'Breathtaking corruption': Ginni Thomas pressured Arizona lawmakers to overturn the 2020 election

Far right wing activist, lobbyist, and spouse of a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Ginni Thomas pressed lawmakers in Arizona to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In emails she urged them to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure,” and send a “clean slate” of electors, falsely claiming the choice is “yours and yours alone.”

“The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud. Though she did not mention either candidate by name, the context was clear,” reports The Washington Post, which broke the news Friday. “In sending the emails, Thomas played a role in the extraordinary scheme to keep Trump in office by substituting the will of legislatures for the will of voters.”

“Before you choose your state’s Electors … consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don’t stand up and lead,” an email bearing Ginni Thomas’ name, sent to the Arizona lawmakers, reads:

It included a link to a video of a man delivering a message meant for swing-state lawmakers, urging them to 'put things right' and 'not give in to cowardice.'
'You have only hours to act,' said the speaker, who is not identified in the video.

Thomas also pressed Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to work to overturn the election, as has been widely reported.Her efforts, combined with Justice Thomas’ actions on the Supreme Court, amount to “breathtaking corruption,” writes Slate’s legal expert Mark Joseph Stern.“The conflict of interest between Ginni and Clarence Thomas has never been greater. While Clarence was applying the ‘independent state legislature doctrine’ from the bench, Ginni was using the exact same theory to try to overturn the 2020 election. Just breathtaking corruption,” Stern says.

He adds:

Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now an NBC News/MSNBC legal analyst and law professor, issued a strong warning:

“Either Justice Thomas recuses in every case that comes to the Court where his wife is heavily involved in the action or the public’s confidence in the Court will be damaged beyond repair.”

Reuters reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court, Lawrence Hurley:

Former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, who is president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says it is “outrageous” Justice Thomas has refused to recuse:

“New evidence that Ginni Thomas’s participation in efforts to overturn the 2020 election was even greater than we knew; in this case pressure on AZ legislators to overturn that state’s vote. Makes it even more outrageous that Justice Thomas did not recuse.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona legislators to overturn Biden’s win and choose a ‘clean slate of electors.’ In other words, she supported a coup to overthrow an elected president. What did her husband know?”

Economist and frequent political commentator David Rothschild observes, “Ginni Thomas was conspiring with high ranking Republicans to overturn [the] republic, and her husband was either privy to or actively involved in this conspiracy before using his position to coverup his wife’s role.”

Former SDNY Asst. U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli sums up:

Donald Trump finally pays a bill

Former President Donald Trump has temporarily broken away from his lifelong habit of refusing to pay his obligations. On Friday, the twice-impeached ex-commander in chief wrote a check to the state of New York to satisfy financial penalties that had racked up from a contempt of court citation that was issued last month.

The fees added up to $110,000 and were levied by New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron in April after Trump refused to comply with subpoenas issued by New York Attorney General Letitia James in her ongoing civil fraud probe into the Trump Organization.

James has amassed substantial evidence that Trump and his associates manipulated the values of his real estate holdings in order to secure loans and evade taxes. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is conducting a parallel criminal investigation.

On May 6th, Engoron suspended the contempt charge as long as Trump paid his bill and cooperated with James' investigation. The deadline arrived today.

"Engoron gave Trump until May 20 to file a long list of additional affidavits detailing his attorneys' search for records and electronic devices, and explanations of the Trump Organization's document retention and destruction policies. Trump and his company were also required to cooperate with a long-delayed court-mandated discovery effort by a third party company tasked with sorting through years of corporate records. The firm completed its discovery on Thursday, the same day Trump's payment was delivered," CBS News noted on Friday. "After Trump's team submits the affidavits, Engoron will decide if they satisfy the terms of the subpoena for which Trump was held in contempt. If they are not satisfactory, the contempt finding can be reinstated retroactive to May 7, meaning Trump would owe an additional $130,000."

'Hillbilly spoof': How the team that pushed the 'Big Lie' in 2020 plotted together in Kentucky's 2019 election

When election night returns came in for the Kentucky election on Nov. 5, 2019, Matt Bevin, the Republican incumbent governor trailed Democratic challenger Andy Beshear by about 5,000 votes.

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A brash businessman who antagonized the state’s teachers, Bevin had gone into his reelection campaigns as one of the most unpopular governors in the country. But with Republicans prevailing in every single remaining statewide race, his supporters couldn’t believe it was possible for Bevin to lose.

One the day after the election, Bevin refused to concede, making baseless allegations to reporters, as the Courier Journal reported, “that absentee ballots were illegally counted, people were turned away from the polls, voting machines malfunctioned and ballots were stored in open boxes” — claims that were systematically refuted by state and local election officials.

By Saturday, with Bevin still refusing to concede, two far-right influencers jointly appeared on a podcast cross-published on their respective platforms to herald what sounded like an earth-shattering development.

“We have literally been given the motherlode of leaked documents from a whistleblower that appears to be someone who might be working inside the elections,” declared Millie Weaver, an Ohio-based media provocateur who was a correspondent for the conspiracy theory hub InfoWars at the time.

Weaver introduced Terpsehore “Tore” Maras, a pro-Trump podcaster who lived in North Dakota. Weaver said she and Maras had been on the phone the night before when she checked her email and discovered “that some whistleblower, anonymously, decided to send me hundreds of documents — hundreds — these documents are confirmed legitimate documents — we have official, like, ballots, Kentucky ballots, audit logs, you know, all this crazy information, bank transactions, checks, papers that have literally been taped back together that went through shredders. Somebody must have been doing a lot of work to compile all of this information. But this information looks like there’s significant amount of voter fraud going on in Kentucky.”

Indeed, someone had broken into Harp Enterprises, a Lexington-based company that supplies voting machines, and had accessed checks received by the company and other internal documents. Roger Baird, the company’s owner, told Raw Story he believes either a disgruntled former employee or someone associated with a losing campaign put a janitor up to stealing the documents.

But almost nothing about what the two women said about the documents — starting with Weaver’s claim that Harp Enterprises “runs the electronic voting machines for the entire state of Kentucky” — was true. Harp Enterprises, which exclusively purchases voting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic, services only some of the precincts in Kentucky’s 120 counties. Voters in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville and holds the largest share of Democratic voters, vote on ES&S machines.

Maras claimed that the documents included hand-written notes showing employees coaching each other on “how to manipulate the votes.” And based on a financial transaction from a company with foreign ownership, Maras concluded, “You can’t get any more smoking gun with regards to foreign-entity meddling, let’s say.”

Chagrined to see his private documents tweeted out and displayed on a video stream, Baird showed Weaver’s video presentation to his banker.

“He was like, ‘This is like a hillbilly spoof,’” Baird recalled. “There was just enough little droplets of real information that you might scratch your head, and say, ‘Huh, maybe there is something there.’ When they started connected me to George Soros….” As he recounted the story, Baird’s voice trailed off in incredulity and he burst into laughter.

As the joint podcast crept into its second hour, Weaver noted with approval that her boss, Alex Jones, was in the chat watching her video.

“This is election fraud,” Maras said. “Kentucky was a dry run. In 2020, they’re coming for everything.”

“We need to blow the lid off this now before they steal the 2020 election,” Weaver agreed.

“Yeah, but look at the losers they’ve got running on the Democratic ticket,” Maras chimed in. She ticked through the list of Democratic presidential primary contenders, noting each candidate’s unappealing attributes and weaknesses, while assigning insulting nicknames to them, before concluding with Trumpian logic that none of them could win fair and square.

“So, what they’re gonna do is they’re gonna steal it,” Maras concluded.

Weaver also attended a press conference at the state Capitol in Frankfurt, and spread many of the same baseless allegations to her followers in a livestream on Periscope. Weaver could not be reached for comment for this story.

The Kentucky election in 2019 was a harbinger, but in a different sense than Maras likely intended.

Many of the same players who would later turn up in Washington, DC after the 2020 election and promote a battery of conspiracy theories falsely claiming the election was stolen were also involved in investigating election fraud claims in Kentucky, according to at least two people involved.

Joshua Merritt, a Dallas area information technology consultant, indicated in a Twitter thread last month that Patrick Byrne, the former CEO “contracted” the Texas-based company Allied Security Operating Group to work on the Kentucky election.

In response to an account with the username @AmericanRE15 who asked him to confirm that he was saying “Byrne contracted you guys to work on the Bevins [sic] fraud in f***ing 2019,” Merritt replied, “Bingo….”

He added in a separate tweet: “And then there are all the people we briefed after 2018… We investigated Bevins case, Florida, Dallas, Maryland… And others.”

Josh Merritt responds to a question on a Twitter thread by @AmericanRE15 on April 30Screengrab

Merritt could not be reached for this story, and he blocked this reporter on Twitter during the reporting of this story.

Russell Ramsland, the founder of Allied Security Operating Group, began pushing election fraud claims after Democrats made gains in Texas during the 2018 mid-term elections, and would go on to push specious claims about the 2020 election on Lou Dobbs’ show on Fox Business Network, and then file a declaration alongside Maras to support federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the election.

Weaver also confirmed Allied Security Operations Group’s involvement in the Kentucky election, which has not been previously reported.

“I went down to Kentucky to go hand-deliver an SD drive or a USB stick to Governor Bevin himself at his office,” Weaver recounted in a December 2020 livestream. “And I also met with a group called ASOG. So, there’s this group called Allied Security Operations Group, and they’re heading a lot of the election fraud efforts that have been happening.”

Weaver said in the same livestream that she had provided the documents to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and described working with Allied Security Operations Group.

“Yeah, we met with them,” she said. “We essentially went over the information. They already had seemed to have gotten it, which means they probably got it from Grassley or something.”

Messages to Grassley’s office seeking clarification on whether the senator received the documents or anyone from his office passed them on to Ramsland were not returned before press time.

In November 2020, Weaver, Maras and Weaver’s partner Gavin Wince came to Washington, DC as the nucleus of a conspiracy-happy group that would come to be known as “Team America.” Patrick Bergy, who was also part of the group, previously told Raw Story that Byrne paid for their hotel rooms at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel in northern Virginia.

Merritt also indicated in the April 30 Twitter thread that Byrne and Maras together connected with Allied Security Operations Group during the efforts to uncover fraud in Kentucky. In response to a question from the @AmericanRE15 account on whether he had disclosed that he worked with Maras on the Kentucky fraud claim, Merritt replied, “She was brought in with Byrne when we were working with them through ASOG.”

Raw Story could not independently confirm Byrne’s involvement in the Kentucky 2019 election. Byrne and Maras have previously said in a podcast published two months ago that they did not formally meet until November 2020.

“The first time that I think of myself as meeting Tore, we were in a restaurant in Alexandria; it was a week or two after the election,” Byrne said in the podcast. “She was with some people. I was with some people. Somebody took me over to meet her people. Boom boom boom. When I shook hands with her, after looking at her or listening to her for a few seconds, I said, ‘Gee, I’ve met you somewhere, haven’t I?’ And she actually turned away, didn’t answer. I thought it was funny.”

Byrne went on to share a cryptic story about how a couple of nights later Maras made an admission to him that suggested she had spied on him eight years earlier. According to Maras, she had been Byrne’s “waitress” at a restaurant in London in 2012 and he was her “target.”

Neither Byrne nor Maras could be reached for comment about Merritt’s assertion that they worked together on the 2019 election in Kentucky.

As previously reported by Raw Story and ProPublica, Byrne has described tasking a group of intelligence professionals with interviewing Maras after she submitted a declaration to support lawsuits filed by Sidney Powel that sought to overturn the 2020 election. Byrne said the team that interviewed Maras concluded that “we cannot rely on her for anything factual because we caught her in too many lies and exaggerations.”

Despite Byrne’s determination in December 2020 that Maras was not credible, the two continue to appear together on podcasts, where they promote election fraud conspiracy theories and praise one another.

Maras and Weaver have both said they worked with Phill Kline, a former Kansas attorney general on examining alleged election fraud in Kentucky. In December 2020, Kline reportedly promoted a scheme to submit pro-Trump electors in the six swing states carried by Joe Biden, talking up the plan on far-right media outlets like One America News and former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s podcast.

Weaver mentioned Kline’s involvement in the Kentucky election in her December 2020 livestream, and Maras said she worked with Kline “in 2019 on the election fraud in Kentucky” in a podcast earlier this year. Kline could not be reached for comment for this story.

Warning signs in Kentucky

“I had said back then and have said all along that 2019 was a mini version of what potentially could happen in 2020, and did happen,” Joshua A. Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky, told Raw Story. “I said then that we need to pay attention to what happened in Kentucky for fear of that happening on a larger scale with the presidential election.”

Douglas said he sees one critical difference in how Bevin’s baseless fraud claims played out in 2019, compared to the firehose of the spigot of falsehoods issued by President Trump that culminated in the attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. After the 2019 election, Douglas said, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell issued an ultimatum to Bevin to present evidence of voting problems or concede. In contrast, McConnell waited for more than a month after the 2020 election as Senate majority leader before congratulating Joe Biden on his win.

For conspiracy theorists, Kentucky in 2019 was a ripe target.

“Twenty-nineteen is an off-election year, so you could really focus on Kentucky,” said Roger Baird, the Harp Enterprises owner. “You get a lot of attention all of a sudden when you’re the only one having an election. We get more attention in an off-election year than we do in a big year like 2020.”

Similar to the feverish claims about election fraud in the 2020 election, Maras’ theory about the Harp Enterprises documents quickly expanded to include claims about official betrayal to explain why no one was being prosecuted.

“If you had asked me, I would tell you: Everyone in Kentucky government is guilty,” Maras said during the Nov. 9, 2019 podcast. “And maybe this is why the secretary of state is like, ‘Oh, just leave it alone.’ Yeah, leave it alone because everyone’s gonna be going to jail.”

Maras said she called the Kentucky State Police hoping that she could bring the documents to the attention of Governor Bevin. She said a detective called her back and tried to get her to explain how she obtained the documents. A spokesperson told Raw Story he couldn’t confirm that the agency received a complaint about the matter.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office, which would typically investigate allegations of election fraud or other criminal misconduct, did not respond to inquiries.

Baird told Raw Story he asked Homeland Security to try to determine how his company’s internal documents were stolen, but they never reached any conclusions.

In the weeks following Bevin’s loss in Kentucky, Maras continued to refine a fanciful theory of electronic vote-swapping.

In 2019 and 2020, according to the Washington Post, Ramsland and Merritt from Allied Security Operations Group appeared on a podcast called “Economic War Room” and claimed that hackers or rogue operators could direct vote data to a remote location and manipulate it. During his media appearances, Ramsland also circulated baseless claims about Scytl, a Spain-based company that provides election-night reporting services, asserting that “they’re housing all of our vote, and they’re doing it in an insecure fashion,” the Post reported.

Maras appears to have been exposed to the same baseless claims about Scytl in November 2020, roughly the same period when Merritt and Weaver indicated Allied Security Operations Group was looking at the Kentucky election.

In a podcast two weeks after the 2019 election, Maras spent an hour offering a breezy discourse on how various election technology companies supposedly carry out electronic vote manipulation, asserting that “the Hart-Intercivic software” was “working together” with Scytl.

“So, this phase is shuffling ballots, mixing them,” Maras said, adopting the professorial air of an adept instructor breaking down a complex formula for undergrad students. “Picture a bag of Scrabble tiles, and you’re mixing them. That’s basically what they do to all your votes. And during this mixing phase is where you can swap a vote for some other vote.”

In a previous podcast, on Nov. 10, Maras had acknowledged that “elections aren’t my thing,” and admitted she knew little about how voting machines work. Now, on Nov. 19, Maras was saying that it had taken her a week to figure out what a highly compensated cybersecurity contractor in northern Virginia who was paid to safeguard US elections would have known for at least 10 years.

What Maras missed — and what election deniers in 2020 missed and continue to miss as they go around the country sewing doubt about the election system — is that vote data that is reported on election night is separate from the votes that are tallied up and certified by local and state elections officials.

In Kentucky, two poll workers — one Republican and one Democrat — hand-deliver a tape displaying a printout of the aggregate vote and a media card in a sealed bag to the county election office. A duplicate of the tape is displayed at the polling place as a record of the precinct tally. At the county office, the media card is inserted into a machine that tallies the votes from across the county. Like the voting machines, the machine that tallies the votes is not connected to the internet. To ensure that the votes remain secure, an election worker uses a clean thumb drive to pull the data off the tally machine and then walks it over to a networked computer to upload it to the election-night reporting site.

“Our job is to make sure nothing touches the computer that does the tally,” Baird said.

“Common sense tells you that if you hook up your voting machines to the internet, you’re plumb dumb,” he added.

References to Scytl and foreign servers purportedly housing votes would prove to be a ubiquitous feature in declarations sworn by Maras and Merritt for the lawsuits filed in November and December 2020, along with video documentaries and livestreams by Weaver during the same period. Maras’ 37-page declaration, executed on Nov. 29, 2020, alone contains 23 references to Scytl.

Ensconced in Washington, Weaver addressed her followers on Periscope around the same time, outlining her qualifications to be part of an elite team churning up dubious evidence to aid in the effort to overturn the election.

“I want to give you guys a little bit of background as to why I know what I know and I’m in the situation where right here where I’m even being invited to some of the groups that are heading these efforts, where you see people like Phill Kline, and you see people like Sidney Powell and these other people out here heading these movements,” Weaver said. “Why would they care what little Millie has to say?... So, I’ve been making these videos for over a year now, talking about the plan that the Democrats and really the establishment has had to throw Trump out of office, to get rid of him.”

Republican Party extremists are gaining ground in the East while falling flat in the West

Still, fringe candidates are luring GOP voters and winning key races.

The Republican Party’s radical right flank is making inroads among voters and winning key primaries east of the Mississippi. But out West, among the five states that held their 2022 primary elections on May 17, a string of GOP candidates for office who deny the 2020’s presidential election results and have embraced various conspiracies were rejected by Republicans who voted for more mainstream conservatives.

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In Pennsylvania, Douglas Mastriano, an election denier and white nationalist, won the GOP’s nomination for governor. He received 587,772 votes, which was 43.96 percent of the vote in a low turnout primary. One-quarter of Pennsylvania’s 9 million registered voters cast ballots.

In Idaho, by contrast, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who also claimed Joe Biden’s election was illegitimate and has campaigned at white supremacist rallies, according to the Western States Center, an Oregon-based group that monitors the far right, lost her bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination to incumbent Gov. Brad Little.

Idaho also saw two 2020 election-denying candidates vying for the GOP nomination for secretary of state lose to a career civil servant and election administrator who defended 2020’s results as accurate. On the other hand, an ex-congressman who is an election denier won the GOP primary for attorney general.

“In addition to Janice McGeachin, who was defeated in her bid for governor, a number of other anti-democracy candidates were rejected by voters, including Priscilla Giddings, who ran for [Idaho] Lieutenant Governor; Dorothy Moon, who ran for Secretary of State; and Chad Christensen, Todd Engel and Eric Parker, who mounted bids for the state legislature,” the Western States Center’s analysis said. “In Ada County, antisemitic sheriff candidate Doug Traubel was soundly defeated, alongside losses for Proud Boy and conspiratorial candidates in Oregon.”

Voters in Western states with histories of far-right organizing and militia violence have more experience sizing up extremist politics and candidates than voters out East, the center suggested. However, as May 17’s five state primaries make clear, the GOP’s far-right flank is ascendant nationally.

Various stripes of GOP conspiracy theorists and uncompromising culture war-embracing candidates attracted a third or more of the May 17 primary electorate, a volume of votes sufficient to win some high-stakes races in crowded fields.

Low Turnouts Boost GOP Radicals

The highest-profile contests were in the presidential swing state of Pennsylvania, where Mastriano, a state legislator, won the gubernatorial primary with votes from less than 7 percent of Pennsylvania’s 9 million registered voters.

In its primary for an open U.S. Senate seat, several thousand votes separated two election-denier candidates, a margin that will trigger a recount. As Pennsylvania’s mailed-out ballots are counted and added into totals, the lead keeps shifting between hedge-fund billionaire David McCormick and celebrity broadcaster Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Mastriano campaigned on his rejection of President Joe Biden’s victory, chartered buses to transport Trump supporters to the U.S. Capitol for what became the January 6 insurrection, is stridently anti-abortion and often says his religion shapes his politics. On his primary victory night, he sounded like former President Trump, proclaiming that he and his base were aggrieved underdogs.

“We’re under siege now,” Mastriano told supporters, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report. “The media doesn’t like groups of us who believe certain things.”

That “siege” appears to include a cold shoulder from pro-corporate Republicans who campaigned against Mastriano as the primary crested, fearing that he would lose in the fall’s general election. A day after the May 17 primary, the Republican Governors Association downplayed his victory, a signal that it was unlikely to steer donors toward him, the Washington Post reported.

Other election-denying candidates sailed to victory across Pennsylvania, including five GOP congressmen who voted against certifying their state’s 2020 Electoral College slate: Scott Perry, John Joyce, Mike Kelly, Guy Reschenthaler and Lloyd Smucker. Their primaries, while not garnering national attention, underscore Trump’s enduring impact on wide swaths of the Republican Party.

It remains to be seen if any of the primary winners will prevail in the fall’s general election. It may be that candidates who can win in crowded primary fields when a quarter to a third of voters turn out will not win in the fall, when turnout is likely to double. But a closer look at some primary results shows that large numbers of Republican voters are embracing extremists—even if individual candidates lose.

That trend can be seen in Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor’s race. The combined votes of three election-denying candidates (Rick Saccone, 15.69 percent; Teddy Daniels, 12.18 percent; Russ Diamond, 5.93 percent) was about 34 percent. That share of the party’s electorate, had it voted for one candidate, would have defeated the primary winner, Carrie DelRosso, a more moderate Republican who received 25.65 percent of the vote and will have to defend conspiracies as Mastriano’s running mate.

Fissures Inside the GOP

While Trump-appeasing candidates won primaries in May 17’s four other primary states—Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Oregon—some outspoken and badly behaved GOP radicals, such as North Carolina’s Rep. Madison Cawthorn, lost to a more traditional conservative Republican.

Cawthorn was defeated by Chuck Edwards, a pro-business Republican and state senator described by the Washington Post as “a McDonald’s franchise owner [who] was head of the local chamber of commerce.”

Edwards campaigned on returning the House to a GOP majority and backed a predictable obstructionist agenda to block the Biden White House, as opposed to Cawthorn’s embrace of 2020 election conspiracies and incendiary antics—which included taking loaded guns on planes and accusing other GOP congressmen of lurid and illegal behavior.

Edwards’ focus, the Washington Post reported, “will be on ‘removing the gavel out of Nancy Pelosi’s hand, and then taking the teleprompter from Joe Biden and restoring the policies that we enjoyed under the Trump administration, to help get this country back on track.’”

Cawthorn’s defeat came as North Carolina Republicans chose a Trump-praising candidate, Ted Budd, for its U.S. Senate nomination over an ex-governor, Pat McCrory.

As Tim Miller noted in the May 18 morning newsletter from the Bulwark, a pro-Republican but anti-Trump news and opinion website, McCrory had “criticized Trump over his Putinphilia and insurrectionist incitement… he lost bigly to Ted Budd, a milquetoast Trump stooge who will do what he’s told.”

As in Pennsylvania, a handful of incumbent members of congress in North Carolina who voted to reject their 2020 Electoral College slate easily won their primaries.

“Virginia Foxx and Greg Murphy voted to overturn the results of the 2020 election after the events of January 6 and have been endorsed by Trump in their 2022 campaigns,” said a May 16 fact sheet from the Defend Democracy Project, which tracks the GOP’s election-denying candidates. “Foxx was later fined $5,000 for failing to comply with security measures put in place in the House after the January 6 attack and Murphy has claimed that antifa may have been responsible for the violence at the Capitol.”

Foxx won her primary with 77 percent of the vote. Murphy won his primary with 76 percent of the vote.

Idaho Republicans Clash

The election-denial and conspiracy-embracing candidates fared less well in May 17’s primaries out West, the Western States Center’s analysis noted.

“Yesterday in elections in Oregon and Idaho, anti-democracy candidates were defeated in several marquee races,” it said on May 18. “Most notably Idaho gubernatorial hopeful Janice McGeachin, whose embrace of white nationalism and militias was soundly rejected by voters.”

In the GOP primary for secretary of state, which oversees Idaho’s elections, Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane narrowly beat two 2020 election deniers, state Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) and state Sen. Mary Souza (R-Coeur d’Alene). McGrane had 43.1 percent or 114,348 votes. Moon had 41.4 percent, or 109,898 votes. Souza had 15.5 percent or 41,201 votes.

“Donald Trump carried Idaho by 30 points in 2020, but… State Rep. Dorothy Moon has alleged without evidence that people are ‘coming over and voting’ in Idaho from Canada and called for the decertification of the 2020 election,” said the Defend Democracy Project’s fact sheet. “State Sen. Mary Souza is part of the voter suppression group the Honest Elections Project and has blamed ‘ballot harvesting’ for Biden’s victory. Only Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane has stated that he believes that Idaho’s elections are legitimate and that Joe Biden was the winner of the 2020 election.”

Another way of looking at the contest’s results is that an election-denying candidate might have won, had Idaho’s Republican Party more forcefully controlled how many candidates were running for this office. Together, Moon and Souza won nearly 57 percent of the vote, compared to McGrane’s 43 percent.

McGrane will be part of a GOP ticket that includes an election denier who won the primary for attorney general. Former congressman Raul Labrador received 51.5 percent of the vote, compared to the five-term incumbent, Lawrence Wasden, who received 37.9 percent. Labrador accused Wasden of “being insufficiently committed to overturning the 2020 election,” the Defend Democracy Project said.

On the other hand, another 2020 election defender won his GOP primary. Rep. Mike Simpson won 54.6 percent of the vote in Idaho’s 2nd U.S. House district in a field with several challengers who attacked him for being one of 35 House Republicans who voted in favor of creating the January 6 committee.

What Do GOP Voters Want?

But Mastriano’s victory in Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial primary, more so than any other outcome from May 17’s primaries, is “giving the GOP fits,” as Blake Hounshell, the New York Times’ “On Politics” editor, wrote on May 18.

“Conversations with Republican strategists, donors and lobbyists in and outside of Pennsylvania in recent days reveal a party seething with anxiety, dissension and score-settling over Mastriano’s nomination,” Hounshell said.

That assessment may be accurate. But one key voice—or GOP sector—is missing from the New York Times’ analysis: the GOP primary voters, a third or more of them on May 17, who embraced conspiratorial candidates—though more widely in the East than in the West.

“For decades we’ve seen that our [Western] region has been a bellwether for white nationalist and paramilitary attacks on democratic institutions and communities, but also home to the broad, moral coalitions that have risen up to defeat them,” said Eric K. Ward, the Western States Center’s executive director. “The defeat of anti-democracy candidates with white nationalist and paramilitary ties up and down the ballot is evidence that those of us committed to inclusive democracy, even if we have vastly different political views, do indeed have the power to come together to defeat movements that traffic in bigotry, white nationalism and political violence.”

Herschel Walker failed to disclose millions in earnings over several months: report

Herschel Walker, the Georgia Republican candidate running for the U.S. Senate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is facing scrutiny for failing to report more than $3 million in earnings over a five-month period as part of his federal financial disclosure.

According to Business Insider: "Walker's original candidate report, filed in December 2021, listed him and his spouse cumulatively earning $927,886 from late 2020 to the end of 2021 through various corporations, including a $100,000 salary from 'Renaissance Man Food Services, LLC.'"

Five months after filing the original candidate report, Walker reportedly amended it to include that he'd garnered an additional $3.2 million through a company called "H. Walker Enterprises." Business Insider's review of the amended documents indicates that he "amended his overall income in the disclosure to $4.1 million, more than four times higher than the original candidate report."

Per the H. Walker Enterprises' website, the company stated that its mission is to "establish a business structure capable of servicing food service, corporate and retail customers with a variety of products on a national level." However, it remains unclear what Walker's role is within the company as his campaign report describes the "partnership distributions."

Speaking to Business Insider, Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, who serves as the government affairs manager for the Project on Government Oversight, weighed in on Walker amending his reports. According to Hedtler-Gaudette, Walker's decision to do so at such a late point on the campaign trail "undermines 'the basic compact between a person running for office and the people they are trying to recruit to support them.'"

"There's some potential a voter who may find him supportable may have already contributed some money on the basis of the information they had at that point," Hedtler-Gaudette said. "But as we're seeing now, that information was incomplete."

Under the laws stated in the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics, all candidates are required to submit candidate reports that disclose "their honoraria payments, income, assets, liabilities, compensation, and other personal financial details within 30 days of becoming a candidate," per Insider.

Candidates that do not may face a number of different penalties including but not limited to a fine or an inquiry launched by the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ).

'One trick pony' Donald Trump torched for defaulting to voter fraud myth in close Pennsylvania primary

Former President Donald Trump is facing deep criticism for his latest remarks suggesting voter fraud might now be an issue in Pennsylvania.

On Wednesday, May 18, Trump took to Truth Social with a brief statement amid the reporting of midterm elections results in Pennsylvania, a state he has been fiercely focused on while endorsing MAGA-inspired candidates that align with his political interests.

"It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots that they 'just happened to find,'" Trump posted on Wednesday. He also said, "In Pennsylvania, they are unable to count the Mail-In Ballots. It is a BIG MESS. Our Country should go to paper ballots, with same-day voting. Just done in France, zero problems. Get Smart America!!!"

While the former president might believe his actions could create a political storm similar to the post-election legal war he stirred up back in 2020, critics have quickly chimed in with less-than-favorable remarks in response to his latest stunt. SiriusXM radio host and columnist Dean Obeidallah offered a prediction of Trump's antics. "Trump is now getting ready to claim voter fraud in Pennsylvania—in reality, Trump should be getting ready to head to the prison's lunchroom for feeding time."

In a tweet also posted on Wednesday, David Axelrod, a known Democratic strategist who also served as senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, offered a stinging assessment of Trump's remarks describing him as a "one-trick pony."

"Trump, a one-trick pony, is playing the fraud card again, urging Oz to act like a Wizard and just declare himself the winner in PA!" Axelrod tweeted along with a link to a WashingtonPost article with details about the Pennsylvania election results.

The New Yorker's John Cassidy also weighed in with a critical response. "You can't keep a good seditionist down," Cassidy tweeted along with a link to one of his pieces related to Trump's antics titled, "Trump Brings His Big Lie Playbook to the GOP Primaries."

But despite Trump's antics, political analyst Tom O'Brien noted that even a Trump endorsement didn't help some Republican candidates cross the finish line.

"Trump's 'power' = 1/3 of the vote in a Republican primary," O'Brien tweeted. "Trump couldn't push Oz across the finish line so now he's advising crying fraud." O'Brien also said Trump is an "ongoing threat to democracy" because of his latest remarks.

Republican primaries underscore Donald Trump's chokehold on the GOP: Senators

After the horrors of January 6, 2021, Donald Trump’s critics — from liberals and progressives to centrists to right-wing Never Trump conservatives — were hoping his influence on the Republican Party would end. But 16 months into Joe Biden’s presidency, countless Republican primary candidates are begging Trump for his endorsement. And some of the Trump-backed GOP candidates who have prevailed in high-profile races, journalist Alexander Bolton reports in an article published by The Hill on May 19, underscore the influence he still has on his party.

Republican primary candidates who have received Trump’s endorsement and gone on to win the GOP nomination include “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance in Ohio’s U.S. Senate race, Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race and Pennsylvania State Sen. Doug Mastriano in the Keystone State’s gubernatorial race. But far-right Trump ally Rep. Madison Cawthorn was voted out of office via a congressional primary in North Carolina on Tuesday, May 17, and the disgraced and scandal-plagued but Trump-backed businessman Charles Herbster lost to GOP nominee Jim Pillen in Nebraska’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Nonetheless, the Republican U.S. senators interviewed for Bolton’s article believe that Trump’s endorsements appear to be helping more often than not.

“Senate Republicans say the strong performances by Trump-backed candidates in the Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Ohio GOP primaries show former President Trump maintains a vice-like grip on their party and will be the heavy favorite heading into the 2024 presidential election,” Bolton reports. “Trump has not only picked winners in various key gubernatorial, Senate and House primaries, but his endorsements in several high-profile instances appear to have propelled lagging candidates to victory. Lawmakers say this is most apparent in the Pennsylvania and Ohio primaries, where Trump’s involvement appears to have altered the outcome of the election.”

Bolton adds, “Even if Trump can’t take all of the credit for producing winners, there’s no question his endorsement moves poll numbers, GOP senators say.”

In Pennsylvania’s GOP U.S. Senate primary, the Trump-endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz had a razor-thin lead over hedge fund executive Dave McCormick as of Thursday morning, May 19. But the votes were still being counted.

One of the Republican senators The Hill interviewed for Bolton’s article was Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. Although Romney is a Trump critic who voted “guilty” in Trump’s second impeachment trial in 2022, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee told The Hill, “There’s no question in my mind that he would become the nominee in 2024 if he decides to run for the Republican nomination…. He has a significant impact on state races, and he’ll win some and lose some. But surely, people will want his endorsement if they can get it.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, meanwhile, described Trump as “still the most significant person of influence in the party,” adding, “What he did in Pennsylvania is not insignificant if Dr. Oz pulls it out…. There’s just no question he’s still got a broad influence over a broad swath of Republican primary voters and activists.”

Nonetheless, Sen. John Thune of North Dakota cautioned against giving Trump too much credit in 2022’s Republican primaries.

Thune told The Hill, “The pundits will be interpreting these results…. In many of these cases, the people he endorsed performed well…. It’s not real clear-cut in the sense that you have, in most of these races, multiple candidates who are taking votes away from each other. So…. you can make some generalized assessments, but I don’t think you can make very specific ones.”

Vladimir Putin became 'frustrated' with Donald Trump because he 'had to keep explaining things': Fiona Hill

Russian leader Vladimir Putin grew frustrated with Donald Trump's inability to understand foreign policy issues, his former top National Security Council advisor on the country said.

Fiona Hill explained the dynamics during a Tuesday Chicago Council on Global Affairs event.

Business Insider reports, "One of the reasons Putin invaded Ukraine with President Joe Biden in the White House is because he expected the US to 'sue for peace' and thought it would be better to deal with Biden than trying to negotiate with someone like Trump, who the Russian leader had 'to explain everything to all the time," said Hill, who served as the top Russia advisor on the National Security Council under Trump.

Hill currently serves as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

"He thought that somebody like Biden — who's a Transatlanticist, who knows all about NATO, who actually knows where Ukraine is, and actually knows something about the history, and is very steeped in international affairs — would be the right person to engage with," she explained. "You could see that he got frustrated many times with President Trump because he had to keep explaining things, and Putin doesn't like to do that."

Trump praised Putin prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius,'" Trump told a far-right podcaster. "Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine -- Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful."

"I said, 'How smart is that?'" Trump continued. "And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force… We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy."

Following public pressure, Trump sought to clarify his views in a statement emailed to reports.

"The Fake News is also saying I called Putin a 'genius,' when actually, and to be precise, I called his build-up on the Ukraine Border before the war started genius because I assumed he would be easily able to negotiate a great deal for Russia," Trump said. "TThe Fake News said I called him a genius during the war. No, I was describing the great negotiating posture he had prior to the unfortunate decision to enter Ukraine and fight. There was nothing 'genius' about that!"

Watch the speech below or at this link.

Fiona Hill on Russia, Ukraine, and the Outcome of the War

Donald Trump is 'undermining democracy' by urging Dr. Oz to prematurely declare victory: journalist

Donald Trump is continuing his anti-democracy tactics, this time calling on the candidate he endorsed for a Pennsylvania seat in the U.S. Senate to simply “declare victory” despite the race being exceptionally close and all the ballots not being counted.

“Dr. Oz should declare victory,” Trump wrote on his own social media platform, Truth Social, as Politico’s Meridith McGraw reports. “It makes it much harder for them to cheat with the ballots they ‘just happened to find.'”

“Celebrity doctor” Mehmet Oz, the far-right candidate Trump endorsed, is in a close battle with hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick.

The race cannot be called because Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislation requiring mail-in ballots to be counted after all other ballots.

The Philadelphia Inquirer late Wednesday morning reports “thousands or even tens of thousands of votes” are “still yet to be counted (including both some in-person votes and mail-ballots),” and added: “it was unclear who would have the edge once all the initial counting was done.”

“It’s impossible to know exactly how many votes are left to be counted, in part because some votes, such as overseas and military ballots, are still coming in.”

“Either way, it appeared very likely the race would trigger an automatic recount, which happens if the winning margin is less than 0.5% of the total votes cast. The winner would have to end up with a margin of around 6,000 to 6,800 votes to avoid that eventuality.”

Politico’s Zach Montellaro accused Trump of “undermining democracy.”

Trump 'unleashed something he cannot control' and it's thrown Pennsylvania GOP into chaos: NYT’s Haberman

Appearing on CNN's "New Day" to discuss pivotal Republican Party primaries in key states, each of which could have a major impact on the control of both the U.S House of Representatives and the Senate, the New York Times' Maggie Haberman focused on the race for the open Pennsylvania Senate seat being sought by multiple controversial candidates.

On primary day, any one of the three GOP hopefuls -- TV celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz, businessman Dave McCormick and conservative gadfly Kathy Barnette could win -- although Oz and Barnette are making some Republicans cringe that they will make the cut to the November ballot and hand over a Republican seat to the Democrats.

Speaking with hosts John Berman and Kaitlan Collins, Haberman was asked what she expects to see happen on Tuesday.

"What are you watching in Pennsylvania tonight?" she was asked leading her to joke, "Who wins, is the main question?"

"But in all seriousness, I don't remember a race like this in a long time," she continued. "They're all bunched up, the top three. It's not clear who is going to win. Trump tried pushing Mehmet Oz over the top and he may still end up doing that. But there are strategists looking at this race who say they can see Oz finishing third. The big question is, Oz comes into this with ideological issues for the Republican base of his own, but it will absolutely be seen as a measure of the limits of Trump's appeal."

Addressing the possibility that controversial outsider Barnette could win, Haberman added that the Republican leadership, specifically Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the GOP's Senate campaign chief, "don't want to cut her off if she's the nominee."

"I think he's trying to make it where she comes into the tent a little more," she elaborated. "I think he's trying to get her to sand down certain edges. and this is not unusual, when you see a contest like this. But again, what her whole message has been, essentially, is reminding us that Trump unleashed something that he can't really control anymore with this movement. I think that whether he's able to get his candidate over and turn this into a referendum on him is the big open question of the day. It's hard to overstate that."

Watch the video below or at this link.

CNN 05 17 2022 06 23 14

Michael Flynn's dubious new lawsuit shows that he 'fears or senses' impending legal peril: Glenn Kirschner

Disgraced Trump National Security Advisor turned QAnon promoter Mike Flynn has allegedly filed a $50 million claim against the U.S. Dept. of Justice, alleging “malicious prosecution” and “emotional distress” despite having repeatedly confessed, including in court before a federal judge.

Glenn Kirschner, a former United States Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) prosecutor and federal prosecutor is weighing in on the news.

Flynn is a retired United States Army lieutenant general who grew close to Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign while being paid to lobby for the benefit of the government of Turkey. He served in the Trump administration for just 22 days.

He was forced into retirement in 2014 while serving in the Obama administration, and outgoing President Barack Obama reportedly cautioned Trump against allowing him to serve in the White House, a suggestion Trump ignored.

Flynn resigned after allegedly lying about conversations he had with the Russian Ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. Flynn agreed to a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to plead guilty to “willfully and knowingly” making false statements to the FBI. He was never sentenced and President Trump pardoned him before leaving office.

Now Flynn is a QAnon conspiracy theorist and Big Lie promoter who as recently as last week claimed: “Donald Trump is still the president.”

He has filed a complaint against the government of the United States for $50 million, according to attorney Ron Filipkowski:

“Boy does this have the feel of the disgraced general going on the attack because he fears or senses or has been told he’s going to be either indicted in federal court or returned to active duty to be court-martialed,” tweeted Kirschner, who after leaving the Army JAG Corps became an Assistant U.S. Attorney and served under Robert Mueller.

The January 6th insurrection cost Donald Trump his dream of hosting the 2022 PGA championship: report

The second major professional golf tournament of the year, the PGA Championship, takes place this week at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, OK. It wasn't supposed to be that way.

Former President Donald Trump's Bedminster, NJ golf club originally was slated to be the venue - that is until the sport's governing organization decided it didn't want to be associated with someone who incited a riot at the U.S. Capitol in an effort to illegitimately retain the presidency.

It took only four days after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection for the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to decide it would not stage its 2022 signature tournament at the Trump course, even though it had not secured an alternate location.

According to a Golf Digest report, on the day that legendary players Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player were in the East Room of the White House for a ceremony, the leadership of the PGA met to consider how they should respond to "various constituencies, including advertisers, paying fans, TV viewers, broadcast partners, corporate sponsors — and the 29,000 men and women of the PGA of America.

"By Friday afternoon, they had made a decision. The 2022 PGA would not be played at Trump Bedminster. They didn’t know where it would be played, but it would not be there."

Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, said in a telephone interview with Politico at the time, “We’re fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how do we best protect that? Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.

“My feeling was we could do existential damage to our brand by staying at Bedminster. If we stayed, the 2022 PGA would be about its ownership. People would think we were making a statement by staying there. I felt like we could do permanent damage to the brand if we stayed. As did the board.”

On the evening of Sunday, Jan. 10, the PGA of America put out a one-sentence statement above the name of its president, Jim Richerson, the general manager of Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles: “The PGA of America Board of Directors voted tonight to exercise the right to terminate the agreement to play the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster.”

Trump's Turnberry, Scotland, course also was kicked out of the rotation to host any future British Open championships as a direct result of his actions leading up to and occurring on Jan. 6.

Donald Trump gives himself 'a massive out' to potentially rejoining Twitter: report

Former President Donald Trump loudly and proudly proclaimed that he would never return to Twitter after permanently being kicked off the social media platform for violating its policies.

And he's made a big show of trying to launch a competing messaging service called Truth Social, which he claims "encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology."

But in a securities filing, Axios reports, Trump appears to have given himself "a massive out" for a return to Twitter if Elon Musk agrees to reinstate him if the billionaire's acquisition of the social media behemoth is completed.

The caveat is that he will have to post on Truth Social first and must delay posting any similar or identical message on Twitter.

In a securities filing made by the special-purpose acquisition company that is working to take Truth Social public, it states: "President Trump is generally obligated to make any social media post on TruthSocial and may not make the same post on another social media site for 6 hours. Thereafter, he is free to post on any site to which he has access. Thus, TMTG has limited time to benefit from his posts and followers may not find it compelling to use TruthSocial to read his posts that quickly.

"In addition, he may make a post from a personal account related to political messaging, political fundraising or get-out-the-vote efforts on any social media site at any time."

Many political observers were skeptical of the former president's vow never to go back to Twitter, even after he announced the launch of Truth Social. His new network has struggled to gain traction and, in fact, Trump himself has only posted on the platform infrequently.

Trump denounced by conservatives for saddling the GOP with 'trainwreck' candidates

In a scorching editorial at the conservative National Review, the editors expressed dismay and anger with Donald Trump -- and Republicans in general -- over the primary in Pennsylvania where control of a GOP seat in the U.S. Senate may flip to the Democrats due to Trump's meddling.

Combining the former president's endorsement of controversial lawmaker and Jan 6th attendee Doug Mastriano for the governorship -- all but assuring he'll win in Tuesday's primary -- with the floundering campaign of Trump-endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz for the aforementioned Senate seat, the editors accused Trump of "Throwing away Pennsylvania ."

According to the editors, the Republican leadership is complicit with Trump in allowing this to happen.

"The conventional wisdom has been that Donald Trump might hurt Republican prospects in the midterms by endorsing and boosting flawed candidates. That’s a valid concern, but the Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania is a showcase for a different dynamic — a flawed Trump-endorsed candidate potentially getting surpassed by a perhaps even more flawed non-endorsed MAGA Republican" they wrote of Oz and previously obscure challenger Kathy Barnette whose surge and candidacy has caught Republicans by surprise.

Writing Barnette has , "... made statements over the years that will readily be used against her in a general-election campaign, and she’s been cagey about aspects of her past, including when she first moved to and voted in Pennsylvania. The party shouldn’t be putting itself in the position to find out more about all of this and fully vet Barnette after next Tuesday’s primary," the editors added, "It is perhaps understandable that primary voters have been interested in Barnette, given the alternatives. Dr. Oz is a shrewd man and talented communicator with a successful TV show under his belt to prove it, but he’s not a conservative."

That brought them to Mastriano whom they labeled "a full-blown conspiracy theorist about the 2020 election," who has also "demonstrated his unsuitability for major office."

Noting that Democrats are gleeful at the possibility of Mastriano being the GOP's nominee, the editors predicted, "Nominating train-wreck candidates at the state level could also be a drag on close House and state legislative races."

"It’s going to be a Republican year in the midterms, the kind of year that often sweeps in unlikely and unworthy candidates — and the Pennsylvania Republican Party is acting like it’s banking on it," they lamented.

You can read more here.

'Sad state of affairs': Pennsylvania newspaper editors torch GOP candidates who refuse to 'acknowledge reality'

The Philadelphia Inquirer, perhaps the most influential and well-respected newspaper in Pennsylvania, says that after an in-depth look at Republican primary candidates for statewide office, it cannot endorse any one of them.

The newspaper's editorial board wrote on Friday, "With Pennsylvania voters headed to the polls Tuesday to choose the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, it’s as if the primaries are occurring on two different planets."

As evidence, the Inquirer cited responses to questionnaires it sent to GOP candidates asking the simple question "who won the 2020 presidential election?"

"Only one candidate — Jeff Bartos — agreed to acknowledge reality," it reports.

The blistering editorial continued: "If one of these Republicans wins the general election, they will represent Pennsylvania at the next State of the Union address. We guarantee that it will not be Donald Trump who walks into the U.S. Capitol to deliver the speech. The 2020 election is over. A candidate won, he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and his name is Joe Biden."

The editors then questioned how it was possible to support the election of any candidate who would not acknowledge this basic fact.

"How do you find points of agreement when you can’t reach common ground on facts so basic that they could be used in a field sobriety test?" they asked.

In deciding against supporting any GOP candidate, the editorial board also noted the U.S. Supreme Court's apparently impending ruling to strike down Roe v. Wade: "Given the Supreme Court’s apparent plans, the members of the board asked each other if we could bring ourselves to support a candidate who, if given the opportunity, was all but certain to use their pen as governor to ban abortion once the protections of Roe are no longer in place. We could not."

In conclusion the newspaper asks, "How can this nation come to a place where we reach different conclusions and hold different opinions while operating from the same commonly shared set of facts? We don’t have an answer."

The editorial described the predicament as a "sad state of affairs."

‘Your words did matter’: Insider calls on Lin Wood to take responsibility for provocative January 6th tweets

Lin Wood, a high-profile lawyer involved in the litigation seeking to overturn the 2020 election who unleashed a series of incendiary tweets leveling accusations of treason at Vice President Mike Pence, has vehemently insisted that his social media activity bears no connection with the attack on the US Capitol.

Wood received some pushback from Patrick Bergy, a former military contractor who is the primary source for the “ShadowGate” conspiracy theory, during Bergy’s podcast on Tuesday evening. Bergy was embedded with a group known as “Team America” in Washington, DC in late 2020 and early 2021 that worked to supply information geared towards overturning the election to the attorneys, including Wood, who were litigating the cases.

During his podcast on Tuesday evening, Bergy publicly responded to a statement by Wood to Raw Story, which was quoted in a recent story about his tweets.

Bergy read Wood’s statement aloud on his Twitch stream on Tuesday evening: “Please identify credible witnesses who state that they were inflamed by social media. You cannot.”

Then, Bergy responded: “I can.”

Bergy recalled being at the rally at the Ellipse that was headlined by President Trump and being greeted by Trump supporters who recognized him from the “ShadowGate” documentary, which was produced by former InfoWars correspondent Millie Weaver.

“These people who were coming up to and would recognize me were all of the people who have been deeply and did deeply follow — they were all the people who are entrenched in this,” Bergy said. “I can tell you without question, as someone who you could easily argue as a subject matter expert in social-media psychological warfare, that what he was doing was, in fact, whether intentional or unintentional being used by others in a tactical and coordinated fashion to help create what ended up being the riots on January 6th.

“Now, to what extent Lin Wood would have any knowledge of that I don’t know or can’t say,” Bergy added. “I’m kind of split on it the way he’s treated me. But I can say as a subject matter expert in this: ‘Yeah, Lin, your words did matter. Your words do matter.”

Wood insisted in an interview with Raw Story on Thursday that he “didn’t have anything to do with January 6th.”

“I’ve told you my tweets were patriotic,” he said. “I told you that I felt that Mike Pence — based on information given to me by Jon McGreevey, if it’s true — may have been involved in an act of treason in 2017. I have not made any comments about Mike Pence’s involvement in January 6th. So, I thought that on January 6th the election vote would not be certified and we would take our nation back. Because I feel like the election was illegal and had a multitude of irregularities in it. There’s nothing wrong with me feeling that way and expressing it. It’s First Amendment protected. I didn’t ask anyone to do anything.”

Bergy served as a signal support systems specialist in the US Army for seven months in 2007, including deployment to Afghanistan. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, Bergy worked on a classified operation in Iraq. In September 2008, he received a letter of recommendation from Maj. Bradford M. Burris, chief of the Interactive Internet Activities Branch in Baghdad, praising Bergy as someone who “possesses and exudes the highest levels of professionalism, technical competence, organizational management skills and critical thinking skills that I have seen in the twelve years that I have served as a member of the United States Army.” Bergy told Raw Story that one component of the project was utilizing information operations to unite Sunnis and Shias in opposition to al-Qaida in Iraq.

“Other people were working behind the scenes to amplify the things [Wood] was saying that did end up getting people ginned up and riled up to where they go into Congress and smash in the doors,” Bergy told Raw Story. “I’m saying that as a subject-matter expert in psychological warfare. That’s [Information Operations] 101. You’re targeting a specific group of individuals. You’re providing them with dubious information that instills fear that they’re about to lose the thing they love the most — our country, raising our hand and swearing the Pledge of Allegiance. These are patriots that would have given their lives, and some have fought overseas for our country. Lin Wood coming out and saying, ‘These people are trying to steal this country from you,’ that’s what contributed to the success of that operation.”

Wood noted in a phone interview with Raw Story that the Delaware Supreme Court issued an opinion in January that overturned a decision by a local judge to revoke an order allowing Wood to represent a client in defamation lawsuit in the state.

“The Delaware Supreme Court took the same — or some of the tweets you’re referring to — where a judge had ruled that I had somehow likely inspired January 6th — the Supreme Court of Delaware in a 5-0 decision said that the tweets don’t support the finding of the Delaware judge,” Wood told Raw Story. “So, a court has recognized that there’s no connection between my social media tweets and January the 6th.”

The state Supreme Court ruling faulted the local judge for linking Wood to “the traumatic events of January 6” without presenting any evidence or allowing Wood to respond. The Supreme Court ruled that the local judge’s finding that Wood’s tweets “incited the riots” was not justified considering the scope of the court action to determine whether Wood should be allowed to act as counsel in the case and considering the judicial record.

In a separate case, as previously reported by Raw Story, a federal judge in Michigan found that Wood and other attorneys listed as plaintiff’s co-counsel in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election “helped mold the predetermined narrative about election fraud by lodging this federal lawsuit based on evidence that they actively refused to investigate or question with the requisite level of professional skepticism — and this refusal was to ensure that the evidence conformed with the predetermined narrative (a narrative that has had dangerous and violent consequences).”

In his comments to Raw Story, Wood also denied responsibility for at least one of the tweets cited in previous reporting and suggested they might have come from a “fake” account. Wood’s Twitter account was suspended after Jan. 6, but his archived tweets under his username @LLinWood were retrieved by Raw Story from the Internet Archive.

Wood acknowledged that he has spoken to Bergy, but said he didn’t understand what he was saying.

“He’s been calling me, texting me for a period of time, and I’m just not interested in dealing with him,” Wood said. “People try to drag me into stuff sometimes, and I just have no desire sometimes to be drug into it.”

Bergy arrived in Washington, DC on Nov. 15, 2020, joining former InfoWars correspondent Millie Weaver and her partner Gavin Wince, along with Terpsehore Maras, who submitted a declaration that was used by Sidney Powell in two lawsuits filed by Sidney Powell that listed Wood as co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

Bergy described himself — along with Weaver and Wince — during his podcast on Tuesday as a “guest” of Patrick Byrne, who provided significant financing for the effort to overturn the election. Bergy has previously said that Byrne paid for his hotel for at least part of the time he was in Arlington, Va. working on election-related matters.

Bergy told Raw Story he sent an email to Powell to alert her to his concerns about “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander after Powell, Alexander and Wood appeared together at a Dec. 2, 2020 rally in Alpharetta, Ga. Powell, according to Bergy, responded succinctly: “Thank you for letting me know. Neither me nor Lin Wood were aware of that.”

Bergy said he also received a response from Wood when he raised a concern about his association with Alexander, and that Wood responded in writing that “the only time he had heard of or known” of Alexander was when Alexander introduced him to Nick Sandmann, the Kentucky teenager who is suing multiple media outlets for defamation related to their reporting on an interaction between him and a Native American man at the National Mall in 2019. Sandmann fired Wood from his legal team last year.

Last December, Wood wrote on his Telegram channel about having “received warnings tonight from several friends who tell me that a man named Patrick Bergy is posting threats of harm to me online. Apparently, this person Bergy has said that he is traveling to my home to harm me.” Wood mentioned in his message that his “security team is on heightened alert” and that he had three pit bulls on his property.

Shortly afterwards, he posted an update: “I spoke with Patrick Bergy. He struck me as a polite man who does not pose any threat to me. I apologize to him for inferences to the contrary that I received from third parties. Always better to be safe than sorry. My safety was not threatened by Patrick.”

Bergy has said that in the days leading up to Jan. 6, his primary objective was trying to get people to read his affidavit and a qui tam complaint he had filed in federal court arguing that psychological warfare weapons were being used to influence US elections.

“While all that was happening, I was in Washington, DC,” Bergy said on his podcast. “I was doing the fly-on-the-wall thing, and I was there as a guest of Patrick Byrne — Millie, Gavin. As all of this is going on, I’m watching, and you can ask anyone, I was not participating. In fact, many people — Millie, Gavin, Tore, everyone has openly claimed, ‘Oh, he didn’t do nothing, he wasn’t doing nothing.’ I’ve openly claimed that. I was there observing.”

Referencing Wood’s tweets on Jan. 6, Bergy said, “Science tells us in the psy-op community that doing and targeting exactly as I witnessed what happened on January 6th involving the people that you, with over a million followers were engaging with, legitimately was part of what resulted in the deaths of Ashli Babbitt and others. I’m not gonna sugar-coat that.

“I’m not necessarily going to say that that’s like a sin or — but, no, you gotta own these things Lin,” Bergy continued. “Your actions caused a lot of people a lot of pain. I’ve personally never witnessed Lin Wood honestly and with sincerity and humbleness acknowledge his responsibility.”

Pence reportedly planning to rail against Trump as upcoming Georgia election rallies approach: report

Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) is expected to headline a rally with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R); a pivotal, political move that is being deemed as his strongest pushback against former President Donald Trump.

According to Politico, Pence has grown increasingly vocal in his opposition to Trump. Since the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, the former vice president has been more brazen in sharing his opinion of Trump's behavior when he and his allies fought to overturn the presidential election.

In a recent statement, Pence described Kemp as “one of the most successful conservative governors in America.”

“Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family, and the people of Georgia,” Pence said. “I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia.”

Politico's Alex Isenstadt shared a brief timeline of Pence's evolution since departing from the Trump White House in Jan. 2021.

"Pence has shown increasing willingness to undercut Trump since Trump savaged the former vice president for certifying the 2020 election results instead of taking legally dubious steps to overturn them," Isenstadt wrote. "Pence has stood by his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and he has called on the Republican Party to move on from focusing on the last presidential election, even as Trump continues to litigate it."

Pence also "implicitly criticized Trump over his admiring words about Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying at a Republican National Committee donor retreat this spring that 'there is no room in this party for apologists for Putin.'”

Kemp also spoke highly of Pence. On Friday, May 13, Kemp tweeted, "The Vice President's leadership was instrumental in creating the most prosperous economy in American history, including here in Georgia, and his commitment to building a safer, stronger America represents the highest ideals of our party," Kemp tweeted.

The latest development comes after Pence hinted at the possibility of backing Kemp's gubernatorial bid. For the last couple of years, Trump and Kemp have been at odds. Now backing former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) for Georgia governor, the former president has made it his mission to ensure Kemp is not reelected.

'Free speech' Republicans are pushing a Joseph McCarthy-like plan to silence abortion rights activists

Anti-abortion activists have a long history of demonstrating in front of the homes of abortion providers. But with the U.S. Supreme Court likely to overturn Roe v. Wade and some pro-choice activists demonstrating in front of justices’ homes, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and other MAGA Republicans are calling for draconian crackdowns — and their inspiration, journalists Andrew Perez and David Sirota emphasize in an op-ed published by The Guardian on Friday, May 13 — is the notorious Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin.

“Prominent Republican lawmakers, conservative operatives and Beltway pundits are demanding the government arrest demonstrators — and to do so, they are citing a McCarthy-era statute passed to stop people from protesting against the prosecutions of alleged communists,” Perez and Sirota explain. “Ignored in the discourse is a past ruling from the Supreme Court effectively blessing conservative protests at the homes of abortion clinic workers.”

Republicans, Perez and Sirota argue, are trying to create a distraction — and some journalists are falling for it.

“Conservative operatives want Washington reporters focused on inane questions like who leaked the Court’s draft opinion,” Perez and Sirota warn, “and they want journalists and Democrats to criticize protesters who are outraged by the Court’s overriding lack of respect for people’s bodily autonomy…. Corporate news outlets are taking the bait, fretting about the leak and calling for arrests over peaceful demonstrations.”

Perez and Sirota add, “Like usual, they are focused on narrow flashpoints of anger and upheaval that will likely prove temporary, rather than the far more sweeping and ominous impact of the Court’s looming ruling to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision and allow states to force people to carry their pregnancies to term. Even as the nation is poised to enact an injustice of historic proportions, those in power and their chosen mouthpieces only appear to care about one thing: upholding the rights and privileges of the ruling class, and ensuring they remain safely ensconced in the Washington bubble.”

On May 10, Hawley sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding that he “vigorously investigate and prosecute” pro-choice activists who are nonviolently protesting outside of Supreme Court justices’ homes. This is rich coming from, of all people, Hawley — who, on January 6, 2021, raised his arm in solidarity with an insurrectionist mob of Donald Trump supporters who wanted to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results. Some members of the mob violently attacked the U.S. Capitol Building that day; some of them set up a hangman’s gallows and wanted to lynch then-Vice President Mike Pence because they believed he had betrayed then-President Donald Trump.

“The supposedly ‘limited and justifiable’ anti-picketing statute being cited by all these people — 18 USC § 1507 — was enacted as part of the Internal Security Act of 1950, a law requiring communist organizations to register with the government,” Perez and Sirota explain. “This particular statute was specifically written to respond to reports of protests outside federal courts during U.S. prosecutions of alleged Communist Party leaders.”

Another irony where Hawley is concerned is the fact that he often paints himself as a champion for the 1st Amendment who bravely stands up to left-wing “cancel culture.” And he isn’t the only Republican who rails against “cancel culture” but now wants to shut down protests against a likely Supreme Court ruling.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has defended the January 6, 2021 demonstrators, claiming the left is trying to silence them. But now, Cruz has a problem with pro-choice protestors. He is also calling for prison time for the person who leaked Justice Samuel Alito’s majority draft opinion calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is another Republican who defended the January 6, 2021 demonstrators but is now railing against pro-choice demonstrators. On May 10, Blackburn tweeted, “The safety and security of Supreme Court Justices are under threat for attempting to uphold their constitutional duty.”

Moreover, Blackburn views the Biden Administration as anti-privacy, but is all for the High Court overturning not only Roe v. Wade, but also, 1965’s Griswold v. Connecticut (which made access to contraception a federal right for married couples).

Liberal economist Robert Reich, who served as secretary of labor in the Clinton Administration, has been stressing that Republicans who speak of “freedom” are, in reality, obsessed with “power” and trying to “impose their narrow ideology on everyone else.” And he views the likely doom of Roe v. Wade as an example of GOP authoritarianism in action.Perez and Sirota argue that when it comes to outrage, Hawley is being quite selective.

“Hawley, for example, didn’t call for anyone to ‘vigorously investigate and prosecute’ the insurrectionists who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol last year,” the journalists note. “In fact, he cheered on those protesters shortly before the insurrection, and since then, his campaign has been selling merchandise sporting pictures of him raising a fist to those insurrectionists.”

How Donald Trump created a 'shadow' administration to continue his cruel policies

Former President Donald Trump appointed more than 200 judges to the federal bench during his four years in office. Immigration advocates say those judges today are operating like a "shadow Trump administration" as they decide cases in which President Joe Biden has sought to undo some of his predecessor's strictest policies.

As NPR reports, lawyers for Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri went "judge shopping" when they wanted to go to court to challenge the Biden administration plan to lift Trump's Title 42 pandemic border restrictions. Title 42, under the guise of COVID-19 safety, gave the federal government the power to return migrants at the southern border to their home countries without affording them a hearing.

Instead of filing the challenge in a court in a state capital or near the border, they opted to bring their case in the Western District of Louisiana where it will be heard today in oral arguments in front of a Trump-appointed judge.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays is scheduled to hear oral arguments today in a courthouse in Lafayette, LA, which is more than 500 miles from the U.S./Mexico border.

Immigrant advocates say states are deliberately steering cases to federal judges appointed by Trump, where they believe they'll get a sympathetic hearing.

"To date, these states have brought no less than 17 lawsuits challenging President Biden's immigration moves," said Karen Tumlin, the founder of Justice Action Network, on a call this week with reporters. In effect, these states are using the courts to "keep a shadow Trump administration in office on immigration issues," she said.

Donald Trump may face charges for the 'serious crime of espionage' over classified documents: Lawrence Tribe

Legendary constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe offered his analysis to MSNBC viewers after The New York Times published a bombshell story under the headline, "prosecutors pursue inquiry into Trump's handling of classified material."

Tribe is a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, where he taught constitutional law for fifty years.

"On this day of truly historic escalations in those investigations into the ex-president and his inner circle, questions now arise about how the Justice Department will juggle all of it and weather all of it," MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace reported.

"The five sitting House Republicans and close allies of the ex-president are the first members of Congress to receive subpoenas from the Jan. 6th select committee and the DOJ moving ahead with its probe of Donald Trump's sensitive including sensitive government documents. Our next guest says we should see all of it and reassurance that Attorney General Merrick Garland is taking steps to hold Trump accountable. Joining me is Laurence Tribe, professor (emeritus) of constitutional law in Harvard and has argued and won 35 cases in front of the Supreme Court," Wallace said, not noting his loss against her old boss in Bush v. Gore.

Tribe explained his thoughts on the DOJ investigation.

"Nicole, I find that quite reassuring and it really brings back memories back from 2017, I think it was, when Donald Trump, right after firing the FBI director called [Russian Foreign Minister] Sergey Lavrov and [Russia Ambassador to America] Sergey Kislyak into the Oval Office by revealing the identity of a Mossad Israeli agent who was involved in an undercover operation to discover an Islamic plot to create methods of going through American airports without detection and carrying bombs," he said. "So we know we're dealing with a guy who is not particularly careful about classified information and if he can get some bragging rights by sharing it with adversaries he's willing to do it."

"Now when we find all of this apparent top secret information finding his way to unsecured boxes to Mar-a-Lago, it's very encouraging that the Department of Justice isn't simply asking who packed the boxes, but what did the president then of the United States on his way out of the Oval Office have in mind in taking that information? Did he use it for his own benefit?" he wondered.

"That would be a serious crime of espionage so there is both a national security angle and a potentially criminal angle and the most encouraging thing to me, because I'm worried about accountability so that we don't have a repeat of all of these things in 2024 of the attempted coup and insurrection," Tribe said. "What is most important to me is that no one should be above the law and the attorney general and his top deputy and associate attorneys general, people like Lisa Monaco should be taken at their word when they say they're going to follow the evidence wherever it leads right into the Oval Office, right into the former guy, so stay tuned."

Laurence Tribe

Junior throws a bizarre hissy fit at POTUS over baby formula shortages and American aid to 'the Ukraine'

Donald Trump Jr. published a video on his Rumble channel on Thursday in which he rants and raves about President Joe Biden's sympathy toward Americans who are struggling to feed their families amid global supply chain disruptions.

Biden gave a speech on Wednesday at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 40th Annual Conference in which he touted the benefits of his American Rescue Plan while blasting Republicans for trying to block it:

The American Rescue Plan provided eviction relief, funding for states and cities to allocate to landlords and renters — help them keep a roof over the heads — 5 million households.
Remember those long lines you’d see on the television and people lining up in all kinds of vehicles just to get a box of food in their trunk? How quickly we forget people were hurting.
And what did the MAGA crowd want to do? Forget it. Forget it.
God, this is the United States of America. The idea that people would have to wait in line an hour or hour and a half to get a box of food in their trunk — it’s just unbelievable.

Watch Biden's full address below:

President Biden Addresses the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 40th Annual Conference

Biden's concern for the well-being of his citizenry threw Junior into a tizzy. The eldest son and lesser namesake of former President Donald Trump proceeded to blame Biden for shortages of staples like baby formula.

It was Junior's father, however, who in 2019 signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – which replaced the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement enacted in 1998 by then-President Bill Clinton – that restricted baby formula's import from our Northern neighbor. Product recalls by the Food and Drug Administration have also led to sparse grocery story shelves.

But in Junior's universe, all consumer woes are the president's fault and only he has the power to fix them (unless his dad is in office, in which case whatever goes wrong is because of the Democrats).

In his three-minute rant, Junior suggested that Biden has no idea that he is "actually" the commander in chief and that he needs to be reminded of that fact.

After showing a clip of Biden's quote mentioned above, Junior wondered by Biden needs to "yell about things" (a very rich accusation coming from Junior, who regularly rage-posts), given that he is "supposedly" the leader of the free world.

Junior falsely associated the $40 billion aid package to Ukraine with the scarcity of baby formula.

"Joe Biden will be outraged when he finds out. He will probably be more outraged when he finds out that he's the president of the United States. I'm not sure he knows these things," Junior said.

Next, Junior declared that the cancelation of oil and gas exploration in Alaska is fueling inflation, which it is not, before circling back to disparaging the president's mental faculties and predicting that the United States will run out of food.

"Um, ya think he knows he's in charge? Does he have any idea? Um, I wonder how long it's gonna take to find any kind of food in Joe Biden's America," Junior rambled, "because it feels like we're getting there really quickly, guys"

The Trumps are not suffering from hunger or a lack of money, and the lavish parties that are periodically thrown at the family's numerous estates appear to be smashing successes.

Junior then failed to comprehend why Biden is so popular and urged his fans to vote for Republicans in the midterms so that all of America's problems can be solved.

"What a joke. Total clown show," Junior groaned, adding that Biden "didn't do anything" as a Senator, that "nothing has changed" since he took office, and that the federal government is wasting resources by sending money to "the Ukraine."

Watch below: