Pennsylvania GOP lawmaker slams effort to audit the 2020 election results ‘absent credible evidence of fraud’

Pennsylvania voting
Long lines of voters wait to cast early voting ballots at the A. B. Day School polling location in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 17, 2020.

  • Pennsylvania state Sen. Dan Laughlin criticized a GOP-led 2020 election audit in an op-ed.
  • “Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania because Donald Trump received fewer votes,” he wrote.
  • Biden defeated Trump in Pennsylvania by 1%, or roughly 80,000 votes out of 6.9 million ballots cast.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A GOP lawmaker in Pennsylvania is criticizing his party’s efforts to push a “forensic” audit of the 2020 statewide election results that saw President Joe Biden defeat former President Donald Trump.

In a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review op-ed that ran on Thursday, state Sen. Dan Laughlin of Erie County spoke out against an investigation of the election results, emphasizing that such a probe would be conducted “absent credible evidence of fraud” and would “only further the paranoid atmospherics, poisoning both parties.”

“The current attempt to discredit the 2020 election results runs headlong into an unmistakable truth,” Laughlin wrote. “While Donald Trump narrowly lost Pennsylvania, the same ballots secured Republican control of the state Senate and House, sent several incumbent Democrats packing, and did so amid record turnout and an expanded voting franchise.”

He added: “Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania because Donald Trump received fewer votes.”

Laughlin rebuked the efforts of conservative state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who has been the leading force behind a potential audit in the Keystone State that has Trump’s blessing.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

Mastriano met with Trump earlier this summer at Trump Tower in Manhattan and traveled to Arizona to meet with GOP lawmakers and tour the audit site. The senator has sought to inspect voting equipment through a “forensic” audit, modeling the investigation after the GOP-led probe in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous jurisdiction.

In the op-ed, Laughlin rebuked the Arizona audit, saying that the process “undermined public trust.”

“An outside vendor with a preconceived position was asked to ‘audit’ the ballots and equipment,” he wrote. “The only credible result has been an undermined public trust in democracy and a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers who must now replace voting machines that were decertified because a third party had tinkered with them.”

Trump, who pushed debunked election conspiracy theories well before the 2020 election, said in June that GOP leaders who weren’t lined up behind him were “stupid, corrupt, or naïve” and “will be primaried and lose by big numbers.”

Mastriano initiated an investigation last month, requesting access to the ballot machines in Philadelphia, Tioga, and York counties. While Philadelphia is one of the most Democratic jurisdictions in the entire county, consistently delivering massive margins for the party’s statewide candidates, Tioga and York are dominated by Republicans.

To date, none of the counties have complied, despite Mastriano’s threat of a subpoena if the officials didn’t turn over machines by July 31.

Pennsylvania already completed a narrow “risk-limiting audit” of the 2020 election, with counties auditing a selection of votes; there was no evidence of the sort of widespread fraud alleged by Trump.

Biden bested Trump in the Keystone State by a little over 1% of the vote, or roughly 80,000 votes out of 6.9 million ballots cast.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Arizona Senate leaders issue new subpoenas for Maricopa County routers amid ongoing audit

maricopa county cyber ninjas
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • Arizona Senate Republicans are demanding Maricopa County turn over routers used during the 2020 election for the ongoing audit.
  • The GOP-controlled county board of supervisors has rebuked the audit and pledged to stop producing materials for the review.
  • Audit leaders also subpoenaed Dominion Voting Systems Inc., demanding access to the company’s tabulators.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two top Arizona Senate Republicans issued new subpoenas Monday night for more election materials in the monthslong “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results, just days after former President Donald Trump gave a speech in Phoenix full of debunked conspiracy theories about his loss.

On Monday, more than three months into the review that began in April, state Senate President Karen Fann, who has spearheaded the controversial effort since its inception, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen demanded the Republican-controlled county hand over its routers as well as envelopes from all mail-in ballots and detailed voter registration records.

The GOP-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which opposes the audit, has pledged to stop producing materials for the Senate’s review, arguing the county has already handed over all relevant resources for the recount, including 2.1 million ballots, hundreds of counting machines, and massive amounts of data.

Those materials were reviewed by Cyber Ninjas, a private firm run by a Trump supporter that was chosen by state Senate Republicans to carry out another count of Maricopa County’s ballots, after county Republicans certified Biden’s win.

President Joe Biden won by Maricopa County by 45,000 votes.

In addition to subpoenaing the county routers, Fann and Petersen also targeted Dominion Voting Systems Inc., the manufacturer of the county’s voting machines which has been the target of false conspiracy theories about the security of its machines since November. The new subpoena demands that Dominion give audit contractors access to all tabulators used in Maricopa County.

In a May statement, Dominion said releasing company property to an “unaccredited, biased, and plainly unreliable actor such as Cyber Ninjas would be reckless” and cause “irreparable damage” to both Dominion and the election security interests of the country.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is also resisting the new demands. A spokesman for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors told Insider the board will review the materials requested with legal counsel and respond in the coming days.

Another spokesperson for the board told the Associated Press the county “has already provided everything competent auditors would need to confirm the accuracy and security of the 2020 election.”

The state has to replace the county’s voting machines for roughly $3 million, amid concerns that Cyber Ninjas cannot ensure the machines weren’t tampered with during the audit. Turning over the routers, as well, poses an additional financial and operational risk for Maricopa County. According to the Arizona Mirror, replacing the routers, if necessary, would cost another $6 million.

Read more: Republican Rep. Blake Moore violated federal transparency law by failing to properly disclose stock transactions worth up to $1.1 million

But Fann may not be able to enforce the subpoenas, according to the AP. The Senate president doesn’t have the Republican support required to hold county officials in contempt if they refuse to produce the materials.

As the process enters its fourth month, the effort is losing support.

Neither Cyber Ninjas nor Fann immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Arizona audit: Republican liaison tells Insider the audit process has been ‘very odd’ and that he may resign

In this Thursday, April 22, 2021, file photo, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett arrives at a news conference to talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.
In this Thursday, April 22, 2021, file photo, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett arrives at a news conference to talk about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

  • Ken Bennett, a Republican, served as Arizona’s Secretary of State from 2009 to 2015.
  • Arizona’s GOP-led Senate appointed him to be the chamber’s “liaison” to the Cyber Ninjas audit.
  • Bennett has said Cyber Ninjas has refused to share key information with him about the process.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Arizona state Senate’s official “liaison” to the controversial election audit in Maricopa County said in an interview that he could soon resign.

Speaking to Insider on Tuesday, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said he remains frustrated with the audit process. He also said Cyber Ninjas, the private firm that is running the vote count, has refused to share with him any information about its own tally. “It’s very odd,” he said of the situation.

The company, whose leadership has promoted claims that the 2020 election was “rigged,” has been counting ballots since April.

“I expect that, eventually, the hand count done by Cyber Ninjas will be shared with me,” Bennett said. “But it hasn’t yet.”

That, he argued, has left him in a position where, months into the process, he is still in no position to say whether Maricopa County’s 2020 election results were accurate or not.

President Joe Biden won the county by more than 45,000 votes, a victory certified by local Republican elections officials who have blasted the Cyber Ninjas audit as unprofessional and conspiratorial. Outside experts recently issued a report saying that the auditor’s deviations from typical practices mean that its findings “should not be trusted.”

Arizona’s Republican-led state Senate commissioned the new audit earlier this year, forcing the county to hand over some 2.1 million ballots.

Earlier this week, Bennett told a conservative talk show host that he was on the “precipice” of resigning after having been denied entry to the building where Cyber Ninjas is conducting its latest round of ballot counting, as The Arizona Republic reported last week.

This is now the company’s second count, coming after state Senate President Karen Fann revealed that the first Cyber Ninjas audit had produced a different number of total ballots than had been cast in the 2020 election, as certified by local and state officials.

Bennett told “The Conservative Circus” there have been “serious issues” with the Cyber Ninjas process, with vote counts from worker tally sheets differing from the numbers that have been entered into the central database – and that he has not been able to verify whether that was ever addressed.

According to the Maricopa County Elections Department, however, there have also been problems with Bennett’s own assertions. For example, Bennett claimed in that same interview that duplicate ballots, which are printed for votes cast by members of the military overseas and citizens who used braille ballots, among others, were missing the required serial numbers that would link them to the originals. (“We discovered to our shock that they had essentially broken state law and not put a serial number on the duplicate ballots,” he said.)

Megan Gilbertson, a spokesperson for the elections department, said that is not true. “The accuracy and completeness of Maricopa County’s duplication process was confirmed in court,” she said, pointing to a lawsuit filed by the state GOP that led to the review of a random sample of 1,626 of the 27,000 duplicates.

As for his own future, Bennett told Insider that he is trying to meet with Sen. Fann to discuss “whether or not I can continue, or if I will continue.”

“I was hoping yesterday,” he said. “Here it is today.”

It is unlikely Bennett’s future will be decided before the end of the month.

“I am at a conference out of state all week,” Sen. Fann said in an email to Insider. “I will make arrangements with him after I return.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

An Arizona GOP official tore into the state’s election recount on Fox News: ‘This was not a stolen election’

Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer appearing on Fox News Monday.
Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer appearing on Fox News Monday with host Bret Baier.

  • An Arizona GOP election official tore into the state’s election audit on Fox News Monday.
  • The state ordered an audit into the presidential election amid claims of rigged ballots.
  • Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer said the claims pushed by Trump and others were false.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An Arizona GOP official tore into the Maricopa County election audit on Monday, saying the claims of voter fraud that prompted the recount were baseless and likening the situation to a “borderline dystopia.”

Arizona in April began auditing presidential election results for Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, which President Joe Biden won by more than 45,000 votes.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer told Fox News Monday said that continued claims of election fraud in the county by Trump and his associates were “false.”

Even though he would have liked them to win, they did not, he said.

“I’m as Republican as they come,” he told Fox’s Bret Baier. “There’s a lot I’d be willing to do for a Republican nominee for president but lie about the election is not one of those things.”

Donald Trump repeated his baseless claims of election fraud in Arizona at a rally over the weekend, claiming among other things that hundreds of thousands of ballots had been printed on illegal paper.

Richer said of the former president’s claims: “It’s disappointing. It’s borderline dystopian. And unfortunately, when the president says something like that, it’s very hard to put the genie back in the bottle.”

The Republican-led effort to audit the results has been heavily criticized. State Democrats characterized it in April as an attempt to legitimize baseless claims of election fraud.

Election officials have only found 182 potential cases of electoral fraud out of a possible 3 million, the Associated Press reported last week.

The company running the audit, Cyber Ninjas, has never run an audit before and its founder Doug Logan has promoted pro-Trump conspiracy theories on social media.

Richer told Fox that a specific claim repeated by a former Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington earlier on the program was false. Harrington had claimed that Arizona ballots had been cast illegally after the deadline.

Richer said: “So that’s inaccurate […] As long as they filled it out before October 15 then it’s still a valid voter and that vote should count.”

He said two other baseless claims repeated by Harrington were false: “Some of these claims that we thought were like the undead have come back, I guess.”

“There’s nothing to hide. This was not a stolen election,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Republican official stood by the original vote count in Arizona’s Maricopa County. Now he’s being barred from the Cyber Ninjas’ audit site.

AP21141517410243
The Republican fronting the controversial vote recount in Maricopa County, Arizona, has been locked out of the audit.

  • Ken Bennett, director of Arizona’s Maricopa County audit, has been locked out of the vote recount.
  • This is after he shared sample data with external analysts that matched the official vote tally.
  • A local news outlet said Bennett was barred from the state fairgrounds, where a new vote count is underway.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ken Bennett, a Republican official and spokesperson for the Maricopa County election audit, was barred last week from entering the audit building.

Per the Arizona Republic, Bennett is now persona-non-grata at the ongoing recount because he shared sample data from the count with election technology analysts Larry Moore and Benny White.

According to a report from local news outlet The Arizona Republic, former Arizona Secretary of State Bennett was banned on July 23 from entering the state fairgrounds where the Maricopa County audit is still going on.

A new vote recount was ordered by Arizona Senate President Karen Fann last week. During this separate count, the 2.1 million ballots will be tallied up again via high-speed paper counters to check the Cyber Ninjas’ work.

Speaking to the news outlet, Cyber Ninjas spokesperson Rod Thomson denied barring Bennett from the premises, saying the order came from Fann’s office.

Fann suggested on July 13 that the official vote count and the Cyber Ninjas’ hand-counted tallies did not match up, which necessitated a further recount. However, the data that Bennett provided to Moore and White corroborated the county’s officially certified vote numbers. This could, potentially, call into question any results or conclusions drawn from the Cyber Ninjas’ audit.

Biden won the election in Maricopa County last November by more than 45,000 votes. Meanwhile, Trump has continued to allege that there were voter irregularities in Arizona, both in statements and at rallies.

The Maricopa County audit is being run by the Cyber Ninjas, a private Florida-based consultancy that has no prior experience handling election ballots. Doug Logan, its founder, is a “Stop the Steal” supporter who promoted several election conspiracy theories in favor of former President Donald Trump. Most recently, Logan even appeared in an election conspiracy theory film alleging the CIA was behind election misinformation.

Cyber Ninjas wants the methods it uses to recount the votes to be kept secret, citing trade secrets and proprietary equipment. But the effectiveness of the audit was called into question after workers from Cyber Ninjas were seen leaving ballots unattended and laptop computers unlocked. The Cyber Ninjas have also been criticized for investigating far-fetched theories that 40,000 Biden ballots were smuggled in from Asia, by looking for traces of bamboo and “Chinese paper” in the voting ballots.

Fann, Bennett, and the Cyber Ninjas did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump blasted GOP Gov. Doug Ducey during Arizona rally: ‘He doesn’t do a damn thing’

Trump
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Former President Trump on Saturday criticized Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey at a Phoenix rally.
  • Trump praised Arizona conservatives who backed an audit of the Maricopa County election results.
  • In 2020, President Biden became the first Democrat to win Arizona’s electoral votes in 24 years.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday praised the Republican-controlled state Senate for its ongoing audit of the 2020 election results while saving plenty of time to berate GOP Gov. Doug Ducey.

At the “Rally to Protect Our Elections” in Phoenix, Trump thanked the “brave and unyielding conservative warriors in the Arizona state Senate” for proceeding with the partisan audit, which is examining the results in Maricopa County, the most populous jurisdiction in the state.

Trump then praised GOP state Senate President Karen Fann and Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward for their support in his effort to review President Joe Biden’s 10,457-vote statewide victory.

Ward, a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2016 and 2018, was called a “fighter” by the former president. However, Ducey, a two-term governor who certified Biden’s win in Arizona last year, much to the consternation of Trump, received no such praise.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

“Republican Party chairwoman – somebody that has tremendous courage,” Trump said of Ward. “She’s really a fighter, and she fights your governor, who doesn’t do a damn thing.”

“I called up Kelli recently and said ‘Why wouldn’t the governor want an audit?’ Maybe everything will prove to be correct, which we know won’t happen. … When I did rallies, he always wanted to be in the front row. ‘Sir, could you mention my name please?'”

The former president added: “He wasn’t very popular … I’d introduce him and I wouldn’t get much of an applause … and I kept saying, you know, this guy’s not very popular. But now, you know what? He’s not popular with me either.”

The rallygoers cheered at Trump’s proclamation.

The former president also threw cold water on supporting Ducey in a possible 2022 US Senate campaign.

“He’s not getting my endorsement, I can tell you,” he told the crowd.

Last month, Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM that he looked forward to the results of the Maricopa audit, but was confident that the outcome of the race would not change in Arizona.

“I do stand behind by what I did,” he said at the time. “I know that there are people that want to complete this audit. I look forward to the findings.”

In 2020, Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton in 1996 to secure the state’s electoral votes. When Biden won the state last year, he also carried Maricopa by a 50% to 48% margin.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a 2022 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has repeatedly criticized the audit process and said on Friday that Trump should “accept” his loss to Biden and “move on.”

“The bottom line is that Arizonians are tired of being led by conspiracy theorists,” she said. “They don’t support this fake audit and they’re ready for leaders who are going to put those partisan games aside and deal with real issues.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Arizona’s largest newspaper sues Cyber Ninjas, state senate over controversial 2020 election ‘audit’

maricopa county cyber ninjas
Contractors working for Cyber Ninjas, who was hired by the Arizona State Senate, examine and recount ballots from the 2020 general election at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 1, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Maricopa County ballot recount comes after two election audits found no evidence of widespread fraud.

  • The partisan review ended in June, but results could still be months away.
  • Critics have complained that the process has lacked transparency.
  • President Joe Biden won Maricopa County by more than 45,000 votes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The largest newspaper in Arizona announced Thursday that it has filed lawsuit to obtain financial records and communications from the Republican-led state Senate and Cyber Ninjas, the private firm that has overseen a highly irregular recount of the 2020 election in Maricopa County.

“Arizona law entitles the public to know how this audit is being conducted and funded,” David Bodney, an attorney for The Arizona Republic, said in a statement.

In a June 30 complaint, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, the newspaper argues that it is entitled to the records under the state’s public records law. The lawsuit comes after the parties denied a request to hand the documents over voluntarily.

Neither Cyber Ninjas nor state Senate President Karen Fann, who led the push for the controversial review of the Maricopa County results, responded to requests for comment.

Last month, Ken Bennett, a former elected Republican who is serving as spokesperson for the “audit,” said workers had finished counting the nearly 2.1 million ballots cast in the county, which President Joe Biden won by more than 45,000 votes. But he said a final report could be months away.

The partisan review, which began in late April, has been mired in controversy from the start. For one, it comes after Maricopa County’s Republican-led Recorder’s office already conducted a professional review of the 2020 vote that disproved allegations of widespread fraud.

Cyber Ninjas, by contrast, has no experience auditing election results. It also does not appear to be impartial: Before being awarded the $150,000 contract to review the vote, founder Doug Logan promoted pro-Trump conspiracy theories on social media – and recorded the narration for a web documentary claiming the election was stolen. The effort has also been backed by the far-right One America News Network, and a OANN reporter raised money for the campaign and enjoyed the status of being its official media partner.

The actual process has also raised eyebrows. In a departure from norms, the Cyber Ninjas audit process allows for vote tallies to be certified even when there is disagreement among workers on the final count.

Conspiracy theories have also been a prominent feature: volunteers were observed scanning ballots with ultraviolet lights in part, organizers said, to look for signs of bamboo, believing that would show they were fraudulent votes manufactured in China. And leaders of the effort falsely accused Maricopa County’s Republican-led Board of Supervisors of deleting election data they were supposed to hand over, a claim amplified by the former president walked back after workers discovered it on another hard drive.

Earlier this week, officials in Maricopa County announced that they would be discarding any voting equipment that been handled by Cyber Ninjas. The state’s top elections official, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, had previously said that any equipment handled by a third party could potentially be tampered with and should no longer be used in elections.

A recent expert review of Cyber Ninjas’ work, meanwhile, determined that – because of its departure from professional standards and the partisan leanings of those taking part – the final product “should not be trusted.”

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

Doug Logan, the man behind the Cyber Ninjas Arizona audit, starred in an election conspiracy theory film alleging the CIA was behind election misinformation

Doug Logan Cyber Ninjas
Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan talks about overseeing a 2020 election ballot audit ordered by the Republican lead Arizona Senate at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, during a news conference Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Phoenix.

  • Arizona audit leader Doug Logan, who heads the Cyber Ninjas, is in a new conspiracy theorist movie.
  • Logan appeared on “The Deep Rig,” a film that alleges that the CIA was involved in election misinformation.
  • The movie’s director is a man whose previous work claimed aliens were behind the September 11 attacks.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Doug Logan is the man currently heading the controversial audit of the 2020 Maricopa County election results in Arizona. He is also one of the stars of a conspiracy theory documentary claiming that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump – providing an ominous voiceover alleging a lack of election integrity.

Logan is the founder and CEO of Cyber Ninjas, a private consultancy based in Florida that was nominated to audit the votes in Arizona. Logan himself is a “Stop the Steal” supporter who has been known to tout election conspiracy theories, particularly those in favor of former President Donald Trump.

According to an article by local media outlet AZ Central, Logan was revealed to be a mysterious tech expert featured in the film “The Deep Rig.” The documentary premiered over the weekend to a crowd of around 500 people at a church in Phoenix, who each forked out $25 for a ticket.

The AZ Central wrote that Logan’s identity was revealed during the premier to cheers from the audience. This came after it was earlier speculated that a character in the film called “Anon,” who works as an “application security analyst,” was actually Logan.

Local news outlet AZ Mirror reported that Logan made several statements in the movie, including allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was involved with “disinformation” and election fraud.

Per the AZ Mirror, Logan said in the movie: “If we don’t fix our election integrity now, we may no longer have a democracy.”

According to the movie’s website, the film is based on a book about a 2020 election conspiracy theory written by Patrick M. Byrne, titled: “The Deep Rig: How Election Fraud Cost Donald J. Trump the White House, By a Man Who Did Not Vote for Him.”

It is directed by Roger R. Richards, who also made a 2018 film called “Above Majestic” that claimed aliens were behind the September 11 attack.

The AP reported on June 26 that 2.1 million ballots in Maricopa County have been counted and photographed, but noted that a report on the audit may still be months away.

But questions regarding the legitimacy of the audit have been raised.

Arizona GOP elections official Stephen Richer blasted the audit in a June 21 interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, saying that these processes are “insane just from a competence standpoint.” Arizona Democrats have also fought the Maricopa audit, calling it a “sham.”

The audit process itself has not been smooth sailing.

For one, the vote recount was critiqued by voting machine maker Dominion and the US Justice Department, after questions arose about the chain of custody and integrity of the ballots. In May, the Cyber Ninjas also appeared to be pursuing a far-fetched theory that ballots were flown in from Asia and smuggled into the stack, and were sifting through the ballots to find Chinese bamboo fibers.

Most recently, an expert review of the audit found that the Cyber Ninjas’ audit process had “fatal flaws,” and recommended that its findings should not be trusted.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump warned Wisconsin GOP legislative leaders to support 2020 election audit or be ‘quickly run out of office’

trump
Former US President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

  • Former President Donald Trump is pressuring Wisconsin GOP leaders to back a 2020 election audit.
  • “These REPUBLICAN ‘leaders’ need to step up and support the people who elected them,” he said.
  • Arizona Republicans are currently pursuing a partisan forensic audit in Maricopa County.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Former President Donald Trump on Friday put Wisconsin GOP legislative leaders on notice, saying that they would be “primaried” if they don’t back an audit of the 2020 presidential election in the critical swing state.

Last November, President Joe Biden defeated Trump in Wisconsin by roughly 20,000 votes out of nearly 3.3 million ballots cast. The results were certified with no verifiable evidence of voter fraud.

However, with Trump continuing to spread debunked claims of malfeasance months after his electoral loss to Biden, Republican leaders are feeling the heat from the former president’s loyalists, many of whom back partisan audits similar to what is occurring in Arizona, another swing state that Trump lost to Biden.

Republicans in Arizona are carrying out an audit of the results in Maricopa County, which for generations was one of the most dominant GOP-leaning urban areas in the entire country until 2020, when Biden carried the locality.

GOP state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hiring retired police officers to conduct a probe looking into “potential irregularities and/or illegalities” from the election, but Trump brushed aside that effort.

“Wisconsin Republican leaders Robin Vos, [Senate President] Chris Kapenga, and [Senate Majority Leader] Devin LeMahieu, are working hard to cover up election corruption, in Wisconsin,” Trump said in a statement. “They are actively trying to prevent a Forensic Audit of the election results, especially those which took place in Milwaukee, one of the most corrupt election locales in the country. Don’t fall for their lies!”

He added: “These REPUBLICAN ‘leaders’ need to step up and support the people who elected them by providing them a full forensic investigation. If they don’t, I have little doubt that they will be primaried and quickly run out of office.”

Read more: How Trump could use his relationship with Putin and Russia to skirt prosecution back in the USA

Milwaukee County, the state’s most populous jurisdiction and a longtime Democratic stronghold, gave Biden a hefty 183,000-vote margin over Trump.

The Trump campaign last November spent $3 million on recounts in Milwaukee County and Dane County, another Democratic bastion, only to see Biden pick up 132 votes in Milwaukee.

The former president sent a similar message to Republican leaders in Pennsylvania, saying that leaders who did not back his calls for an audit were “stupid, corrupt, or naïve” and “will be primaried and lose by big numbers.”

Biden defeated Trump in the Keystone State by a little over 1% of the vote, or roughly 80,000 votes out of 6.9 million ballots cast.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Liz Cheney blasts the GOP-led Arizona election audit as ‘an effort to subvert democracy’

Liz Cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

  • Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming criticized the Arizona audit as “an effort to subvert democracy.”
  • Cheney has rejected Republican efforts to continue litigating the 2020 presidential election.
  • Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said that “most reasonable people” accept the Nov. results.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was ousted from the House Republican leadership team over her challenges to former President Donald Trump’s false election claims, blasted the GOP-led election audit being conducted in Arizona.

In a Friday tweet, Cheney said that the Republican-backed examination of ballots in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous jurisdiction, was not truly an audit.

“What is happening in Maricopa County is not an ‘audit.’ It is an effort to subvert democracy,” she wrote.

Cheney, who was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, saw the insurrection as an affront to the rule of law. The riot disrupted the Electoral College certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral victory and sent lawmakers into secure spaces away from the mayhem that was unfolding at the ornate building.

To Cheney, Trump abdicated his commitment to the secure and peaceful transfer of power, threatening democracy based on debunked election theories that were used to whip up aggrieved supporters who felt that he had been wronged.

After Jan. 6, Cheney refused to waver in her confidence in the election results and her vocal repudiation of Trump, much to the consternation of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who felt as though Cheney wasn’t focused on promoting a unified GOP message ahead of the 2022 elections.

Read more: The Justice Department is scrutinizing Arizona’s pro-Trump vote audit as threats of violence and political fallout loom

After retaining her position as House Republican Conference Chair in a February party vote, Cheney was dismissed from the role last month and replaced with Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.

The night before her ouster as the No. 3 House Republican, Cheney remained defiant in her efforts against Trump.

“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” she said at the time. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”

Last fall, Biden became the first Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton in 1996 to win Arizona, defeating Trump by a 49.4% to 49.1% margin, an edge of 10,457 votes out of nearly 3.4 million votes cast.

When Biden won Arizona last year, he also carried Maricopa by a 50% to 48% margin.

For decades, Maricopa was one of the most populous Republican-leaning urban centers in the US, powering wins for the party in the state.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, recently announced her 2022 campaign for the governor and has continued to criticize the audit process as a partisan exercise.

“Nobody thought we would still be dealing with the 2020 election at this point,” she recently told TIME. “Yet here we are. Most reasonable people know that the elections are over. Just like in sports, we have a winner and a loser – and the loser can try again next time.”

Read the original article on Business Insider