As Sidney Powell, a former assistant US attorney, became one of the faces of then-President Donald Trump’s campaign legal team, tension unfolded with Rudy Giuliani last November, according to a forthcoming book by Michael Wolff.
During an outburst, Giuliani, who served as Trump’s personal lawyer and has backed up many of the former president’s debunked election claims, reportedly described Powell as “crazy.”
After Giuliani questioned some of Powell’s most bizarre election theories, she snapped back at the former New York City mayor.
“I didn’t come here to kiss your f—ing ring,” she reportedly said.
The book goes on to describe how Powell and Giuliani went into separate rooms as Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis sought out the former president to resolve the situation.
“The two of them [Powell and Giuliani] ended up in separate rooms sulking, with Ellis calling the president to moderate,” the book said. “The president made clear that he wanted Powell on the team. He was embracing everybody (or anybody) who agreed that the election had been stolen from him.”
As Powell became more entrenched within the Trump orbit, her conspiracy theories were amplified on a much larger scale.
“In the days immediately following the election, she was the author on Fox of operatic new conspiracies, going much further out than anything the president had yet reached: computer systems had been programmed to switch Trump votes to Biden votes, with the CIA in on it. Now she had been telling Giuliani and the team that the conspiracy ran even deeper: Trump’s landslide victory was upended by an international plot,” the book said.
In media appearances, Powell falsely claimed that Dominion Voting Systems had tilted the US presidential election in favor of now-President Joe Biden. She alleged – without evidence – that Dominion secretly aided a rival election-technology company, Smartmatic, and had links to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Over time, the damage from her unsubstantiated accusations had taken a serious toll.
However, just weeks later, The New York Times reported that Trump was considering naming Powell as a special counsel investigating voter fraud.
According to The Times, most of Trump’s advisors didn’t support the plan, including Giuliani.
Powell currently faces a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from Dominion over her debunked election claims; Giuliani and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell are also being sued by the election technology supplier.
Jena Griswold was 34 years old when, in her first run for office back in 2018, she defeated a Republican incumbent to become the top elections official in Colorado, the first Democrat to hold the position in six decades and the youngest secretary of state in the nation.
Two years later, Griswold helped administer a presidential election – in a place where all voters receive a ballot in the mail – that state and national officials deemed “the most secure in American history.”
Joe Biden won Colorado by more than 439,000 votes and, with it, the presidency. But the groundwork for discrediting his victory had been laid months before. When voters made their choice, the lying hit a fever pitch: about widespread fraud; about fake ballots, maybe from China, being added to the tally in the middle of the night; about officials, left and right, rigging the vote against an incumbent.
In an interview, Griswold said she now fears for her safety.
“I’m not alone in that,” she said. Across the country, “Democratic secretaries of state have received all types of death threats.” Republicans, too.
In Arizona, Katie Hobbs, that state’s Democratic elections official, was recently provided a state security detail after being threatened over her criticism of the partisan “audit” taking place in Maricopa County, where a private third party, Cyber Ninjas, has been given free rein by the GOP-led state senate over 2.1 million ballots – a majority of them cast for President Biden – in an apparent effort, dismissed by a bipartisan group of experts as not credible, to fit the facts to the pro-Trump conspiracy theories.
Griswold is part of a bipartisan group of elections officials urging Congress to provide billions of dollars to shore up state and local voting infrastructure (“elections cost money”). But the biggest threat to the security of democracy, she said, is something else: disinformation.
In 2016, the Russian government worked to tilt the election in Donald Trump’s favor, as well as to sow doubt about the integrity of any vote he lost. It did so again in 2020.
But stateside, “elected officials really embraced the use of lies to try to manipulate Americans voters,” Griswold said.
“The lies are creating violence. The lies are creating threats,” she said. It is those elected officials, more than any foreign adversary, that she sees as threatening the integrity of the US political system. The push for “fraudulent audits,” in Arizona and elsewhere, is to Griswold perhaps the most glaring example of officials who know better engaging in bad faith to better position themselves for the next GOP primary.
“The blatant abuse of political seats for these elected officials’ personal gain is incredibly dangerous to our democracy, but also to election workers,” she said. “That is, hands down, my number one concern.”
It has included misleading the public over the very right to vote. In Georgia, when Republicans passed a new elections law that requires mail-in voters to provide an ID every time they cast a ballot – citing the need to address fraud that was never uncovered – they pointed to Colorado as if it were a model they were following. But Colorado only requires proof of identification once, at registration, the standard Republicans embraced in the early 2000s, and it accepts utility bills, not just government forms of ID. And, as of 2019, residents are now automatically registered to vote anytime they get a driver’s license.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous to compare Colorado’s gold-standard voter model to Georgia’s voter suppression model,” Griswold told Insider. Even before the new restrictions, some voters in Georgia, particularly in urban areas, could expect to wait hours in line; in Colorado, the average wait time is seven minutes – and there’s no prohibition on giving them water.
But false claims of voter fraud are being used around the country to impose such new restrictions. The threat to democracy, again, is coming from within.
“What we’re seeing is insider political actors use voter suppression as a tool to steal future elections,” Griswold said. “And that is the most un-American and corrupting thing you can do.”
Ranked-choice voting worked as intended, but its New York City debut didn’t go off without a few hitches.
Ranked-choice voting is a type of ballot that asks voters to list their choices – In New York’s case, five – in their order of preference. When the votes are in, the lowest-ranked candidate has their ballots reallocated to their voters’ second choices, and then so on and so forth until someone breaks 50%. This means a second runoff election is unnecessary – the runoff is done instantly – and that the winner with the broadest support eventually wins.
For the 2021 mayor race, Democrats had a long list of options, but the most popular candidates were Eric Adams, Maya Wiley, Kathryn Garcia, Andrew Yang, Scott Stringer, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, and Shaun Donovan.
Some voters may have found themselves doing more homework than they anticipated ahead of filling out their five choices for mayor in the Democratic primary. Still, the elimination system worked exactly as it was supposed to once it became clear no one would finish the first round as an outright winner with at least 50% of the vote.
1. Ranked-choice worked, but in the process illustrated how divided New York City’s Democratic voters are
At a rather unprecedented scale in American politics, ranked-choice voting showed how a divided party could choose a candidate if enough voters indicated they could at least live with their second, third, fourth, or fifth choice.
Of the approximately 937,000 votes cast, only 139,459 ballots became “exhausted” by the final round, meaning that only about 15% of voters did not rank either of the final two contenders – former NYPD officer currently serving as Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams and former City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.
Ranked-choice voting also had nothing to do with the lackluster showing among further left candidates in the race. Voters were left split after City Comptroller Scott Stringer locked up most of the key progressive endorsements early on, only to have his campaign sink to fifth place.
It was Stringer’s lack of charisma, unoriginal messaging, and a pair of sexual assault allegations – both of which he denies – that sunk his campaign. Stringer’s demise left the progressive wing of the party adrift with minimal options, and it was far too late in the cycle to effectively consolidate around any of them, despite a strong late push from Maya Wiley.
2. Some candidates eventually played strategically, but probably too late in the game. They’ll be better next time
Key to Garcia making it until the final round was a gamble she took late in the campaign by appearing at events with Andrew Yang, who finished in fourth.
Garcia had won a critical endorsement from The New York Times editorial board but was still running in third place through most of the early rounds. Once Yang was out of the race, enough of his voters ranked Garcia second that she was able to vault over Wiley and compete with Adams for the top spot, ultimately falling fewer than 10,000 votes short.
Garcia wouldn’t even fully commit to a true alliance with Yang, and no other candidates experimented with joint campaigning beside them.
The next time around, if there’s a full campaign calendar instead of months of Zoom forums, mid-to-lower-tier campaigns may embrace forming alliances and coalitions as a low-risk, high-reward strategy.
3. Ranked-choice didn’t upend the fundamentals of elected politics in New York, but did stave off a costly, laborious runoff
Adams won the primary by executing on his campaign’s simple but effective formula of winning as many labor endorsements as possible and shoring up a base of outer-borough Black voters, particularly homeowners and union members.
His coalition was similar to the one that vaulted outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio over the finish line in 2013, ceding ground in Manhattan and gentrified Brooklyn while running up the score among predominately Black precincts in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.
Ranked-choice voting didn’t change the fact that a relatively small slice of New York’s overall population will have an effective say in their mayor, given Democrats outnumbering Republicans by around seven to one in registrations.
However, Adams avoided what would have been a costly runoff under the old system, saving not only his own campaign’s money, but also matching funds from the city and other outlays to produce another voting day before Election Day in November.
In 2013, de Blasio won the primary and, by extension, the de facto claim to the mayor’s office with just 260,473 votes. Adams only got around 253,000 from the first round of voting. Now, he can securely claim the mantle of his party, having secured over half the vote when all was said and done, not a mere plurality.
4. Ranked-choice really shines down ballot
Besides the top-tier races, the ranked-choice system absolutely bears out looking down ballot.
Take, for instance, the open City Council district in Queens’ 26th District. There are fifteen contenders for the Democratic nomination in the 26th, all of whom have similar, though not identical, politics.
Thanks to the ranked-choice system, after a dozen rounds of reallocating votes, Won remains the victor, but can now claim the seat with a decisive 56% of the vote, beating Bagga by over 13 percentage points. A complicated, complex field simplified with a single trip to the ballot box.
The rollout of ranked-choice voting may have been a hassle and unnecessarily stressful in the counting process, but everywhere else, it found a winner in precisely the way voters said they wanted it to back when they passed it in 2019.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said he’s thinking about a 2024 bid for the White House in an interview on Thursday evening.
“Well, sure, I’m certainly looking at it,” Cruz said during an appearance on Newsmax.
“I’ll tell you, 2016 was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life,” he continued, reflecting on his last presidential campaign.
The Texas senator was the first candidate to run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, eventually facing a crowded field of 17 opponents, including real estate mogul and celebrity Donald Trump.
Cruz had held a strong position in the primary elections, yet Trump repeatedly garnered the most Republican support as the frontrunner. Cruz dropped out of the race in May after he lost the Indiana primary to Trump.
“We came incredibly close, had an incredible grassroots army,” Cruz told Newsmax.
At the time, Cruz refused to endorse Trump once he became the presumptive GOP nominee. The two bitterly feuded for months on the campaign trail, infamously attacking each other’s wives and lobbing insults at one another.
Over the past four years, the two have become allies. Cruz was one of the many GOP officials that perpetuated Trump’s lies that the 2020 race was rigged. The Republican lawmaker also led the challenge to the election results in the Senate.
Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle later blasted Cruz’s efforts to discredit the election results. GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming has said that the move should be a “disqualifying” factor in the 2024 race.
Cruz told Newsmax that his focus right now is on the battle for the Senate in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.
“Whether it is in the Senate, or whether it is in a presidential campaign, I’m committed to fighting to defend free enterprise, to defend freedom, and to defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” he said.
An investigation by the Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee found no proof of widespread voter fraud in the state’s 2020 election, rejecting former President Donald Trump’s false claims.
“The Committee embarked upon hours of public testimony, the review of countless documents and presentations on the 2020 election, and careful review of the elections process itself,” the 35-page report released Wednesday said. “This Committee found no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in Michigan’s prosecution of the 2020 election.”
GOP state Sen. Ed McBroom, who chairs the committee, wrote in the report that he is “confident” the election results in Michigan, which President Joe Biden won by nearly 3 percentage points, are accurate.
McBroom also appeared to take a swipe at Trump, who repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that the election was fraught with voter fraud and rigged against him. In Michigan, Trump and his allies filed at least half a dozen lawsuits in an attempt to overturn the election results. They lost all of them.
“Sources must lose credibility when it is shown they promote falsehoods, even more when they never take accountability for those falsehoods,” McBroom wrote.
The Michigan Senate committee recommended that Michiganders “use a critical eye and ear toward those who have pushed demonstrably false theories for their own personal gain.” It also called on the state attorney general to investigate those who promoted false claims.
The investigation comes nearly eight months after the 2020 race and as Trump continues to baselessly assert that the election was stolen from him. Federal, state, and local officials have repeatedly concluded that the election was fair and accurate.
This conspiracy theory seems to stem from a case of human error on election night. At the time, the county’s unofficial election results initially showed Biden in the lead. Antrim County Clerk Sheryl Guy, a Republican, moved to rectify the issue and after multiple checks, the county went to Trump. The county also audited the results in December, affirming Trump’s win over Biden.
“All compelling theories that sprang forth from the rumors surrounding Antrim County are diminished so significantly as for it to be a complete waste of time to consider them further,” McBroom wrote in the report.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran’s hard-line judiciary chief won the country’s presidential election in a landslide victory Saturday, propelling the supreme leader’s protege into Tehran’s highest civilian position in a vote that appeared to see the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.
Initial results showed Ebrahim Raisi won 17.8 million votes in the contest, dwarfing those of the race’s sole moderate candidate. However, Raisi dominated the election only after a panel under the watch of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disqualified his strongest competition.
His candidacy, and the sense the election served more as a coronation for him, sparked widespread apathy among eligible voters in the Islamic Republic, which has held up turnout as a sign of support for the theocracy since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Some, including former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for a boycott.
In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.
Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.
“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.
On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.
“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.
Raisi’s blowout win came amid boycott calls and widespread voter apathy
The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.
As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country – as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.
Balloting came to a close at 2 a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.
“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”
Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.
But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.
Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.
Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades – the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.
The comments come after Lindell promoted a conspiracy theory that the Supreme Court will put Trump back in the White House by August. By then, Lindell previously said, he will have obtained evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election to present to the nation’s highest court, which will delegitimize President Joe Biden’s win.
Now, it appears Lindell needs until December to do so.
“What I’m talking about, Steve, is what I have been doing since January 9. All of the evidence I have, everything that is going to go before the Supreme Court, and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye,” Lindell said at the time.
To be clear, the conspiracy theory has no constitutional basis, as Insider has previously reported. The Supreme Court is not able to overturn a presidential election. The only way to remove a sitting president is through impeachment. And in any case, the vice president would then take over.
It’s been more than seven months since the 2020 race and there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Federal, state, and local election officials have repeatedly pushed back on the false claims spread by Trump and his allies. The Trump campaign filed and lost dozens of lawsuits in an attempt to challenge the results.
Lindell, however, still contends that the race was stolen from Trump, specifically by 20 million votes, he told The Rolling Stone. The MyPillow founder is currently being sued for $1.3 billion by the voting-technology company Dominion for repeatedly asserting the company rigged the election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Sunday said that she would not “give up” on fellow Democrat Joe Manchin, the moderate West Virginia senator who last week came out against the party’s sweeping voting-rights bill.
The legislation would end partisan gerrymandering, expand early and absentee voting, establish national standards for voter registration, and blunt voter purges, among other things.
Manchin also reaffirmed his support for the filibuster, a position that has become anathema to many Democrats after years of legislative gridlock in Congress.
On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi remained hopeful when it came to Manchin, despite his public statements.
“I don’t give up on Joe Manchin,” she told host Dana Bash. “When he was governor and Secretary of State in West Virginia, he initiated many of the initial ideas that are in the H.R. 1, S.1, the For the People Act.”
Pelosi expressed optimism in the Senate eventually passing the legislation, despite a chamber that is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans and with the filibuster still in place to potentially derail the legislation.
“I read the op-ed and you read a part of it – I think he left the door open,” she said. “I think it’s ajar. I’m not giving up.”
She added: “I do know that he has certain concerns about the legislation that we may be able to come to terms on.”
Pelosi said that she’s had a conversation with Manchin about the legislation.
In March, the House passed the For the People Act in a near party-line 220-210 vote. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi was the sole Democrat who voted against the bill, and no Republicans crossed over to support the legislation.
Former President Barack Obama in a CNN interview on Monday expressed concerns about the current state of American democracy and criticized the Republican Party for embracing Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.
“We have to worry when one of our major political parties is willing to embrace a way of thinking about our democracy that would be unrecognizable and unacceptable even five years ago or a decade ago,” Obama told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Republicans have been “cowed into accepting” Trump-led conspiracy theories that the race was rigged, which culminated in the January 6 Capitol insurrection, he said.
During the 2020 campaign, several Republican lawmakers spread falsehoods about the election and eventually challenged the results in Congress, mere hours after a violent pro-Trump mob laid siege to the Capitol.
“I didn’t expect that there would be so few people who would say: ‘Well, I don’t mind losing my office because this is too important. America is too important. Our democracy is too important,'” Obama said. “We didn’t see that.”
Obama added that he never thought the “dark spirits” he witnessed forming within the GOP over his two terms as president – such as “xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, paranoid conspiracy theories, [and] an antipathy toward Black and brown folks” – would take over the party.
“I thought that there were enough guardrails institutionally that even after Trump was elected that you would have the so-called Republican establishment” push back on him, Obama said. He went on to cite examples of Republicans toeing the line with Trump, including when many refused to speak out against his 2017 comments that there were “fine people on both sides” of a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville.
“That’s a little bit beyond the pale,” Obama said.
Obama’s comments came during a wide-ranging CNN interview, in which he also discussed divisions in the country related to race and the media.
“I’m still the hope and change guy. My hope is that the tides will turn,” Obama said.
Former President Donald Trump interrupted a policy meeting in the Oval Office in early 2020 to vent about his position in the polls and attack then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden, according to a new book.
“How am I losing in the polls to a mental r—–?” Trump said at the time, per an excerpt of a forthcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender published on Monday in Vanity Fair.
The book, titled “Frankly, We Did Win This Election”: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost,” provides a deeper look into Trump’s election loss last year leading up to the Capitol insurrection on January 6. Bender reported extensively on the subject and met with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort at least twice for the book, which will hit stores in August.
Throughout the campaign, Trump and his Republican allies repeatedly attacked Biden’s mental acuity and tried to paint him as mentally unfit to become president. The Trump campaign ran ads attempting to undermine Biden’s cognitive abilities, showing clips of him stuttering during speeches. On the campaign trail, Biden opened up about his struggles of growing up with a stutter.
By August, Trump had challenged his Democratic opponent to take a cognitive test, which Biden firmly rejected. “Why the hell would I take a test?” he told a reporter at the time, scoffing.