Trump met with the Pennsylvania state senator who’s trying to start a 2020 election audit like Arizona, report says

Trump Tower
Then President-elect Donald Trump boards the elevator at Trump Tower in New York City.

  • Trump met a Pennsylvania state senator in Trump Tower, The Washington Post reported.
  • The senator, Doug Mastriano, wants a 2020 election audit in his state modeled on the one in Arizona.
  • Trump is reportedly fixated with audits of last year’s vote and the groundless belief that he won.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump recently met with one of the Pennsylvania lawmakers seeking an Arizona-style ballot recount in his state, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Trump hosted Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano at Trump Tower in New York City, where they discussed launching a 2020 election audit in Pennsylvania, which Biden won, The Post reported. The newspaper did not specify when exactly the meeting took place.

Insider has contacted Mastriano for comment.

Mastriano was one of three state senators from Pennsylvania who on Wednesday met with Arizona lawmakers and were taken on a tour of the audit.

The Arizon audit is being conducted in Phoenix by a contractor, Cyber Ninjas, whose founder has defended Trump’s claim that the election was stolen from him as a result of mass fraud, a claim that has been debunked and rejected in several court cases.

The Arizona audit, which commissioned in April by the state’s GOP-controlled Senate, has been mired in controversy.

Observers from the office of Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said the audit was being conducted in a shambolic fashion, with auditors searching for evidence on the basis of conspiracy theories, and no rigorous processes in place to ensure the integrity of the audit.

Hobbs has warned that the audit could be used as a model to undermine election results in other states.

Maricopa County election officials have described the process as a “sham” and a “con,” and called on the state GOP lawmakers who commissioned the process to halt it. Republicans in Arizona say the audit is necessary to ensure the integrity of future elections.

Defenders of Trump’s election-fraud claim have nonetheless seized on the audit in their bid to have Trump declared the true winner in 2020, with Trump supporters calling for recounts and audits to be conducted in other states Trump lost in 2020 in his defeat to President Joe Biden.

According to The Post, Trump is fixated with the belief that the reviews of ballots his supporters are pushing for could prove that he was the true victor of the 2020 election, and even herald his return to the White House this year.

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported earlier this week that Trump was telling people that he would be “reinstated” to the White House by August, a claim that has no basis in reality.

The result of the Arizona audit cannot be used to invalidate the result of the 2020 presidential election, and its result will likely face legal challenges.

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Arizona audit: Pennsylvania senator who bused protesters to US Capitol insurrection will receive tour of controversial GOP-led ballot-counting operation

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FILE – In this Nov. 25, 2020, file photo, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, attends a hearing of the Pennsylvania State Senate Majority Policy Committee in Gettysburg, Pa. Mastriano, who has talked of possibly running for governor of Pennsylvania in 2022, said Wednesday, May 19, 2021, that former President Donald Trump asked him to run and promised to campaign for him.

  • Pennsylvania lawmakers who backed false claims of election fraud are visiting Arizona this week.
  • The delegation will tour the site of a controversial, partisan audit of the vote in Maricopa County.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker who spent thousands of dollars to bus protesters to the US Capitol on January 6 will be in Arizona this week to tour the site of a GOP-backed “audit” of the 2020 election.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano is part of a three-person “delegation” from Pennsylvania that will be meeting with fellow Republicans and those counting ballots in Maricopa County, which President Joe Biden won by more than 45,000 votes, a victory certified by local GOP elections officials who oppose the current audit.

As WHYY reported, Mastriano spent more than $3,300 in campaign funds to charter buses from Pennsylvania to Washington, DC, on the day of the insurrection at the US Capitol. Recently uncovered video shows Mastriano, a potential candidate for governor who has boasted of support from the former president, “breaching a police barricade” and walking on the lawn outside the building, according to Pennsylvania Spotlight.

Mastriano’s visit was announced by the official Twitter account of the “Maricopa Arizona Audit,” which was commissioned by Arizona Republicans in the state Senate and is being conducted by a private firm, Cyber Ninjas, whose founder last fall shared pro-Trump conspiracy theories about election fraud. The visit will include a tour and getting “a brief from the forensic audit team,” according to the account.

The lawmaker will be accompanied by two other Pennsylvania Republicans: state Sen. Cris Dush and state Rep. Rob Kauffman. All three signed letters in January asking Congress to not certify Pennsylvania’s election results.

The lawmakers’ visit comes after the US Department of Justice expressed “concerns” that the partisan audit may be in breach of federal law. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, also recently urged local officials not to reuse any election equipment that has been in the hands of Cyber Ninjas, saying the integrity of the machines has been compromised – advice echoed by the US Department of Homeland Security.

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

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In Pennsylvania – an important swing state – thousands have quit the GOP since the US Capitol riot

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A crowd cheers as ex-President Donald Trump speaks during a ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign rally at Williamsport Regional Airport, May 20, 2019 in Montoursville, Pennsylvania.

  • Almost 19,000 people have quit the Pennsylvania GOP this year, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
  • Nearly twice as many Republicans have become Democrats as compared to vice versa.
  • That is a marked shift from previous years.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Thousands of people have quit the Republican Party in Pennsylvania since the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.

Of the 30,000 Pennsylvanians who have changed their party registration, nearly two-thirds – 19,000 – have been Republicans. Most have elected to become independents, but nearly 29% of party changes been members of the GOP switching their affiliation to Democrat, a reversal from the years 2008 to 2020. By contrast, just 14.5% of registration changes have been Democrats switching over to the Republican Party.

“Many Republicans are aggrieved and embarrassed by the angry mob that stormed the US Capitol,” Kimberly S. Adams, a political science professor at East Stroudsburg University, told the Inquirer.

Pennsylvania is a crucial battleground state. Since 2008, the winner has gone on to the White House, Donald Trump flipping it in 2016 and Joe Biden flipping it back in 2020.

One effect could be shifting the Pennsylvania GOP, which largely backed Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud, even further to the right. A leading figure in the party, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, for example, helped bus people from Pennsylvania to DC on the day of the US Capitol riot; a possible candidate for governor in 2022, he has campaigned against mask mandates and recently introduced legislation that seeks to prohibit mandatory vaccination.

Not all who have quit the party are necessarily opposed to Trump and his brand of politics, however. According to a report earlier this year, the former president is toying with the idea of launching a party of his own, which could attract support from Republicans who think the GOP – typified by US Sen. Pat Toomey, a conservative Republican who backed impeachment – did not go far enough in supporting efforts to overturn President Biden’s victory.

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

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