The January 6 attack never ended
On January 6, a violent mob incited by President Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol, attempting to overturn the results of the presidential election. Ultimately, the Capitol building was secured and Joe Biden was inaugurated. But the assault on democracy continues.
Undermining and overturning election results without evidence has become a central component of the Republican Party. A CNN poll this month found that 59% of Republicans think believing that Trump won the 2020 election is an "important" part of "being a Republican."
The first major contest since the 2020 presidential election was the California gubernatorial recall, which took place Tuesday. California will accept mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day for another week. And the state employs a complex system of ballot verification. So the full results won't be available for weeks. But recent polls suggest that California voters will decide to keep Governor Gavin Newsom (D).
Before a single vote was reported or a victor declared, the top Republican challenging Newsom, talk radio host Larry Elder, publicly claimed he was defeated due to fraud. Elder's campaign published a website, stopcafraud.com, which made the following claim:
Statistical analyses used to detect fraud in elections held in 3rd-world nations (such as Russia, Venezuela, and Iran) have detected fraud in California resulting in Governor Gavin Newsom being reinstated as governor. The primary analytical tool used was Benford’s Law and can be readily reproduced.
That claim was online at least since September 6, eight days before Election Day. Effectively, Elder's campaign is claiming there are statistical anomalies in data that do not yet exist.
Elder's campaign removed the language on Monday night after it attracted media scrutiny.
Elder, like Trump before the 2020 presidential election, "repeatedly has refused to answer whether he will accept the election results if the recall effort fails." Baseless claims of fraud in California are spreading rapidly on social media and Fox News.
On Facebook, "forums are packed with worried posts about holes in ballot envelopes that fraudsters could use to find pro-recall votes." The holes actually "serve a dual purpose of allowing blind people to know where the signature line is and giving election workers a way to ensure the envelope is empty before discarding it."
And, of course, these false claims were fanned by Trump. He released a statement on Monday declaring the recall election "rigged."
Does anybody really believe the California Recall Election isn't rigged? Millions and millions of Mail-In Ballots will make this just another giant Election Scam, no different, but less blatant, than the 2020 Presidential Election Scam!
Bluster from Elder and Trump is unlikely to impact to results of the California recall. But that's also not the point. The "allegations of ballot rigging help Trump-friendly forces build their base, in California and elsewhere."
Nurturing political support for false voter fraud claims is one part of Trump's 2024 strategy.
Trump came very close to upending American democracy after the 2020 election. Pence called former Vice President Dan Quayle to ask whether there was "anything he could do" to throw the election to Trump while he presided over the Senate on January 6. Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley was so worried about Trump that he took precautions to secure the nation's nuclear arsenal.
It's unclear whether Trump will run again in 2024. In the meantime, Trump is using his political clout to try to make sure the people administering elections in key states are sympathetic to his claims of fraud — no matter how baseless.
Trump backs Secretary of State candidate in Arizona who defended January 6 riot
On Monday, Trump endorsed Mark Finchem (R) for Arizona Secretary of State, the office responsible for administering the state's elections. In his endorsement, he praised Finchem for his “incredibly powerful stance on the Voter Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election Scam.”
Five days before Trump’s endorsement, Finchem tweeted: "I call on Arizona to decertify the election of 2020 and recall the electors. There is already enough evidence to show clear and convincing fraud.”
Finchem was also present in D.C. at the time of the Capitol insurrection. He described the riot as "[w]hat happens when the people feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.” Although he denies entering the Capitol, Finchem refuses to release his texts and communications from the day of the insurrection.
Since then, Finchem has not backed down on election fraud conspiracies. At the end of July, he tweeted that he was starting the “#ProveIt campaign,” arguing that “liberal officials and media gaslighting” is stopping forensic audits into the 2020 election to “find out the truth.”
In December, Trump tweeted Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) directly, claiming “such total corruption” in the state’s election results.
In response, Ducey tweeted, “In Arizona, we have some of the strongest election laws in the country.” Ducey noted that the state reviews every ballot signature and prohibits ballot harvesting, noting that “all 15 counties in Arizona - counties run by both parties - certified their results.”
Trump endorses loyalist to take over election administration in Georgia
In Georgia, Trump endorsed Representative Jody Hice (R) for Secretary of State. In his official endorsement in March, Trump said Hice “will stop the Fraud and get honesty into our election!”
Hice stood by Trump throughout the claims of election fraud. In December, Hice announced that he intended to challenge the electoral votes from the state of Georgia following a video that allegedly showed “suitcases full of illegal ballots.”
“I’m totally convinced that the fraudulent activity was widespread,” Hice said. “What else do you need, other than a video showing people being escorted and told to leave the room, followed by other individuals taking suitcases of ballots out and counting them?”
The Office of the Secretary of State in Georgia addressed the video in early December, stating that the ballots in the suitcases were valid ballots that had been accidentally moved due to a miscommunication.
If Hice wins, he would be responsible for administering the presidential election in Georgia in 2024.
Hice is running against current Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who refused to help Trump spread election fraud conspiracies last year. In Trump’s endorsement of Hice, he added that “unlike the current Georgia Secretary of State, Jody leads out front with integrity.”
Trump seeks to elect conspiracy theorist as Michigan Secretary of State
Last week, Trump announced his endorsement for Kristina Karamo (R) for Secretary of State in Michigan. In his endorsement, he stated that Karamo is “strong on crime, including the massive crime of election fraud.”
“Good luck Kristina, and while you’re at it, check out the Fake Election results that took place in the city of Detroit,” Trump said in the statement.
After the 2020 election, Karamo spent weeks challenging the results, claiming that Trump won Michigan. She also claimed that she witnessed irregularities in the processing of absentee ballots firsthand during her role as a poll challenger, and made dozens of appearances as a “whistleblower” in right-wing media.
In June, Karamo appeared at a rally in Antrim County, Michigan that focused on claims of election fraud. She appeared alongside Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, and former state Sen. Pat Colbeck (R), who was accused of spreading disinformation by Dominion Voting Systems.
“Running to be Secretary of State is not a ‘career move’ for me. I am running to remove corruption from our elections and from the Michigan SOS office,” Karamo said in a statement announcing her campaign. “That corruption is a real threat to our survival as a state and as a nation. A secure election is how we the people give our consent to be governed.”
Last month, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) released details from 250 post-election audits that reaffirmed the accuracy of the election. Benson also called the 2020 election the most “fair, secure, and accurate” election in Michigan’s history. She has not yet announced whether she will run for re-election against Karamo, and no other Democratic candidates have officially come forward.
The Trump playbook
During the 2020 presidential election, he pressured Republican officials in several key states to throw out millions of ballots in an effort to overturn the will of the voters.
In Michigan, for example, Trump invited top Michigan Republican lawmakers to the White House days before the Michigan election results were scheduled to be certified. The invitation came after Trump personally called two GOP canvassers who initially voted in favor of certifying the results of the largest Michigan county. The meeting drew intense scrutiny for being a “brazen step” and a “remarkable intrusion into state and local politics.”
Weeks later, the Trump campaign proceeded to contact members of the Michigan state legislature asking them to appoint electors for Trump and overrule the election.
“You’ve got an opportunity to be a crucial part of his re-election,” a Trump campaign representative said in a voicemail message to a Michigan state representative. “You...have the power to reclaim your authority and send...a slate of electors that will support President Trump and Vice President Pence.”
In Georgia, Trump insisted that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger recalculate the votes and “find” enough to overturn the election, according to a phone call that took place on January 2, 2021. In the call, Trump suggested that a failure to comply with his demands would be a "criminal offense."
Prior to this call, Trump also separately called Georgia’s top election investigator and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, pressuring them to find “dishonesty” and overturn the election results.