Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani could face criminal investigation in Arizona over their attempts to overturn election

Giuliani Trump
Rudy Giuliani watches as Donald Trump speaks.

  • Donald Trump and his allies could face a criminal investigation in Arizona.
  • Arizona’s Secretary of State asked the state Attorney General to investigate Trump allies for violating election laws.
  • Arizona GOP Chair and Trump backer Kelli Ward told Maricopa officials “we need you to stop the counting” the votes.
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Donald Trump and key allies could be facing a criminal investigation in Arizona for launching a campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Last week Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs wrote to the state’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich to urge him to launch a criminal investigation into Trump and his allies over the potential violations of state election laws.

Hobbs, a Democrat, made the request after reporting from The Arizona Republic revealed details of the high-pressure campaign launched by Trump and a number of his allies.

Hobbs wrote that Trump and individuals, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward, and lawyer Sidney Powell, tried to influence Maricopa officials to stop the counting of ballots.

Hobbs cited comments made by Ward towards the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, including, “We need you to stop the counting” and “I know you don’t want to be remembered as the guy who led the charge to certify a fraudulent election.”

On Friday, Attorney General Brnovich’s office wrote to Hobbs asking for documents related to allegations of violations of election fraud, according to The Arizona Republic.

Brnovich, a Republican running for the Senate, said in the email that Hobbs had not submitted referrals for double voting.

The Arizona Republic said that the latest correspondence from Brnovich is the first public sign that he is examining records after the pressure campaign was revealed.

A spokeswoman for Hobbs told The Arizona Republic that the secretary of state was sending the required records to the Attorney General’s Office on Friday.

Donald Trump has long alleged that the results of the 2020 election were fraudulent, particularly in Arizona.

His claims have been widely debunked. An Associated Press investigation revealed that Arizona county election officials found only 182 possible voter fraud cases out of the three million ballots cast in the state in 2020.

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Arizona’s top elections official is calling for a probe of Trump and his allies over ‘intense efforts to interfere’ with ballot counting

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is seen with then-President-elect Donald Trump in Bedminster, New Jersey in November 2016.

  • Records obtained by The Arizona Republic showed Trump allies contacting Arizona election officials.
  • “We need you to stop the counting,” Kelli Ward, Arizona GOP chair, told an official during ballot counting.
  • Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is calling on Trump and his allies to be investigated over the reports.
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Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is calling for an investigation into former President Donald Trump and his allies over “intense efforts to interfere” with the counting of ballots in the 2020 election.

In a letter to Arizona’s attorney general that was shared on Twitter, Hobbs urges him to look into reports that Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Kelli Ward tried to interfere with election officials, potentially in violation of state law. She said they contacted officials in Maricopa County, where a GOP-backed audit of the election was recently underway, to disrupt ballot counting.

“Local reporting recently uncovered intense efforts to interfere with the tabulation of ballots and canvass of the 2020 election in Maricopa County,” Hobbs said in a tweet. “In Arizona, interfering with election officials is a felony.”

Read more: A key fundraising group for Republican women is shunning Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, calling them ‘carnival barkers’

Citing The Arizona Republic’s reporting, the letter says Trump and his allies reached out to election officials during the ballot tabulation process “to induce supervisors to refuse to comply with their duties.”

Hobbs notes an incident in which Ward, chair of the Arizona Republican Party, told the chairman of the board of supervisors, “We need you to stop the counting” and “I know you don’t want to be remembered as the guy who led the charge to certify a fraudulent election.”

The comments were made via text messages that were included in records obtained by The Arizona Republic.

Hobbs called for Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate these reports and enforce any laws that were violated.

“Arizona law protects election officials from those who would seek to interfere with their sacred duties to ascertain and certify the will of the voters,” she wrote. “I urge you to take action not only to seek justice in this instance, but to prevent future attempts to interfere with the integrity of our elections.”

Hobbs, a Democrat and vocal critic of the GOP recount in Maricopa County, announced last month she will run for governor in 2022.

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Trump called an Arizona GOP leader to persuade him to change election results. He sent the calls directly to voicemail.

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in the Hyatt Regency on February 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

  • Trump directly called a GOP leader in Arizona twice while he was trying to overturn the election.
  • Clint Hickman, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors sent him to voicemail.
  • “I told people, ‘Please don’t have the president call me,'” he told The New York Times.
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Former President Donald Trump called the GOP chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Clint Hickman, twice during the time he was trying to overturn the results of the election, The New York Times reported.

Hickman told the Times he had Trump’s calls go straight to voicemail.

“I told people, ‘Please don’t have the president call me,'” he said.

The calls were made in late December and early January, he told the Times. The first call came on New Year’s Eve with a voicemail from the White House switchboard noting that Trump wanted to speak with him. The next call came four days later and was also sent to voicemail.

Hickman said at that point he had already read a transcript of Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where Trump asked him to ‘find’ votes to overturn Biden’s statewide win, and the county was already in litigation over the election results.

“I had seen what occurred in Georgia and I was like, ‘I want no part of this madness and the only way I enter into this is I call the president back,'” Mr. Hickman said.

Read more: Michigan’s Democrats in Congress face an ethics complaint after hanging with Biden and voting from afar

For months following the election, Trump and his allies waged lawsuits all across the country to try and reverse President Joe Biden’s win.

In a close race, Biden won Arizona but Hickman said the state Republican Party chairwoman and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani were pressuring him to investigate fraud in his county’s election. Biden won in Maricopa county.

A Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Arizona Republic showed records of phone calls to Hickman from Trump and Giuliani.

Arizona’s State Senate called for an audit of all 2.1 million votes cast in the county, which is still underway.

Trump and his allies waged dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits trying to overturn the election and have repeatedly made false claims he would be reinstated.

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GOP state senators in Pennsylvania started lobbying for an election audit back in December: WaPo

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, center, speaks to supporters of President Donald Trump as they demonstrate outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa., after Democrat Joe Biden defeated Trump to become 46th president of the United States.

  • GOP senators in Pennsylvania lobbied for 2020 election audits in December, The Washington Post reported.
  • At least one county accepted the offer and submitted to a recount done by Wake TSI, a company also involved in Arizona’s recount.
  • Trump has targeted Pennsylvania once again in recent days, calling on the GOP to conduct a full audit.
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All eyes were on Pennsylvania following the 2020 presidential election. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, the battleground state witnessed a riveting post-election day percentage shift from Trump to Biden, several Trump-sponsored accusations of fraud, and a series of rejected legal attempts by the then-president and his allies to overturn the results.

But after two months of election pandemonium in the keystone state, a group of GOP senators staged a final attempt to undermine President Joe Biden’s win, according to The Washington Post.

In late December, Republican senators in the state legislature targeted officials in at least three conservative-leaning counties asking if they would agree to an unofficial, voluntary audit of their ballots, the outlet reported.

Though previously unreported, the lawmakers’ post-election efforts to sow doubt about the 2020 election results and curry favor with former President Donald Trump set a precedent for the expanding list of places across the country looking to conduct similar reviews of the election that refuses to die.

Trump loyalists are clamoring for opportunities to find evidence that could prove Trump’s relentless conspiracy theories. But experts and institutions have found no evidence of any widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The Post’s reporting on the Pennsylvania Republicans’ methods comes as the state’s GOP fields growing calls to greenlight an Arizona-style election audit of its own. Last week, a three-person delegation from Pennsylvania met with fellow Republicans and ballot counters in Maricopa County, where Biden beat Trump by more than 45,000 votes and where a GOP-backed audit has been ongoing since March.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, who developed a close relationship with Trump following the election, helped spearhead the county audit attempts in Pennsylvania last year and reportedly told Trump at a meeting last month that he could bring about an audit in his state moving forward. Mastriano was also one of the lawmakers who toured the Phoenix site last week and called for a similar recount after his visit.

Mastriano did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Of the three counties that Pennsylvania Republicans targeted last winter, Trump won all with ease. According to The Post, the lawmakers proposed to have a private company review the counties’ ballots for free – an unusual act not part of official election challenge processes.

Fulton County, a rural area on the border of Maryland, is the only county known to have accepted the senators’ offer, The Post reported. On December 31, Wake TSI, a company initially involved in the Arizona recount as well, recounted about 1,000 mail-in ballots and examined county voting machines, according to the outlet.

The company, which was contracted to a nonprofit run by ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, declared the election had been “well run” and conducted in “a diligent and effective manner” in a February draft report reviewed by The Post.

But the final version of the report that ended up on the county’s website was revised.

“This does not indicate that there were no issues with the election, just that they were not the fault of the County Election Commission or County Election Director,” it added to its assessment.

County officials did not respond to The Post’s questions about who made the last-minute revision.

As Trump continues to spread lies about the 2020 election, he has zeroed in on Pennsylvania once again, joining the crowd of those calling for a state audit.

“The people of Pennsylvania and America deserve to know the truth,” Trump said in a statement. “If the Pennsylvania Senate leadership doesn’t act, there is no way they will ever get re-elected!

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Arizona GOP legislators votes to strip powers from the Democratic secretary of state after she slammed the state’s GOP-led 2020 election audit

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In this Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs removes her face mask as she addresses the members of Arizona’s Electoral College prior to them casting their votes, in Phoenix.

  • Republicans in Arizona’s state legislature voted Tuesday to strip the Democratic Secretary of State of election powers.
  • The move comes one day after Katie Hobbs slammed the GOP-led 2020 election audit happening in Maricopa County.
  • The measure would transfer authority over elections lawsuits to the state’s Republican attorney general.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Republicans in Arizona’s state legislature passed a measure on Tuesday to strip Democrat Katie Hobbs of her election powers as Secretary of State after she criticized the state’s controversial, GOP-led audit of the 2020 election.

The bill, which passed both the state House and Senate Appropriations Committees, would transfer election powers from Hobbs to Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who Hobbs filed a still-pending ethics complaint against last year, first reported by AZ Central.

In a comment to Insider, Hobbs said she filed the complaint against Brnovich because he engaged in a pattern of unethical and partisan behavior. She said she filed the complaint with the State Bar of Arizona in October in hopes that the issue would be resolved in a professional and nonpartisan manner.

“He frequently sought to substitute his judgement for my own and allowed his political preferences to interfere with his obligation to represent me as a client, in my pursuit of the best interests of Arizona voters,” Hobbs told Insider. “Unfortunately, it appears that AG Brnovich isn’t asking forgiveness for his behavior – he’s asking our legislature to authorize it,” Hobbs said.

A representative for Brnovich did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The legislative response to Hobbs’ ongoing audit criticism would give Brnovich authority to defend all elections lawsuits through early January 2023, which marks the end of both his and Hobbs’ current terms.

The measure, which still has to pass the full legislature, would also ban the attorney general from representing or providing legal counsel to the secretary of state, who is typically in charge of overseeing elections. The proposed changes will be included in the state’s full budget proposal which is set to be voted on later this week, according to local news station KNXV.

Hobbs responded to the proposal earlier this week, calling it an attack on Arizona voters.

“All year our legislature has worked to undermine our elections – from a wave of bills to make it harder to vote to the ridiculous ‘audit’ taking place at the Coliseum,” she said on Twitter. “It appears the next step is an attempt to undermine Arizona’s Chief Elections Officer and prevent me from doing the job Arizonans elected me to do.”

“The fact that the legislature has singled out me and my office for these unjustifiable restrictions – restrictions which expire at the end of my term – make it clear what this is really about: partisan politics,” she said.

Rep. Regina Cobb and Sen. David Gowan, respective chairs of the legislature’s Appropriations Committees, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The move comes amid the state’s ongoing audit of the 2020 election in Maricopa County led by Arizona’s GOP-controlled Senate, more than six months after President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump by about 45,000 votes in the county and by slightly more than 10,000 ballots in the state.

After Trump and his supporters spent months sowing doubt about Biden’s win in the once-Red state, state Republicans chose Cyber Ninjas, a private firm with no prior elections experience and spearheaded by a Trump supporter, to carry out another count of ballots in Maricopa County. The recount decision was made in spite of the county’s Republican-controlled board of supervisors objecting to it, saying the election had already been audited more than once by credible firms.

The audit, which kicked off on April 23, has been plagued by questions of legality and partisanship stemming from a slew of errors and absurdities. Earlier this month, the Maricopa County Attorney’s office sent state leaders and audit vendors a “hold” letter instructing them to retain all documents and audit communications – the first official sign that Maricopa County leaders are considering post-audit legal action.

Cyber Ninjas did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Trump’s election fraud claims can be traced back to a Texas businessman who spent years falsely asserting that electronic voting machines manipulated votes

donald trump election speech
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Washington.

When former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election he claimed it was because of voter fraud, citing claims that were initially started years ago by a Texas businessman, The Washington Post reported.

The Post reported that Russell Ramsland Jr. and his associates at Allied Security Operations Group began giving presentations to conservative lawmakers, activists, and donors that said audit logs in voting machines, the mechanisms that document the machine’s activity, had indications of manipulation beginning in late 2018.

The allegations and claims about voting systems and fraud made by Ramsland and ASOG were unsubstantiated and widely debunked by data security experts.

Ramsland, a failed congressional candidate, attempted to find political candidates who had lost elections they believed they’d won to sell them on this idea, however, he didn’t have much success until associates of Trump latched on to the claims, passing it along to Trump, who accepted and further spread claims that the machines were faulty.

In 2019, Ramsland began briefing GOP lawmakers and officials from the Department of Homeland Security on the idea that US election software was coming from Venezuela and that there would be efforts to manipulate votes in the 2020 election on a large scale, the Post reported.

While Trump and his associates, including lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell, continued to sow doubt about the security of the election, the DHS said there was no evidence of fraud and called it “the most secure in American history.”

Powell has used Ramsland’s assertions in lawsuits she waged on behalf of Trump and Giuliani and had publicly claimed some of the assertions that started with Ramsland. Powell, the Post discovered, was also briefed by ASOG two years before the election.

Powell is now being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.3 billion after she falsely claimed she had evidence the company “was created to produce altered voting results in Venezuela for Hugo Chavez.”

Altogether Trump and his associates lost all of the more than 40 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results.

Ramsland told the Post that ASOG did give Powell and Giuliani research but said they never spoke with Trump directly.

He added that his companies perspective was “one of many voices” that expressed concerns about election system vulnerabilities.

Powell, through an attorney, told the Post that she did meet with a Ramsland ally but did not say if she directly spoke to him. Giuliani and his attorney did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers wants a court to force Trump, his lawyers, and Sidney Powell to pay over $100,000 in legal fees over their election lawsuits

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 28, 2021.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, U.S. February 28, 2021.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has asked a court to force former President Donald Trump, his lawyers, and former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees over their presidential election lawsuits.

In court documents filed on Wednesday, attorneys for Evers called lawsuits that disputed the 2020 election results “meritless” and “built on inscrutable conspiracy theories.”

He called for $106,000 in sanctions against Powell, and $144,000 against Trump and his attorneys, according to court documents.

Read more: Election-fraud liars are scrambling to avoid lawsuits, but they can’t retract the damage they’ve done

“This litigation imposed significant costs on the taxpayers of Wisconsin,” attorneys for Evers said in court documents filed against Trump. “Those costs were needless, because Trump’s suit never had any merit, this litigation was precluded by exclusive state-court proceedings, and the costs were exacerbated by strategic choices made by Trump and his lawyers.”

President Joe Biden beat Trump by around 20,000 votes in Wisconsin, though Trump, Powell, and Trump’s lawyers have made false claims that Biden stole the election.

Powell has falsely claimed that an election win was stolen from Trump by George Soros, the dead Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and “probably China.”

She has also accused companies that make voting equipment and software of switching votes from Trump to Biden.

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Lost recording of Trump pressuring a Georgia election official was uncovered in an investigator’s spam folder, report says

trump spam folder phone call
Officials reportedly located the recording in Watson’s spam folder when responding to a public records request.

A six-minute phone call between former President Donald Trump and a Georgian election official was published on Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal.

Trump used the December conversation to pressure Frances Watson, the investigations supervisor to the Georgia Secretary of State, to find nonexistent examples of voter fraud before “the very important date” of January 6, the paper reported.

It was previously believed that a recording of his phone call did not exist, The Washington Post reported in January.

Officials, however, recently located the recording in Watson’s spam folder when responding to a public records request, an unnamed person familiar with the incident told The Post.

In the conversation between Trump and Watson, the former president asked her to look into the “dishonesty” at Fulton County. He also claimed that his campaign “won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Fulton County, a heavily Democratic jurisdiction, voted for Biden in the 2020 election. There is no evidence of widespread fraud there.

Trump lost Georgia by over 11,000 votes, an outcome that was certified after ballots were counted three times.

In the call, Trump also told Watson that she would be “praised” when “the right answer comes out.”

The conversation preceded Trump’s infamous chat with Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, in which the former president asked him to “find” additional votes to overturn President Joe Biden’s win.

A criminal investigation into this conversation and Trump’s efforts to “influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election” was opened in Fulton County last month.

Raffensperger also initiated a “fact-finding inquiry” into the phone call last month, The New York Times reported.

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Georgia prosecutor investigating Trump election interference has hired a top racketeering attorney

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  • Georgia prosecutors are investigating if Trump illegally interfered with the state’s election.
  • The district attorney’s office recently hired a lawyer with expertise in racketeering cases.
  • Racketeering is one of the potential charges in the investigation into Trump.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Georgia district attorney investigating former President Donald Trump’s actions surrounding the state’s presidential election has hired a lawyer with expertise in racketeering cases, Reuters reported Sunday.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said last month prosecutors were launching a criminal investigation to determine whether Trump had illegally interfered in attempts to overturn his loss in the state.

Willis tapped John Floyd to assist in cases that involve racketeering, including the investigation into Trump, Reuters reported. The outlet said that Floyd has written a guide on prosecuting racketeering cases.

The investigation into Trump includes a phone call the then-president made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a recording of which was obtained by The Washington Post in January. During the call, Trump told Raffensperger to “find” the additional votes he needed to defeat Joe Biden in the state.

During the phone call, Raffensperger told Trump that the election was secure and that Trump’s data suggesting he had won was wrong, prompting Trump to push back.

“All I want to do is this,” Trump said. “I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

In February, Willis sent a letter to Raffensperger, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, and other Republican officials asking them to save materials related to that phone call for an “investigation into attempts to influence the administration of the 2020 Georgia General Election.”

The letter listed racketeering as one of the possible violations being investigated, as well as soliciting election fraud, making false statements to government bodies, and violation of oath of office.

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Donald Trump was wrong to claim absentee ballots helped Joe Biden beat him, according to new Stanford University study

Absentee Ballot Mail Voting Vote
A person fills out their absentee ballot form to vote during the 2020 election.

  • Published on March 5, the paper examines how absentee voting affected the 2020 US election.
  • It concludes that Democrats were equally less likely to vote early in-person or on election day. 
  • The study adds that there were already high levels of motivation to participate and mail-in ballots did not lead to a voting increase.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Mail-in ballots did not help Democrats or lead to a voting increase during the election, according to a new Stanford University study.

Published on March 5, the paper examines how absentee voting affected the 2020 US election by studying turnout rates in Texas, a state which decided not to ease its mail-in voting system process despite many others choosing to do so because of the pandemic

While Texan voters aged 65 or over could automatically vote by mail, younger people had to provide a legally justifiable reason to be able to do such as having a disability, the Associated Press reported.

Both age groups had identical voting rates with only 0.2% more Democrats in the older one, showing that mail-in ballots did not in fact increase the Democrats’ share of the vote, AP added. 

While Democrats were more likely to vote by mail than Republicans in 2020, it didn’t actually help win the election because they were equally less likely to vote early in-person or on election day, the study found.

It also revealed that there was a slightly higher turnout rate among 65-year-olds compared to 64-year-olds in 2014 and 2018, suggesting that absentee voting increases turnout in lower interest elections. 

The study concludes that making it easier to vote through mail-in ballots did not increase voting levels because there were already high levels of motivation to participate in the 2020 election.

Jesse Yoder, one of the paper’s eight authors and a PhD student in political science at Stanford University told AP: “We find a pretty precisely zero effect on turnout. Voter interest was really driving turnout more than these convenience voting forms.”

Republicans have baselessly maintained that the expansion of mail ballot votes was a major reason why Donald Trump lost the election and have legally challenged various states on their decision to do so. 

In Georgia, for example, there are proposals for absentee voters to require identification as well as a reason, The Guardian reported.

Meanwhile, some Democrats in Congress are also calling for a nationwide change that would require every state to offer  ‘no-excuse’ mail ballot voting to everyone, The Guardian added.

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