Two years before the 2020 election, the conspiracy that Donald Trump won the election was part of a plot cooked up by a Texas Republican businessman, reported a Washington Post exposé.
In a shocking report, the Post revealed Russell J. Ramsland Jr. pitched an idea that "seemed rooted in evidence."
The theory was that "voting-machine audit logs — lines of codes and timestamps that document the machines' activities — contained indications of vote manipulation." There was just one problem, they didn't have a candidate to test the theory.
"We had to find the right candidate," said former Ramsland ally Laura Pressley. "We had to find one who knew they won."
The problem was that in 2020 most races were clear, even the presidential race. U.S. Rep Pete Sessions (R-TX) wanted nothing to do with it, nor did state Sen. Don Huffins (R). But Donald Trump didn't want to lose and he certainly didn't want to lose by the amount he did in 2020.
The meeting inside the airplane hanger had a "clandestine air," about it, the Post described. "Guests were asked to leave their cellphones outside before assembling in a windowless room. A member of Ramsland's team purporting to be a 'white-hat hacker' identified himself only by a code name."
"The enduring myth that the 2020 election was rigged was not one claim by one person," said the report. "It was many claims stacked one atop the other, repeated by a phalanx of Trump allies."
Indeed, it was a coordinated effort among many Trump allies and lawyers. They weren't perpetrated by experts or insiders, as the report explained, it was conservative activists and Trump pals who pushed a company called the Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG) to "find" the evidence "where none existed."
"Ramsland and others associated with ASOG played key roles in spreading the claims of fraud," said the Post. After fringe Republican Louie Gohmert was "briefed" by the ASOG he began promoting the conspiracies. Then they became part of Sidney "Kraken" Powell's lawsuits and Rudy Giuliani's efforts. Fox News has seized on the reports as well, hungry for Trump supporter ratings as the outgoing president attacked the network for calling Arizona for Biden on election night.
"During that period, Trump was hyper-focused on making the case that the election had been rigged," reported the Post, citing former White House aides. "He would listen to 'literally anyone' who had a theory about it, in the words of one former senior administration official."
The conspiracies took root and have grown extensively throughout the Republican Party. Despite their best efforts, judges, even Trump-appointed ones, haven't been willing to believe any of the ideas without evidence. Despite ASOG's best efforts, there is none, so it had to be created.
"ASOG's report claimed that audit logs for Dominion machines showed an alarming 68 percent 'error rate,'" said the Post. While that might sound astounding, when a University of Michigan computer science professor conducted an analysis, it was revealed the audit log was "meaningless."
Professor J. Alex Halderman, "who as part of the lawsuit examined the Antrim [County] results and the ASOG report at the request of the Michigan secretary of state and attorney general, wrote that audit logs record multiple lines for each ballot scanned and that many of those lines are 'benign warnings or errors' that have no bearing on the accuracy of the machines' count."
The example he gave was that ASOG was counting the warning "ballot has been reversed" to claim that votes were tampered with.
"But that entry means that a voter attempted to feed his ballot into the machine and the machine balked and spit it out — just as a vending machine often balks at a wrinkled dollar bill," said the report. Halderman's report explained that it happens "all the time."
ASOG then claimed that ballots were sent to electronic "adjudication" where officials manipulated them. Halderman's report found that Antrim County didn't even do an electronic adjudication. While ASOG may have found some security weaknesses, there was never any proof that the weaknesses were used by anyone to hack the election.
That is just one of the many revelations explained in the shocking Post report. Such conspiracy theories have been used to justify a slew of anti-voting laws across the country that make it more difficult for people voters to cast ballots. It's one of many reasons that Democrats at the federal level are pushing to pass a voting rights bill that can protect all voters equally.