No one has ever gone up to Trump and just told him he lost the election, author Michael Wolff says in The 600-Word Interview

donald trump
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Michael Wolff is the author of three books on Trump. His latest is the best-seller “Landslide.”
  • He says Trump is delusional and won’t listen to what he doesn’t want to hear.
  • So no one has gone up to him and plainly told him he lost fair and square to Joe Biden.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It seems as if your theory of Trump is that he’s a not-bright insane person with a gift for reading a crowd.

Yes. He’s like many actors I have known in my time: not too bright in their own particular reality, with extraordinary gifts for getting on the wavelength of their audience.

Does he know that he lost the election fair and square?

He does not know. Now, whether he has managed to successfully convince himself or whether from the get-go he was so focused on hearing what he wanted to hear, he is absolutely certain. Absolutely certain that he won the election and that if he did not win it, it could only be that it was stolen from him. And that everybody else also sees it that way. So this is delusional, which is the word I use fairly often in the book.

You also say he’s mentally deranged.

Yes. I would say that seems the obvious conclusion.

I kept waiting for someone in the book to just go out to him and say “You lost.”

When you haven’t been in his presence, it’s very hard then to actually describe for someone the fact that he is incapable of listening. He just doesn’t hear anything that he doesn’t want to hear. He’s unable to acknowledge any deviation, any slightest departure, any merest qualification of something different than what he thinks or wants to think.

So no one has just gone up to him and said, “Sir, you lost this election”?

Exactly so. You cannot say anything to Trump that he doesn’t want to hear. Everybody knows that. So to do that would mark you as incompetent or a fool or a silly person. It just doesn’t happen.

Now, there’s a set of billionaire types – sort of what passes for friends – who have at least described to me instances in which they have tried to, if not exactly level with him, bring him around to a new understanding. But also the feeling that you come away from those descriptions is that even these people can’t get over the barrier of saying: “You’re an idiot. You’re a fool. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Partly because it would require that kind of extreme language. And, given that he was the president of the United States, and given that everybody knows he doesn’t listen anyway.

And given, of course, that people who are talking to him want to remain in his favor.

It’s almost another power of his, if every time he encounters someone they can’t bring themselves to be direct about the circumstances.

Completely. But just think of it as talking to a crazy person, a person whose capacity to parse reality in some logical way is so diminished that you have to humor them, essentially. Everybody knows that reality can’t get through here, so the best you can do is work at the edges.

In your first book about Trump, you called Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump “Jarvanka.” Everyone knows it’s “Javanka.” Did you hear about that criticism?

Yeah. And I don’t know what to say about it. I know that Steve Bannon invented the term, and that’s the term he used with me. You know, did it somehow change underneath? I don’t know. I think I was probably one of the first people to put it into print. So who knows? I don’t know. I have no knowledge there. I said to Steve, “Is it Javanka or is it Jarvanka?” And he said, “Javanka, Jarvanka, let’s call the whole thing off.” So I don’t know.

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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell says Fox News is ignoring his ‘cyber symposium’ – so he’s planning to buy more ads on the network to promote it

mike lindell trump
Former president Donald Trump with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell at the White House.

  • MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell said Fox News hadn’t covered his upcoming “cyber symposium” event.
  • He told Salon he planned to buy ads on the network to promote the upcoming event.
  • Lindell said his symposium would reveal details about voter fraud during the 2020 election.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is unhappy with Fox News over what he saw as its disregard for his upcoming rally, so he plans to buy more ad time on the network, Salon reports.

Lindell said the news network hadn’t yet covered his “cyber symposium” event, scheduled to start August 10 in South Dakota.

“Fox [News] does not talk about anything with the election,” he told Salon. Fox News did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Lindell said he planned to respond by buying more ads on Fox News. Those ads would promote his website, FrankSpeech.com, and include information about the event in an attempt to “get the word out,” he said.

“So I’m going to make ads that will talk about – at least advertising for FrankSpeech.com – that we’re going to be televising this [cyber symposium] for 72 hours straight,” he said.

Lindell has said his symposium would reveal new information about voter fraud in the 2020 election. An ally of former President Donald Trump, he has been a leading voice in spreading conspiracies theories about the election being “stolen.”

In December 2020, Lindell said “the biggest fraud is the Dominion machines,” a reference to machines used to cast votes. He said Dominion’s technology switched votes for Trump to votes for Joe Biden. Dominion sued Lindell for $1.3 billion, and Lindell countered with a lawsuit for $1.6 billion.

Lindell told Salon: “Fox News has refused to cover election fraud, especially the machines.” He added: “Shame on Fox News!”

Following the 2020 elections, Lindell’s relationship with Fox News soured. He said the network was “unwatchable” after it announced Biden’s victory. He championed other conservative networks, like Newsmax.

Lindell went after the network on Steve Bannon’s podcast “War Room: Pandemic” on Real America’s Voice. He told Bannon that MSNBC has way “better coverage” than Fox News.

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A Georgia judge will allow Fulton County ballots to be unsealed and examined for evidence of fraud

voting booth
Voting booths are set up in Waterloo, Iowa.

A Georgia judge will allow absentee ballets from the 2020 election to be unsealed to have them examined for possible fraud.

In granting the motion on Friday, Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero agreed to open 145,000 absentee ballots from Fulton County as part of an audit into the 2020 election, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The review of ballots can’t change the results of the 2020 election, but plaintiffs who requested the review say it could help them understand what they claim is suspicious activity at an Atlanta ballot-counting site.

An investigation by the Georgia secretary of state’s office last year found no evidence of fraud in the state’s ballot counting. President Trump and his allies claimed widespread fraud after his election loss in the state in the 2020 election.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.

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A 55-year-old Capitol riot suspect was arrested after feds saw a Facebook post where he said, ‘I was there’

Capitol riot
Rioters clashed with security forces at the US Capitol on January 6.

  • John Maron Nassif, 55, is accused of bragging on Facebook about having attended the Capitol riot.
  • Federal officials say they arrested him Monday after finding posts in which he said, “I was there.”
  • If convicted, Nassif could face a year in prison, a year of probation, and a hefty $100,000 fine.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Florida man accused of boasting on Facebook multiple times about attending the deadly US Capitol riot was arrested Monday.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that John Maron Nassif, 55, was being charged with violent entry, disorderly conduct, and entering a restricted building or grounds without authority to do so.

“You know I was there, right?” an arrest affidavit said Nassif wrote on January 8, according to the Sentinel. “You don’t find it odd that police officer is welcoming everybody in? Considering the narrative that’s being pushed?”

Nassif is also said to have posted on January 20, weeks after the January 6 riot, acknowledging he was one of the people who breached the Capitol.

“I found myself inside the building. The Rotunda was nearly filled with people,” he’s accused of writing on Facebook, per the Sentinel. “No one was fighting or being violent. More pushing and I decided to leave.”

“It wasn’t until I was walking back that I heard a rumor someone had been shot,” the post continued. “It wasn’t till I got back to my hotel room I learned the specifics. Anyone telling you this was some type of coup etc is telling you lies.”

Nassif, if convicted, could face a year in prison, a year of probation, and a hefty fine of $100,000, the Sentinel reported.

The Capitol riot left five people, including one police officer, dead after a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters sought to disrupt Congress’ certification of his defeat to Joe Biden. So far, 458 people have been arrested in connection to the insurrection.

Suspects have been identified largely by their social-media posts, as many posed for photos that led the FBI to them. One woman even identified herself by name in an interview with a reporter posted to Twitter. The woman, who referred to herself as Elizabeth, said she’s from Knoxville, Tennessee. Her face is fully visible in the tweet.

Shortly after federal officials announced they’d investigate the riot and its cause, people were said to be scrambling to delete incriminating photos and social-media posts.

Nassif is scheduled to appear at an initial virtual hearing next week, the Sentinel reported. The court is appointing a public lawyer to defend him.

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The GOP Arizona recount is sloppy and inconsistent, critics say, with workers chasing proof of wild conspiracy theories

Arizona
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election on May 3, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • Critics of the vote recount in Maricopa County, Arizona, allege that is is a shambolic process.
  • Observers from the state government say little is done to ensure consistency and accuracy.
  • Reports describe participants using bizarre methods informed by conspiracy theorists.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Workers are conducting the recount of presidential election votes in Arizona’s Maricopa County using sloppy and inconsistent methods, say observers and critics of the process.

Some participants appear to be searching for evidence on the basis of conspiracy theories, according to reports from the counting site.

Observers from the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs were granted access to the recount for a week. Hobbs described their findings in a Wednesday letter which attacked the credibility of the process.

The recount was launched by the GOP-controlled stat legislature. Maricopa County is the largest in Arizona, and stunned many observers when its traditionally Republican voters favored Joe Biden over Donald Trump in November 2020.

The state GOP ordered the audit on April 27, citing the unfounded allegations of mass fraud spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

In her letter describing the recount, Hobbs writes that observers found troubling irregularities, and said the process was opaque and in breach of state rules meant to ensure accuracy and integrity.

Observers also discussed their concerns in a press conference Thursday, reported local media.

Allegations include:

  • Computers on the recount floor left unlocked. They said this risked the data on the machines being altered.
  • Inconsistent rulings for counting. The observers said different teams were improvising their methods rather than following a common approach.
  • They criticized data entry too, saying that figures were being plugged into a central spreadsheet in a haphazard way that risked error.
  • They said counters weren’t keeping proper track of batches of votes, risking them being miscounted or counted more than once.
  • They questioned the motives of the workers – claiming that there was no screening process for political bias. They said some counters attended “Stop the Steal” rallies, which were predicated on Trump’s baseless claims of electoral fraud.

Observers who spoke to The Guardian also drew attention to use of a mysterious technology developed by the failed inventor Jovan Pulitzer.

Details were scarce, but it appeared to be used in an attempt to verify conspiracy theories alleging that thousands of counterfeit ballots were used in the election.

The process is being conducted by a contractor called CyberNinjas, whose founder has expressed support for Trump’s election fraud claims.

The concerns of the secretary of state’s office were echoed by other observers of the recount. According to reports, some counters are searching ballots for traces of bamboo on the basis of a theory that many were smuggled from Asia.

Questions have been raised over why auditors are examining ballots using UV lights and looking for watermarks. It’s another sign that auditors are working to verify conspiracy theories alleging that ballots are fake, observers say.

“A number of items detailed in the Counting Floor Procedures appear better suited for chasing conspiracy theories than as a part of a professional audit,” wrote Hobbs.

The US Department of Justice also expressed concern about the recount in a letter to the Arizona Senate.

In remarks to reporters Thursday, Hobbs warned that the recount methods could be used as a template to subvert election results across the US.

“This is really dangerous for our democracy and we think they are writing the playbook for them to take this across the country,” Hobbs said, reported the Arizona Mirror. “This is potentially precedent setting.”

The Twitter account representing the recount rejected her claims.

“AZ @SecretaryHobbs continues to make baseless claims about this forensic audit but has never led an election audit in her entire career. The audit continues!” reads the tweet Thursday.

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MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell was honored with two awards for having the worst film in 2020

Mike Lindell
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell waits outside the West Wing of the White House on January 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has won two distinctions from the Razzies, a parody awards show.
  • His so-called “documentary,” full of election fraud conspiracy theories, took home Worst Picture.
  • Lindell himself received Worst Actor for his role in the film.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Razzies, Hollywood’s parody award show that honors the worst content created in the last year, has presented MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell with two awards.

Lindell won Worst Actor for his role in his own self-produced film, “Absolute Proof.” He has called the film a “documentary,” despite the fact that it’s laden with disinformation about the 2020 presidential election.

The movie, two hours long, has been banned from YouTube and ran on conservative outlets that have also peddled election-related conspiracies theories such as OAN.

The premise behind “Absolute Proof” is that former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to now-President Joe Biden because of interference from Chinese cyberattackers.

“Now for a narcoleptic coma-inducing performance by a male lead that put our entire voting body to sleep – with or without a pillow,” said the voiceover announcing the Worst Actor award. “The Razzie for Worst Actor goes to Mike Lindell, the pillow guy, by a landslide for ‘Absolute Proof.'”

The movie also won Worst Picture award.

“The Razzie winner for Worst Picture of 2020 is Absolute Proof. Oh boy, here come the demands for a recount,” the voiceover said after announcing “Absolute Proof” the winner.

Outside the movie, Lindell for months has continued to viciously peddle disinformation around the 2020 election results. In the days and weeks after the Capitol riot, Lindell publicly questioned whether the insurrectionists were members of Antifa, despite the rioters being identified and known as Trump supporters.

Lindell is an ardent Trump supporter.

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A top Facebook exec told a whistleblower her concerns about widespread state-sponsored disinformation meant she had ‘job security’

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg
In this April 11, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

  • Facebook let dictators generate fake support despite employees’ warnings, the Guardian reported.
  • Whistleblower Sophie Zhang repeatedly raised concerns to integrity chief Guy Rosen and other execs.
  • But Rosen said the amount of disinformation on the platform meant “job security” for Zhang.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Facebook allowed authoritarian governments to use its platform to generate fake support for their regimes for months despite warnings from employees about the disinformation campaigns, an investigation from the Guardian revealed this week.

A loophole in Facebook’s policies allowed government officials around the world to create unlimited amounts of fake “pages” which, unlike user profiles, don’t have to correspond to an actual person – but could still like, comment on, react to, and share content, the Guardian reported.

That loophole let governments spin up armies of what looked like real users who could then artificially generate support for and amplify pro-government content, what the Guardian called “the digital equivalent of bussing in a fake crowd for a speech.”

Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook data scientist on the company’s integrity team, blew the whistle dozens of times about the loophole, warning Facebook executives including vice president of integrity Guy Rosen, airing many of her concerns, according to the Guardian.

BuzzFeed News previously reported on Zhang’s “badge post” – a tradition where departing employees post an internal farewell message to coworkers.

But one of Zhang’s biggest concerns was that Facebook wasn’t paying enough attention to coordinated disinformation networks in authoritarian countries, such as Honduras and Azerbaijan, where elections are less free and more susceptible to state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, the Guardian’s investigation revealed.

Facebook waited 344 days after employees sounded the alarm to take action in the Honduras case, and 426 days in Azerbaijan, and in some cases took no action, the investigation found.

But when she raised her concerns about Facebook’s inaction in Honduras to Rosen, he dismissed her concerns.

“We have literally hundreds or thousands of types of abuse (job security on integrity eh!),” Rosen told Zhang in April 2019, according the Guardian, adding: “That’s why we should start from the end (top countries, top priority areas, things driving prevalence, etc) and try to somewhat work our way down.”

Rosen told Zhang he agreed with Facebook’s priority areas, which included the US, Western Europe, and “foreign adversaries such as Russia/Iran/etc,” according to the Guardian.

“We fundamentally disagree with Ms. Zhang’s characterization of our priorities and efforts to root out abuse on our platform. We aggressively go after abuse around the world and have specialized teams focused on this work,” Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois told Insider in a statement.

“As a result, we’ve already taken down more than 100 networks of coordinated inauthentic behavior. Around half of them were domestic networks that operated in countries around the world, including those in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and in the Asia Pacific region. Combatting coordinated inauthentic behavior is our priority. We’re also addressing the problems of spam and fake engagement. We investigate each issue before taking action or making public claims about them,” she said.

However, Facebook didn’t dispute any of Zhang’s factual claims in the Guardian investigation.

Facebook pledged to tackle election-related misinformation and disinformation after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Russia’s use of its platform to sow division among American voters ahead of the 2016 US presidential elections.

“Since then, we’ve focused on improving our defenses and making it much harder for anyone to interfere in elections,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a 2018 op-ed for The Washington Post.

“Key to our efforts has been finding and removing fake accounts – the source of much of the abuse, including misinformation. Bad actors can use computers to generate these in bulk. But with advances in artificial intelligence, we now block millions of fake accounts every day as they are being created so they can’t be used to spread spam, false news or inauthentic ads,” Zuckerberg added.

But the Guardian’s investigation showed Facebook is still delaying or refusing to take action against state-sponsored disinformation campaigns in dozens of countries, with thousands of fake accounts, creating hundreds of thousands of fake likes.

And even in supposedly high-priority areas, like the US, researchers have found Facebook has allowed key disinformation sources to expand their reach over the years.

A March report from Avaaz found “Facebook could have prevented 10.1 billion estimated views for top-performing pages that repeatedly shared misinformation” ahead of the 2020 US elections had it acted earlier to limit their reach.

“Failure to downgrade the reach of these pages and to limit their ability to advertise in the year before the election meant Facebook allowed them to almost triple their monthly interactions, from 97 million interactions in October 2019 to 277.9 million interactions in October 2020,” Avaaz found.

Facebook admits that around 5% of its accounts are fake, a number that hasn’t gone down since 2019, according to The New York Times. And MIT Technology Review’s Karen Hao reported in March that Facebook still doesn’t have a centralized team dedicated to ensuring its AI systems and algorithms reduce the spread of misinformation.

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The Trump campaign reportedly cheated donors who thought they were making a one-time contribution, collecting recurring donations

trump impeached
Former President Donald Trump.

  • The Trump 2020 campaign reportedly duped supporters into making recurring donations without their consent.
  • Donors, including cancer patients, who intended to make a one-time contribution ended up making more.
  • According to the New York Times, donations were automatically set to repeat when supporters got to the final stages of contributing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In what seemed to be an effort to bolster political contributions in the heat of the 2020 election against now President Joe Biden, the Trump 2020 campaign reportedly duped supporters into making recurring donations without their explicit or known consent.

An investigation of Federal Election Commission records done by the New York Times found that the Trump campaign, in the last two months of 2020, was forced to give hundreds of thousands of refunds in the amount of about $64 million. In total the campaign refunded $122 million, the newspaper said.

Many of these accidental repeat donors believed they were signing up to give a one-time contribution, the New York Times reported. Some of the victims of this scheme, like 63-year-old Stacy Blatt, were cancer patients who found themselves unable to pay bills and rent because of the repeated donations to the Trump campaign, the newspaper reported.

It started with an unusual and “aggressive” move: the addition of a small, bright yellow box on Trump’s campaign donation portal in March 2020.

“Make this a monthly recurring donation,” the text in the box read. The box had automatically been checked off as soon as donors landed on the page, the Times reported.

In order to avoid this recurring donation, donors had to manually opt out, the Times said.

Months later, the donation portal added a second pre-checked box. This time, the box automatically directed an additional contribution from the donor in honor of Trump’s birthday in June, according to the Times.

Between June and September, contributions were pouring into the Biden campaign. So the Trump campaign ramped up its approach.

By September, the text in the initial pre-checked box silently changed from “monthly” to “weekly” donation, according to the newspaper.

At this point, the Biden campaign had outraised Trump’s by about $150 million, the Times reported. At the same time, Trump’s own campaign finances were depleting.

Unrealizing Trump supporters began to make several repeated donations to the campaign over the course of a month.

Critics who spoke to the Times blasted the move.

“It’s unfair, it’s unethical and it’s inappropriate,” Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, said.

“It should be in textbooks of what you shouldn’t do,” London-based Harry Brignull, a user-experience designer familiar with manipulative digital marketing practices, told the paper.

Jason Miller, a spokesperson for Trump, told the Times: “The fact we had a dispute rate of less than 1 percent of total donations despite raising more grass-roots money than any campaign in history is remarkable.”

The repeat donations became particularly rampant in the months between September and October, after the campaign employed the series of aggressive moves, the Times reported.

In total, the Trump campaign returned a staggering 10.7% of money secured through WinRed, the Republican Party’s contribution portal. In contrast, the Biden campaign returned just 2.2% of the money raised through ActBlue, the Democratic Party’s counterpart.

Trump supporters who had unwittingly donated their money to the campaign filed fraud complaints upon noticing unauthorized withdrawals, the Times reported.

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AT&T and Cigna are funding Republican groups led by election objectors they had promised to stop supporting

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (center) and Josh Hawley (top) led the GOP effort to challenge Electoral College votes on January 6, which was interrupted as Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn Biden's victory.
  • AT&T and Cigna gave money to groups run by the GOP election objectors they pledged to stop supporting, Popular Information reported.
  • Some companies paused certain PAC contributions after GOP efforts to overturn Biden’s victory led to violence.
  • Here’s how much each S&P 500 corporate PAC had given – and if they’ve paused or resumed contributions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

AT&T and Cigna both gave money last month to groups overseen by Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US presidential election results in January, despite earlier promises to pause support for those lawmakers, Popular Information’s Jedd Legum reported Friday.

After violent pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, interrupting the GOP’s last-ditch effort to invalidate states’ Electoral College results, companies faced intense public criticism over their financial support of the 147 Republican members of Congress who backed the effort.

Amid the backlash, dozens of major corporations said they would pause contributions and reevaluate how they determine which lawmakers to support.

Yet barely a month later, AT&T and Cigna gave contributions to Republican groups led by – and benefitting – those same lawmakers.

AT&T’s Political Action Committee (PAC), just 35 days after pausing contributions to the 147 election objectors, gave $5,000 to the House Conservative Fund in February, according to Legum. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana who voted against certifying Electoral College results, sits on the fund’s executive committee – while other objectors are among its membership.

“Our employee PACs continue to adhere to their policy adopted on January 11 of suspending contributions to campaign committees of members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes. Our employee PACs did not adopt a policy to halt contributions to Democratic and Republican multi-candidate PACs, however,” an AT&T spokesperson told Insider in a statement.

They added that while the contribution “was not intended to circumvent the current suspension policy regarding individual campaigns,” the PAC “is requesting that none of its contribution to the House Conservative Fund or to any other multi-candidate PAC go to any member of congress who objected to the Electoral College votes.”

“Going forward, our employee PACs will begin reviewing all multi-candidate PAC contributions for consistency with the policy on individual campaign contributions,” the spokesperson said.

Insider could not immediately confirm whether AT&T’s PAC was aware of Rep. Johnson’s connection to the House Conservative Fund when it made the contribution or when the PAC requested that the funds not benefit him or other objectors.

Cigna, which had said it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power,” continued that support just 22 days later by giving $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Legum reported. The NRSC is chaired by GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, another election objector.

Cigna did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Political Action Committees backed by S&P 500 companies gave more than $23 million to the 147 GOP election objectors during the most recent campaign cycles (2020 for House members; 2016 and 2018 for senators), according to an Insider analysis of Federal Election Commission data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Critics, from activists to shareholders to other executives, have argued the contributions helped those lawmakers get elected and stay in power, giving them the platform they used to undermine voters’ faith in the election (which Trump’s former top cybersecurity official called “the most secure in American history“).

Read more: Democrats are plotting the death – and rebirth – of a hamstrung Federal Election Commission now that they’ll control the White House and both chambers of Congress

Following reporting from Popular Information and other media outlets, many companies began rethinking their political contributions.

Companies’ commitments varied widely, however.

Few have permanently blacklisted election objectors, and as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, the largest contributions typically happen right before, not after elections, leaving the door open for companies to resume their support once the public’s attention has turned elsewhere – an argument bolstered by AT&T and Cigna’s recent contributions.

Other companies paused all PAC contributions, potentially allowing them to benefit from the positive PR without having to explicitly condemn – or risk alienating – more than half of the Republicans in Congress.

Still, dozens issued public statements or internal memos announcing they would pause contributions while reevaluating how they use their money to influence politics.

Here’s a list of the S&P 500 companies – some of the largest and most influential businesses in the US – how much they gave to the 147 election objectors in the latest election cycles through their corporate PACs, and whether they’ve pulled (or resumed) their support.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that AT&T’s employee PAC had violated its policy, announced January 11, that it would “suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes,” by giving to a multi-candidate fund that includes such members. AT&T’s PAC did not adopt a policy to suspend contributions to multi-candidate groups, a spokesperson said.

Do you work for one of these companies and have information about how they’re responding to recent events? We’d love to hear how they’re navigating the current political landscape. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal ( +1 503-319-3213 ), email (tsonnemaker@insider.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker ). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.

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AT&T, Cigna abandon promises to stop financing Republicans who voted to overturn the election

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (center) and Josh Hawley (top) led the GOP effort to challenge Electoral College votes on January 6, which was interrupted as Trump supporters attempted to violently overturn Biden's victory.
  • AT&T and Cigna have resumed funding GOP election objectors, Popular Information reported Friday.
  • Some companies paused PAC contributions after GOP efforts to overturn Biden’s victory led to violence.
  • Here’s how much each S&P 500 corporate PAC had given – and if they’ve paused or resumed contributions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

AT&T and Cigna both gave money last month to groups overseen by Republican lawmakers who sought to overturn the US presidential election results in January, contradicting the companies’ earlier promises, Popular Information’s Jedd Legum reported Friday.

After violent pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, interrupting the GOP’s last-ditch effort to invalidate states’ Electoral College results, companies faced intense public criticism over their financial support of the 147 Republican members of Congress who backed the effort.

Amid the backlash, dozens of major corporations said they would pause contributions and reevaluate how they determine which lawmakers to support.

Yet barely a month later, AT&T and Cigna have apparently determined that some of those lawmakers are once again deserving of support.

AT&T and Cigna did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

AT&T’s Political Action Committee (PAC), just 35 days after pausing contibutions to the 147 election objectors, gave $5,000 to the Republican Study Committee in February, according to Legum. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana who voted against certifying Electoral College results, sits on the RSC’s executive committee.

Cigna, which had said it would “discontinue support of any elected official who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power,” continued that support just 22 days later by giving $15,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Legum reported. The NRSC is chaired by GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, another election objector.

Political Action Committees backed by S&P 500 companies gave more than $23 million to the 147 GOP election objectors during the most recent campaign cycles (2020 for House members; 2016 and 2018 for senators), according to an Insider analysis of Federal Election Commission data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Critics, from activists to shareholders to other executives, have argued the contributions helped those lawmakers get elected and stay in power, giving them the platform they used to undermine voters’ faith in the election (which Trump’s former top cybersecurity official called “the most secure in American history“).

Read more: Democrats are plotting the death – and rebirth – of a hamstrung Federal Election Commission now that they’ll control the White House and both chambers of Congress

Following reporting from Popular Information and other media outlets, many companies began rethinking their political contributions.

Companies’ commitments varied widely, however.

Few have permanently blacklisted election objectors, and as Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, the largest contributions typically happen right before, not after elections, leaving the door open for companies to resume their support once the public’s attention has turned elsewhere – an argument bolstered by AT&T and Cigna’s recent contributions.

Other companies paused all PAC contributions, potentially allowing them to benefit from the positive PR without having to explicitly condemn – or risk alienating – more than half of the Republicans in Congress.

Still, dozens issued public statements or internal memos announcing they would pause contributions while reevaluating how they use their money to influence politics.

Here’s a list of the S&P 500 companies – some of the largest and most influential businesses in the US – how much they gave to the 147 election objectors in the latest election cycles through their corporate PACs, and whether they’ve pulled (or resumed) their support.

Do you work for one of these companies and have information about how they’re responding to recent events? We’d love to hear how they’re navigating the current political landscape. Contact this reporter using a non-work device via encrypted messaging app Signal ( +1 503-319-3213 ), email (tsonnemaker@insider.com), or Twitter (@TylerSonnemaker ). We can keep sources anonymous. PR pitches by email only, please.

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