Election '20

Newly released MAGA e-mails underscore Trump’s brazen efforts to overturn Arizona election results: report

When Gov. Doug Ducey, a conservative Republican, was certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory in Arizona on Monday morning, November 30, 2020, then-President Donald Trump tried to reach him on the phone — but Ducey didn’t answer. Even after that certification, Trump and his allies kept trying to throw out the election results in Arizona. And newly released e-mails from December 2020, according to Rolling Stone, underscore efforts by Trump supporters to steal Arizona’s electoral votes from now-President Biden.

“The technology was complicated, but the plan was simple: Scan mail-in and absentee ballots in populous Maricopa County, remove the ‘invalid votes,’ and recertify the state’s 2020 election count, surely declaring then-President Donald Trump the rightful winner,” Rolling Stone’s Andy Kroll reports in an article published on January 23. “This scheme to subvert the election outcome in Arizona is laid out in newly released e-mails obtained by Rolling Stone. Sent in early December 2020, the e-mails cover a critical moment when the post-election push by Trump and Republican allies to find fraud and overturn the presidential election was in full swing.”

The far-right conspiracy theory that Trump, not Biden, was the real winner in Arizona has been repeatedly debunked. Recounts confirmed Biden’s victory in that state, and one conservative Republican who hasn’t been shy about saying that is Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer — who, in an “Open Letter to Maricopa County” in August 2021, wrote, “Nobody stole Maricopa County’s election. Elections in Maricopa County aren’t rigged. Gov. Doug Ducey agrees. Former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer agrees. Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich agrees…. Former Republican Recorder Helen Purcell agrees.”

But even though Biden’s victory over Trump in Arizona was perfectly legitimate, Trump and his attorneys did everything they could to overturn the state’s presidential election results — and the MAGA e-mails that Rolling Stone has obtained from the watchdog group American Oversight show how brazen they were about it.

“The e-mails show how a group of fringe election sleuths pressed state legislators on a plan to disrupt the 2020 election certification and potentially change the vote count in a battleground state that helped deliver Joe Biden the presidency,” Kroll explains. “The e-mails also reveal that several Trump advisers, including campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis and legal adviser Bernie Kerik, were included in the discussion.”

Kroll continues, “Ellis and Kerik played influential roles on Trump’s legal team after the 2020 election, and their work extended beyond Arizona. Ellis appeared at public hearings, sometimes alongside Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and amplified baseless claims about election fraud in frequent media appearances. Kerik played a more behind-the-scenes role, e-mails and other records show, assisting the Trump campaign’s fruitless search for election wrongdoing. The select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has subpoenaed Ellis and Kerik.”

Many of the e-mails, according to Kroll, were written by a pro-Trump conspiracy theorist named Phil Waldron, who owns a bar near Austin, Texas.

“Waldron is emblematic of the crew of self-styled investigators and researchers that have emerged in the last 18 months to spout convoluted and sometimes easily debunked theories about election fraud,” Kroll explains. “Waldron, who says he worked in the Defense Intelligence Agency’s clandestine service and had ties to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, is part of a small group of military veterans who have argued that Chinese Communist Party front groups, Venezuelans, and voting-machine companies have all contributed to vote-rigging and election fraud.”

Kroll adds, “Waldron would go on to write a PowerPoint presentation titled ‘Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN’ that described a number of ways to try to stop the certification of Biden’s election victory. Waldron and his associates sent the document to multiple people, and it ultimately ended up in the inbox of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.”

Cracks are emerging between Republicans as the fake 2020 electors scheme comes under more scrutiny

As Merrick Garland explained in his big speech earlier this month, the way to dismantle a criminal conspiracy is to start at the bottom and work up. It’s a slow process, but it can be devastatingly effective.

That’s why the fifty-nine Republicans who cast fake electoral votes are a gift to investigators seeking to understand Trump’s role in the plot to overturn the 2020 election. These pseudo-electors impersonated public officials in a bid to overturn a presidential election.

They signed forged paperwork and sent it to the government. It’s an open-and-shut case, but investigators could parlay this into something much bigger than prison terms for a few dozen local GOP operatives.

In a group of nearly 60 people facing serious prison time, at least some of them will be willing to implicate the higher ups to save themselves.

READ: Backlash grows against McConnell as viral video shows his racist remarks deeming Black voters not real Americans

“Once those individuals see that they could possibly be facing prison time, I do think we’re going to see some people flip and we’ll get some further information as to who orchestrated this in the first place,” Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel told MSNBC viewers last week, adding that, “It may go all the way to the top.”

Nessel noted that under Michigan law, those who signed the fake certificates could face up to 14 years in prison for forging a public record and five years for election law forgery.

The AG said she’s prepared to prosecute if she has to, but said the federal government is better suited to handle what is clearly a sprawling conspiracy orchestrated across state lines. Wisconsin's Attorney General Josh Kaul agrees this is a case for the feds.

They’re not wrong.

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The fake certificates come from seven states, but they have nearly identical verbiage and formatting. Real certificates of ascertainment all look slightly different because there’s no standardized form. Yet the fake ones all look alike. The question: Who supplied the template?

Trump’s inner circle was obsessed with the fake electors scheme. Memos by Trump lawyer John Eastman show that he assigned these fake electoral votes a starring role in his procedural coup. It was these fake votes he hoped Mike Pence would count instead of the real ones.

Weeks before the electoral vote, Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows was texting about how much he loved a plan to seat fake electors. Trump advisor Steven Miller even went on television to describe the plan to present congress with “alternative” electoral votes. US Rep. Mo Brooks led an effort to throw out the electoral votes of the Biden swing states, reportedly with Trump’s blessing.

US Rep. Louie Gohmert teamed up with some of the pseudo-electors to sue Mike Pence in a doomed bid to force the VP to count the phony votes. The connection between the fake electors and that lawsuit was reported well ahead of J6.

READ: ‘Culture war’ bills from far-right Arizona Republicans are becoming increasingly ‘extreme’: report

“[The fake electors] are counting on Pence and congressional Republicans to treat those informal votes as equal to the slates certified in those states where Trump was defeated,” Kyle Cheney of Politico wrote on Dec 28.

The pressure is on, and the cracks in the facade are spreading.

Arizona state Rep. Jake Hoffman refused to answer a reporter’s question about how he came to cast a fake vote for Trump, nervously referring all questions to “the party chair.”

The chair of the Arizona GOP is Dr. Kelli Ward, who was not only a fake elector but also Gohmert’s co-plaintiff. A number of the fake electors are high-ranking officials in their state parties. Wisconsin’s fake votes were even submitted by the state party’s chair on Wisconsin GOP letterhead.

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Pennsylvania’s fake electors are already distancing themselves from their co-conspirators, stressing they refused to sign the electoral vote paperwork unless they could include a proviso that they weren’t the lawful electors unless a court recognized them as such.

“We were not going to sign unless the language was changed to say ‘if,’ fake elector Sam DeMarco told a local paper. “This was in no way, shape or form us trying to go around the election.”

The fact that Pennsylvania and Nevada felt it necessary to include a disclaimer makes the states that didn’t look even worse, like they were trying to, well, go against the election.

Conservative breaks down 6 'strands' of the GOP’s 2020 coup attempt — and warns that a sequel is 'on the way'

During the 2020 presidential election, many of the Never Trump conservatives who supported now-President Joe Biden over then-President Donald Trump were hoping that if Trump lost, the Republican Party would abandon Trumpism and return to a more traditional Goldwater or Reagan brand of conservatism. But a year into Biden’s presidency, authoritarian Trumpism is stronger than ever in the GOP — and Never Trumper Amanda Carpenter, in a listicle published by The Bulwark on the one-year anniversary of Biden’s inauguration, warns that Democrats had better prepare for the worst in 2024 because another coup attempt may very well be “on the way.”

Although Biden’s victory in 2020 wasn’t the type of mega-landslide enjoyed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932 or President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 — FDR won 472 electoral votes, LBJ 486 — it was decisive nonetheless. Biden won 306 electoral votes, and he defeated Trump by over 7 million in the popular vote. But Trump, the sorest of sore losers, continues to falsely claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud — that’s the Big Lie — and the ex-president and his corrupt allies did everything they could to overturn what were perfectly legitimate election results.

“Donald Trump’s actions to overturn the 2020 election were dedicated, intentional and sustained over time,” Carpenter explains. “The insistent notion that Trump and his allies are ‘too stupid to coup’ should not be reassuring…. By the end of the 2020 story, Trump had learned just how loose are the dusty old frameworks like the Electoral Count Act.”

The conservative CNN pundit adds, “From the Summer of 2020 through January 6, 2021, Trump’s buffoonish plans evolved — ultimately taking shape as a multipronged plot to rob Joe Biden of the presidency, one that descended into bloody violence at the United States Capitol…. In several states that Biden won, Republicans went so far as to submit fake Electoral College paperwork to ‘certify’ Trump as the 2020 winner.”

Carpenter’s listicle breaks down that attempted coup d’état into “six strands”: (1) “conspiracy theories,” (2) Republican lawsuits, (3) “fake federal investigations,” (4) the “Stop the Steal” campaign, (5) “fake electors and objectors,” and (6) “pressure on state and local officials.”

Because Carpenter is conservative — she once served as Sen. Ted Cruz’s communications director and was a speechwriter for former Sen. Jim DeMint — some liberals and progressives will be dismissive of anything she has to say. But Carpenter is a constitutionalist and is vehemently anti-Trump, and her Bulwark listicle breaks down, in detail, the sinister elements of the MAGA coup attempt of 2020. It’s a listicle that Democratic strategists and attorneys should definitely read in order to prepare for the anti-democracy assault that the MAGA far right is likely to bring in the 2024 presidential election.

“Although Trump wasn’t successful in overturning the election,” Carpenter warns, “his schemes captured the hearts and minds of the Republican base, many members of the Republican elite, conservative media, and fringe militia groups alike. Those groups worked in concert toward an end goal of rejecting Electoral College votes on January 6th.”

Carpenter continues, “Hardly anyone could have predicted that after the election was called for Biden, such a sweeping GOP machine would insist that Trump won and work to make the fantasy come true — especially after each state met to certify their elections on December 14, 2020. What should have been a moment to make a firm break from Trump, to repudiate the defeated president, instead became a reason to unite behind his losing cause. Don’t think they won’t try again.”

'Forgery of a public record': Michigan AG requests federal probe of Republicans who faked election records

This week, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has been reporting extensively on Republicans who, following the 2020 presidential election, circulated fake “Electoral College” documents in states that now-President Joe Biden won while falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump was the winner. One of the states was Michigan, where State Attorney General Dana Nessel is asking federal prosecutors to investigate the matter, according to the Detroit News.

During her appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show” this week, Nessel — a Democrat who is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration — told Maddow, “Under state law, I think clearly you have forgery of a public record, which is a 14-year offense, and election law forgery, which is a five-year offense.”

When Maddow asked Nessel if this was “potentially a matter for criminal investigation,” the Michigan attorney general replied, “Absolutely it is. And I will tell you that we’ve been evaluating charges for nearly a year now.”

In the United States, the Electoral College is a winner-take-all system for presidential elections. Whoever wins the popular vote in Michigan, for example, gets all 16 of its electoral votes; Biden won Michigan’s popular vote by 3%, which means that all 16 of them went to him. And the bipartisan recounts that were conducted left no doubt that Biden won that midwestern state. But the MAGA Republicans who circulated fake “Electoral College” documents falsely claimed that Trump was the winner in an effort to give Trump the 16 electoral votes that Biden was entitled to under the rules of the Electoral College.

READ: Here's what it would really mean to prosecute Trump

“On December 14, 2020,” the Detroit News’ Craig Mauger explains, “Michigan's 16 presidential electors met inside the state Capitol to officially cast their ballots for Biden. A group of Republicans, including some of the GOP electors, attempted to enter the building, after meeting at party headquarters, but were blocked by the Michigan State Police. According to a December 14, 2020 memorandum obtained by The Detroit News, Kathy Berden, a Republican national committeewoman from Michigan, sent the GOP electors certificate to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. archivist, (Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn) Benson's office and Robert Jonker, the chief judge of U.S. District Court for Michigan's Western District.”

The Detroit News published, with Mauger’s article, a screenshot of a bogus election “certificate” that Michigan Republican circulated in that state. The document claimed to be a “Certificate of the Votes of the 2020 Electors from Michigan” and claimed that Trump had won Michigan’s 16 electoral votes. But as Maddow has stressed on her show this week, those Republicans weren’t legitimately representing the Electoral College in Michigan — and Trump didn’t win the state in 2020.

The fraudulent 2020 electors were no joke: A procedural coup to steal the presidency could've worked

The J6 committee is publicly opening a new front in its investigation of the insurrection: Donald Trump’s massive pressure campaign to overturn the election at the state level.

Thanks to open records requests by Nicholas Wu of Politico, we know that the J6 committee is looking at fraudulent certificates of ascertainment submitted by Republicans in the Biden swing states purporting to cast their electoral votes for the former president.

The liberal nonprofit American Oversight obtained seven fraudulent certificates through an FOIA request to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the agency that keeps track of Electoral College paperwork.

As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow observed, the fraudulent documents are strikingly similar in language and in formatting, as if they were based on a common template, which raises the question of who might have written it.

READ: Here's what it would really mean to prosecute Trump

Let’s take a closer look at the scam.

As we all know from civics, we don’t really vote for the president, but rather for a slate of electors in our state’s Electoral College, who are pledged to vote for our candidate.

On December 14, 2020, the winning slates cast their votes in their respective state capitols. That same day, Republicans in seven Biden swing states held sham votes for Trump.

Disturbingly, these fake voters were mostly real Trump electors who had been sidelined because Trump lost their states. These weren’t just randos cosplaying as electors. They were public officials who betrayed their position of trust.

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The results of these sham votes for Trump were memorialized as fraudulent “certificates of ascertainment” and sent to Mike Pence as president of the Senate and to other federal and state officials. We know from Trump lawyer John Eastman’s notorious memos that Team Trump had big plans for those fraudulent slates of electors.

In the run-up to the J6 insurrection, Eastman wrote two notorious memos outlining how Trump could use baseless allegations of mass voter fraud as a pretext to steal the election during the certification ceremony (aka the long memo and the short memo).

The long memo begins with the observation that seven states have sent dual slates of electors to Mike Pence as president of the senate. It was Pence’s prerogative, Eastman insisted, to accept or reject electoral votes at his whim.

“The president of the Senate does the counting,” Eastman falsely asserted, “[...] and all the Members of Congress can do is watch.” According to Eastman, if a state legislature defied its governor and “certified” a fraudulent slate, Pence could simply ignore the real votes and count the fake ones.

READ: 'To defy Trump's wishes is to defy God's plan': The scary truth about modern right-wing misinformation

In fact, no state legislature succumbed to Trump’s pressure to certify the fraudulent electors. But Eastman had planned for that.

Pence’s remaining option, per the memos, was not to count any electoral votes from the Biden swing states. This move would supposedly result in Trump winning outright, or in a tie that would be decided by the House. (Win vs. tie came down to a dumb semantic debate over whether an elector whose vote was discarded by Pence could truly be said to have been appointed in the first place.)

But regardless, if the election went to the House, the GOP was expected to prevail, provided the Republicans in Congress went along with the coup. Perhaps the mob’s role was to inspire that kind of fortitude in the House GOP caucus.

The state-level machinations to send fraudulent electors were no great secret in the run-up to J6. Trump advisor Steven Miller announced on Fox that Republicans were voting to send alternative slates of electors to Congress.

READ: Washington Post editorial board slams Kevin McCarthy

The Nevada GOP boasted about its fake vote on its website and indicated that it expected Congress to decide which slate of electors to count. Arizona Republican activist Lori Osiecki bragged that her group decided to hold its own vote after a daylong meeting with Rudy Giuliani.

The fraudulent electors scheme got mainstream media coverage, but that coverage lacked a sense of urgency or outrage. Impersonating a state’s electors and sending fake certificates to the government attesting to fraudulent electoral votes is almost certainly illegal.

But the media focused on the absurdity as opposed to the likely illegality.

In fairness, it was tough to take the Republican’s gambit seriously because everyone knew that only a certificate of ascertainment signed by the governor carries any legal weight. A certificate signed by a bunch of self-appointed rogue electors seemed as likely to succeed as a real estate deal backed by Monopoly money.

What wasn’t apparent at the time was that Eastman had a plan to use these fraudulent electoral votes as grist for a procedural coup. Nor did the mainstream media anticipate the wildcard of mob violence.

The procedural coup failed largely because Mike Pence refused to play his assigned role, but the underlying vulnerability is still there.

Next time, we may not be so lucky. The details of the state-level pressure campaign will surely be a fertile field for the J6 committee to till.

Grand jury to investigate allegations that a far-right Colorado Republican tampered with election equipment

In Colorado, a state that President Joe Biden won by 14% in 2020, Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters is among the far-right MAGA Republicans who has promoted the Big Lie and false claims that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump — a conspiracy theory that has been repeatedly debunked. Now, according to the Colorado Sun, a grand jury in Mesa County is investigating allegations that Peters tampered with election equipment.

The grand jury, according to Sun reporter Thy Vo, “accepted the case” on January 12.

“Peters, a Republican who was barred from overseeing the 2021 election by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, has been under criminal investigation by local, state and federal authorities for months,” Vo reports. “Peters has spread baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election being stolen and has been facing scrutiny since she allegedly allowed an unauthorized person to attend a sensitive Dominion Voting Systems software update in May. Photos of passwords taken during the update were then posted online.”

Peters was among the speakers at MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s “Cyber Symposium” event in South Dakota in August. Lindell, a leading promoter of the Big Lie, is being sued for defamation by Dominion for making the false claim that its equipment was used to help Biden and his Democratic allies steal the election.

On Thursday morning, January 13, Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubenstein and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser issued an official statement on the case.

“Over the past few months,” Rubenstein and Weiser explained, “we have made progress in the multi-agency investigation. This investigation will be thorough and guided by the facts and the law. More information will be made available when the prosecutors are ethically and legally permitted to provide additional details. To maintain the impartiality of the investigation, we have no further comment at this time.”

Michigan Republicans who circulated fake 'Electoral College' documents are being investigated by the Jan. 6 committee: report

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has recently done some in-depth, comprehensive reporting on far-right MAGA Republicans who, following the 2020 presidential election, tried to pass off “forgeries” as legitimate Electoral College documents in states that now-President Joe Biden won. The fake documents were no more legitimate than their claims that then-President Donald Trump won those states, one of which was Michigan. And copies of the fake documents from Michigan Republicans, according to Michigan’s MLive, have been given to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on the January 6, 2021 insurrection.

“Sixteen Republicans, including the current co-chair of the Michigan Republican Party, signed certificates asserting they were Michigan’s presidential electors and sent the illegitimate documents to the National Archive,” MLive reporter Malachi Barrett explains. “The unofficial documents were part of a failed Republican strategy to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in battleground states, which is under new scrutiny from a U.S. House panel and the Michigan Attorney General’s office.”

The events that followed the 2020 presidential election were unprecedented in United States history. Never before had Republicans, after losing a presidential race, tried to carry out a brazen coup and overthrow democratic election results.

Biden, not Trump, won the popular vote in Michigan, which means that he legitimately won the state’s 16 electoral votes.

READ: Maddow's bombshell: MSNBC host reveals suspicious link between Republicans’ ‘forged’ election documents

“Each political party nominates its own slate of electors,” Barrett notes, “but only electors representing the candidate who wins the popular vote can participate in the Electoral College. President Joe Biden won the election in Michigan by 154,000 votes, and Michigan’s 16 Electoral College votes were officially recorded for Biden on December 14, 2021, in accordance with state law.”

Barrett continues, “On the same day, Republican nominees gathered at the Michigan Republican Party headquarters in Lansing to sign the unofficial documents. The documents also falsely claimed Republican nominees signed the certificates in the Michigan capitol. A group of Republican lawmakers tried to escort their nominees into the state capitol to deliver the documents. They were denied entry by the Michigan State Police.”

Trump and his attorneys, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and far-right conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, falsely claimed that he won Michigan. In fact, bipartisan vote recounts confirmed Biden’s victory in the midwestern state.

According to Barrett, “Documents provided to MLive by the Michigan Department of State show a representative of the National Archive notified Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Jonathan Brater and the governor’s chief legal counsel about the ‘unofficial certificates’ on January 8, 2021. The e-mail stated the Republican votes were invalid because they lacked the governor’s signature.”

READ: 'Gutless': Trump makes a thinly veiled attack on DeSantis — and one reporter says she knows why

Barrett adds, “The e-mail and a copy of the unofficial documents were sent to the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. The Committee was formed in June 2021 to look into election interference and organizing efforts that led to the violent riot.”

The University of Michigan’s Richard Friedman, a professor specializing in constitutional law, told MLive that the Michigan Republicans who circulated those fake “Electoral College” documents are unlikely to face criminal charges. But he does consider their actions “shameful.”

Friedman told MLive, “Nobody looked at this and (said) Republicans must have won Michigan because of what these people said. It just strikes me as very weak. I’m still left uneasy by the fact that this was a bad thing. They should have known full well that they lost, and the essence of democracy is recognizing that you lost.”

Maddow's bombshell: MSNBC host reveals suspicious link between Republicans’ ‘forged’ election documents

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has been offering in-depth analysis of MAGA Republicans’ efforts to undermine the Electoral College results in states that now-President Joe Biden won in 2020, including sending out fake electors. And in a recent broadcast, the liberal MSNBC host reported that those fake electors tried to pull off that deception in “at least” five different states.

Maddow showed five Electoral College documents side by side on the screen, explaining, “I picked these five states to show you what the real electoral vote ascertainment documents look like. I picked these five because thanks to the watchdog group American Oversight, we now know that in all five of these states, Republicans also prepared forged fake documents that were sent to the government — proclaiming that actually, these other electors were the real electors from these states, and they were casting the states’ Electoral College votes not for Biden, but for Trump.”

The MSNBC host went on to show the authentic Electoral College documents and the Republican “forgeries,” as she described them, side by side — including the ones from Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona, all of which Biden won.

“It wasn’t one state, it wasn’t three states where they did this — it was at least five states where we have now obtained forged documents created by Republicans,” Maddow told viewers. “And it’s not like they, again, created these documents to, like, hold close to their chest and fantasize that this had been the real outcome. It’s not like they created these documents just to keep themselves as a keepsake. They sent them in to the government as if they were real documents.”

Maddow continued, “And it’s not like they sent them in saying, ‘Hey, we know we’re not the real electors because Biden won here, but here’s our names for posterity. Here’s our names for your records.’ No, they actually created these fake documents purporting to be the real certifications of them as electors.”

Maddow went on to discuss a December 28, 2020 draft letter written by Jeffrey Clark, a Trump loyalist who served in the U.S. Department of Justice during Trump’s final weeks in office. Clark’s letter, Maddow noted, “explicitly describes these forged slates of electors from multiple states.”

“We now know: multiple states — Republicans in multiple states — had sent in false assertions, forged documents claiming to be the electors for their states,” Maddow noted. “That draft letter was dated December 28. How did that guy, that Trump guy at the Justice Department, know that two weeks earlier, Republicans in at least five states had, in fact, created these forged elector documents? Did the Trump Justice Department know about it because they helped Republicans in those states do it? We don’t know. But somebody helped them do it, because they all filed the exact same document in the same font, in the same spacing, with the exact same language. So, somebody helped them do it.”

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Journalist explains why there were really 2 MAGA ‘coup attempts’ after the 2020 election

Much of the reporting on the 2020 presidential election and the months of turmoil that followed has described the actions of former President Donald Trump, his Republican allies and the violent January 6 rioters as one big coup d’état attempt. But journalist David A. Graham, in an article published by The Atlantic this week, argues that there were really two different coup attempts after 2020’s election: the storming of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, and documents from Trump allies outlining schemes for overturning the election results.

“This is a tale of two coups — or rather, two attempted coups,” Graham writes. “One is the well-known January 6 insurrection, memorialized in iconic photographs, gripping videos, and minute-by-minute reconstructions, and followed by hundreds of arrests, more than 50 convictions, and a House select-committee investigation. The other attempt took place over weeks and was mostly waged in closed-door meetings, legal memos and private phone calls; it has thus far produced little accountability.”

Both of the “attempted coups” that Graham describes were unprecedented in U.S. history. Never before had a U.S. president who was voted out of office falsely claimed that he wasn’t, and never before had a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol Building in the hope of keeping him in White House after January 20.

“Evidence about the insurrection suggests that although the mob was an obvious threat to human life, it was never an especially serious one to American democracy,” Graham explains. “Coordination within the crowd seems to have been sporadic, and if White House officials were in touch with organizers, they weren’t likely directing them…. Meanwhile, we now have a better sense of how dangerous what we might call the ‘paperwork coup’ was.”

Graham continues, “The theory under which Trump and his cronies attempted to steal the election was not especially elaborate or persuasive, but it didn’t need to be. It was coherent, and if a few things had happened differently — most especially, if Vice President Mike Pence had gone along with it — the result would have been chaos at the least and possibly a second Trump term and widespread conflict at worst. The violence on January 6 broke a long string of peaceful transfers of power in the United States. If the paperwork coup had worked, though, peace might have prevailed — but the transfer of power might not have happened.”

3 Florida residents are arrested for alleged voter fraud — and they’re all Republicans

Although voter fraud is nowhere near as widespread in the United States as former President Donald Trump and his MAGA allies claim, occasional incidents of voter fraud do occur here and there — and there is no evidence to suggest that the offenders are more likely to be Democrats, despite MAGA claims. Mike DeForest of WKMG-TV Channel 6 (a CBS affiliate in Orlando, Florida) is reporting that three residents of a Central Florida retirement community who are facing voter fraud charges are all registered Republicans.

Jay Ketcik, Joan Halstead and John Rider are residents of The Villages, a retirement community in Sumter County, Florida, and all of them have been arrested for casting more than one ballot in the 2020 election, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors allege that the 71-year-old Halstead voted in person in Florida but also cast an absentee ballot in the same state, and the 63-year-old Ketcik cast an absentee ballot in Michigan but voted by mail in Florida. Meanwhile, Rider, according to DeForest, is accused of casting a ballot in Florida and a separate ballot out of the state.

“Court records also do not reveal which candidates they cast votes for in the 2020 general election,” DeForest reports. “All three are registered as Republicans in Florida, voter registration records show. Facebook pages that appear to belong to Ketcik and Halstead contain several posts expressing support for former President Donald Trump.”

Trump himself notoriously urged voters in North Carolina to vote twice during the 2020 campaign.

The Villages typically receives a lot of attention from politicians in Florida, as its residents are generally older — and older Americans are more likely to vote. Former Vice President Mike Pence, in fact, visited The Villages in October 2020 during last year’s presidential election.

DeForest notes, “Despite the recent arrests in Sumter County, very few Central Floridians have been prosecuted for casting multiple ballots, a News 6 review of court data reveals. Between 2000 and 2020 there were no prosecutions for that statute in Brevard, Lake, Marion and Sumter Counties, court data indicates. Prosecutors in Volusia and Orange Counties filed charges in only two cases during that same two-decade period.”

Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis lashes out after Politico exposes her plans to block Biden's election win

Following the 2020 presidential election, attorney Jenna Ellis worked closely with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and other members of then-President Donald Trump’s legal team and aggressively promoted Trump’s false, totally debunked claim that the election was stolen from him because of widespread voter fraud. Politico is now reporting that Ellis, in two legal memos, claimed that then-Vice President Mike Pence could refuse to count the presidential electors in states that now-President Joe Biden won.

According to Politico reporters Betsy Woodruff Swan and Kyle Cheney, “The memos from then-Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, which contain widely disputed legal theories about Pence’s ability to stop a Biden presidency, underscore Ellis’ promotion of extreme arguments that she promulgated amid Trump's effort to reverse the election results. Her actions have remained largely below the radar as House investigators probe Trump’s inner circle.”

The first memo, Swan and Cheney report, was written on December 31, 2020, and the second was written on January 5 — the day before Congress counted the electoral votes for the presidential election and certified Biden’s Electoral College victory.

“A December 31 Ellis memo delivered to Trump’s office suggested that Pence — who was constitutionally responsible for presiding over Congress’ counting of electoral votes on January 6 — should simply refuse to open envelopes from states whose election results Trump considered to be fraudulent,” Swan and Cheney explain. “That memo was described by ABC reporter Jonathan Karl in his recent book ‘Betrayal.’ Politico is publishing it in full for the first time.”

Swan and Cheney continue, “In a second, previously unreported memo dated January 5, Ellis made a more technical legal argument that she delivered to Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's outside lawyers. Sekulow represented Trump during his first impeachment and in a series of legal battles during his administration, but he had minimal involvement in Trump’s election litigation. The exception was an early November Supreme Court case regarding Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballots.’

The Politico journalists note that in the January 5 memo, Ellis “argued that key provisions of the Electoral Count Act — limiting Pence’s authority to affirm or reject certain electors — were likely unconstitutional.”

“She concluded that Pence, while presiding over lawmakers’ counting of electors, should simply halt the process when their alphabetical proceeding reached Arizona,” Swan and Cheney report. “Then, she said, he should declare that the state failed to meet the legal standard for certifying its own electors and ‘require the final ascertainment of electors to be completed before continuing.’”

Ellis has reacted angrily to Politico’s reporting on her December 31 and January 5 memos. The right-wing attorney tweeted:

She appeared to confirm the authenticity of the report. Her claim the Politico violated journalistic ethics is baseless.

Ellis and Sekulow, according to Swan and Cheney, had different views on what Pence could and couldn’t do when it came to the 2020 election and the electoral votes. Sekulow believes that Pence’s role was strictly a “ministerial, procedural function”; Ellis didn’t agree.

“Ellis' memos were written as other Trump advisers were laying out similarly extreme legal arguments for Pence to upend Biden’s victory,” Swan and Cheney write. “Notably, Ellis’ memos did not go as far as those authored by lawyer John Eastman, another Trump adviser. Eastman claimed Pence had the authority to declare Trump the outright winner of the election by simply excluding dozens of Biden electors from Congress’ tally.”

Montana Democrat sounds the alarm on his party's 'doom’ in rural America — but has an idea to fix it

Although now-President Joe Biden enjoyed a decisive victory over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, Democrats had their share of disappointments in down-ballot races last year — including centrist Democrat Steve Bullock’s loss to Republican incumbent Sen. Steve Daines’ in Montana’s U.S. Senate race. Bullock, reflecting on the 2020 and 2021 elections, has a warning for fellow Democrats in an op-ed published by the New York Times this week: the Democratic Party has a problem with rural voters, and it isn’t getting any better.

Bullock has a track record in Montana politics. Despite being a Democrat in a deep red state, he served as Montana attorney general before serving two terms as governor. But when he tried to unseat Daines in 2020, he lost by 11%.

“The Democrats are in trouble in Rural America,” Bullock warns, “and their struggles there could doom the party in 2022. The warning signs were already there in 2020 when Democrats fell short in congressional and state races despite electing Joe Biden president. I know because I was on the ballot for U.S. Senate and lost.”

The November 2021 election, Bullock adds, brought Democrats some more disappointments.

READ: Parents of Michigan school shooting suspect are reported 'missing' after being charged – a search is underway

“In this year’s governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey,” Bullock notes, “we saw the Democratic vote in rural areas plummet, costing the party one seat and nearly losing us the other. It was even worse for Democrats down ballot, as Democrats lost state legislative, county, and municipal seats.”

Bullock stresses that Democrats have a major image problem in rural areas of the United States.

“It’s never easy for Democrats to get elected in Montana, because Democrats here are running against not only the opponent on the ballot, but also, against conservative media’s — and at times, our own — typecast of the national Democratic brand: coastal, overly educated, elitist, judgmental, socialist, a bundle of identity groups and interests lacking any shared principles,” Bullock laments. “The problem isn’t the candidates we nominate. It’s the perception of the party we belong to.”

Bullock doesn’t believe that Rural America is a lost cause for Democrats, but he argues that they need to do a better job with their rural outreach.

READ: Michigan prosecutor charges parents of school shooting suspect — says they brushed off disturbing warnings

He explained:

We need to frame our policies, not in terms of grand ideological narratives, but around the material concerns of voters. Despite our differences and no matter where we live, we generally all want the same things: a decent job, a safe place to call home, good schools, clean air and water, and the promise of a better life for our kids and grandkids.
For me, that meant talking about Obamacare not as an entitlement, but as a way to save rural hospitals and keep local communities and small businesses afloat. It meant talking about expanding apprenticeships, not just lowering the costs of college. It meant framing public lands as a great equalizer and as a driver for small business. It meant talking about universal pre-K not as an abstract policy goal, but being essential for our children and for keeping parents in the work force. It meant talking about climate change not just as a crisis, but as an opportunity to create good jobs, preserve our outdoor heritage, and as a promise not to leave communities behind.

“It’s time for Democrats to get uncomfortable and go beyond friendly urban and suburban settings to hear directly from folks in small towns who are trying to run a business, pay the bills, and maintain access to health care,” Bullock advises. “They have stories to tell and ideas to share, and we should listen.”

How Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general fought back against Trump’s bogus election lawsuits — and won at least 40 times: report

In Pennsylvania, supporters of former President Donald Trump filed one bogus lawsuit after another following the 2020 election. None of them were successful, however, and Josh Shapiro — the Democrat who serves as Pennsylvania attorney general under Gov. Tom Wolf — aggressively fought back against Trump's election lies. Shapiro, according to the Daily Beast, prevailed in at least 40 Republican lawsuits. And Shapiro discussed his success with journalist Molly Jong-Fast during an appearance on the Beast's "The New Abnormal" podcast.

Shapiro told Jong-Fast, "When the former president began talking about how vote by mail was not OK and that the Democrats were going to try and steal the election — all of his greatest hits — I immediately put together a team in my office made up of lawyers from both our criminal division and our civil division."

The Pennsylvania attorney general told Jong-Fast that he expected the worst from Trump and his allies and asked himself, "How could we deal with the inevitable legal challenges that would come after the election, trying to deny people's votes from being counted? I predicted that would happen; unfortunately, I was right. We faced 19 lawsuits before a single vote was cast in Pennsylvania; we won every single one of them. Then, we had a free and fair, safe and secure election on Election Day. And then, we faced over 20 more lawsuits to try and make it harder for people's votes to be counted — and we won every single one of those."

Shapiro added, "But Understand, Molly, they didn't stop there. And that's why our democracy is still a central issue here in Pennsylvania and across the country. They continued with the Big Lie."

Pennsylvania is among the five battleground states that went to Trump in 2016's presidential election but was flipped by Biden four years later in 2020; the others were Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona and Georgia.

Two of the important elections that will be taking place in the Keystone State in 2022 are its gubernatorial race and a U.S. Senate race. Wolf, a two-term governor, is term-limited — and it remains to be seen who the Democratic and Republican nominees will be.

Primary battles are also taking place in Pennsylvania's 2022 U.S. Senate race. Sen. Pat Toomey, a hard-right Republican, is not seeking reelection, and the MAGA crowd hates Toomey for voting "guilty" in Trump's second impeachment trial.

On "The New Abnormal," Shapiro stressed the importance of Pennsylvania's 2022 gubernatorial election — telling Jong-Fast, "Democracy is on the ballot right now here in Pennsylvania and indeed across the country. And that is something that is motivating me. It is motivating the people I see when I'm traveling across the commonwealth. And I think it will be a central theme in this campaign."

Mike Lindell held a rally to demand more Fox News coverage  -- and it was a total flop

Ten months into Joe Biden's presidency, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell continues to insist that Donald Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election and will be moving back into White House — and he is disappointed that right-wing Fox News is not giving more coverage to his bogus election fraud claims. Lindell held a rally on Wednesday morning, November 24 outside Fox News' Manhattan headquarters in the hope of applying some pressure, but according to Daily Beast reporters Zachary Petrizzo and Roger Sollenberger, it was a total flop.

Petrizzo and Sollenberger explain, "MyPillow CEO and 2020 dead-ender-who-will-simply-never-quit Mike Lindell attempted to put pressure on Fox News to cover his non-existent election fraud case — which he's long-promised to file with the Supreme Court — by holding a poorly attended rally outside the cable channel's offices. On Wednesday morning, a smattering of protesters gathered in Lindell's name in front of Fox News headquarters on 6th Avenue in Manhattan, where, the MAGA mogul told The Daily Beast, the names of the mystery plaintiffs bringing his mythical filing to the High Court would, at last, be revealed. Alas, the names were not revealed."

Video of the rally posted with Petrizzo and Sollenberger's article, in fact, shows how poor the attendance was. The pro-Trump protesters who can be seen chanting, "Shame on Fox, shame on Fox" in the video were, as the reporters said, a mere "smattering."

"No media turned out to cover the poorly publicized last-minute confab, though Lindell at one point urged The Daily Beast to send these 'evil' D.C.-based reporters to cover it in person," Petrizzo and Sollenberger note. "But Lindell didn't even attend his own rally — despite past promises. Instead, he said, he was busy traversing the U.S. to allegedly persuade state attorneys general to co-sign his unhinged election-fraud complaint to the Supreme Court."

Trump conflates poll showing him winning in 2024 with proof of a '2020 win'

Fabrizio Lee & Associates recently released a poll showing that if President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump were competing in a presidential election now, Trump would have the advantage in the five 2016 Trump states that Biden flipped in 2020: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia. But according to journalist David Freelander, Trump is conflating that poll with a Trump victory in 2020, which didn't happen.

Freedlander, known for his work for New York Magazine, tweeted:

Trump, in response to that poll, mentions the "states I supposedly lost but didn't."

Although Biden's poll numbers were strong in the spring, recent polls have shown his approval ratings plummeting. But Freelander's point is that there is a major difference between a poll showing Trump with an advantage in November 2021 and the mood of U.S. voters a year earlier.

READ: 'You were gullible': Federal judge torches Trump's election lies — and a rioter who believed them

Federal judge orders pro-Trump lawyers to pay almost $187,000 for their 'abuse of the legal system'

In December 2020, Colorado-based attorneys Gary D. Fielder and Ernest John Walker filed a class-action lawsuit making the false, totally debunked claim that the presidential election had been stolen from then-President Donald Trump — and now, a federal judge is ordering them to pay almost $187,000 to help offset the legal costs of the groups they sued in a meritless lawsuit.

Judge N. Reid Neureiter, according to Washington Post reporter Rosalind S. Helderman, was vehemently critical of Fielder and Walker, saying, "As officers of the court, these attorneys have a higher duty and calling that requires meaningful investigation before prematurely repeating in court pleadings unverified and uninvestigated defamatory rumors that strike at the heart of our democratic system and were used by others to foment a violent insurrection that threatened our system of government. They are experienced lawyers who should have known better. They need to take responsibility for their misconduct."

Fielder and Walker filed their December 2020 lawsuit on behalf of 160 million Trump voters, who they claimed had been wronged by an elaborate plan to steal the election — and those targeted in the lawsuit included Facebook (including founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan), Dominion Voting Systems and elected officials in four states. And Neureiter declared that they needed to pay a financial price for wasting the court's time with so frivolous a lawsuit. Fielder and Walker, according to Helderman, are appealing Neureiter's ruling.

Helderman notes, "Their case was dismissed in April. In August, Neureiter ruled that the attorneys had violated their ethical obligations by filing it in the first place, arguing that the duo had run afoul of legal rules that prohibit clogging the courts with frivolous motions and lodging information in court that is not true. At the time, he called their suit 'the stuff of which violent insurrections are made,' alleging they made little effort to determine the truth of their conspiratorial claims before filing them in court."

READ: 'You were gullible': Federal judge torches Trump's election lies — and a rioter who believed them

Dominion Voting Systems has filed some lawsuits of its own — only Dominion's lawsuits have actual merit.

Following the 2020 election, pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell made the bogus claim that Dominion's voting technology was used to help now-President Joe Biden steal the election from then-President Donald Trump just as it was used by supporters of the late leftist President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Major problem for Powell: Dominion responded that its voting technology was never even used in Venezuela, thus making it physically impossible for Dominion to have helped the Chavez regime in any way. Dominion has sued Powell, Fox News, pro-Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and others for promoting lies and conspiracy theories against the company.

Neureiter declared that Fielder and Walker need to pay a financial price for their frivolous lawsuit, which he described as "an abuse of the legal system and an interference with the machinery of government."

Helderman reports, "Neureiter said the lawyers should pay just over $11,000 to cover the legal fees of the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania, both defendants in the suit, a dollar figure the duo had agreed was fair. The two lawyers had balked, however, at far higher fees requested by three other entities: Facebook, Dominion Voting Systems and the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), an election reform advocacy group that has received funding from Zuckerberg and Chan. In a 21-page order (on November 22), Neureiter ordered that Fielder and Walker pay $50,000 to Facebook and $62,930 each to Dominion and CTCL, arguing that billing records submitted by the group showed the fees were reasonable given the prominence of the lawyers who worked on the case and the amount of time they spent."

READ: Capitol riot defendant charged with carrying a gun allegedly suggested he was targeting Nancy Pelosi: report

'You were gullible': Federal judge torches Trump's election lies — and a rioter who believed them

Although former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Al Gore both lost presidential elections, there are some crucial differences between their responses to their losses. Gore, in 2000, eventually conceded defeat to then Texas-Gov. George W. Bush and congratulated him on his victory; Trump, however, still doesn't admit that now-President Joe Biden defeated him in 2020. And Senior District Judge Reggie Walton noted, in blunt terms, that Gore/Trump contrast when Capitol rioter Adam Johnson appeared in his courtroom this week for a plea hearing.

Johnson, one of the many Trump supporters who invaded the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 in the hope of stopping Congress from certifying Biden's Electoral College victory, bought into Trump's false, debunked claims of widespread voter fraud.

Walton told Johnson, "Al Gore had a better case to argue than Mr. Trump, but he was a man about what happened to him. He accepted it and walked away."

Following the 2000 presidential election, Gore questioned the election results in Florida. Gore went weeks without conceding, but some prominent Democrats urged him to concede for the good of the country — including former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell, who had become chairman of the Democratic National Committee and later became a two-term governor of Pennsylvania. Gore eventually took Rendell's advice, congratulated the president-elect and conceded to Bush, who was sworn in as president on January 20, 2001.

READ: The Pentagon budget exposes Manchin and Sinema's hypocrisy

Republican Dick Cheney was sworn in as vice president that day, and his arch-conservative daughter, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, has become a scathing Trump critic on the right. Cheney is part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's select committee on the January 6 insurrection.

When various Democrats, in 2001 and 2002, asked Gore if he believed that he really won Florida, the former vice president would emphatically state: George W. Bush is president of the United States, I lost the election. End of discussion. And Walton, a Bush appointee, made it clear to Johnson that he has a lot more respect for Gore than he does for Trump. Walton essentially called Trump a sore loser and called Johnson a sucker for believing him.

The judge told Johnson, "What concerns me, sir, is that you were gullible enough to come to Washington, D.C. from Florida based on a lie, and the person who inspired you to do what you do is still making those statements, and my concern is that you are gullible enough to do it again."

Another key difference between Gore and Trump: Gore won the popular vote in 2000 even though he lost the electoral vote, whereas Trump lost both.

READ: Watch: Ahmaud Arbery prosecutor delivers devastating closing argument with this simple test for the jury

Johnson was in Walton's courtroom to plead guilty to a charge of being on restricted grounds illegally, which is a lesser charge than what he was originally looking at. According to CNN reporters Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand, "Johnson was originally charged with three federal crimes, including theft of government property, but those charges will be dropped as part of his plea deal. He could face a sentence of up to six months in prison, according to his agreement with prosecutors read at his plea hearing on Monday. He will also pay $500 in restitution for damage done to the Capitol during the riot."

Trump attorney Eastman went directly to Arizona’s House speaker with his insurrectionist scheme: report

John C. Eastman — a far-right attorney, Donald Trump ally, MAGA Republican and prominent figure in the Claremont Institute — has horrified constitutionalists because of his authoritarian plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. And one of the Republicans he reached out to directly, according to the Arizona Republic, was Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers.

Referencing reporting in the Arizona Republic, Talking Points Memo's Cristina Cabrera notes that on January 4, 2021, Eastman contacted Bowers directly "to pitch a legal theory on how Arizona's electors ought to be tossed away before Congress" certified "the electoral votes on January 6."

Arizona was one of the five states that went for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election but flipped to now-President Joe Biden in 2020; the others were Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump falsely claimed that he was the real winner in Arizona but was deprived of a victory because of widespread voter fraud, but official bipartisan recounts confirmed that Biden, in fact, won the state.

Regardless, Trump lawyer Eastman was more than happy to promote Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud. And because of Eastman, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and other Trump lawyers, the United States came dangerously close to a constitutional crisis during the late 2020/early 2021 lame duck period. The violent insurrectionist assault on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6 was unprecedented in U.S. history.

READ: Top GOP donors alarmed by number of Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of Biden's infrastructure package

Cabrera notes, "Eastman has claimed he was only…. offering hypotheticals and had no intention of overturning the election. But January 4, the day he spoke to Bowers, was also the day he presented his election-stealing scheme to (Vice President Mike) Pence. Both reported examples show Eastman pressing Republicans to subvert the election, not simply offering disinterested legal advice."

The fact that Eastman has been so prominent in the Claremont Institute is important. Founded in 1979, the right-wing think tank has been around for 42 years — and in the past, it favored a more traditional brand of conservation. Claremont's founder, the late Harry V. Jaffa, was a speechwriter for Sen. Barry Goldwater during his 1964 presidential campaign. But Claremont has taken an increasingly dark and authoritarian turn in recent years, fully embracing Trump's MAGA movement and pushing far-right conspiracy theories. In a notorious essay for the American Mind published on March 24 and headlined "Conservatism Is No Longer Enough," Glenn Ellmers (a Claremont senior fellow) argued that most people living in the U.S. are no longer Americans in the true sense. Ellmers' essay was right out of the Viktor Orbán/Vladimir Putin/Marine LePen school of hyper-nationalist far-right authoritarianism.

Eastman, like Ellmers, has championed the MAGA movement vigorously. And more traditional conservatives and libertarians such as those at The Bulwark have been appalled by his scheme, outlined in a two-page memo, for overturning the 2020 election results.

According to Cabrera, "Eastman's reported conversation with Bowers fell on the same day as the attorney's Oval Office meeting with Pence, during which Eastman laid out his now-infamous memo explaining how the vice president could hijack Congress' certification process to keep Trump in power. Eastman proposed that Pence throw out electors from the swing states Biden had won, including Arizona, and let the GOP-controlled state legislatures or U.S. House Republicans choose new electors…. The Arizona Republic's new report on Eastman apparently trying to personally lobby an individual state Republican leader reveals the extent to which the lawyer tried to make his cloak-and-dagger scheme, which was fully backed by Trump, a reality."

'This is not over!' Report details how Mike Flynn tried to bully a Pentagon loyalist into helping Trump overturn the election

In his new book, "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show," ABC News' Jonathan Karl takes a sobering look at Donald Trump's final months as president. Trump and his allies, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, did everything they could to help Trump overturn the 2020 election results during that late 2020/early 2021 lame duck period — and that includes trying to pressure a Pentagon official.

The Pentagon official Flynn tried to pressure was Ezra Cohen-Watnick. According to Karl, Cohen-Watnick — who had reported to Flynn at the National Security Council and the Defense Intelligence Agency — was traveling in the Middle East when he got a call from Flynn.

Karl, in his book, writes, "Flynn told him to cut his trip short and get back to the United States immediately because there were big things about to happen," adding that "there was going to be an epic showdown over the election results."

Flynn, according to Karl, told Cohen-Watnick that "he needed to get orders signed, that ballots needed to be seized, and that extraordinary measures needed to be taken to stop Democrats from stealing the election."

READ: 'You're his lawyer': CNN host stumps Bannon lawyer by asking if client had 'foreknowledge' of Capitol riot

Karl writes, "As Flynn ranted about the election fight, (Cohen) felt his old boss sounded manic. He didn't sound like the same guy he had worked for."

But Cohen-Watnick, according to Karl, told Flynn, "Sir, the election is over. It's time to move on."

Before Flynn angrily hung up the phone, Karl reports, he told Cohen-Watnick, "You're a quitter! This is not over! Don't be a quitter!"

In "Betrayal," Karl also reports that far-right Trump attorney Sidney Powell called Cohen-Watnick to push a wacky QAnon conspiracy theory involving then-CIA Director Gina Haspel. The theory, which was total nonsense, claimed that Haspel had been injured while on a secret mission to seize an election-related computer server.

READ: 'Biden delivered': Devastating Lincoln Project ad mocks 'so-called builder' Trump on 'infrastructure week'

Karl writes, "The server, Powell claimed, contained evidence that hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of votes had been switched using rigged voting machines. Powell believed Haspel had embarked on this secret mission to get the server and destroy the evidence — in other words, the CIA director was part of the conspiracy."

Cohen-Watnick, according to Karl, thought that Powell sounded nuts — and a CIA agent debunked the claim that she had been injured, saying, "I'm happy to tell you that Director Haspel is alive and well and at the office."

'You’re his lawyer': CNN host stumps Bannon lawyer by asking if client had 'foreknowledge' of Capitol riot

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has been indicted on charges of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to testify before the House select committee on the January 6 insurrection. Bannon's attorney David Schoen vigorously defended his client during a November 16 appearance on CNN's "New Day," but he clearly met his match in host Brianna Keilar — who wasn't about to let him get away with misleading claims.

Bannon has maintained that because former President Donald Trump enjoyed "executive privilege" on January 6, he cannot testify before the House committee. Schoen echoed those claims on "New Day," but Keilar clearly got the better of him.

Schoen argued that because Trump enjoyed executive privilege, that applied to Bannon as well. Keilar, however, reminded Schoen, "Trump did not formally invoke privilege with the committee."

Schoen, sounding frustrated with Keilar's questioning, angrily responded, "You keep saying that, and I'm telling you that Mr. Bannon advised the committee that he was advised by President Trump, in writing, that he is not to appear and not to answer the questions — which, by the way, is supported by the Office of Legal Counsel also when an executive member of the executive branch is subpoenaed."

READ: This line from the Rittenhouse defense team's closing completely horrified viewers

But Keilar reminded Schoen, "Many of the things you say, a court has not found in favor of. Some of these things are squishy, or they're very much theoretical, just to be clear. Nonetheless, this committee has outlined 17 categories of documents that it sought from Steve Bannon. Does Bannon have them?"

Schoen responded, "I don't know. I'm not going into those details now. As I say, I just got hired on Sunday. Today was the first day I've seen the subpoena in the case. So, I'm not prepared to talk about that. I'm prepared to talk about the process."

Keilar was more than happy to discuss "process" with Schoen, pointing out that "advice of counsel is not a defense when it comes to contempt of Congress charges such as this."

Keilar told Schoen: "It is very clear: There was a 1961 decision. This isn't even anything recent. It is very clear, and you know that."

READ: Delusional GOP lawmakers are melting down over Steve Bannon's indictment

Keilar went on to play Schoen a clip of Bannon, during a January 5 segment of his "War Room" podcast, infamously saying, "All hell is going to break loose tomorrow…. Tomorrow, it's Game Day. So, strap in." And Schoen claimed, "He's not talking about violence" — inspiring Keilar to ask, "You're saying he had no foreknowledge of the events that played out on January 6?"

"I'm not in a position to speak on his behalf about any foreknowledge," Schoen told Keilar — to which she responded, "Yes you are. You're his lawyer."

Watch the videos below:

READ: Trump lawyer who tried to overturn the 2020 election gets named to US Election Assistance Commission

A second voting tech company is suing OAN over election fraud claims

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Smartmatic, a voting technology company, has followed in the footsteps of Dominion Voting Systems and filed a lawsuit against One America News (OAN). The details of the lawsuit have not yet been posted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia's docket, but they contain allegations of libel and slander.

In February, Smartmatic sued "Fox News, its parent Fox Corp (FOXA.O) and several Fox hosts in a New York state court, alleging they falsely accused the company of helping rig the U.S. presidential election in favor of Democrat Joe Biden," according to Reuters. That defamation lawsuit, like Dominion Voting Systems' lawsuit, is looking for billions in recompense. Smartmatic has also, like Dominion Voting Systems, sued Trump attorneys, Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.

How much the Florida-based Smartmatic will be looking for in damages from the San Diego-based OAN is not precisely known. However, since the allegations are almost identical to the ones being made by Dominion in its case against the right-wing propaganda machine, that number is believed to be in the billions. That's billions with a "B." If OAN's case rests on the "experts" they pranced in front of their cameras to make false election fraud claims, they might be in big trouble. (Fingers crossed!)

Giuliani and Powell have also been sued by Dominion, specifically in regards to their baseless claims that Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer was some kind of mastermind in flipping tens if not hundreds of thousands (and maybe millions) of votes from Donald Trump to Joseph Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Coomer's defamation lawsuit against two of the worst lawyers in America makes a clear case for just how spurious that dynamic duo's claims of election fraud really are. So far, Giuliani and Powell have been unable to lawyer themselves out of a paper bag, let alone get the case dismissed.

The only bad news in this report is that MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has not been sued by Smartmatic. He is facing the same defamation lawsuit from Dominion that Giuliani and Powell are involved in.