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FBI Director Testifies Capitol Rioters Carried ‘All Sorts Of Weapons’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified under oath on Thursday that at least one person among the supporters of Donald Trump who rioted at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 carried a firearm, while many used other items as weapons, refuting GOP attempts to portray the insurrection as less violent than it was.

Asked by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee whether anyone involved in the riot had been armed with a firearm, Wray responded, "I can think of at least one instance where there was an individual with a gun inside the Capitol, but for the most part the weapons were weapons other than firearms."

Gohmert is one of several GOP lawmakers who have downplayed the attack that left five people dead and 140 law enforcement officers injured. Republicans like Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) falsely described the riot as a "normal tourist visit," while Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) described the Trump supporters who violently pushed their way into the Capitol and beat up police officers guarding the building as "peaceful patriots."

Gohmert, for his part, falsely claimed back in May that there was no evidence to suggest the attack was an "armed insurrection" and said the FBI was "unfairly" targeting Donald Trump supporters.

At the hearing, Wray said that nearly 500 people have been arrested and charged with crimes in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot, when a mob of Trump supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

Wray said that the insurrectionists had "all sorts of weapons, you know, kevlar, tactical vests, bear spray."

A Senate report released on Tuesday detailed the brutal attacks law enforcement officers suffered at the hands of the pro-Trump mob, finding that insurrectionists used weapons such as flag poles, metal fence stakes, and chemical irritants that left some officers with burns that they are still recovering from months after the attack.

The report did not delve into how the attack was fomented, nor how a future one like it can be prevented.

Democrats — and a very small minority of Republicans — are calling for an independent probe of the attack.

But the Republican minority leaders in Congress, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are blocking the formation of a bipartisan commission to answer those questions. Reports say Republican leaders fear such a probe could be imperil their party's chances in the 2022 midterm elections, with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) telling CNN he was concerned the results of an investigation "could be weaponized politically and drug into next year."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Poll: Nearly One-Third Of GOP Voters Believe Trump Will Be ‘Reinstated’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Nearly one-third of Republicans believe Donald Trump will be likely be "reinstated" in office in August, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday found — the latest lie the GOP base believes surrounding the 2020 election.

The poll found that an overwhelming majority of voters, or 72 percent, say it's "not likely at all" or "not very likely" that Trump will be reinstated. However, 17 percent of Republicans believe it's "very likely" that Trump will be reinstated, while another 12 percent believe reinstatement is "somewhat likely."

Trump himself has been telling advisers that he will be reinstated by August, according to a report from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman confirmed by other outlets.

The lie appears to have emanated from the QAnon conspiracy theory world, which purports that the shambolic audit of the 2020 results underway in Arizona will prove that Trump actually won the state, and will start a domino effect as GOP lawmakers in other states push for similar audits.

However, the Arizona audit will not overturn the state's 2020 presidential election results, according to which Biden carried it by more than 10,000 votes. Those results not only have already been certified, but also have been verified by three separate previous audits that found no fraud nor irregularities in the vote.

Experts say that the Arizona audit, being run by a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist who pushed lies that the election was stolen, is being run so shoddily and by people who so desperately want to prove fraud exists that the results will be irrevocably tainted.

While the conspiracy theory appears to have started in QAnon circles, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says he believes he is the one who turned Trump on to the baseless idea of "reinstatement."

"If Trump is saying August, that is probably because he heard me say it," Lindell told the Daily Beast on June 2. Lindell is a vocal Trump supporter and conspiracy theorist who has lied about the election being stolen and advocated for Trump to invoke "martial law" to block Joe Biden from taking office.

Sidney Powell, the ex-Trump campaign lawyer who is being sued for defamation over her voter fraud lies, repeated the reinstatement lie at a QAnon conference in late May.

"He can simply be reinstated ... a new inauguration date is set, and Biden is told to move out of the White House, and President Trump should be moved back in," Powell said at the conference.

The "reinstatement" lie is not the only one GOP voters believe.

Two-thirds of Republicans, or 67 percent, believe that Biden did not legitimately win the election, according to a CBS News poll from May.

And a PRRI-IFYC poll from May found that nearly 30 percent of Republicans believe the QAnon claim that "things have gotten so far off track" in the United States that "true American patriots may have to resort to violence."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Senate Report Details Brutal  Attacks On Capitol Police By Trump Mob

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Two Senate committees on Tuesday released a report about security failures leading up to the violent and deadly insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. The report concluded that law enforcement departments and intelligence agencies were woefully unprepared to stop the mob of Donald Trump supporters that forced their way into the building in an effort to block certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

The report also details the brutal injuries law enforcement officers suffered as they sought to fight back against the Trump supporters who breached the building.

The accounts in the report from law enforcement officers on the scene rebut the alternative reality that a number of GOP lawmakers have attempted to create around the attack as they tried to absolve Trump and his supporters of culpability, including a false assertion from Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), who said Jan. 6 was not an insurrection but merely a "normal tourist visit."

One officer recalled to Senate investigators:

[We] did what we could against impossible odds and a volatile crowd which many times threatened us with phrases like 'We're gonna kill you!', 'We're gonna murder you and then them!', 'You guys are traitors and should be killed!' ... I felt at this time a tangible fear that maybe I or some of my colleagues might not make it home alive.

The report said that roughly 140 officers were injured in the attack, including one who lost an eye and another who was stabbed with a "metal fence stake."

According to the report:

Many officers have recounted repeated attacks with chemical irritants from the crowd, including bear spray and insecticide. One officer stated that he was 'sprayed in the eyes with some kind of chemical irritant that was far stronger than any pepper spray I have ever had used against me in training.' Other officers reported burns, breathing and lung complications, and their eyes sealing shut from irritation due to repeated exposure to the chemical irritants. Captain Carneysha Mendoza testified to the Committees that she received chemical burns to her face, which had not healed nearly two months after the attack

The report, however, did not examine what caused the attack, nor did it look into Trump's role specifically in inciting the mob that ransacked the Capitol.

For those reasons, Democrats have been demanding an outside commission to look into the origins of the insurrection and make recommendations to prevent similar attacks in the future.

Yet GOP leaders — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — are against the commission because they fear it will imperil their party's chances in the 2022 midterm elections.

In fact, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) — who was booted from House GOP leadership because she blamed Trump and his lies about a stolen 2020 election for the vicious attack on the Capitol — said she believes some Republicans don't want an investigation because they fear they'll be implicated.

Some Capitol Police officers have publicly said they are angry that Republicansare blocking the commission.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Mo Brooks Erupts When Served In Capitol Riot Lawsuit

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) appears to be up in arms after he was finally served a lawsuit from California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is accusing Brooks of helping incite the violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 and is seeking damages from Brooks for his conduct.

Brooks was one of the leaders of the effort to try to block congressional certification of President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory last January 6. And he spoke at a rally that preceded the insurrection, telling the Donald Trump-supporting crowd that eventually stormed the Capitol that "American patriots" should "start taking down names and kicking ass."

On March 5, Swalwell sued Brooks — along with Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani — whom he accused of being responsible for the attack by launching "a campaign of lies and incendiary rhetoric [that] led to the sacking of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021."

Yet Swalwell's lawyers had been unable to serve Brooks with the suit, claiming Brooks was evading them. On Sunday, Swalwell's lawyers were finally able to serve Brooks with the lawsuit.

Brooks took to Twitter to lash out.

"Well, Swalwell FINALLY did his job, served complaint (on my WIFE). HORRIBLE Swalwell's team committed a CRIME by unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife!" Brooks Tweeted.

Brooks continued: "Alabama Code 13A-7-2: 1st degree criminal trespass. Year in jail. $6000 fine. More to come!"

One of Swalwell's lawyers, Philip Andonian, denied any wrongdoing, telling CNN that, "No one entered or even attempted to enter the Brooks' house. That allegation is completely untrue. A process server lawfully served the papers on Mo Brooks' wife, as the federal rules allow."

Andonian added, "This was after her initial efforts to avoid service. Mo Brooks has no one but himself to blame for the fact that it came to this."

Brooks was mocked online for his tweet, which included a photo of his computer screen that showed the Alabama legal code — along with a piece of paper that included Brooks' Gmail password and a pin number to an unknown account. Twitter users pointed out that Brooks serves on a House Armed Services Subcommittee that deals with cybersecurity, yet he gave access to his Gmail account to Twitter users by publicly posting his password.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

New Poll: Arizona Voters Reject 2020 Election ‘Audit’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A majority of likely voters in Arizona oppose the audit state Senate Republicans forced of some 2.1 million ballots cast in the state's 2020 presidential elections, according to a poll released Thursday by a GOP consulting firm in the state, a fact Republican analysts say could be problematic for the party in the coming midterm elections.

The poll found 55 percent of voters don't support the hand recount of some 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County, the state's largest. Democrats overwhelmingly oppose it, but so do 68 percent of unaffiliated voters.

What's more, 44.5 percent of likely voters say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supported the audit, leading Chuck Coughlin, a Republican who is the president and CEO of the firm that conducted the poll, to say it proves the audit is a political liability for the GOP.

"While it is to be expected that they would receive significant opposition from Democrats, this audit makes them face headwinds among independent and unaffiliated voters as well," Coughlin said of the Republicans who forced the audit in the first place. "As we have said before, 'never run the last election, run the election you are in now.' This issue is an electoral cul-de-sac that spells trouble for Republicans in 2022."

The poll results come as bad news continues to plague the audit — which was forced by Republican state senators and is being run by a Donald Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist who was involved in a failed effort to overturn the election.

Election experts who witnessed the counting called the audit a mismanaged mess, condemning the conspiracy-fueled exercise as one meant simply to sow doubt in the election result rather than actually audit the vote.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said the audit's shoddy security protocols compromised millions of dollars worth of election equipment, and she advised Maricopa County election officials that they should purchase new machines.

The Department of Justice said the entire audit may be in violation of federal election law, as ballots are not supposed to go to outside contractors this soon after an election.

In fact, even some GOP lawmakers in the state have come out to say the audit is an embarrassment that needs to stop, and that it makes Republicans look like "idiots."

Yet Republicans are pressing on in their quest to scrounge up evidence for Trump's voter fraud lies.

CNN interviewed state Senate President Karen Fann — whose lawsuit forced the audit in the first place — who stood by the audit despite the problems and continued to promote lies about dead people voting.

Two previous audits conducted in the state found no evidence of Fann's claims.

"There is no doubt that a mid-term 2022 turnout will lean more Republican, but the audit appears to mitigate advantages in this upcoming cycle that should otherwise be helpful to GOP candidates," Paul Bentz, another Republican consultant who works at the Arizona High Ground firm, said in a news release.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Cheney Backs Voter Suppression Bills Based On Trump’s Big Lie

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump and her fellow Republican lawmakers who have lied about voter fraud in the 2020 election — so vocal, in fact, that she lost her position in House GOP leadership over it.

Yet in an interview with Axios that aired on Sunday, Cheney said she supports the voter suppression legislation Republicans have pushed across the country in 2021, even as the same lies of fraud are being used to justify those bills.

In the interview with Axios' Jonathan Swan, Cheney denied that the hundreds of voter suppression bills — some of which have already become law — were based on Trump's voter fraud lies.

"I will never understand the resistance, for example, to voter ID," Cheney told Axios' Jonathan Swan. "There's a big difference between that and a president of the United States who loses an election after he tried to steal the election and refuses to concede."

However, many of the more than 360 pieces of voter suppression legislation Republican state legislators have introduced this year attack the very same methods of voting Trump has falsely blamed for his loss.

For example, GOP-controlled state legislatures in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Iowa have all passed laws making it harder to vote by mail — a method of voting Trump falsely said is rife with fraud and demanded be scaled back in future elections.

Arizona's Republican governor recently signed into law a bill that purges the state's Permanent Early Voting List of voters who do not vote in two straight election cycles. The list allowed voters to opt to receive absentee ballots for every election, and the change could purge more than 125,000 voters from the list.

Georgia and Florida also now require ID to vote by mail, and both cut back on the use of ballot drop boxes — which Trump falsely said could lead to fraud.

Voting rights advocates say the changes are directly aimed at making it harder for voters of color to cast ballots. It's led voting rights experts to describe the GOP voter suppression effort as Jim Crow 2.0.

What's more, states like Georgia took away power from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — who refused to follow Trump's demand to steal the 2020 — and instead gave it to GOP state lawmakers who could use it to overturn elections.

"Had their grand plan been law in 2020, the numerous attempts by state legislatures to overturn the will of the voters would have succeeded," Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia state representative who now runs a voting rights organization, told the New York Times in March.

Ultimately, Cheney's refusal to fight back against voter suppression efforts shows she is still a Republican, even though she's bucked her party on support for Trump.

And the Republican Party has been the party of voter fraud lies and voter suppression even before Trump's 2020 effort to steal the election.

For example in 2019, conservatives in Wisconsin sought to purge more than 230,000 people from the voter rolls ahead of the 2020 election. The effort failed; however, a report showed that the purge would have affected Black voters at higher rates — a group that backs Democrats by wide margins.

Meanwhile, in 2016, Republicans in North Carolina passed a voter ID law that was struck down by a federal court, which said the law targeted "African Americans with almost surgical precision," and that it would "impose cures for problems that did not exist."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Conspiracy Theorists Force Another Sham Election ‘Audit’ — In Georgia

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A county court judge in Georgia on Friday agreed to let a group of election conspiracy theorists examine 145,000 absentee ballots cast in Fulton County in the 2020 general election, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, marking the latest attempt to search for voter fraud that multiple recounts and audits have already determined did not exist.

Georgia has already had three recounts of ballots in the state, which did not find discrepancies and cemented the fact that Joe Biden won by 11,779 votes.

The group of nine plaintiffs who sued to force the audit — including a self-proclaimed elections advocate named Garland Favorito — made wild and baseless allegations of voter fraud in Georgia's presidential election, and they want to prove it with another review of ballots.

During a hearing, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero said that the ballots would need to remain in the custody of Fulton County election officials.

This would presumably avoid the disaster that is currently taking place in Arizona, where a firm owned by a Donald Trump-supporting election conspiracy theorist is running a shoddy and scandal-plagued audit of the state's presidential results.

Election experts say the Arizona audit is not following proper protocol, with Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs saying the audit compromised voting equipment that now must be replaced, which could cost millions of dollars.

The Department of Justice raised concerns that the entire Arizona audit may be in violation of election law, which says that ballots must remain in custody of election officials for a certain period after an election.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia's audit will have election officials scan the absentee ballots so the plaintiffs can examine them.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), a Trump ally who has lied about voter fraud and was part of the "stop the steal" effort that helped incite the insurrection by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, welcomed the news of the Georgia audit.

"Great news!" Greene tweeted after the judge's ruling. "The taxpayers pay for the ballots and they have every right to audit the elections."

Trump has also cheered on audits, thinking they will vindicate his voter fraud lies. He's made numerous comments about the Arizona audit, which one Arizona Republican official called "unhinged."

This all comes after Trump unsuccessfully tried to steal the Georgia election.

Trump pressured Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" the exact number of ballots Trump needed to declare him the winner of the state over Joe Biden. Raffensperger refused, and has stood by his assertion that the Georgia election was well run and that the results are accurate.

Voting rights groups are already condemning Georgia's new audit.

"To be clear: The latest Big Lie news out of Georgia is a sideshow, not an audit," Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group launched by Stacey Abrams, tweeted. "Media must not give it credibility through false word choices. Like Maricopa County's discredited 'audit' this is and will be a sham."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Fearful Senate Republicans Will Filibuster To Stop Capitol Riot Commission

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

The odds that the Senate will pass a bipartisan commission to study the origins of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol are growing increasingly slim, as Senate Republicans are coming out one by one to say they do not support the probe.

Even Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump for inciting the violent insurrection say they do not support the commission, twisting themselves in pretzels to justify their decision.

And that makes it increasingly likely that the commission will be the first thing Republicans filibuster during President Joe Biden's tenure. Current filibuster rules say that legislation in the Senate must garner 60 votes in order to proceed. Given that the Senate is split 50-50 along partisan lines, that means Democrats need 10 GOP votes to pass bills.

"I don't think there will be 10 votes on our side for it," Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), told Politico. "At this stage, I'd be surprised if you're gonna get even a handful."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will bring the commission up for a vote, whether or not it has enough GOP support to avoid a filibuster — meaning that if 10 Republicans do not vote in favor of the commission, it will be officially blocked.

"Senate Republicans can show everyone if they want to pursue the truth about January 6th or just want to cover up for Donald Trump and insurrectionists," Schumer tweeted on Thursday. "I will bring the House-passed legislation for the January 6th Commission to the Senate floor for a vote."

Republicans who have come out against the commission have falsely claimed it's not bipartisan and will be used as a witch hunt by Democrats.

"The current commission proposed by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats appears to be a platform to score partisan political points," Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said in a statement about why he opposes the commission.

The framework of the commission, however, was brokered by the Democratic chair of the House Homeland Security Committee and the GOP ranking member on that same body.

The members of the commission would be equally appointed by Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress, according to the agreement. And any subpoenas would require a majority vote, meaning there would need to be buy-in from the GOP-appointed members.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who came out against the commission on Wednesday, said the arrests by federal law enforcement are sufficient, even though the arrests will not lead to a comprehensive report about what went wrong and how to prevent future attacks like the Jan. 6 insurrection again. That's something a commission would explicitly do.

Even Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection, came out against the commission.

Burr told Politico that part of his opposition to the commission is that it would drag into the midterm elections.

Multiple GOP lawmakers have said that they believe the commission could hamper Republican chances of taking back the House and Senate in November 2022, with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) saying that a probe could uncover that some Republican lawmakers played a role in the attack.

"I want our midterm message to be on the kinds of things that the American people are dealing with: That's jobs and wages and the economy and national security, safe streets and strong borders — not relitigating the 2020 elections," Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told CNN.

Republicans filibustering a bipartisan commission to probe a deadly attack on democracy gives progressive Democrats who have been railing against the arcane Senate procedure more fuel to their argument that the filibuster must go.

"Filibustering a bipartisan Commission regarding the January 6 insurrection is a three dimensional way to make the point that the filibuster is primarily a destructive force in American politics," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) tweeted.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Unvaccinated Republican Leads Anti-Mask Tantrum On House Floor

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A Kentucky Republican who is not vaccinated, and says he has no plans to be, led an anti-mask protest on the House floor — protesting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to keep a mask mandate following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the organizer of the protest, according to multiple reports. Massie, along with nearly a dozen other GOP lawmakers, refused to wear masks in the House chamber even though they are still required. The lawmakers face fines for their behavior, as part of House rules.

"We've had enough," Massie tweeted on Tuesday. "We are refusing to wear our masks on the floor during this vote in spite of Pelosi's threat to take $500 from each of us. Her rule is not based on science. All you need to know is the mask rule has only ever applied to members when they can be seen on TV!"

Even if Pelosi had changed the guidance based on the CDC's new guidance — which says fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors — Massie would still not be able to take his mask off under the House rules, as he has not been vaccinated.

The rest of the lawmakers who joined Massie's protest — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Lauren Boebert (CO), Brian Mast (FL), Chip Roy (TX), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Beth Van Duyne (TX), Louie Gohmert (TX), Ralph Norman (SC), and Mary Miller (IL) — would not tell NBC News reporter Haley Talbot whether they are fully vaccinated.

But some of those lawmakers, like Greene, have said they had no plans to get the vaccine.

And others have made anti-vaccine comments in the past, including Boebert, who in the fall of 2020 came out against all vaccine requirements, such as public school rules that students be vaccinated before starting.

Of the lawmakers in the protest, only one — Norman — has publicly confirmed being vaccinated, according to a CNN survey of every member of Congress. Meanwhile, every single Democratic lawmaker in both the House and Senate is vaccinated.

It's not the first time some of these lawmakers blatantly disregarded mask rules.

During the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, Greene was one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who refused to wear masks in a safe room where members of Congress were hidden from the violent Donald Trump-supporting mob that was ransacking the building.

Republicans have been fighting mask mandates since the early days of the pandemic, even though public health experts said face coverings were the best way to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus until vaccines were widely available.

And now that vaccines are available, many of those same Republicans lawmakers are refusing to get the vaccine, which could complicate efforts to end the pandemic.

Polls have shown that Republican voters are more hesitant to get vaccinated than Democratic and independent voters. And vaccine rates in states across the country bear that out, with blue states having far higher vaccination rates than red ones. President Joe Biden carried all 10 of the states that currently have the highest vaccination rates, according to the New York Times vaccine tracker.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

VIDEO: Maricopa Republicans Urge Shutdown Of Arizona ‘Audit’ — Now

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Republican election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, have had enough of the state Senate GOP's audit of their county's 2020 presidential election results.

In a letter to the state Senate president and in a fiery news conference on Monday night, Bill Gates, one of four Republicans on the five-member Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, charged that the audit is "beneath the dignity of the Senate."

"Enough is enough," Gates said during the news conference. "It's time to push back on the big lie."

"I want to be clear that I believe that Joe Biden won the election, all right, and the reason that I feel confident in saying that, particularly in Maricopa County, is that we overturned every stone, and we have professionals, both with the early voting and the Election Day voting. They did everything right; we asked the difficult questions, all right, and we certified the election back in November. But now it's time to say, Enough is enough."

Two previous audits of the same vote found no evidence of fraud or irregularities.

"We must do this," Gates said. "We must do this as a member of the Republican Party, we must do this as a member of the Board of Supervisors. We need to do this as a country, otherwise we are not going to be able to move forward and have an election in 2022 that we can all believe the results — whatever they may be."

Gates' comments came after the current auditors — who were hired by a firm run by a Donald Trump-supporting conspiracy theoristaccused Maricopa County of deleting voter databases before handing over materials for the audit.

It's not true, but Republicans — including Trump himself — have glommed on to the lie as evidence they are right about their voter fraud claims.

Aside from holding the news conference, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors also sent a letter to Republican Senate President Karen Fann, who forced the audit that's currently taking place, accusing the auditors Fann hired of lying and defaming the board.

"Their stunning lack of a basic understanding for how their software works is egregious and only made worse by the false tweet sent defaming the hardworking employees of Maricopa County," the letter reads.

The letter goes on to say that the the GOP-controlled Senate's "so called 'audit' demonstrates to the world that the Arizona Senate is not acting in good faith, has no intention of learning anything about the November 2020 General Election, but is only interested in feeding the various festering conspiracy theories that fuel the fundraising schemes of those pulling your strings."

The Republicans on the Board of Supervisors are the latest GOP officials in Arizona to come out against the audit, which has pushed baseless and racist conspiracy theories.

GOP state Sen. Paul Boyer, who initially supported the audit, now says the effort makes Republicans "look like idiots."

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has raised concerns that the audit is violating election laws.

It's unclear when the audit will wrap up. The count is currently paused, as the arena where it's being held was booked for the week for high school graduations.

Even before the pause, the audit was running far behind schedule.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Done With 2020, Lindsey Graham Is 'Moving On' To Voter Suppresion 2022

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Monday that he accepts the results of the 2020 election as well as President Joe Biden's win, but supports the myriad voter suppression efforts Republicans are undertaking across the country, ahead of the 2022 midterm contests.

Graham made the comments in response to a reporter's question about the controversial election audit in Arizona, which is based on voter fraud lies and conspiracy theories of a stolen victory, pushed by Donald Trump. That audit has sparked concern from the Justice Department that the audit is not adhering to election law.

Graham claimed to not know much about the audit, but said, "I accept the results of the election," adding that he is ready to "move on."

"2020 is over for me, I'm ready to march on and hopefully take back the House and the Senate in 2022," Graham told reporters in his home state of South Carolina.

The senator did not say whether he believes there was fraud in the November race, but advocated for voter suppression laws ahead of the next election, specifically singling out a desire to make it harder to vote absentee.

"I think it's smart to reform our laws to make sure you are who you are," Graham said, noting he supports voter ID laws. "I think there are a lot of people that feel like bad things happened in the election ... But I think President Trump and the Republican Party needs [sic] to focus on election reform and the upcoming election."

Experts have said repeatedly that voter ID laws are often discriminatory and target low income and minority communities, as well as those with disabilities. Further, those experts say ID laws are largely useless, considering that the kinds of fraud those laws claim to target are rare.

Despite this, a number of states have attempted to make it harder for people to vote in the months since Biden's win, many citing baseless claims fraud in the November election while introducing legislation limiting ballot drop-boxes, shortening early voting, and enacting other strict policies that frequently target minority and low-income communities.

Graham, for his part, initially backed Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election, even suggesting in a November 2020 call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger that mail-in ballots in certain counties in the state be tossed.

"During our discussion, he asked if ballots could be matched back to the envelope. I explained our process, after it went through two sets of signature match, at that point they were separated," Raffensperger said after the call.

He continued, "But then Senator Graham implied for us to audit the envelopes and then throw out the ballots for counties who have the highest frequency error of signatures. I tried to help explain that because we did signature match, you couldn't tie the signatures back anymore to those ballots."

Graham's conversation with Raffensperger was later included as part of a criminal investigation into Trump's effort to steal the state, according to the Washington Post. The investigation stemmed from Trump's demand that Raffensperger "find" 11,780 ballots — the exact number needed for Trump to be declared winner of the state.

Graham himself also made allegations of fraud in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election.

"We'll see what that comes up with. So I think you're going to see some major irregularities," Graham said on Nov. 6, 2020, a day before the media called the race for Biden. "Democracy depends upon fair elections. President Trump's team is going to have the chance to make a case, regarding voting irregularities. ... I'm going to stand with President Trump."

After no voter fraud evidence surfaced, and after Trump incited the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Graham said that Trump needed to stop pushing voter fraud lies and move forward, voting to certify Biden's win along with the overwhelming majority of the Senate.

Trump, for his part, has not listened.

Since May 12, Trump has published seven posts on his new blog saying there was fraud in the 2020 election and that the election was stolen. One blog post was so full with lies that a Republican election official in Arizona called it "unhinged."

Still, Graham has said he has no intention of ditching Trump, despite the voter fraud lies.

"Can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no," Graham said earlier in May, when Republicans were waging their effort to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from leadership. "I've always liked Liz Cheney, but she's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump. I've determined we can't grow without him."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

House Homeland Security Committee Reaches Bipartisan Deal On Jan. 6 Commission

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Members of Congress have reached a deal on a commission that will probe the violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol 128 days after a mob of Donald Trump supporters carried out the attack. The deal, reached by House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and ranking member John Katko (R-NY), was announced by Thompson.

The House is expected to vote on a bill that would establish the commission in the coming weeks, according to a report from CNBC.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Friday morning that he wanted the commission to look beyond the Capitol insurrection: "I know Nancy Pelosi played politics with this for a number of months, and you got to look at the buildup before, and what went on afterward, otherwise the commission is not worth it," he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Congress has held multiple hearings on the events of the January 6 insurrection, when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol to demand lawmakers block certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election. Five people died as a result, and roughly 140 law enforcement officers were injured with everything from head trauma to burns.

However, the so-called National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex will not be made up of members of Congress or any currently serving government officials.

Instead, it will have ten members, five each appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, who will be experts in key fields such as law enforcement, intelligence, counterterrorism, law, and civil rights.

The commission will have the power to subpoena documents and testimony related to the attack from relevant figures and government departments.

Thompson said in a statement announcing the deal on the commission:

Inaction — or just moving on — is simply not an option. The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the U.S. Capitol. After all, the Capitol is not just a historic landmark; it is where our constituents come to see their democracy in action. As such, we owe it to the Capitol Police and all who enter our citadel of democracy to investigate the attack. The timing of this action is particularly poignant with this being National Police Week, when we honor those who gave their lives to protect us.

Democrats have been pushing for a commission for months.

However, Republican leaders were blocking a deal by demanding it also look into Black Lives Matter protests and antifa, which had nothing to do with the January 6 attack.

The GOP lost that battle: The deal reached by Thompson and Katko does not include BLM or antifa in the commission's charge.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said Republicans were blocking the commission because some GOP lawmakers may be implicated in the findings of the review.

McCarthy did not commit to voting for it. He reportedly said Friday that he wants to see the details and that he wants the commission to focus on more than just the events of January 6.

The commission is mandated to submit a final report to the president and Congress by the end of 2021.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

McCarthy: Nobody Is ‘Questioning The Legitimacy’ Of The 2020 Election

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday that no one is "questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election," even as multiple members of his own party, including Donald Trump, continue to do exactly that.

"I don't think anybody is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election," McCarthy said at a news conference outside the White House, where he met with President Joe Biden on Wednesday. "That's all over with. We are sitting here with the president today."

McCarthy made the comment just hours after Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her House leadership role for her outspoken criticism of Donald Trump and his lies of a stolen election.

Cheney accused members of her own party of going down an authoritarian path by not calling out voter fraud lies, saying in a Tuesday night speech that Republicans need to "speak the truth. Our election was not stolen. And America has not failed."

House Republicans are likely to replace Cheney with is Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who is still calling Trump "the president."

On January 6, the day of the Capitol insurrection, Stefanik lied about voter fraud, falsely claiming in an "open letter" to her constituents that "more than 140,000 votes came from underage, deceased, and otherwise unauthorized voters — in Fulton County alone."

It's a lie Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said was outrageous.

"The suggestion that one-fourth of all ballots cast in Fulton County in November were illegal is ludicrous," Raffensperger told CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale.

What's more, McCarthy's claim that no one is questioning the outcome of the race came two days after Trump himself issued yet another lie-filled post on his new blog claiming there was widespread fraud in the election and that he, not Biden, won.

McCarthy himself has worked to raise doubts about the election outcome.

On November 6, one day before the race was called for Biden, McCarthy said in a Fox News appearance that "President Trump won this election, so everyone who's listening, do not be quiet. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes."

McCarthy also backed a since-failed lawsuit from the Texas Attorney General that sought to invalidate the votes in states Biden won. And he later was one of the 147 members of Congress to vote to block certification of Joe Biden's win — based off lies of fraud and irregularities in the election.

Ultimately, the consistent lies from Trump and the GOP about a stolen election have led Republican voters to believe Biden's win was illegitimate.

An Economist/YouGov poll from the end of April found 74 percent of Republican voters don't believe Biden legitimately won the election.

It's something Cheney said in her Tuesday speech she is afraid of.

"I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former President's crusade to undermine our democracy," Cheney said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

McCarthy Facing GOP Backlash Over Cheney Ouster

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans are privately grumbling about House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, saying his effort to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from the GOP top brass raises questions about his leadership and his ability to serve as speaker if Republicans regain control of the House, Politico reported.

According to Politico's report, House Republicans — some of them considered allies of McCarthy's — are frustrated that McCarthy has taken more action to punish Cheney for criticizing Donald Trump while letting the behavior of Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) slide.

Gaetz is under federal investigation for alleged child sex trafficking, while Greene has made offensive comments and rankled her fellow Republicans by interfering with House business.

One unnamed GOP lawmaker told Politico, referring to McCarthy's possible speaker vote:

Kevin McCarthy has pissed off enough members of his own conference that he's going to have to go back to his former days as a whip to try to figure out where his votes are. I'd be worried if I was him. … You have people like me — who are here to do the right thing for all the right reasons and have an expectation of leadership — that are, shall we say, disgusted with the internal squabbling that results from having weak leadership. And it is weak leadership. Straight up.

Other GOP lawmakers have been more vocal in their frustration with McCarthy.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), who has stood up for Cheney and similarly criticized Trump for his election lies and incitement of insurrection, said McCarthy has been inconsistent with his own comments toward Trump.

At a virtual event hosted by the National Press Foundation, Kinzinger pointed out that McCarthy also blamed Trump for the January 6 riot at the Capitol before later absolving Trump and embracing the ex-commander-in-chief.

"She is being run out for one thing: her consistency," Kinzinger said at the event, according to CNN. "She said the exact same thing that Kevin McCarthy said on January 6, which is Donald Trump is responsible" for the riot.

Indeed, on January 13, the day the House impeached Trump for a second time for inciting the Capitol insurrection, McCarthy said Trump needs to "accept his share of responsibility" for the riot.

"The president bears responsibility for Wednesday's attack on Congress by mob rioters," McCarthy said in a speech on the House floor, even though he voted against impeaching Trump. "He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. These facts require immediate action by President Trump."

Kinzinger went on to accuse McCarthy of lying in an eye-popping remark.

"You cannot unite with lies, if somebody is going to use lies to gain power and say, 'let's have unity,' you can't do it," Kinzinger said, an apparent reference to McCarthy's comments that Cheney cannot be in leadership because her comments don't unify the House conference. "'We need to remove Liz Cheney because she makes me have to answer questions that I know are false.' That's what they're saying."

Ultimately, McCarthy announced on Monday that Republicans will vote on Wednesday on whether to remove Cheney from her leadership role. Multiple reports say Cheney is almost assured to lose her leadership post.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Announcing Cheney Ouster, McCarthy Insists GOP Is ‘A Big Tent Party’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Monday announced Republicans will vote to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from her leadership role in the party — a punishment meted out because Cheney has said Donald Trump should not play a role in the future of the GOP.

McCarthy made the announcement in a letter to House Republicans, in which he claimed that the GOP is a "big tent" party that "embrace[s] free thought and debate" — even as Republicans are quite literally demoting a member for using her platform to criticize Trump.

"We are a big tent party. We represent Americans of all backgrounds and continue to grow our movement by the day," McCarthy wrote. "And unlike the left, we embrace free thought and debate. All members are elected to represent their constituents as they see fit, but our leadership team cannot afford to be distracted from the important work we were elected to do and the shared goals we hope to achieve."

McCarthy has previously endorsed the plan to remove Cheney from her leadership position over her outspoken criticism of Trump.

And on Sunday, McCarthy said in an interview on Fox News that he supports Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as a replacement.

Stefanik has embraced Trump's big lie that the 2020 election was stolen. She voted to overturn the results of the election, even after the Trump-supporting mob of insurrectionists ransacked the Capitol, leading to five deaths and more than 100 law enforcement injuries.

The congresswoman has ramped up her efforts to spread election lies in her bid to oust Cheney, and has even called Trump "the president" in current tense.

Cheney, however, spoke out against Trump's lies even before the Jan. 6 insurrection.

In November 2020, Cheney said in a statement that if Trump didn't have concrete proof of voter fraud, "he should fulfill his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States by respecting the sanctity of our electoral process."

She also came out against the GOP plan to object to President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, writing in a Jan. 4 Facebook post, that "Congress does not ... have the authority to overturn state presidential election results by refusing to count electors," and that "Doing so would be establishing a tyranny of Congress and stealing power from the states and the people in those states."

Since the insurrection, Cheney has been even more outspoken, calling Trump a "threat to democracy" during a speech at a private donor retreat.

"What he did on January 6 is a line that cannot be crossed," Cheney said at the retreat, according to The Hill newspaper.

Only a few Republicans have come to Cheney's defense.

"Expelling Liz Cheney from leadership won't gain the GOP one additional voter, but it will cost us quite a few," Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), one of the handful of Republican senators who voted to convict Trump on the impeachment charge of inciting insurrection, tweeted on Monday after McCarthy's announcement.

However, Politico reported that Cheney is almost assured to be removed from her role.

"Liz Cheney doesn't represent our party," Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), one of the 147 members of Congress to vote to overturn the election results, tweeted on Monday. "We need a conference chair who will fight for our America-First agenda instead of undermining it. Liz Cheney has got to go!"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Two Days After Primary, Virginia GOP Has No Idea Who It Nominated For Governor

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Two days after Virginia Republicans held their primary for the state's high-stakes governor's race this November, it's unclear which candidate will emerge as the nominee, as ballot counting only began on Monday morning.

The lack of results in Saturday's voting runs counter to Donald Trump's and his GOP allies' demand after the 2020 election that all counting must be done and a winner declared on Election Day or else the results are fraudulent.

"I think it's a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over," Trump said on Nov. 2, 2020, in response to a question about whether he'd declare victory on election night even without a representative count of ballots.

"Because it can only lead to one thing and that's very bad. You know what that thing is. I think it's a very dangerous, terrible thing. And I think it's terrible when we can't know the results of the election the night of the election in a modern-day age of computers," Trump said.

There are a few reasons why counting is going glacially slow in the GOP primary for the critical gubernatorial election in the state.

First, Republicans held what's called a "firehouse primary," a more exclusionary nominating process in which a state party runs the election instead of state election officials.

Unlike in a regular primary, in which voters cast ballots for candidates and the one with the most votes wins, in the Virginia firehouse primary, results are tabulated using a formula by which votes from different areas of the state are weighted based on past Republican performance.

The election, which featured seven candidates, is also being determined by ranked choice, through which voters rate their favorite candidates in order. According to the Republican Party of Virginia:

Voters rank the candidates according to their preferences. When ballots are counted, if no single candidate earns more than 50 percent of the total vote statewide (after giving weight to each delegation's relative voting strength), the candidate with the fewest first choice preferences is eliminated. For the next round, the ballots favoring the eliminated candidate are then redistributed to the next highest ranked candidate on each ballot. This process is repeated until a candidate in each contest earns a simple majority of the votes.

Counting was also delayed after taped seals were discovered to be broken on the doors to a hotel ballroom where ballots were being stored, leading to fears of tampering. The Washington Post reported that it appeared a housekeeper had brought in coffee and other refreshments and that nothing was amiss.

The state party is counting every ballot by hand rather than using voting machines after candidates in the race raised baseless fears that using voting machines would lead to a rigged election.

The demand that votes be counted by hand rather than with machines came after Trump and his Republican supporters falsely accused voting machine companies of rigging machines against him in 2020. The allegation is false, and two of the voting machine companies smeared by the lies — Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic USA — have filed multiple billion-dollar lawsuitsagainst Trump aides who spread the conspiracy theory.

Republicans are counting the roughly 30,000 ballots cast in the election by hand, multiple times over.

The slow counting is not the only problem the GOP primary has run into.

First, some high-profile Republicans claimed they were disenfranchised by the process.

Right-wing radio show host Hugh Hewitt said he was not allowed to vote in the race even though he registered to do so.

"Bummer. Not on any list for the GOP Convention for which I registered to be a delegate months ago so I didn't get to vote. Same for FMH. And no provisional ballots! VA GOP does it again," Hewitt tweeted on Saturday, the day of the primary.

The voting was done at 39 drive-thru voting sites throughout the state, the same voting method Republicans in Texas are seeking to end.

And in the end just 30,000 Republicans cast ballots, about eight percent of the 366,000 Republicans who voted in the 2017 gubernatorial primary in the state. The 30,000 turnout was even less than the 53,000 who had preregistered for the primary, according to the Associated Press.

It's still unclear who among the four front-runners — state Sen. Amanda Chase, state Del. Kirk Cox, and businessmen Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder — will emerge as the nominee.

However, Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato, who serves as director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told the New York Times that the leading contenders are all similar to Trump, fitting into the categories of "Trumpy, Trumpier, Trumpiest."

Chase was one of the loudest voices pushing Trump in December 2020 to invoke martial law to block a peaceful transition of power to President Joe Biden.

Democrats, for their part, will hold a primary to choose their nominee on June 8.

Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race likely Democratic.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

GOP Leaders Preparing To Oust Cheney Over Clashes With Trump

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

House Republicans are growing more and more frustrated with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for speaking out against Donald Trump and may once again be plotting to remove her from her leadership role, according to multiple reports.

The latest Cheney comment that drew ire from Republicans came Monday, when she responded to a Trump statement in which he declared, "The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!"

Cheney responded to Trump's comment with a dig, tweeting: "The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system."

Cheney's honest assessment that claims of voter fraud are false drew ire from Republicans.

"Liz Cheney, once again back in the news, sounding like an MSNBC pundit. At this point, she's literally daring Kevin McCarthy to do something about it," Fox News host and right-wing bigot Laura Ingraham tweeted in response to Cheney's comment.

An unnamed ally of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also anonymously attacked Cheney, and said she may not hold her leadership role as chair of the House Republican conference for much longer.

"There is no way that Liz will be conference chair by month's end," the unnamed ally told The Hill's Scott Wong.

That comment echoes a Saturday tweet from Texas GOP Rep. Lance Gooden, who wrote: "Liz Cheney has promised she will campaign on impeaching Trump 'every day of the week.' Good luck with that, Liz! PREDICTION: she'll be out of her GOP leadership role by month's end!"

Cheney has been vocal in her opposition to Trump holding any leadership role in the Republican Party following his incitement of the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

Cheney was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for inciting that insurrection and has kept up her criticism ever since.

A group of right-wing House Republicans attempted to oust Cheney from her leadership role in February over her criticism of Trump. But that effort failed after McCarthy stood up for Cheney.

Now, a few months later, Politico reported that McCarthy is no longer planning to defend Cheney, as he believes her comments criticizing Trump are not helpful.

According to another Politico report, McCarthy told Cheney to tone down her comments, but Cheney did not heed that advice.

One Republican lawmaker who also voted to impeach Trump had a frank assessment of why other GOP lawmakers are fed up with Cheney.

"If a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit," Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-OH) told The Hill. "Liz isn't going to lie to people."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.