These Trump fans made threats — so VICE called them and they cited OAN and Newsmax as their inspiration
In 2020, HBO host John Oliver did a takedown of the conservative channel OAN, calling it a source of radicalization for conservatives.
"I know it is easy to dismiss OAN as just a stupid, little-watched borderline self-parody," Oliver said at the time. "The problem is, if we're learning one thing right now, it's that toxic things that start small can get big fast, and it's dangerous to ignore them. And right now, [Donald Trump] is putting a lot of energy into boosting OAN's profile right now."
After the election, supporters of Trump's went after election officials with violent threats, doxxed them, exposing their personal contact information online and in some cases followed their cars.
Speaking to officials, VICE News followed up on the threats and attacks by calling those making them for an interview.
Richard Barron, the elections director of Fulton County, began getting threatening phone calls not long after a Dec 5th rally in Valdosta, Georgia which aired an OAN "report" saying his name.
VICE called Derrick Risner after he made a call on Dec. 31, 2020, saying, "Either you're blind or you’re crooked as f*ck. So figure it out buddy cause which side you gonna be on when the shooting starts brother?"
Risner explained that he got Barron’s number while watching a segment on OANN. "I was watching One American News and they put his phone number on there and they said, ‘Give the man a call.'"
“I stand what I stand behind what I said," he continued. "Ultimately, you know, if you can sit right now in this country today and say that all of that was legal…I don't know. I watch One American News. It's on in the background as we speak. I was never really a Trump supporter. But ultimately, they've turned me into one."
When asked if he would appear on camera, Risner said "no" because it could jeopardize his personal safety.
John Johnson, his real name, lives in Tennessee and has left messages with threats in the past.
He too called Barron, saying, "We’re watching, Rick."
Johnson has no regrets either.
"I think I'm like every American that watched elections get decided the night of, and then I watched Georgia and a few other key swing states turn into a month-long, dragged out, hiding of information," he said. "When you're a public servant, you've got to be ready to stand up to the scrutiny of people, whether you're a constituent or not."
Republicans botched Senate recruitment in New Hampshire — and Trump’s endorsement may not help: report
Republicans may have seriously hindered their efforts to win the U.S. Senate in the 2022 midterm elections after tumultuous efforts at candidate recruitment.
"Last fall, Republicans were nearly salivating over the opportunity to defeat Democratic US Senator Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, and with that flip the 50-50 Senate back to Republican control," James Pindell wrote for the Boston Globe. "All the pieces were coming into place. Hassan had low approval ratings. President Biden, himself, was becoming more unpopular according to the polling."
Republicans hoped Hassan would be challenged by popular GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, who is the son of a former New Hampshire governor and brother of a man who once held the state's other Senate seat.
"Then it all changed. And one tactical move may have cost the Republicans dearly," Pindell wrote. "First, Sununu announced in early November that he would not be a candidate. Minutes later, former US Senator Kelly Ayotte also declined to run in what would be a rematch with Hassan from 2016. Roughly 30 minutes after that, Scott Brown, the 2014 Senate Republican nominee, also declined a run. Suddenly all the big name Republicans were sitting out on what was still a big chance opportunity."
Republicans recruited state Senate President Chuck Morse, but he waited months to announce his bid.
"Had he entered the race in November, he likely would have found the field essentially cleared for him. The one Republican already in the race, former Brigadier General Don Bolduc, wasn’t raising the money needed to compete with the $14 million Hassan had already raised," he explained. "Morse’s hesitance created a vacuum and a belief that there wasn’t anyone committed to running. Soon Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, [an] affable former candidate for governor, was being talked into running."
The picture of the race looks far different than a year ago, when Sununu looked likely to run.
"In the end, Smith and Morse announced their candidacies within a day of each other. Neither is a more dominant presence than the other. This race went from a likely Republican takeover to who knows what," Pindell wrote. "Meanwhile here is the real twist: a poll out last week from Saint Anselm College found that while Hassan would beat all Republican challengers, the one who had the best chance to defeat her was Bolduc, the candidate the establishment has shunned because they don’t think he can win."
Donald Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate, but it might hindered a GOP nominee in the general election.
"While Trump could be helpful to Republicans if he made an endorsement soon, it should be noted that in 2020 the state didn’t for vote Trump and didn’t vote for the people he endorsed for Senate or Congress, either. So it is unclear if the Trump endorsement would be a problem for a candidate in the general election," he noted.
Read the full report.
A Black sheriff's deputy in Wyoming is suing his former supervisor over alleged racist abuse that went unpunished for years.
Albany County Patrol Cpl. Jamin Johnson claims that Sgt. Christian Handley hurled racial slurs and profanity at him and his family outside their home, and the complaint alleges the agency conducted only "sham" disciplinary actions until the Black deputy finally resigned in frustration in August 2017, reported the Associated Press.
“Mr. Handley later apologized for having not realized that Mr. Johnson’s family was present, as if his vile racism was otherwise acceptable,” the lawsuit says.
Handley was fired last year following an internal investigation ordered by the state's first Black sheriff, Aaron Appelhans, who was appointed in December 2020.
“It’s just disappointing to learn how long it had been going on prior to my arrival,” Appelhans said. “I’ll always continue to make sure that our department is not only welcoming to those who want to work in our department but welcoming to those in our community as well.”
Handley allegedly used racial slurs against Black citizens he interacted with on the job, including four University of Wyoming students he pulled over in a traffic stop, and he made crude and degrading comments about having sex with a Black woman.
“Because that would be nasty,” Handley told Johnson, according to the suit. “That is like having sex with a dog.”
Handley's “overt and abhorrent racism” against Johnson, the department's only Black officer, allegedly began in 2011, and the white deputy wrote up "sham disciplinary actions" against him after a promotion to sergeant.
Johnson is seeking a jury trial and damages against Handley for the years of abuse that he led to his decision to quit the department.