'No basis in reality': Jake Tapper slams GOP senate candidates for pushing 'deranged' theories about 2020 election
On Friday's edition of CNN's "The Lead," anchor Jake Tapper tore into Republican candidates for continuing to promote conspiracy theories about the 2020 election being rigged.
"The newest midterm election trend, Republican House and Senate candidates spending millions of dollars on ads to tout Donald Trump's Big Lie," said Tapper. "It's happening in Missouri, in Arizona, it's happening in Ohio. Before we air any clips, what you are about to watch has absolutely no basis in reality."
"The Democrats rigged the election," said Missouri Senate candidate Billy Long in one clip.
"They lie. Waste our money. Rig our elections," said Arizona Senate candidate Jim Lamon in another.
"President Trump says the election was stolen, and he's right," said Ohio Senate candidate Bernie Moreno in yet another.
"Let's go to our panel," said Tapper, turning to NPR White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe. "Trump is putting pressure on these candidates to embrace the Big Lie, the deranged conspiracy theories. Is it a mistake for these GOP candidates to be looking backward rather than forward?"
"I mean, I think in the short term it probably is not a mistake if you're only looking at it politically," said Rascoe. "For the sake of the democracy, in this country, you know, to continue to make people doubt elections is not good, full stop. But for them politically, this is where their base is. Their base believes the lies. Their base believes that, you know, Biden is not the rightful president. So they are playing into that and by doing that, it's also showing the association, right? It's saying, I'm one of you. You believe this. I do, too. I am with — and most of all, I'm with trump. So you can vote for me."
CNN panel discusses GOP Senate candidates pushing the Big Lie www.youtube.com
WATCH: Black Mississippi lawmakers walk out en masse as state votes to ban teaching critical race theory
Several Black Mississippi state senators on Friday walked out en masse as their fellow legislatures banned the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms.
Local news station WLBT reports that the Black Mississippi lawmakers decided to walk out after decrying the bill as totally unnecessary given that there is no evidence that critical race theory is being taught in any Mississippi public schools.
Sen. John Horhn (D-MS) said that the intention of the bill wasn't merely to target critical race theory, but to put what he described as a "chilling effect" over teachers who give frank lessons about the history of racism and slavery in the United States.
"I think this bill is going to put a chilling effect on that journey," he said. "I think it’s going to slow us down on coming together, and I think it’s going to drive a wedge between us that doesn’t need to be driven."
Simmons led all of his Black colleagues out of the chamber as the vote for the bill came up. Without the Black Democrats present, the bill wound up passing by a margin of 32 to 2. The two "no" votes came from two white Democratic state senators who remained in the chamber.
Watch the video below.
Black members of Mississippi's senate walk out of the chamber before the final vote on a bill to ban teaching critical race theory in schools and universities. The vote passed.pic.twitter.com/hLUwAn6ekL— Kobee Vance (@Kobee Vance) 1642785945
This Mike Flynn-allied Army Reserve member pushed 'The Pence Card' weeks before John Eastman's infamous memo
Before former President Donald Trump enlisted lawyer John Eastman to help him persuade Vice President Mike Pence to subvert the electoral outcome, an Army Reserves lieutenant colonel associated with retired Lt. General Michael Flynn promoted a fanciful legal theory that the vice president held the power to set aside Biden electors from states narrowly won by the Democratic nominee.
Lt. Col. Ivan Raiklin tweeted out a memo with the subject line “Operation ‘PENCE’ CARD – Dec 23rd-” on Dec. 22, 2020. The memo claimed that Pence was prohibited “from ‘receiving’ electoral votes from six fraudulently certified States” — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and that the vice president “is also the sole plenary power that has the authority to make this determination.”
As previously reported by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their book Peril, conservative lawyer John Eastman prepared a similar memo recommending that Pence announce during the Jan. 6, 2021 certification of the electoral vote that “because of ongoing disputes” in contested states, “there are no electors that can be deemed validly appointed in those states.” Eastman concluded, “The main thing is that Pence should do this without asking for permission — either from a vote of the joint session or from the Court…. The fact is that the Constitution assigns this power to the Vice President as the ultimate arbiter. We should take all of our actions with that in mind.”
The New York Times has reported that an aide to Trump reached out to Eastman “about writing a memo about the Jan. 6 certification on Dec. 24, and that Eastman wrote the memo while on vacation with his family in Texas. The Dec. 24 date cited for Eastman’s enlistment in the influence campaign came two days after Raiklin tweeted out his memo, and one day after President Trump retweeted Raiklin. The memo produced by Raiklin included the header “White House,” making it appear that it was on White House letterhead, although Raiklin did not hold an official position in the Trump administration.
A Dec. 22 story on the conservative website National File also promoted the idea that the memo originated in the White House, citing unnamed sources.
“President Donald Trump’s most vocal advocates within the White House have determined that both US Code and the Constitution contain language that requires Vice President Mike Pence to reject unlawful Electoral College certificates, but Pence must act by no later than Wednesday, December 23,” Editor-in-Chief Tom Pappert wrote.
(After the Dec. 23 date passed, proponents of the scheme shifted their focus to Jan. 6, 2021 as the deadline for Pence intervene.)
The effort to pressure Pence into scuttling the electoral certification has become a focal point of the investigation by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
In a letter issued to Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, on Thursday, Chairperson. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) wrote that after the Electoral College met on Dec. 14 to confirm the outcome of the election, “President Trump and his legal team planned to change the outcome of the election by enlisting Vice President Pence, as the presiding officer of the January 6th Congressional proceedings, to unilaterally reject certain states’ votes, or to delay the counting of those votes until an unknown future date.”
The letter to Ivanka Trump indicates that White House counsel had likely concluded by that time that the actions Trump wanted Pence to take “would violate the Constitution or would otherwise be illegal.” The letter cites “documents on file with the Select Committee” as the source of that information.
The legally specious claim that Pence had the authority to thwart the certification of Joe Biden played a central role in the drama devised to mobilize Trump’s followers come to Washington, DC and then to direct their fury on the US Capitol.
Leigh Dundas, an anti-vaccine activist in southern California, wrote in a Dec. 30 Facebook post accompanying a video viewed 42,000 times that “Pence has near carte blanche power come January 6th,” while inviting followers to “have a listen… and see how our history and our Constitution speak loudly to the incredible power held in the hands of the one who counts the electoral votes.”
Rep. Thompson noted in his letter to Ivanka Trump that at 2:24 p.m. on Jan. 6 — as the assault on the Capitol was underway — Donald Trump tweeted: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!”
The letter from the Select Committee to Ivanka Trump cites three examples of Capitol rioters who are facing criminal charges related to Jan. 6 citing Pence’s decision to not subvert the electoral vote certification as influencing their decision to storm the Capitol.
“Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like officially, the crowd went crazy,” Joshua Black of Alabama explained in a YouTube video. “I mean, it became a mob. We crossed the gate.”
Marshall Neefe of Pennsylvania wrote on Facebook on Jan. 6: “Then we heard the news about pence… And lost it… So we stormed.”
Derrick Evans, a state lawmaker from West Virginia, posted a video outside the Capitol on his Facebook page on Jan. 6.
“They’re making an announcement right now saying if Pence betrays us you better get your mind right because we’re storming that building,” he said. “I’m just the messenger, so don’t be hating on me. I’m just telling you what I’m hearing right now on the ground.”
At least seven weeks before John Eastman began drafting his memo exploring legal grounds for Pence to disrupt the electoral certification, Ivan Raiklin, the Army Reserve lieutenant colonel and associate of retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, was already devising strategies to help Trump overcome the electoral math. By Dec. 20, Raiklin’s plan had evolved to a play that he called the “Pence card,” which positioned the vice president as the final arbiter.
“It’s not only the popular vote that gets you the electors,” Raikln told InfoWars host Alex Jones on Nov. 11. “It’s four components : popular vote, the state’s legislature; the governor of that state has a role, as well as the other candidate on whether or not they’re gonna contest the race.”
Raiklin has close ties to Flynn, who was represented by lawyer Sidney Powell in his successful effort to get a federal charge of lying to the FBI dismissed. Powell would briefly join Trump’s campaign legal team, and then working independently on Trump’s behalf, trumpet a raft of unfounded claims of election fraud that have been thrown out of court and led to sanctions. According to an investigative report by Reuters, shortly after the election, Flynn took up residence at defamation lawyer Lin Wood’s home in South Carolina, commandeering it as “something of a clearinghouse for election fraud claims.”
Following Trump’s pardon of Flynn on Dec. 8, the retired general emerged as one of the most vocal backers of the former president’s false claims on election fraud. Flynn and Powell reportedly visited the White House on Dec. 18 to urge Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act.
During his Nov. 11 appearance on InfoWars, Alex Jones introduced Raiklin as being “part of the great patriot group with General Flynn, now advising the president, getting the new secretary of defense in.”
Speaking with Raiklin during an earlier interview in May 2020, Jones said, “You worked at Defense Intelligence Agency when Flynn was there.” Raiklin did not confirm during the interview with Jones that his time at the agency overlapped with Flynn’s tenure as director from 2012 to 2014, but in another podcast interview, Raiklin said he had previously worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency as a counter-intelligence analyst.
Ivan Raiklin on InfoWars 11-11-20 www.youtube.com
During his interview with Raiklin after the election, Jones exulted about a series of personnel changes by President Trump, including firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“Trump is moving General Flynn’s people back in big-time,” Jones said. “New secretary of defense, you know, guys from the Defense Intelligence Agency, folks out of Florida, patriots….”
“I think it’s an absolutely brilliant move,” Raiklin agreed. Then, he assured Jones: “We know there’s a path to victory.”
The day before, Raiklin had appeared on InfoWars’ “War Room with Owen Shroyer.” Presenting a color-coded map that presented Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as likely to land in Trump’s column (they weren’t, and their electors would be certified for Biden on Jan. 6), Raiklin insisted that Trump would reach the threshold of 270 electoral votes to win a second term.
“I absolutely guarantee it,” Raiklin said. “One-hundred percent. Unequivocally. Full stop. There is no possibility that he does not reach 270. I don’t see a way at all for that. And I’ll tell you why, if you don’t believe me…. Ready?... Popular vote can be overridden by the legislature.”
Speaking with InfoWars and in appearances on a raft of conservative podcasts in November and December 2020, Raiklin described himself as a “constitutional lawyer,” although Reuters reported that a review turned up no instances of Raiklin arguing a case or publishing scholarly articles on the topic.
“I’m in the Reserves, right, but in no way, shape or form is this discussion related to my affiliation with the Department of Defense,” Raiklin told podcaster JD Rucker on Dec. 7, 2020.
Reuters reported that following Jan. 6, 2021, the Army Reserve opened an investigation into whether Raiklin violated rules against partisan political activity, citing an unnamed military official. That investigation has now concluded. Army Reserve spokesperson Lt. Col. Simon B. Flake told Raw Story that the 75th Innovation Command, where Raiklin is assigned, “has completed their investigation and has taken appropriate action.”
Flake declined to provide any additional details on the investigation, but confirmed that Raiklin is still in the service as a commissioned officer. According to a service verification form provided by Flake, Raiklin was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in May 2020, and currently serves in the Primary Special Forces Secondary Counterintelligence branch.
Like other current and former military service personnel involved in the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Raiklin has described his efforts to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president as being akin to fighting a foreign enemy.
“The main mission in the Green Berets is to do what’s known as unconventional warfare,” Raiklin told conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi — infamous for pushing birtherism — on Jan. 4, 2021. “And really what that is, is counter-insurgency. And that’s essentially what we’re seeing here in the United States, where we have potentially foreign actors that are funding, training and equipping US personnel in the form of these terrorist groups that are anarchists in liberal cities that are trying to overthrow a duly elected government.
“So, I’m in a position to bring that expertise on the legal side, as well as the counter-insurgency subject matter expertise side, fuse them together to come up with a political strategy within the framework of our laws to defend against a coup,” Raiklin added.
Raiklin could not be reached for comment for this story.
Raiklin’s plan to engineer Trump’s victory through a combination of pressuring Republican-controlled legislatures to submit pro-Trump electoral slates and a right-wing media campaign to highlight speculative information about foreign election interference began to focus on Pence in mid-December.
Ivan Raiklin on "X22 Report" podcast, 12-23-20 www.youtube.com
“On January 6th, he could say, ‘Due to the precedent set by [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi at the last State of the Union by the president — she set the precedent to shred documents in the chambers — so I have to follow that precedent, and because the Constitution has been violated in these six states that unconstitutionally submitted their slates of electors, I’m gonna have to tear it on C-SPAN for everyone to meme about,’” Raiklin said during an interview on the “X22 Report” podcast. “And to be honest, the crowd’s gonna go wild.”
Raiklin said on the podcast that he was using every channel at his disposal to push the message that Pence should intervene.
“I’m doing everything within my sphere of influence, whether it’s the social media, my phone calls, the hours of the day, to try and communicate with those people that can ensure that the vice president knows this information and understands it and can feel 100 percent confident that it is the proper decision to make,” he said. “And, to be honest, politically, if you’re the vice president, for a lot of people, this really seals the deal for you. If you want to run for president in 2024, I say that puts you in frontrunner status.”
In his interview two weeks earlier with Rucker, Raiklin said he had briefed an incoming member of the Congressional Freedom Caucus on his plan.
Raiklin told the host of “X22 Report” on Dec. 23 interview that his confidence that Pence would go along with the plan had increased markedly over the past 48 hours.
“If my confidence level two days ago was five percent, then yesterday it was fifty percent to sixty percent,” Raiklin said. “I think after this phone call I’m going to make right now, it’s going to increase further.”
It’s unclear whom Raiklin planned to call after the recording of the interview, but the following day is when Eastman is reported to have been approached by an aide to the president to draft a memo about Trump’s legal options for the Jan. 6 convening of Congress to certify the election.
Even after Eastman was brought on board, Raiklin continued to work feverishly to prevent Joe Biden from being certified as the winner of the 2020 election.
“I’ve been behind the scenes, helping out with some big names that most people know as it applies to the last two, three years — one of the individuals that you’ve crossed paths with and some others that everybody knows about,” Raiklin told Corsi on Jan. 4. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Corsi suggested that beyond the mechanics of Pence’s actions as presiding officer during the joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, there was “another dimension” to consider.
Ivan Raiklin and Jerome Corsi, 1-4-21 www.youtube.com
“You’re gonna have millions of people, this whole Trump army — Trump train is coming to DC,” he said. “How can that be — that’s gonna be a political force to be reckoned with, if these people are demanding that the United States be protected against a foreign enemy — China — that we cannot be corrupted from within.”
Raiklin interrupted: “Right. So, I am not calling for any violence, but at the same time, I can’t stop other people from committing it.” Raiklin confirmed to Corsi that he intended to be in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, 2021.
Raiklin has continued to challenge the 2020 election results, reportedly appearing at an “election integrity” rally in Manchester, NH in November 2021. While Raiklin’s Twitter account has been suspended, he started a channel on the social media app Telegram that has attracted 12,178 subscribers. Posting almost daily, Raiklin alternates between raising doubts about the 2020 election and questioning the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier this week, he promoted the upcoming Defeat the Mandates rally in Washington, DC.
“Those that were in DC on January 6 must reconvene Sunday Jan 23 at the Lincoln Memorial,” Raiklin wrote on Telegram. “This time with your friends and family. It’s time to stop the mandates.”