Effort to retroactively hand Arizona to Trump exposed — and docs reveal top Republicans were complicit: report
Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix, Arizona. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A series of emails expose an Arizona effort to retroactively hand the 2020 Arizona election to Donald Trump, even though the GOP's own audit showed he lost.

According to Rolling Stone, "the technology was complicated, but the plan was simple: Scan mail-in and absentee ballots in populous Maricopa County, remove the “invalid votes,” and recertify the state’s 2020 election count, surely declaring then-President Donald Trump the rightful winner."

Newly released emails show that in early Dec. 2020, Trump officials and Republican allies were using the then-president's conspiracy campaign to uncover some kind of fraud that could be used to overturn the results.

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

The two played major roles in the Trump legal team and extended to other states, not just Arizona. Kerik was more involved in trying to find cases of widespread voter fraud that could be used to prove Trump won. Their problem, however, is that they never could find anything. It didn't matter. What the emails reveal is that Ellis and Kerik were directly in contact with Arizona Republican elected officials trying to find ways to overturn Trump's loss.

One of those involved in the overthrow attempt, Mark Finchem, is running to take over the elections in Arizona.

A Republican chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors named Bill Gates, disputed the claims of fraud, only to be called a "traitor" by his party members. His family then faced harassment and threats. He saw the emails, saying that it's clear they were "trying to figure out that hail-mary pass" to overturn 2020. "They’re drawing up the hail-mary pass that obviously culminated in Jan. 6. This is part and parcel of it."

He notes that it is also clear that those who were driving the election conspiracies came from outside of Arizona and were part of the Trump campaign.

"This was not an organic effort," he told Rolling Stone. "This is obviously people from outside, along with Trump and his lieutenants, pushing this."

This is the second time Rolling Stone has reported private conversations over text and email with high-level Trump officials who crafted the 2021 sham audit that cost $9 million for the audit. At the same time, the GOP's efforts against the machines in Maricopa County meant that they were permanently tainted and deemed not secure. That cost nearly $3 million that the county is asking the state to pay for.

Those also linked to the conspiracy, according to the emails, include Reince Priebus, the former Republican Party chair and Trump White House chief of staff, as well as Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Top Trump aides promised that they'd give lawyers to help the GOP with the effort.

Another person who was responsible for the emails was retired Army Col Phil Waldron, who deemed himself an investigator and researcher. He says he has worked with Michael Flynn as part of a group that claims the electronic voting machine companies have tried to help the Chinese Communist Party and Venezuelans. They don't. Waldron is also the same man who crafted the 38-page PowerPoint document titled "Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN."

Rolling Stone said that the emails handed to them from American Oversight shows Waldron reached out to many Republican lawmakers in early Dec. 2020 demanding evidence of fraud be found.

It was mere weeks before Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger to demand he "find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have" so he could win the election there.

Others included in the emails include former lobbyist Katherine Friess, who fought in Michigan to change the election. Russ Ramsland was yet another one who claimed he was some kind of election investigator. He went after Arizona state Sen. Sonny Borrelli saying that he had a special technology that would find "kinetic markers" to prove votes were fraudulent. Borrelli forwarded it everywhere. Waldron's efforts were quashed due to Arizona laws.

Republican Arizona officials then waged their war to hire CyberNinjas to find the fraud that never was discovered.

Read the full report on the emails at Rolling Stone.