How the fake Trump elector scheme fizzled in four states

Part of Donald Trump’s plan to reverse his loss in the 2020 presidential election hinged on replacing legitimate electors in a handful of swing states with “fake electors.”
In theory, these bogus Republican slates in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin would cast their electoral votes for the incumbent — canceling out the popular vote for Joe Biden in their states.

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Arizona and Georgia GOP officials to testify before Jan. 6 panel

The fourth Jan. 6 hearing on Tuesday will focus on pressure put by President Donald Trump and his allies on state officials in Georgia, Arizona and elsewhere to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

The U.S. House hearing will include live testimony from Republican officials in those states, committee aides said Monday. It begins at 1 p.m. ET and will be streamed through the committee website.

The pressure on state-level officials was part of a broader scheme Trump pursued to overturn his election loss, which eventually led to the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the committee argues.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling will appear before the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6th, 2021, Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In a call that was recorded and made public, Trump called Raffensperger following the November election and pressured him to “find” enough ballots to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers will also testify before the panel about how Trump pushed state officials to overturn Biden’s victory in that state. He will discuss pressure he received directly from Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others in the former president’s orbit, committee aides said.

Raffensperger and Bowers both hold elected office as Republicans.

Fake electors

The committee will also take a detailed look at the “unprecedented” scheme to replace legitimate electors with slates of electors who would cast Electoral College votes for Trump, overturning the election results in their states, aides said.

The committee will present text messages from former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that show the former North Carolina congressman was directly involved in campaigns to get Republican state officials to reject election results.

Former Georgia election worker Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss will also testify. Trump accused Moss by name of election fraud, leading to threats of violence, aides said.

In addition to the live witnesses, the panel will present recorded testimony from officials in other states who were pressed by the Trump campaign and White House to overturn legitimate election results, aides said Monday.

Other states Trump and his allies targeted in the fake electors scheme include Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Witnesses appearing via taped testimony would also include Trump White House and campaign officials, aides said.

Debunked claims

Trump’s complaints about the election’s integrity are not based in fact and have been widely debunked. Trump knew the claims were not true — and that they could lead to violence — but continued to push them anyway, the committee will show, aides said.

Raffensperger will testify that his office investigated claims of election fraud and could not substantiate any, committee aides said.

Sterling will talk about the increasing threats of violence because of Trump’s continued untrue fraud claims, aides said.

The panel will also show Trump was warned that his actions could incite further violence, but continued to push false fraud claims anyway, aides said.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who also chairs the Select Intelligence Committee, will lead the presentation of the state-official pressure scheme, aides said.

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Here are 3 things from the second Jan. 6 hearing you might have missed

A “definitely intoxicated” Rudy Giuliani. Conspiracy theories in Pennsylvania. Fundraising for a non-existent Trump “Election Defense Fund.”

The second hearing in the series held by the Jan. 6 U.S. House panel to present its findings focused on claims repeatedly voiced by former President Donald Trump that fraud occurred in the 2020 election.

Members of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol and witnesses examined various theories in some depth on Monday to show that spurious claims raised by Trump and allies including former New York Mayor Giuliani fell apart under moderate scrutiny from campaign lawyers and the U.S. Justice Department.

The panel provided several interviews of campaign and Justice Department staff that showed advisers and officials repeatedly told Trump there was nothing to his claims.

Trump’s continued expression of the debunked claims helped drive his supporters to siege the Capitol on Jan. 6, the panel said.

Here are some intriguing details from Monday’s hearing:

‘Intoxicated’ Giuliani pushed for declaring immediate victory

At the White House on Election Day 2020, a mix of campaign staff, outside advisers and Trump family watched election returns come in.

Later in the night, the results looked better for Democrat Joe Biden. A turning point for most in the room came when Fox News called Arizona for the former vice president, former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien testified.

As the night turned into early morning, the results were inconclusive for Trump’s chances, at best.

Stepien and campaign spokesman Jason Miller advised Trump not to say anything conclusive that night until more votes were counted.

In taped testimony for the committee, both identified Giuliani as disagreeing with that strategy, vocally advocating for declaring victory that night.

Asked if anyone had too much to drink, Miller singled out the former New York mayor.

“The mayor (Giuliani) was definitely intoxicated, but I did not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president,” Miller said.

Giuliani posted and deleted tweets Tuesday saying that Stepien and Miller lied about what happened on and after Election Day and disputed that he was drunk.

“I REFUSED all alcohol that evening,” he wrote in a since-deleted post. “My favorite drink..Diet Pepsi.”

Trump that night sided with Giuliani, declaring victory in the early morning hours of Nov. 4.

Pennsylvania conspiracy theory debunked

The panel spent time Monday individually explaining and debunking several prominent election conspiracy theories.

One of those concerned Doug Mastriano and Bill McSwain, both of whom ran in the 2022 Republican primary for Pennsylvania governor, a contest Mastriano won last month.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr testified that Mastriano, a state senator, originated a false claim that more people voted by mail in Pennsylvania than had requested mail-in ballots.

Barr called McSwain, then the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, and asked about it. McSwain explained Mastriano’s error was comparing the number of requested ballots for the 2020 GOP primary with the number of ballots cast in the general election, according to Barr.

“The problem is that Mastriano threw out this number, and what he did was he mixed apples and oranges,” Barr said he was told by McSwain. “Once you actually go and look and compare apples to apples, it’s no discrepancy.”

Fake election defense fund

The Trump campaign continued to fundraise after the election, using unsubstantiated fraud theories as a marketing tool. The campaign asked for donations to an official Election Defense Fund, which it said would pursue claims of a fraudulent election.

Contributors provided $100 million in the week after the election, and $150 million more before the end of the year, Amanda Wick, an investigative staffer with the committee, said in taped remarks.

But no Election Defense Fund actually existed, and most of the money was not spent on the fruitless efforts to uncover fraud.

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“The Trump campaign aggressively pushed false election claims to fundraise, telling supporters it would be used to fight voter fraud that did not exist,” Wick said.

Instead, Wick said, funds were sent to a variety of pro-Trump organizations.

Most went to a newly created “Save America PAC.” The pro-Trump research group America First Policy Institute and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ charitable foundation each received $1 million from the PAC.

Event Strategies Inc. has received more than $5 million from the Trump campaign and related committees since Election Day 2020, according to Federal Election Commission records. That Virginia-based event management and production company “ran President Trump’s January 6 rally on the Ellipse,” Wick said.

Save America PAC has paid $5.4 million to Event Strategies in the 2022 election cycle, when Trump has held events with candidates for state and federal offices, including U.S. Senate hopefuls Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and J.D. Vance in Ohio, U.S. Sen Chuck Grassley of Iowa — and Harriet Hageman, who is challenging House Jan. 6 committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney in the Wyoming Republican primary.

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Biden condemns racist theory of white supremacy in visit to Buffalo after mass shooting

President Joe Biden on Tuesday commemorated the victims of last weekend’s mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and condemned the ideology that drove the killer to “carry out a murderous, racist rampage” at a grocery store in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

In a visit to the Upstate New York city, Biden and other New York Democrats, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, rebuked the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory the shooting suspect adhered to and called for federal action to restrict access to guns.

But before talking about gun policy or replacement theory, Biden named the victims in the Saturday rampage at Tops Friendly Markets. The Buffalo News reported that 13 people were shot and all 10 victims who died were Black, in the city’s worst shooting in history.

They included 77-year-old Pearl Young, a grandmother and public school teacher who also ran a local food pantry, and Andre Mackneil, a restaurant worker who was buying a cake for his son’s third birthday.

“His son’s celebrating a birthday asking, ‘Where’s Daddy?’” Biden said.

Attorney General Merrick Garland has said the crime is being investigated as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism, with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives working in conjunction with Buffalo police.

A ‘poison’ in U.S. society

After that introduction memorializing the victims, Biden focused his remarks on white supremacy, which he called “a poison … running through our body politic.”

He alluded to politicians and media members who exploited the so-called great replacement theory — a false view that holds white Americans are under threat of extinction by a plot to systematically replace them with nonwhite people.

The suspected Buffalo killer, 18-year-old white man Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, reportedly posted a 180-page document filled with “great replacement” talking points before traveling to the supermarket on Buffalo’s predominately Black East Side to commit the killings. Gendron has been charged with one count of murder and will return to court on Thursday for a felony hearing, officials said.

“The internet has radicalized angry, alienated, lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be ‘replaced,’” Biden said. “I and all of you reject the lie. I call on all Americans to reject the lie. And I condemn those who spread the lie for power, political gain and profit.”

Biden did not specifically name anyone who exploited that lie for their own gain. White replacement is a frequent theme on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program and leading Republicans, including the No. 3 House Republican, Elise Stefanik of New York, have echoed its core premise.

Earlier Tuesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration was choosing not to name anyone associated with the ideology, to deny them attention.

“The people who spread this filth know who they are, and they should be ashamed of themselves,” she told reporters en route to Buffalo. “But I’m not going to give them or [the] obnoxious ideas they’re pushing the attention that they desperately want.”

Schumer writes to Fox executives

Schumer took a different approach, writing to Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and three other Fox executives Tuesday, calling for an end to the airing of great replacement views. Carlson was carbon copied on the letter.

“This pernicious theory, which has no basis in fact, has been injected into the mainstream thanks in large part to a dangerous level of amplification by your network and its anchors,” Schumer wrote.

In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, Schumer said Carlson had invited him on the program to “debate the letter.” Schumer declined, he said.

On his Monday show, Carlson distanced himself from Gendron’s writings and accused Democrats of using the tragedy against him.

“Because one mentally ill teenager murdered strangers, you cannot be allowed to express your political views out loud,” he said. “That is what they are telling you. That is what they wanted to tell you for a long time, but Saturday’s massacre gives them a pretext and justification.”

A representative for Fox News did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.

The letter followed a Monday floor speech Schumer gave that also called out Carlson by name and linked great replacement ideology to former President Donald Trump.

“Unfortunately, with each passing year, it seems harder and harder to ignore that replacement theory, and other racially motivated views are increasingly coming out into the open and given purported legitimacy by some MAGA Republicans and cable news pundits,” Schumer said Monday.

Schumer said the shooter’s goal was to kill as many Black people as possible. Hochul noted Gendron drove three hours and chose the location specifically with that goal in mind.

Biden called the shooting “domestic terrorism.”

Biden said radicalization could not be stopped, but that the use of the internet to advance its dangerous effects possibly could be.

“We can’t prevent people from being radicalized to violence,” he said. “But we can address the relentless exploitation of the internet to recruit and mobilize terrorism.”

Biden linked the Buffalo attack to shootings at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 and three Asian-American spas in Atlanta last year and to the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that he said inspired him to run for president.

Charlottesville rally goers chanted replacement theory slogans. Trump later defended the rally, calling some participants “very fine people.”

Hate and guns a lethal combination

Hochul blamed the shooting on a mix of hateful ideology and easy access to guns.

“It is that lethal combination that resulted in the loss of 10 decent, good people,” she said.

Gendron used a rifle with a modified magazine that she said was illegal in New York. She called for “a national gun policy,” saying that the killer easily brought a magazine from Pennsylvania that was not permitted under New York state law.

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat who represents Buffalo, also called for a national gun law.

Biden called for keeping assault weapons off the streets, saying a previous ban enacted when he was U.S. Senate Judiciary chairman led to a decrease in shootings. Congress did not renew that ban when it expired in 2004.

Schumer said he would work in the Senate to combat white supremacy and rid “our streets of weapons of war.”

Congressional Democrats have for years routinely tried to pass federal gun legislation after mass shootings, but have not been successful.

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Nomination of Sarah Bloom Raskin for Fed seat in doubt after Manchin opposition

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III will not support one of President Joe Biden’s picks to sit on the Federal Reserve Board, Sarah Bloom Raskin of Maryland, Manchin said Monday.

The announcement casts serious doubt on the chances of Senate confirmation for Raskin, who was a Fed governor from 2010 to 2014 and deputy Treasury secretary from 2014 to 2017. She is married to U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat.

Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia seen as the linchpin in the evenly divided U.S. Senate, highlighted a disagreement about energy policy in a statement announcing his opposition to her appointment.

“Her previous public statements have failed to satisfactorily address my concerns about the critical importance of financing an all-of-the-above energy policy to meet our nation’s critical energy needs,” the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee chairman said.

Manchin, whose family has financial interests in West Virginia’s coal industry, is often at odds with his party over policies meant to shift to less carbon-intensive forms of energy.

Biden tapped Raskin to be the Fed’s vice chair for supervision, the top banking regulator on the board.

Her confirmation was already held up by Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee, who refused to meet to consider her nomination, depriving the panel of the quorum needed to approve her.

Representatives for that committee’s chairman, Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

With Manchin in opposition, she would need at least one Republican vote on the Senate floor, but no Senate Republicans have publicly said they would support her.

The ranking GOP member on Senate Banking, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey, said in a statement the panel’s Republicans are ready to vote on the other four nominations to the Fed.

Toomey echoed Manchin’s reservations about Raskin’s position that the Fed should not invest in fossil fuel producers because climate change makes such investments riskier.

“As Senator Manchin suggested today, Ms. Raskin’s past advocacy for having the Federal Reserve allocate capital and discriminate against traditional energy companies would not only politicize the Fed, but weaken economic growth at a crucial moment in history,” he said.

In an email, a White House spokesperson said the administration was continuing to work on bipartisan support for Raskin, noting that she received votes from Republicans during her confirmation to other positions.

“Sarah Bloom Raskin is one of the most qualified people to have ever been nominated for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors,” the spokesperson said. “She has earned widespread support in the face of an unprecedented, baseless campaign led by oil and gas companies that sought to tarnish her distinguished career.”

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