron Gould, told Reuters that his county delayed certifying last Monday because his board was waiting to see Maricopa’s explanations for what happened to the ballots of its affected voters.

In Cochise County, the three-person board postponed its certification after hearing testimony on November 18 from three election conspiracy theorists who argued that the county’s voting machines were not properly certified.

The Secretary of State’s office said the matter was due to a clerical error and sent a letter to the board last Tuesday that included documentation of the machines’ licenses.

But in an email to Reuters, Cochise County Supervisor Tom Crosby declined to say whether the board will certify the county’s results on Monday.

(Editing by Jason Szep and Linda So)

Steve Bannon Runs His 2020 'Election Fraud' Playbook Again

No recurring right-wing conspiracy theory is more threatening to the very foundation of American democracy than falsehoods about widespread electoral fraud. The majority of Republicans falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, and his supporters staged a coup attempt. Today, half of all Americans expect there to be fraud in the 2022 midterms, according to one recent national poll. It’s bad.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for this tragedy among right-wing media culprits — but chief among them must be former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s War Room, ground zero for conspiracy theories about the election being stolen in 2020. To this day, the show’s central reason for existence is to keep these conspiracy theories alive to fuel the further radicalization of the Republican Party and its base.

Even before Trump lost, Bannon was saying the election would be stolen from him. In September 2020, he launched a national tour titled “The Plot to Steal 2020” to demonstrate how Democrats would use “digital muscle” and “lawfare” in collaboration with the Chinese government, The New York Times, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and “street thugs of antifa and the radical parts of Black Lives Matter” to “foist an illegitimate regime onto the republic of the United States.”

On Election Day 2020, Bannon declared that Trump would claim victory “right before the 11 o’clock news” (a sentiment he also shared in private). Through the post-election period, Bannon continued to mold his platform into a central propaganda hub for the MAGA movement to radicalize Trump supporters on the idea that the election was stolen, using violent rhetoric to whip them into a frenzy and even calling for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray. This continued in the days leading up to the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

Here we are again. Bannon is once more trying to organize his conservative audience around falsehoods and conspiracy theories about supposed election fraud. But this time, he has taken the last two years to regroup and strategize, rather than riding the reactive rollercoaster that was the final days of the Trump presidency. Almost immediately after the January 6 disaster, Bannon began hosting local Republican Party activist Dan Schultz to recruit and train election deniers to work as precinct officers. The responsibilities of these positions vary by state; according to ProPublica, they can “have a say in choosing poll workers” in some states and even “help pick members of boards that oversee elections.”

In the last few months, the plan of attack has expanded. In late August, Bannon declared that Democrats were planning to steal the 2022 midterms while broadcasting live from Mike Lindell’s “Moment of Truth” Summit. (Bannon does MyPillow ad reads multiple times an hour for four hours a day, five days a week, with an additional two hours on Saturday. He recently told The New York Times Lindell is “the most significant financier in all of conservative media.”)

Echoing 2020, this falsehood is now a constant refrain on the show, a slightly updated backdrop to Bannon’s protestations from two years ago. What’s different this time is the pro-Trump election denial movement is now more prepared. As Bannon told his audience in September: “It’s going to be MAGA in the room, counting the votes, because only MAGA can count fair.”

“We are prepared this time. We are trained this time.”

On October 28, he again warned the midterms are “a whole different game” because “we are prepared this time. We are trained this time."

To execute, War Room hosts a virtual parade of extremist activists pushing election denial efforts across the country. One of the most prominent is Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who collaborated with Trump to attempt to overturn the 2020 election. She is now leading an election denial group called the Election Integrity Network, which recruits and trains people to work as poll watchers and other positions in election administration. (At one recent training hosted by Mitchell’s group, coup memo author John Eastman told volunteers to “document what you’ve seen, raise the challenge” and “get it all written down” because “that then becomes the basis for an affidavit in a court challenge after the fact.”)

Mitchell has also instructed the War Room audience to volunteer in Democratic stronghold counties previously subjected to destructive conspiracy theories during the Trump campaign in 2020, including ones they don’t live in. One of the counties she highlighted is DeKalb County, Georgia, one of four counties that make up the metropolitan Atlanta area and which also has the second largest population of Black voters in the state.

Republican National Committee head Ronna McDaniel has also made War Room her home base to promote the RNC’s first time “election integrity” efforts, now that it has been freed from a consent decree that limited the group’s ability to organize due to concerns over racially motivated voter suppression and intimidation. On November 1, McDaniel told Bannon her recruitment efforts saw a “jump” after her appearance on War Room.

In addition to partnering with the RNC and a laundry list of other election denial organizations, Bannon is now aligned with Alex Jones. This is a relatively new development -- Jones was not much of a character at all in the 2020 rendition of this song and dance. Jones recently appeared on the show to tell Bannon’s audience that they should be “documenting everything” to prevent supposed fraud in the upcoming election. In turn, Bannon has appeared on Infowars to recruit viewers to become poll workers, asking them on October 26 to join in “an overwhelming show of force” aiming “to destroy the groomer party, to destroy the globalist party.”

Bannon’s Violent Rhetoric

Undermining public confidence in the midterms is just the first part of Bannon’s agenda; to really set his listeners on fire, they are also inundated with repeat calls to violence. Bannon has referred to Mitchell’s election denier recruitment efforts as a “call to arms.” He recently promised to threaten members of Congress “by bayonet” if they don’t fall in line with the extremist right. He later doubled down on this statement, reposting the video on his GETTR page and promising “the Battle to reign in an out-of-control Government [commences] immediately upon Victory.”

Perhaps most concerning is Bannon’s repeated defense of men wearing camouflage and carrying guns while loitering outside ballot drop boxes in Arizona as a part of an effort by QAnon support Melody Jennings, who has repeatedly appeared on War Room recruiting volunteers to “monitor” drop boxes in the state. Defending the armed men from reports that they were intimidating voters, he said, “It’s not intimidation to put a set of eyeballs on these things.”

For the more hardcore elements of the War Room audience, some of whom showed up at the Capitol on January 6 and repeated his calls to violence verbatim, Steve Bannon’s bizarre circus of a show is not one of many measured perspectives they’re taking into account before drawing a larger conclusion on how they should vote or otherwise act politically. The show is exclusively available on right-wing platforms, whether it’s streamed directly from Real America’s Voice, the network home of the show, or on Rumble, described as “the right-wing’s go-to video site” that claims to have reached 78 million monthly users in August, more than 10 times that of Trump’s Truth Social platform. They are angry, unpersuadable, digitally walled off, and slurping up four hours of conspiratorial ranting a day. It’s the true definition of a fever swamp, where disease festers undisturbed.

Bridging the (small) gap between Alex Jones and the heights of the Republican Party establishment, War Room thrives off the same toxic combination of election denial and violent rhetoric that we saw in 2020. This time, the critical difference that two years of planning makes could have devastating consequences.

The recent assassination attempt at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco, where her husband remains in the ICU, should set off alarm bells. According to NBC News, alleged assailant David DePape told investigators the attack was intended to “show other Members of Congress there were consequences to actions,” echoing Bannon’s recent rhetoric. DePape also reportedly professed to be a transhumanism conspiracy theorist who credited the Gamergate harassment campaign for radicalizing him, a hallmark example of the violent consequences of online harassment campaigns that Bannon had a direct role in promoting during his time heading Breitbart.

Much attention was paid to Bannon’s contempt of Congress trial, conviction, and sentencing. There were good reasons for this -- it was a historic conviction and sentencing and a cathartic moment for those of us who watched the circle of criminals supporting Donald Trump’s presidency escape virtually unscathed. But while the mainstream media has always had a very close eye on Bannon’s legal problems, the daily drumbeat of his show, even after the House Select Committee put its influence on full display in front of the entire country, has not received the same attention outside of Media Matters and very few others.

War Room is filled to the brim with leads for journalists tracking how the extreme right is attempting to disrupt and undermine the midterm elections. Of the various campaigns and activists that appear on War Room, most will fail to have an impact. That is par for the course when you’re flooding the zone with shit, according to Bannon’s own characterization. But some, like rallying at the Capitol on January 6, will have consequences that will reverberate for generations. Every day, Bannon is laying out, in specific detail, tied to specific calls to action, the strategy to create chaos at the polls and in the streets, on Election Day and beyond. Two years since Bannon started saying the 2020 election would be stolen and he is still running this same play.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Steve Bannon Sentenced To Four Months Prison On Contempt Charges

A federal judge sentenced Steve Bannon, the neo-fascist advisor to Donald Trump and coup proponent, to four months in prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack by a pro-Trump mob. During a sentencing hearing on Friday, US District Judge Carl Nichols also ordered Bannon to pay a fine of $6,500.

Bannon was convicted last July on two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to provide documents and testimony. Each of the two counts was punishable by a minimum of one month and a maximum of one year in prison. He will be the first person sent to jail for refusing a Congressional subpoena in more than 50 years. The judge said Bannon could remain free pending his expected appeal. Members of the select committee voted last week to issue a subpoena to Trump himself for testimony and documents.

“Flaunting congressional subpoenas betrays a lack of respect for the legislative branch, which exercises the will of the people of the United States,” Judge Nichols said. Bannon “has expressed no remorse” and “has not taken responsibility for his refusal to comply with his subpoena.”

Sentencing For Bannon On Contempt Conviction In Three Weeks

Steve Bannon refused to cooperate with a congressional subpoena seeking his insights into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and for that, he’s now facing a potential sentence of up to a year in prison. He will be sentenced on October 21.

The bombastic right-winger proclaimed his trial would be ruinous for prosecutors. He vowed to go “medieval” and “savage” on the Justice Department as he tried to fend off two counts of contempt of Congress.

Before his trial in Washington, D.C., began, the former adviser for ex-President Donald Trump riffed on his podcast: “Who needs prayers? Certainly not Stephen K. Bannon.”

Jurors returned their guilty verdict for Bannon after deliberating for less than three hours.

And for all the bluster, when given the chance to testify on his own behalf at trial, Bannon opted against it. He also didn’t launch any real defense of his actions in court. His attorney David Schoen told U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols this July that Bannon wanted to testify but ultimately would not because of how the court had hamstrung his defense.

At a pre-trial hearing, Nichols found the former Trump adviser could not argue that his refusal to comply with the subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee was permitted because of his purported concerns over violating executive privilege.

By the time Bannon was subpoenaed by the House Select Committee in September 2021, he was far removed from working in the Trump White House, Nichols ruled, so privilege did not apply. Bannon left the White House in 2017.

Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel rulings around privilege that Bannon hoped would defend his noncompliance were actually unrelated to his case, Nichols found.

The Trump-appointed judge tossed Bannon’s attempts to subpoena lawmakers—they were immune under Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution—and he rejected Bannon’s arguments that he was effectively tricked into thinking he could evade the subpoena because he relied on shoddy legal advice.

In the end, the judge allowed Bannon to argue only that he might have misunderstood the deadline for his subpoena. Nichols also gave Bannon a chance to call forward witnesses he felt could support his claims of political bias against him, ABC News reported in July.

But Bannon would do none of that.

Instead, he railed outside of the courthouse after trial dates and blubbered about the legitimacy of the Jan. 6 committee and its members.

Earlier this month, Nichols denied Bannon’s request for a new trial. Such a request is only fulfilled “when a serious miscarriage of justice may have occurred,” he wrote.

Bannon claimed the court gave jurors bad instructions and he also claimed his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights were violated because he was unable to subpoena lawmakers.

“The court disagrees,” Nichols wrote.

Bannon had failed to show any indication that the evidence or testimony he sought would actually be material to his defense. Most of it, Nichols said, would be “irrelavant.”

In addition to a possible maximum sentence of up to 12 months in prison—the minimum is 30 days—the two counts of contempt of Congress also pose a hefty fine of up to $100,000 each.

His legal troubles are far from over. Earlier this month, prosecutors in New York indicted Bannon on money laundering and conspiracy charges connected to the nonprofit organization “We Build the Wall.”

Per his indictment, U.S. attorneys say Bannon knew the group that promised to fund the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border was bunk. Bannon faced similar money laundering and wire fraud charges tied to the same alleged conspiracy when Trump was in office. Bannon pleaded not guilty then and has pleaded not guilty once more.

Trump pardoned Bannon at the 11th hour of his presidency on January 20, 2021.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Endorse This! Daily Show Floats Reason Why Eric Trump Hasn't Been Arrested

Eric Trump is known for scamming cancer-stricken children by shifting charitable funds to his own business, among other more recent offenses. The Daily Show's Trevor Noah says he knows why Eric Trump hasn't been arrested -- yet.

As Trevor notes, authorities picked up Trump’s ex-chief strategist Steve Bannon on Thursday in connection with an alleged fraud scheme that involved scamming idiots who wanted to support the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He was charged by New York state prosecutors after being pardoned by Trump on federal charges in 2020.

“It’s like, how many more are left? Seems like everyone around Trump has been put in cuffs,” Noah said on “The Daily Show” Thursday. “His CFO, his lawyer, his campaign manager, his other campaign manager, his campaign manager after that, his deputy campaign manager, his fundraisers, his advisers, basically every single person Donald Trump has ever met has gone to prison.” So why not Eric?

Click and chortle.


Watch the entire clip below:

Bannon Expected To Surrender Thursday To Face New Indictment

By Karen Freifeld

(Reuters) - Steve Bannon, a onetime top strategist for former President Donald Trump and recipient of a presidential pardon, is expected to surrender to New York authorities on Thursday to face a new indictment, a person familiar with the matter said.

Bannon in 2020 was accused in federal court of defrauding donors to a fund to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but that indictment was dismissed after he was pardoned in the final hours of Trump's presidency.

The new indictment is for state criminal charges that may mirror parts of the earlier federal case, though it is unclear because the indictment is still sealed, the person said.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office declined to comment.

Bannon himself issued a statement Tuesday night, after the Washington Post first reported the new indictment.

"This is nothing more than a partisan political weaponization of the criminal justice system," Bannon said in the statement.

He said Manhattan federal prosecutors did the same thing in August 2020 to try to take him out of that year's election.

"It didn't work then; it certainly won't work now," Bannon said.

Bannon is expected to appear in state court in Manhattan on Thursday and then be released pending trial, the person said.

A president can pardon people for federal crimes but not state crimes.

Bannon is not the first Trump ally to be charged in state court. In 2019, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office attempted to pursue former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on felony charges, including mortgage fraud, that were similar to crimes for which Manafort had been convicted in federal court.

But the charges were dismissed after rulings that they amounted to double jeopardy, or trying someone twice for the same conduct. Manafort was pardoned by Trump in 2020.

Bannon had pleaded not guilty in the federal case, but double jeopardy may not apply because he was never tried.

Brian Kolfage and Andrew Badolato, who were charged alongside Bannon in the federal “We Build the Wall” case, pleaded guilty to fraud charges in April.

Bannon runs a popular hard-right podcast, "War Room," where he regularly promotes pro-Trump information and hosts guests who deny that Trump lost the 2020 election.

In July, Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol, a verdict the panel called a "victory for the rule of law."

Bannon was a main adviser to Trump's 2016 Republican presidential campaign, then served as his chief White House strategist during 2017 before a falling out that was later patched up.

Bannon, 68, championed "America First" right-wing populism and fierce opposition to immigration that became hallmarks of Trump's presidency.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; additional reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Bannon: Biden's 'Deep State' May Be Planning To Assassinate Trump

As Republicans cash in on right-wing outrage over the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s winter home Mar-a-Lago — pelting Trump supporters with fundraising emails and pleas for donations — Trump ally Steve Bannon is taking things a step further, leveling bogus accusations against the FBI and invoking the “deep state.”

Bannon, a former Trump White House strategist indicted and then pardoned by Trump, appeared on a recent version of Infowars with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and performed a bogus rant. He accused the FBI of planting evidence against Trump at Mar-a-Lago and claimed that the Biden government had plans to assassinate the ex-president.

“I do not think it’s beyond this administrative state and their deep state apparatus to actually try to work on the assassination of President Trump. I think – I think everything’s on the table,” Bannon told Jones in the interview.

The “deep state” is a prominent term in the QAnon lexicon used to describe a fictitious group of actors in the highest levels of government independently running the United States in secret.

“I think security ought to be at the highest it’s ever been. And honestly, I think he ought to – and I think he should – have flown down [to] Mar-a-Lago this morning, walked out there at noon today, and said, ‘hey, I’m running for president, United States. Suck on that,’” Bannon added.

Bannon, who was arrested on federal charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering but later pardoned by Trump, was convicted of contempt of Congress for defying a congressional subpoena and faces up to two years in prison.

Bannon also denounced the FBI raid as a “desecration” on “one of the great buildings in this country” that has seen “many iconic moments.”

“We need...you [Donald Trump] need to get to Mar-a-Lago, the exact place that they desecrated, because it was a desecration. They did it on purpose. They understand how Mar-a-Lago resonates with not just MAGA, but to the American people,” Bannon said on the show.

Referring to the notable figures that Trump hosted at Mar-a-Lago, Bannon continued his tirade, saying, “So many important things happened there – to go and desecrate it the way they did, particularly over this administrative issue at the National Archives... clearly they’re, as you know, Alex, on a fishing expedition or on a planting expedition, I wouldn’t put it past [them] to have planted stuff ... this is criminal.”

Then, the former strategist labeled the FBI — led by Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee — and the DOJ “lawless criminal organizations.”

Trump, his allies, and almost all senior Republicans have expressed outrage at the raid, which, according to multiple reports, concerns classified documents Trump kept at Mar-a-Lago from his tenure in the White House.

“MAR-A-LAGO was RAIDED,” Trump messaged his supporters on Tuesday morning. “The Radical Left is corrupt. Return the power to the people! Will you fight with me? Donate.”

The feigned outrage followed a familiar script: anger at the raid, claims of political persecution, QAnon-style accusations against the Biden administration -- and an invitation to send money.

Endorse This! Colbert Tears Into Steve Bannon

The criminal trial of disheveled white nationalist Steve Bannon commenced this week after prosecutors presented evidence that the Trump confidante never actually had the executive privilege he claimed kept him from complying with the investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

So Late Show host Stephen Colbert weighed in on the oleaginous worm that is Steve Bannon.

“I mean, wow, he really hung Bannon out to dry,” Stephen Colbert said of Trump on Tuesday. “Which isn’t easy, because he excretes a thick layer of sebum.”

Colbert continued: “Finally, Bannon can tell the former president’s side of the story. [Imitating Bannon] ‘Mr. Chairman, this is all a simple misunderstanding. The president didn’t mean to grab the steering wheel from the Secret Service — he just thought it was a big black doughnut!’"

Watch the entire segment below: