Dominion Voting Systems sent letters to the One America News Network threatening to sue for defamation, accusing the network of spreading unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the election-technology company.
OAN responded with letters of its own, asking Dominion to preserve certain documents concerning the election in order to help the network make its case if it ends up in court.
The requests reiterated some of the figures involved in the election conspiracy theories, including the former president of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and the billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros.
In response to threats of a defamation lawsuit, the One America News Network is leaning further into some election conspiracy theories that the network has featured on its shows.
Dominion Voting Systems previously sent OAN letters threatening to sue, accusing the network of spreading the unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the election-technology company manipulated votes in favor of President-elect Joe Biden in the November general election.
Dominion also asked the network to save any documents or correspondence related to Dominion, Insider’s Jacob Shamsian previously reported.
In letters reviewed by Insider, OAN responded by requesting Dominion keep records of certain documents so the network can “preserve its own claims and defenses in the event of litigation.”
The conservative news network sent similar letters to Smartmatic, another election-technology company.
Supporters of President Donald Trump have alleged, without substantial evidence, that Dominion’s voting machines and Smartmatic’s voting software helped flipped votes from Trump to Biden. There are also groundless claims that Dominion has secret ties to Smartmatic.
The material OAN requested be preserved concerns that claim, as well as other baseless conspiracy theories that prompted Dominion’s lawsuit threats in the first place.
In the letters dated December 23, the list included voting software and hardware, communications about the 2020 election, digital and manual ballots, and the voting machines themselves.
In letters sent a day later, OAN requested the companies’ save any correspondence between Smartmatic CEO Antonio Mugica and a number of individuals, including former president of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
The president’s allies have also claimed without evidence that Smartmatic was working with the socialist Venezuelan government and Chávez, who died in 2013, to disrupt the US presidential election.
The list of material to preserve includes documents concerning George Soros, the billionaire investor and philanthropist who is a frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theorists.
In addition to OAN, Dominion has sent letters to Fox News and Newsmax with threats to sue for defamation, as well as conservative media figures like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, among others.
The company has also sent letters to some of Trump’s allies, including attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani.
Mugica, the Smartmatic CEO, has also said the company is considering pursuing lawsuits against Fox News, Newsmax, and OAN, for spreading the groundless claims, saying they have hurt his business.
On November 11, the Trump campaign sent an email blast to its supporters, claiming to have discovered three instances of voter fraud.
The campaign said that the identities of three dead people had been used to cast illegal votes in Pennsylvania. John Granahan, Judy Presto, and Elizabeth Bartman have been dead for years, and they had the obituaries to prove it.
“Elizabeth Bartman of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania is shown as having registered to vote in September 2020 and cast a ballot in last week’s election, even though she died in 2008. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an obituary after Bartman’s passing,” the Trump campaign correctly noted.
The Trump campaign didn’t include one important detail, though: Bartman cast the illegal ballot in his dead mom’s name to vote for President Donald Trump.
“He was angry at people criticizing the president and complaining about the election process, and he wanted to do what he considered civil disobedience by registering his mother and voting her,” the attorney, Samuel Stretton, previously told Insider. “Of course, he was wildly mistaken.”
Insider has not independently verified whether votes were actually cast in the names of Granahan and Presto, the other two deceased individuals named by the Trump campaign. No other independent reports or state agencies have corroborated that votes were cast in their names, either. President-elect Joe Biden ultimately won Pennsylvania by 82,000 votes, so the three votes the Trump campaign claims were illegal would not have swayed the election result.
Stretton told Insider that Bartman’s vote in his mother’s name was discovered by the New York Times, who had asked county officials about the names on the Trump campaign’s list. A spokesperson for the Times told Insider that it did not ultimately publish details about Bartman at the time because it could not verify the Trump campaign’s claims.
“Times reporters asked election officials about the case, after the name was circulated by the Trump campaign,” Times spokesperson Danielle Rhoades Ha told Insider. “We did not include details about Bruce Bartman in our coverage because the Delaware County election officials did not respond.”
Delaware County prosecutors said that Bartman’s was the only voter fraud case that checked out after looking into hundreds of tips.
Representatives for Lehigh County and Allegheny County, where Granahan and Presto lived respectively, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States. A database maintained by the right-wing Heritage Foundation found that fewer than 200 cases were convicted between 2000 and 2020, a time period in which hundreds of millions of votes have been cast.
Attorney Sidney Powell was spotted leaving the White House Sunday, there to advocate for an executive order that would allow for voting machines to be collected and examined, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported.
CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond said he saw Powell leaving the residence side of the White House, though she told him she did not meet with President Donald Trump.
It is not clear if the president is interested in Powell’s executive order pitch, but Haberman said the president’s staff has told him it’s not a legally valid option.
The White House did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
The Times had previously reported that the idea of collecting voting machines was floated during a tense White House meeting on Friday, where Powell was also present and clashed with Trump’s advisers.
During that meeting, Trump reportedly discussed naming Powell as a special counsel to investigate voter fraud, though most of his advisers did not support the idea.
The suggestion marked a reversal from last month, when Trump campaign lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis distanced themselves from Powell, saying she was “practicing law on her own” and not part of the campaign team.
Powell has pushed election conspiracy theories for months. One of her central claims is that software used in some states’ elections was manipulated to “flip” votes for Trump to President-elect Joe Biden. There is no evidence this occurred, and Dominion Voting Systems, the company behind the software, is threatening to sue her for defamation if she does not retract her allegations.
Powell asserted this claim about the voting software in election lawsuits she filed in key swing states won by Biden, seeking to have the results in those states overturned.
Her lawsuits, dubbed by her as releasing the “Kraken,” were dismissed in Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Michigan, with one judge saying the allegations were “sorely wanting of relevant or reliable evidence.”
A small but increasing number of Republicans have acknowledged Trump lost the election, some only after the Electoral College vote last week formalized Biden’s victory.
But the president has refused to concede and continues to assert baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Trump’s campaign and allies have accrued a string of legal defeats in an attempt to subvert the election, including a Supreme Court decision to reject a Texas bid to overturn the results.
The campaign’s latest election challenge, filed Sunday, asks the US Supreme Court to toss more than 110,000 mail-in ballots that were cast in accordance with state law.
Over the weekend, Fox News aired a segment that debunked some of the election fraud claims made by its own hosts and anchors.
The network put together a news package that ran across various Fox News and Fox Business Network shows, starting with Lou Dobbs’ show on Friday night. Fox created the segment in response to a legal threat from election software company Smartmatic.
On December 10, Smartmatic hit Fox with a 20-page demand letter obtained by Business Insider asking for “a full and complete retraction of all false and defamatory statements and reports” about the 2020 election.
Fox News engaged in “a concerted disinformation campaign against Smartmatic” by “continually and repeatedly published demonstrably false information and defamatory statements,” said the letter, which was addressed to Fox News executive vice president and general counsel Lily Fu Claffee.
“Fox News told its millions of viewers and readers that Smartmatic was founded by Hugo Chávez, that its software was designed to fix elections, and that Smartmatic conspired with others to defraud the American people and fix the 2020 U.S. election by changing, inflating, and deleting votes,” the letter said.
After the election was called for Joe Biden, Dobbs and other Fox hosts have staunchly defended President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani – who is one of the people spearheading dozens of lawsuits alleging fraud – appeared on Fox News to cast doubt on the election results. Sidney Powell, another attorney Trump hired to challenge the election, also appeared on the network.
In its letter to the network, Smartmatic said Fox should not have offered either of them a platform to spread baseless claims to millions of people nationwide.
“Fox News used its anchors and on-air guests, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, to spread lies about a company that had absolutely nothing to do with the voting that took place in areas at the heart of the ‘conspiracies’ discussed following the 2020 U.S. election,” the letter said.
Fox’s segment in response to the letter debunked election fraud claims from both Giuliani and Powell, as well as other Trump supporters.
In the segment’s original airing Friday night on his primetime evening show, Dobbs introduced the package by telling viewers that “there are lots of opinions about the integrity of the election.” He then brought on Edward Perez, who works with the Open Source Election Technology Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to evaluating election technology.
“I have not seen any evidence that Smartmatic software was used to delete, change, alter, anything related to vote tabulation,” said Perez, who spoke in what appeared to be a prerecorded segment.
A Fox News spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that the segment aired on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Friday, “Justice with Judge Jeanine” on Saturday, and “Sunday Morning Futures” on Sunday.
SmartMatic sent out letters containing similar demands to other conservative networks, including Newsmax and One America News, a spokesperson at the election software company told Business Insider. Newsmax and One America News did not immediately return requests for comment.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Washington, DC, on Saturday in support of President Donald Trump’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Hundreds of members of the far-right Proud Boys were part of the crowd, according to WTOP journalist Alejandro Alvarez, who tweeted a video of a mass of men chanting “fuck antifa” as they walked past a bus advertising the march. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Proud Boys as a hate group with ties to white nationalism.
Since Biden’s victory weeks ago, Trump has refused to explicitly acknowledge his loss. In the hours after the race was called for Biden, Trump said the “election is far from over.”
He’s since doubled down and sought to overturn the results in state and federal courts across the country. The Trump campaign and the president’s allies have so far filed, and lost, dozens of lawsuits in multiple battleground states contesting the results.
And allegations of voter fraud have been struck down and disproven numerous times since Trump and his lawyers presented their arguments. The Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr, who’s repeatedly positioned himself as one of the president’s strongest defenders, conceded earlier this month that neither the Justice Department nor the FBI found widespread evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
The Supreme Court dealt the latest blow on Friday, when it struck down a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to overturn election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia.
In the justices’ order throwing out the lawsuit, they cited a lack of “standing,” meaning that Paxton had not sufficiently proved that the state of Texas was harmed in any particular way that could be addressed by the court.
Still, Trump continues to claim otherwise, posting frequently on his personal Twitter account about widespread voter fraud and a “rigged” election. Saturday’s rally is proof that his baseless rhetoric is continuing to resonate with his constituents, despite all the evidence that says voter fraud did not occur.
Business Insider asked some people who attended why they are aligning themselves with Trump’s allegations of voter fraud. Here’s what they had to say.
Andrew Lichtenstein contributed reporting.
“If this election stands, we just do not have a country anymore. It’s as if we are saying, ‘Here, China, take it.'”
“I support the president. I know he won the election,” Seth Rosenblit told Business Insider. “They stole our vote, and I will not accept it. That’s why I’m here,” he continued. “It’s just unacceptable.”
“We the people are not going to stop, and I’m speaking for the majority of Americans.”
“I’m here to fight for our freedoms and to fight for my president against the fraud of this election,” Tina Fortey said.
“We must take our country back. Trump won,” she said, adding that she was “speaking for the majority of Americans,” though Biden won the election with 81 million votes, compared to Trump’s 74 million.
“Time will tell, but President Trump is always 10 steps ahead of everything.”
“I’m here today because I believe in election integrity,” Dylan Quattrucci said, before repeating several false allegations about voting machines and election misconduct, which have previously been disproven.
“Dominion machines are responsible for miscounting thousands of votes, and suitcases were found with thousands of votes in the key swing states,” Quattrucci said, likely referring to a viral video showing Georgia election workers taking out large bins of ballots from underneath tables.
Georgia officials have investigated the videos and determined all the workers were following normal vote-counting procedures, and the bins were full of legal votes that had simply been stored under tables due to the room’s lack of space.
Trump supporters have also accused Dominion Voting Systems of enabling vast voter fraud in the country. In late November, the company tore into one of Trump’s lawsuits claiming “massive election fraud” and called the allegations “baseless,” “senseless,” and “physically impossible.” The company is not a defendant, but it’s mentioned in multiple instances throughout the 104-page Georgia lawsuit.
“I want a full audit of the vote so that we can have faith in free and fair elections in the future,” Quattrucci added, though most states are already required by law to conduct post-election audits, which so far have not found any instances of widespread voter fraud.
“People need to awaken.”
“I’m here for liberty, justice, freedom, and the American dream. Biden is going to take all of those rights away,” Scott Schultheis said, incorrectly adding that “Trump won in a landslide.”
Schultheis described how he noticed Trump appeared to be ahead of Biden by 200,000 votes when he took a nap as election results were coming in on November 4. When Schultheis woke up, “he was losing.”
He continued: “Come on. The fraud is so obvious, it’s disgusting.”
In fact, Schultheis was describing a common misconception about how counties count ballots and report their election results. “Fraud” did not make Trump lose his lead — rather, Trump was never technically leading. Though he appeared to be ahead of Biden in several states on November 3, not enough votes had been counted at the time to accurately project a winner.
Trump’s apparent lead diminished as counties began to report more results, which consisted of legally cast votes that went largely for Biden.
Since the batches of legally cast mail-in votes in many states leaned disproportionately Democratic, Biden’s victory only became clear after those batches were counted and reported.
“There is going to be a bloodbath to pay for it.”
“People spoke up when they voted, and that vote was robbed,” Donna Warb told Business Insider. “Everyone knows it and no one is doing anything about it.”
“So we are here in DC to just do the little bit that we can,” Warb continued. “If we do not win, if we do not get this corrected, we are going to be a communist country under a communist leader, and there is going to be a bloodbath to pay for it.”
“I’m a mom and a proud American, and I’m really scared about what is happening in this country.”
“We must speak up. For me, it’s not about an election. It’ about the truth, and good versus evil. I just never realized how much of this country was surrounded by evil,” Lisa Morin said.
“Trump is speaking on our behalf, he is our voice, and watching that voice try to be silenced, it’s just so sad,” she added.
A committee that’s part of the Republican-led state legislature in Wisconsin is refusing to pay two Wisconsin counties the $3 million they’re owed for conducting election vote recounts, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It is unclear why these unnamed Republicans are withholding the money.
Residents in Dane and Milwaukee counties overwhelmingly voted for President-elect Joe Biden.
Two Wisconsin counties are being denied the money they’re owed for conducting election vote recounts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The Trump 2020 campaign paid a total of $3 million to Dane and Milwaukee counties after demanding recounts there. President Donald Trump initially lost to Joe Biden by 0.6 percentage points. When the recount was finalized, Biden’s margin of victory had increased.
Candidates requesting officials to recount votes are responsible for the cost, according to Ballotpedia, unless the recount alters the result in favor of another candidate. In that case, the state will cover the recount cost.
The Trump campaign already paid the $3 million recount fee, but the state’s legislature’s budget committee, which has a Republican majority, is withholding it. Republican legislators have not specified why.
A letter from the state’s Joint Finance Committee said one of its 16 members opposed paying the two counties the $3 million they’re owed. The member was not named in the letter.
Dane County Board Chair Analiese Eicher tweeted out the letter, sent to her from Republican committee leaders Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Mark Born.
“Just learned that the republicans are objecting to reimbursing Dane County for Donald Trump’s recount,” Eicher said. “Expenses were incurred. We did our job. Time to pay the bill. We’re not a contractor Trump and his allies in the WIGOP can stiff.”
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
Wisconsin is just one of the states where Trump filed dozens of lawsuits alleging widespread voter fraud. He’s won none so far. Recount efforts across Wisconsin and other states have not altered the results of the 2020 election. Biden is expected to begin his presidency on January 20, the day he will be inaugurated into office.
“The Supreme Court really let us down,” he said in a tweet. “No Wisdom, No Courage!”
The lawsuit, which was brought by the Texas attorney general and joined by other Republican-led states, sought to have the election results overturned in four states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
Prior to the decision, the president had hyped up the importance of the case. He has also suggested in the past that the election would be decided at the Supreme Court.
The court, which currently has a conservative majority, includes three judges appointed by Trump himself, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
The legal challenge was the latest attempt by Trump and his allies to subvert the election and was denounced by many as a legally dubious attempt to have judges intervene in the democratic process.
The loss adds to a string of defeats by the Trump campaign and other Republican officials who have challenged the election results in court, largely to no avail.
President-elect Joe Biden welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, saying in a statement the court “decisively and speedily rejected the latest of Donald Trump and his allies’ attacks on the democratic process.”
The amicus brief for the fake states was filed by Robert E. Thomas III, an attorney with an address listed in Nevada who is a member of the state bar in California, a state that is real.
Thomas told Insider in an interview that New Nevada and New California are “new states in waiting,” and that each is a registered 501(c)(4) organization attempting to form new states using the proper Constitutional process. He said states like Pennsylvania administered their elections in a way that’s “arbitrary and capricious.”
“The Supreme Court gives states in a case like this an absolute right to intervene,” Thomas said. “And we regard ourselves as one of those states with an absolute right.”
The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the votes of tens of millions of voters in those states, all of which President Donald Trump lost.
Since Texas first filed the lawsuit Monday, 17 other Republican-led states, Trump himself, and 106 members of US Congress have thrown their support behind the attempt to overthrow the democratic elections in those states.
‘New Nevada’ and ‘New California’ said the real states unfairly administered their elections
Thomas told Insider he’s the chairman and counsel of “New Nevada” and the counsel of “New California,” and is representing the latter at the behest of Paul Preston, the president of New California.
His Supreme Court brief argues that “New California State” and “New Nevada State” have a right to fight the actions of “Old California State” and “Old Nevada State” because of how the November 2020 election was administered.
“Part of the reason for the formation of New California State and New Nevada Sate is to stop the lawless actions of Governors Newsome [sic] (California) and Sisolak (Nevada),” the brief argues.
Thomas said the governors and county officials in those states wrongly changed election rules rather than leaving it up to the state legislatures.
“We are not only a state in formation, but we are aggrieved parties,” he said, adding: “Since these people are acting without the approval of the legislature, it is what’s called ultra vires, which is illegal on its face.”
The brief argues that “New California” and “New Nevada” are impacted because different counties had different rules for voting.
“New California State and New Nevada State are impacted because both in-person voters and absentee ballot voters are handled differently county to-county within the States of California and Nevada, and differently between how voters are treated in California compared to how voters in Nevada are treated,” the brief reads.
The attorneys general for Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia filed their responses to the Texas challenge on Thursday, saying it had no right to challenge how other states ran elections.
“Texas proposes an extraordinary intrusion into Wisconsin’s and the other defendant states’ elections, a task that the Constitution leaves to each state,” the Wisconsin brief read. “Wisconsin has conducted its election and its voters have chosen a winning candidate for their state. Texas’s bid to nullify that choice is devoid of a legal foundation or a factual basis.”
The movement to create new states seeks to curb democracy
Thomas said he’s part of a movement to create new states that generally exclude large urban areas. Similar efforts, he said, are also ongoing in Illinois, Washington state, and New York.
“New California state is all of California except the LA basin, the San Francisco and Sacramento metro areas. New Nevada state is all of rural Nevada except Clark County.”
The movement overall, Thomas said, is rooted in what he described as the American founding fathers’ fear of democracy and that the United States should be a Republic.
He said each 501(c)(4) organization seeks to educate the public about forming a new state using Article 4, sections 3 and 4 of the Constitution, the same method used to create West Virginia in the 1860s.
Before Thomas took up the full-time cause of founding new states, he was a public defender in Oregon and an assistant district attorney in California prosecuting fraud, he said.
“I thought I retired after 40-plus years of practicing attorney and I’m trying to enjoy my retirement and I’m not successful at that,” he told Insider.
Mellissa Carone, a key witness in the Trump campaign’s bid to overturn the result of the presidential election in Michigan, was on probation for sending her fiance’s ex-wife sex tapes, it emerged on Saturday.
According to police records first obtained by Deadline Detroit, Carone harassed the woman for two years, stalking her and sending her explicit videos from an anonymous account of herself having sex with her boyfriend, the woman’s former partner.
Investigators managed to trace the email account sending the videos to Carone, according to the report, and Carone later told investigators that she had been the person sending them.
She was initially charged with obscenity and computer crimes, but these were later reduced to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge as part of a plea deal.
A spokeswoman for the Wayne County, Michigan, prosecutor’s office confirmed the charges in a statement to the Huffington Post, and said that her 12 month probation ended just before Election Day.
Carone told the publication that in fact her fiance, Matthew Stackpoole, had sent the tapes, and that she had agreed to the plea deal so they didn’t have to spend any more time in court. He told the outlet that this account was true.
“The reason I got charged for it is it was sent off of my phone,” Carone told the outlet. “I just said screw it, I’m going to have to take it.”
Business Insider has attempted to reach Carone for further comment through what appears to be her Facebook account. Wayne County prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
Carone, who describes herself as a cyber security expert, was contracted during the presidential election by Dominon voting systems to work at a Detroit polling station doing IT work. There, she claims to have witnessed widespread voting fraud.
She appeared as a witness for the Trump campaign at a hearing of the Michigan House Oversight Committee on Tuesday, where the campaign’s chief attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is challenging Biden’s victory.
In her testimony Carone angrily confronted state officials, and Giuliani appeared at one point to be trying to dissuade her from speaking out further.
The Trump campaign’s allegations of election fraud have been rebutted by state officials in Michigan, and rejected by courts across the country.