The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: trump election lies

Select Panel Hearing Will Probe Trump Push To Overturn 2020 Results In States

One day after Arizona’s 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump’s supporters, including armed protesters, converged on Maricopa County’s ballot counting center. That morning, a local congressman, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) had amplified Trump’s stolen election claims. He tweeted that Trump votes were uncounted in his state’s most populous county because many voters had used sharpie pens, which bled through the paper and spoiled their ballots.

Although the rumor, dubbed “Sharpie-gate,” was false, Gosar made a beeline for the protest. Rather than urging those present to accept disappointing results, he validated their fears. Gosar was not alone. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, another ambitious Republican – now running for the U.S. Senate as a “true conservative” – announced an investigation. These reactions, abusing their office’s prestige and authority, were not unique.

Trump called Maricopa County’s top elected Republican to pressure him to stop counting votes. The Arizona Republican Party, like the GOP in many battleground states, filed baseless lawsuits. Later that month, Trump’s Washington-based lawyers, who knew that Joe Biden won, flew into Phoenix. They met with GOP legislators, who let them use Arizona’s statehouse as a stage for making more false claims. In December, loyalists from state party officials to legislators, forged and signed a fake Electoral College certificate saying that Trump had won. Then they lobbied the vice president to count their fraudulent and illegal votes on January 6.

The fourth hearing by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol will focus on how Trump’s team pressured local and state government officials to overturn Biden’s victory. Tuesday’s witnesses include two Republican election officials from Georgia and a state legislator from Arizona who resisted Trump’s pressure and received numerous threats from Trump supporters that have continued into 2022’s elections.

The events in Arizona followed a template also seen in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, according to the panel’s disclosures and other reporting compiled by States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections.

“The same lies and conspiracy theories that fueled the January 6 attack contributed to threatening and violent messages aimed at election officials,” its Arizona update said. “These threats were launched over email, voicemails, texts, letters, social media, and in-person events, including gathering outside election officials’ homes.”

As the hearings continue, there are not only questions of what accountability will ensue for participants in Trump’s failed 2020 coup, but what can be done about a Republicans who still embrace the stolen election lie. This past weekend, for example, the Texas Republican Party adopted these claims in its party platform. That action follows scores of election-denying candidates running for state and federal office in 2022 and winning their primaries.

“These candidates and their successful primary campaigns are a stark reminder that the insurrection—and the lies that sparked it—did not end on January 6, 2021 or when former President Trump left office,” wrote States United’s leadership team, Noman Eisen, Joanna Lydgate, and Christine Todd Whitman (New Jersey’s ex-governor and a Republican) in Slate. “And they are proof that the kindling for the attack—and the continued stoking of the fire—is alive and well in the states.”

The trio contend that local accountability would have the greatest chance of stopping the cynical and dangerous stolen election claims. They suggest disbarring the “bad lawyers” who perpetuated the evidence-free falsehoods, which means ending their legal careers. They said that “district and county attorneys can bring criminal charges” against the coup’s participants and cited the investigation in Georgia’s Fulton County, where Trump tried to get Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to reverse Biden’s victory. (Raffensperger and his deputy are witnesses on Tuesday.)

They further suggested that local prosecutors go after militias like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers for confrontations with police, citing a lawsuit by the District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine. They also suggested that state attorneys general go after Trump’s post-election fundraising where false claims were used to dupe donors, citing a Michigan inquiry that’s underway and a possible New York State investigation.

“Democracy cannot exist without the rule of law,” they wrote. “Seeking accountability for those who step outside those bounds is critical to stopping the ongoing insurrection before it’s too late. If we want to prevent an election hijack in 2022 and 2024, it’s going to take a full-speed-ahead approach to accountability. And just like with our elections, we believe those [accountability efforts] will be run and led by the states.”

Tuesday’s disclosures may suggest which legal venues would be best for seeking accountability.

But there is another aspect of accountability that involves understanding and confronting the dysfunctional political psychologies that enabled this crisis. Pro-Trump politicians, candidates,and campaigners seem to share a mindset where they valued obtaining power above other personal, public, and professional considerations. It’s one thing to be a loyal and ambitious politician. It’s another to mimic party leaders who lie, show indifference to facts, embrace chaos and violence, bilk supporters, and say such actions were patriotic — and still are.

The hearings are revealing how far people who admired or envied Trump were willing to go. As new details surface so too are suggestions for how and where to hold participants accountable. But what has not yet been revealed is what might excise the dynamic in political life that allows such self-serving people to advance, and, as just seen in Texas, to keep lying.

Right-Wing Commissioners In New Mexico Rehearse Theft Of Future Elections

Otero County, New Mexico, home to 66,000 residents, is the scene of an election battle that could portend dark consequences for the future of American elections.

Earlier this week, the three-person county commission refused to certify the results of the June 7 primary. The commission is controlled by three Republicans, and their decision has triggered a crisis at the county level with an emergency meeting held on Friday.

At the time of the emergency meeting, the most high-profile commissioner, Couy Griffin, was in Washington D.C. facing his sentencing for participating in the January 6 riots. Griffin is known as the founder of Cowboys for Trump, and he was found guilty of entering a restricted area and acquitted on a disorderly conduct charge.

He has indicated that he has not changed his mind on the vote and will not vote to certify the election, but it is unknown whether he can phone in his vote.

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the commission had to certify the results of the county’s election, but Griffin has publicly called on his fellow commissioners to stand firm and vote against certification.

Vague 'Concerns'

The three county commissioners have been somewhat vague about why exactly they refuse to certify election results. But just like on the national stage, election fraud has been a major talking point for Otero County since the 2020 presidential election.

Dominion voting machines have drawn the ire of conservatives across the country, and one county commissioner said she does not trust the machines during a public meeting last Monday. They did not cite specific irregularities and fell back on a general distrust of the voting machines.

“I don’t have specific examples that I can point to other than the recent audit and the canvass and the uncertainty of what that produced,” said Griffin during the meeting.

But election officials and other watchdogs have pointed out that the voting machines are available to the public to view prior to an election to see how the certification process works.

Mario Jimenez, a member of the progressive watchdog group Common Cause New Mexico, said, “they have no basis — other than ‘we just don’t trust the machine’ — for not certifying the election.”

Nonetheless, the county commission has received plenty of attention as an example of conservative strongholds refusing to allow votes to be counted properly.

New Mexico’s secretary of state called the situation “a canary in the coal mine.”

Election Unrest

The January 6 riots have a clear through line to election unease heading into the 2022 midterms. Ever since Trump and his allies claimed election fraud as the culprit behind his loss, conservative groups on the ground in heavily red areas have been laying the groundwork to contest election results going forward.

In some cases, it manifests in harmless sore losers like Joey Gilbert, who lost Nevada’s Republican gubernatorial primary and insisted election fraud was the reason for the loss.

But in other cases, like Otero County, Republican officials loyal to Trump have put in work to get into positions of power to hold up voting certification, almost as a proof of concept for future elections.

In all likelihood, the Otero County primary election results will be certified and be recognized as legitimate results.

However, Griffin and his fellow commissioners have successfully proven that you can contest election results by simply seizing power of the county commission.

While Congress attempts to bring details about the January 6 riots to light, conservatives across the country are working at the local level to increase their stranglehold on power in rural, red communities.

Endorse This! Kimmel Lays Into Drunk Giuliani's Election Night Scheme

Jimmy Kimmel didn't waste any time laying into the latest revelation about lispy, gassy, leaky, and now tipsy Rudy Giuliani and the revelation that he was drunk on election night. Kimmel devoted his entire monologue to “Episode 2 of CSI: I Can’t Believe Donald Trump’s Not in Jail Yet”—otherwise known as the January 6 congressional hearings.

Trump’s absolutely insane and authoritarian decision to “reject the advice” of members of his team and declare victory on Election Night when even Fox News said he’d lost came from “an apparently inebriated” Rudy Giuliani.

“Apparently inebriated—which, by the way, is the title of Rudy Giuliani’s biography,” joked Kimmel. “Rudy Giuliani told him to go out and say he won. The way that you can tell Rudy is drunk is his breath smells more like booze than cigars and cat turds for a change.”

The claim that Rudy was as lit as the Capitol on January 6 was backed up by former Trump aide Jason Miller who, when asked whether there was anyone that night who “in your observation had had too much to drink,” replied, “Um… Mayor Giuliani.”

As Kimmel said, but then what was Trump's excuse?

Watch the entire segment below:

Distraction? Don Jr. Hit Amber Heard As Select Panel Torched Trump

As the House Select Committee held the first in its slate of landmark hearings, where it showed video after video of aides skewering former President Trump for his false claims of election fraud, Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s son, was whining about Amber Heard on social media.

In a tense and somewhat emotional prime-time hearing late Thursday, the select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot offered new information that portrayed what it characterized as an attempted coup by the former president — who, the panel said, rubber-stamped far-right calls for his vice president’s hanging.

Pretending to be uninterested in the January 6 hearings, Trump Jr. took to Instagram to share his thoughts on the long-since-concluded legal bout between Heard and her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.

“Believe all women? Really? All of them? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve Amber Heard,” Trump Jr. posted on Instagram. Whether or not Trump Jr. was referring to his sister, Ivanka’s testimony is unknown.

Social media users mocked the former president’s son not just for rehashing old news but also for his bizarre and laughable attempt to divert the attention of his social media followers from the January 6 hearings, where taped testimony from his sister, Ivanka Trump, denouncing her father’s lies of widespread electoral fraud was aired.

Trump Jr. is no stranger to mockery for his unhinged narrative on social media. In March, he was ridiculed for suggesting on social media that his father be allowed to partake in talks between NATO allies about the Ukraine war.

“Sending Biden to Europe for ‘High Stakes’ NATO talks will only embolden our enemies further,” Trump Jr. wrote. “If you want to get something done right send Trump.” Hours later, the phrase “send Trump” began trending as Twitter users suggested that the former president be sent to Moscow instead — and left there.

“Send [Trump] to Moscow. Leave him there,” someone tweeted. “99% of actual Americans agree we should send [Trump] to Moscow. And leave him there,” another Twitter user opined.

During its investigation, the House Select Committee obtained text messages from the phone of the former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, including messages from Trump Jr. pushing ideas of how his father could retain power despite losing the election.

“It’s very simple. We have multiple paths. We control them all,” Trump Jr. wrote to Meadows on November 5, 2020.

“Republicans control 28 states Democrats 22 states. Once again Trump wins,” the message said. “We either have a vote WE control and WE win OR it gets kicked to Congress 6 January 2021,” another November 5 Trump Jr. message read.

“We have operational control Total leverage. Moral High Ground POTUS must start 2nd term now,” Trump Jr. reportedly said in another text message.

The House Select Committee is reportedly set to hold its next hearing on Monday, 13 June, 2022, where it’s expected to continue detailing a “sprawling, multi-step conspiracy," spearheaded by former President Donald Trump to subvert a democratic election.

The Big Lie, Wrapped In More Lies -- And Finally Stripped Bare

Now Americans know for certain what many suspected since Election Day 2020, which is that Donald Trump, his enablers in the Congress, his publicists on Fox News and his co-conspirators in the White House were in on the Big Lie from the very beginning. All of them understood all along that Trump's insistent claim about election fraud was false and intended solely to deceive their followers.

Both the original deception and its protective wrapping were ripped away by the House Select Committee's revelatory hearing on June 9.

It is now undeniable that Trump and his gang were aware from the first week of November 2020 that he had lost the election to Joe Biden. Trump aide Jason Miller testified to the select committee that the campaign's own data expert had informed the then-president he "was going to lose," based on an internal assessment of the reported "county-by-county, state by state results."

According to Miller, Trump rejected this incontrovertible judgment because he wanted to fight the outcome in court. But his campaign swiftly lost every case brought to contest the election on both the state and federal levels, in courts overseen by judges of both parties, culminating in the summary dismissal of its claims by the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority that included three of his appointees.

Trump and his cronies knew from the start that their legal claims were entirely meritless. So did the lawyers representing him, including Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom have suffered court disciplinary action for their conscious lies.

Everybody around Trump, and their brothers and sisters and cousins, knew that he and they were lying about the election, even as they stoked outrage among his gullible true believers. But they continued to promote the Big Lie — and all the subsidiary lies — as the fateful date of January 6 approached.

Attorney General William Barr testified that he told Trump on three separate occasions that the claims of fraud were absolutely baseless. "I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit."

Yet instead of accepting the blunt assessment of the nation's highest law enforcement official, who had defended him during the Russia investigation, even misleading the public about the Mueller report, Trump threw Barr out of the Oval Office. He then attempted to appoint an eager flunky, Jeffrey Clark, as acting attorney general in order to foist a conscious lie on the states by misusing the authority of the Justice Department.

On December 28, 2020, Clark had drafted a letter to Georgia officials falsely asserting that the department had found voting irregularities that affected election results in several states. This was itself a conscious lie. What stopped Clark's appointment was a threat by Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and other top attorneys in the Justice Department and the White House to resign en masse, a potentially ruinous scandal.

The pattern was clear as the hearing proceeded, with Ivanka Trump testifying that she believed Barr (confirming a New York Times report that neither she nor her husband Jared Kushner credited Trump's "fraud" nonsense). But nobody around Trump saw any evidence to support the Big Lie, including the president himself.

Neither did the professional liars at Fox News, who gulled their audience into believing claims that they knew were ridiculous. At the hearing, Rep. Liz Cheney displayed an ominous text from Fox host Sean Hannity to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: "Key now, no more crazy people, no more stolen election talk. Yes, impeachment and 25th amendment are real. Many people will quit." In other words, Hannity knew that the Big Lie was a lie, even as he and his network mendaciously promoted it.

Conscious of its own guilt and involvement, Fox refused to televise the hearings, devoting its airtime to conspiracy theories. The same consciousness of guilt also seems to have seized a number of Republican members of Congress, whose futile efforts to obtain pardons from Trump during his final days in office were also disclosed by Cheney.

The only people who honestly swallowed the Big Lie were Trump's followers, thousands of whom assaulted the Capitol on that "wild" day of January 6. Now many of those unfortunate fools — the same crowd who invested their faith in fascist nonsense about coronavirus vaccines and Hollywood pedophiles — will go to prison because they believed in their golden calf, Donald Trump, who knew he was lying to them and leading them to the slaughter.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Arizona Republican Party Again Urges End To Mail-In Ballots

The Republican assault on free and fair elections, fueled by former President Trump’s lies claiming widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, is gaining speed -- and the party is once again in Arizona court asking a judge to dismiss the state’s century-old mail-in voting system.

In its lawsuit filed Friday in a Mohave County Superior Court, the Arizona GOP sought legal redress for the state’s overwhelmingly popular 100-year-old system of mail-in voting that 90 percent of Arizona voters use, arguing that the practice is unconstitutional and should be scrapped.

Alex Kolodin, an attorney for the party, argued in the court filing that only voters, not the legislature, could permit the inclusion of mail-in voting in the constitution, even though a majority of the state’s voters vote early, particularly by mail.

“I think it's time for our state to have that debate and voters to get to decide for themselves what sort of system of absentee voting they are comfortable with,” Kolodin argued.

In its court filing, the Arizona GOP asked the judge to invalidate mail-in voting for voters in the November midterms, but not for the primary in August. The party demanded that the court — if it lets mail-in voting remain — strip voters of their ability to vote early without an excuse, a practice introduced by a GOP-controlled legislature in 1991.

Last month, the Arizona Supreme Court threw out a similar voter suppression lawsuit by the state GOP. However, the top court allowed the party to litigate the case in lower courts, which the Republicans are now doing.

Arizona’s Democratic Party, as well as election officials and attorneys for the state, have decried the assault on voting by mail in the state, saying the widely favored voting system is safe and not prohibited by the state’s constitution.

They also argued that there was already little to no time for election officials to expand in-person voting places, which served only 10 percent of voters in 2020.

“They are not magicians,” said Karen Hartman-Tellez, a lawyer from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office representing election officials in six counties. “They cannot conjure polling places or poll workers out of nothing.”

Judge Lee Jantzen of the Mohave County Superior Court said he hopes to issue a ruling by Monday afternoon, according to US News.

If the state GOP succeeds, a majority of voters in Arizona — including military service personnel, most of whom vote by mail nationwide — will lose their right to mail in their ballots during the COVID pandemic, in a state where positive cases are back on the rise.

Republicans have already introduced 20 election subversion bills in Arizona, where Trump supporters demanded a ballot recount to challenge President Joe Biden’s victory.

The lawsuit is the latest in the Republican Party’s escalating effort across the country to enact restrictive voting laws that spell doom for multiracial democracy in the United States. Republicans in 27 states have introduced or enacted 250 legislative bills to restrict voting rights, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

The Guardian reports that by the end of 2021, 32 of the new voter-restrictions bills became law in 17 states, some of which are battleground states. These states were the focus of Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign, an effort that culminated in the violent January 6, 2021 insurrection that sought to upend the peaceful transfer of power after his 2020 election loss.

“We’re seeing an effort to hijack elections in this country, and ultimately, to take power away from the American people. If we don’t want politicians deciding our elections, we all need to start paying attention,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of the States United Democracy Center.

For the Republican Party, with its unpopular policies that cater strictly to its far-right base, minority rule through voter suppression is the only way to retain power.

Endorse This! Colbert Hilariously Destroys Herschel Walker's 'Gun Plan'

Republicans have been tripping over themselves in an all-out race to shield the NRA and find any blame for gun shootings that ignores actual guns. And while we thought Ted Cruz had the dumbest excuse, Georgia's Trump-backed Senate candidate and former football player Herschel Walker appear to have out-dumbed Cruz.

Walker says the solution to school shootings involves "a department that can look at young men that's looking at women that's looking at social media." Did Walker play wearing a helmet? Late Show host Stephen Colbert gleefully assessed his suggestion.

“Yeah, what about doing that?” Colbert said on Wednesday night. “It’s high time to create the Federal Bureau Of Looking At Young Men Who Are Looking At Women Who Are Looking At Social Media.”

Colbert even came up with a logo for this so-called agency.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.