#1477 The Plot Against America (Transcript)

Air Date 3/19/2022

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[00:00:00] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Welcome to this episode of the award winning Best of the Left podcast, in which we shall take a look at the details of the planned coup that had its culmination in the form of a violent insurrection at the U S Capitol Building on January 6th, 2021, as well as the ongoing efforts to undermine and dismantle the structures of our election system.

Clips today are from The Majority Report, Democracy, Now! The Rachel Maddow Show, The Bradcast, The David Pakman Show; and with additional members-only clips from The Rachel Maddow Show and The Bradcast.

January 6th Planning Was WAY More Detailed Than We Thought - The Majority Report - Air Date 2-5-22

[00:00:33] HEATHER DIGBY PARTON: There's like only a couple of degrees of separation from these guys from the White House. Roger Stone was with the Oath Keepers on the morning of January 6.

We all know Roger Stone is, you know, Donald Trump's big buddy. He's involved in the Willard Hotel stuff, you know, it's Steve Bannon and Rudy Giuliani and all this stuff. So, I mean, it always seems so weird because when you're talking about Donald Trump and his machinations, it's such a clown show that you think, yeah, you know, how bad could it have been? But here we're dealing with something I think that's pretty serious in a way that I don't know that we've thought about it before. This is a militia group, essentially. These guys are ex-military and ex-cops, and actually they say about 10% of the members are current military and cops. These are people who are trained, right? I mean, obviously they're trained in violent kinetic activity as they call it. They from November on, they were planning this, it appears. They have all these signal communications back and forth between these people. There is some connection among them, it looks like -- probably between the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, maybe the Three Percenters, which are the top three groups, these militia groups that were there -- that they were planning for this. I mean, it's obvious that at least in the case of Stuart Rhodes, the head of the Oath Keepers, that they were talking about storming the Capitol on January 6th, they were talking about holding it. We knew that they had maps of the underground tunnels in the Capitol, et cetera. And that they had these caches of weapons outside. I mean, what this suggests, and this is why they were charged with sedition, which is different than the other ones have been charged with up to now, because this really does suggest that they were planning to do the thing that actually happened, that they were planning to do this.

And for whatever reason, their plan was aborted. It appears to be that they thought if they could hold the Capitol through the night that they could send out this signal and these people who were arrayed around the area, what would happen is they said was that they would go in, they would storm the Capitol, then they would actually fall back as the rubes who were following, just spontaneously following their orders, which tells you something about them. And then they would fall back and then they would get their weapons and come back and go into the Capitol later and hold the Capitol. Now the whole thing sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, this is like, you know, nuts. But I'm not sure I couldn't have seen that happening and that that might have worked under certain circumstances that day.

And you know, it's not like we haven't seen these militia types do things in the past. The Oklahoma city bombing was the same group, that was done by a person who was part of the same basic tribal group that we're talking about here. He was ex-military. He was in a militia. He had read all the Turner diaries and all that stuff. And he went and he blew up a federal building and killed hundreds of people -- the worst terrorist attack before 9/11 was done by people like this.

So this stuff's been around for a long time, but this is particularly activated in the age of, first, Barack Obama for obvious reasons. And then Donald Trump.

So, we're looking at something that I think is a very serious situation. I don't know if the Department of Justice will be able to prove this case in some way, but I think what they're trying to do, they've obviously got some people who are cooperating. I mean, that's how they got the information that the documents that they have. And I don't know whether or not this is going to turn out to take this to a higher level. But I think what astonishes me about it -- and we know so much of what's happened and maybe the January 6th Committee has more, the department of justice seems to have more than we know, so this is evolving as a story -- but the fact is, is that Donald Trump and his big lie on the other side of this, and has been aided and abetted by Fox News and gazillion podcasts by people like Steve Bannon, have truly made this a debatable question as to whether or not this was a good thing to do, whether or not this was the right thing to do. I mean, Trump is -- I don't know if people probably don't read the statements that he sends out to every one of the people on his millions of email recipients on his donor list -- it's crazy. I mean, he sounds like a raving lunatic, and I'm saying that worse than he did before, when he was in office, because his obsession with January 6th -- actually his obsession with the November election, I should say -- it is so nuts. I mean, he's out there, you know, we just found three more votes in Pima County. That kind of stuff. He sends out to all these people. And if you listen to that NPR interview that he did this week, where he was actually confronted with the fact that he's just making shit up, that tells you where his mind is and these people are all buying into this stuff.

And look at what's happened to the Republican party. They are now backing this to the point where anybody who objects to what happened on January 6th -- I mean, this guy, Mike Rounds tried it, said, well, Joe Biden really did win the election, we need to move forward. A few sort of tiptoed behind him, .John Thune and some others. But really, it's a consensus within the Republican party that they have to go along with this. Because otherwise, because their constituency has been completely brainwashed into believing that the election was stolen. And now the second half is that January 6th was a justified action.

I mean, that's kind of scary. And you know, so we'll see where this case goes, but, I don't know. Can that change? I don't even know if it's changeable.

Columnist Will Bunch: Trump Came Much Closer to Pulling Off a January 6 Coup Than People Realize - Democracy Now! - Air Date 1-5-22

[00:06:25] AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined in Philadelphia by Will Bunch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist at The Philadelphia Inquirer. He writes about this in his column, “Is the 'smoking gun' in Trump’s Jan. 6 attempted coup hiding in plain sight?”

Will, welcome back to Democracy Now! Explain what this is.

[00:06:48] WILL BUNCH: Right. Well, as you mentioned, you know, Bernie Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, a very close associate of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who became kind of a Trump insider — in fact, he’d been committed of criminal activity, and Trump had pardoned him. So, he was definitely part of this kind of new inner circle that gathered around Trump between the election loss to Joe Biden and January 6th, who was giving him advice.

And I think the most interesting and, I guess, maybe the most alarming thing that’s been coming out of some of these news reports and leaks out of the House January 6th committee in the last few weeks is the focus of this working group on the idea that Trump might somehow declare a national emergency — which, as you know, in many countries around the world, that’s basically a code name for a coup, right? — and that as part of this national emergency, he might even seize paper election ballots or seize voting machines, which would just be a mess.

And so, we’ve had a couple things. We had an email from Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, about the role of the National Guard, how they expected the National Guard would be there January 6th to, quote, “support” pro-Trump demonstrators, which is an interesting take on things. We had this PowerPoint presentation that circulated on Capitol Hill from Trump’s advisers that talked about this national emergency idea. And now Bernie Kerik’s lawyer has logged the documents that are in his possession, including some that he claims are privileged and that the committee shouldn’t be allowed to see. And one of the ones he’s claiming privilege on is the one that you just mentioned and the one that I think could be a smoking gun, and which is a draft letter from Trump that would basically declare this emergency and allow for the seizing of this evidence.

And I think it’s a very complicated thing, but, very quickly, I think the Trump team expected that on January 6th there would be something that in fact did not happen, which was they expected there to be left-wing counterprotesters, like that December 12th episode that was in the documentary that you just played. They expected a repeat of that. And I think they fully believed that they would be able to call out the National Guard. And remember, Trump installed a lot of close allies in the Pentagon just in the weeks right before January 6th, and the Pentagon has operational control over the National Guard. So, you know, I think there was this theory that if there had been more violence that had involved Antifa, which was the enemy of the Trump people, as you just discussed in the last segment, that Antifa could have been a pretext for them to call out the National Guard on their side to close down the Capitol. And if the Capitol had been closed down and seized by troops, you wouldn’t have been able to have the certification of Biden’s election. It would have bought them more time for these other schemes that they were working on. You know, it’s interesting that members of Congress, and even Mike Pence himself, were very adamant about not leaving the Capitol. And I think they were afraid if they left the capital on January 6th, that they would never get back.

[00:10:13] JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Will, you wrote in a column a few weeks ago, quote, “the central role of the leftist clashes that never happened, and the thwarted mission for the National Guard and Trump-friendly law enforcement — the final, Hail Mary pass in Team Trump’s slow-motion coup to undo Biden’s election victory — reveals how close a rogue president came to ending … democracy earlier this year.” Could you talk about, one, how — you also say that you believe the left didn’t go for the bait of coming out there —

[00:10:48] WILL BUNCH: Yes.

[00:10:48] JUAN GONZALEZ: — in Washington, and how that then ended up gumming up the plans of the Trump people, from what you can tell.

[00:10:56] WILL BUNCH: Yeah, I mean, that’s one of the most amazing little-known stories about January 6th, is in the maybe two-week run-up before January 6th, when a lot of people — although apparently not the FBI for some reason, but a lot of normal people — knew that this was going to be a potentially violent day and that, you know, we knew that busloads of these people were descending on the Capitol, and the word got out on the left that they’re trying — they want to provoke violence. You know, they want to provoke clashes between left-wing counterprotesters, whether they were, quote, “Antifa,” unquote, or just normal resistant folks — they wanted to set up these clashes.

And so, on social media, you actually saw this hashtag, like you said; #DontTakeTheBait became a popular hashtag at the end of December and early January. And you had public officials join in. You know, Muriel Bowser, the mayor of D.C., and other officials went public telling people who were not Trump supporters, “You don’t want to be anywhere near the Capitol on January 6th. Please stay away.” And I think the city even kept some of its workers home. And there was a real effort to just let the Trump people do their thing in the city, and not confront them, not provoke them. And, you know, that was kind of like — in the famous Sherlock Holmes line, that was like the dog that did not bark on January 6th, because you didn’t have those clashes.

And it explains a lot. People are baffled by the inaction of the National Guard. And we now know — and Ryan Goodman and Justin Hendrix from Just Security have done some great reporting on this. You know, we now know that Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint Chiefs, and other top people in the Defense Department were horrified at the idea that the Trump allies within the Pentagon could use the National Guard in service of a coup, basically, in service of Trump. And as a result, I mean, that really was the reluctance to call out the National Guard. You know, D.C. officials were baffled, because they wanted to use the Guard to fight against the Trumpists, the insurrectionists. But in the Pentagon, the worry was that if the Guard got involved and took over the Capitol, that that would end up looking more like a coup. And so, that explains why the National Guard didn’t get involved for three or four hours, until the incident was basically over at that point.

[00:13:27] JUAN GONZALEZ: Yeah, I want to go back for second to this draft national security letter, with Bernard Kerik’s lawyer claiming attorney-client privilege. Of course, Bernard Kerik, as you mentioned, was not only convicted on tax evasion charges but has the dubious distinction of being one of the only people, perhaps in American history, who spent time in the very jail that was named after him, the Bernard Kerik Correctional Facility. And, of course, he’s not a lawyer. So, could you talk about this claim and how it could stand up if it went to court? But, obviously, it might take months for a court decision on it.

[00:14:11] WILL BUNCH: Yeah. Well, Juan, you, like me, remember Watergate, and you remember the famous term from Watergate, “stonewalling.” Well, you know, Trump and his team, they’re the masters of stonewalling 2.0. I mean, the basic philosophy, which Trump honed during his years as a sleazy real estate developer in New York, is just when there’s a problem, throw everything up against the wall, you know, lawsuits, just delay.

I mean, what we’re seeing here is unprecedented in terms of people who clearly have no reason to not testify or to defy a subpoena claiming they have the right to defy these subpoenas. And you’ve seen charges now against Steve Bannon. You may see charges against Mark Meadows. But I think for the next 12 months you’re going to see this web of obstruction, of these privilege claims that are going to have to be fought out in court, whether it’s executive privilege or something just more mundane like attorney privilege, which is what Bernie Kerik is claiming.

And I think that the ultimate reason behind this is because Republicans are very confident that they’re going to retake the House in the midterms this November, just based on history and the other trends. And when they do that, they know they’ll be able to end this probe. So, you’ve got the Democrats with this one year to get to the truth, basically. You know, I think the January 6th committee has been doing a fantastic job, and we’ve been seeing the fruits of that in the last couple weeks. And [inaudible] is going to be very dramatic. But you do have that hanging over their head. You know, they’ve got a one-year race against this massive wall of obstruction from Team Trump.

Pence lawyer at center of Trump pressure tactic spends hours with January 6th Committee - The Rachel Maddow Show - Air Date 2-2-22

[00:15:55] RACHEL MADDOW - HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Last week, for example, we learned that investigators have obtained this document. It was first obtained by politico.com and it is a draft executive order prepared for president Trump that would have authorized the military, would have authorized the Defense Department to go around the country seizing voting machines after the 2020 elections. CNN reported last night that there was actually a second executive order like that banging around the Trump White House, one that laid out the same scheme to have it go seize voting equipment around the country. But that second executive order wouldn't have had it done by the military; it would have had it done by the Department of Homeland Security.

Well now there's this new explosive reporting from Michael Schmidt and his colleagues at the New York Times. Quote, "Six weeks after election day with his hold on power slipping, president Donald Trump directed his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to make a remarkable call. Trump wanted Giuliani to ask the Department of Homeland Security if the department could legally take control of voting machines in key swing states. Giuliani did so, calling the department's acting deputy secretary, who said he lacked the authority to audit or impound the machines. The outreach to the Department of Homeland Security came not long after Trump in an Oval Office meeting with attorney general Bill Barr also raised the possibility of whether the justice Department could seize voting machines. A previously undisclosed

when Trump raised the idea of whether the Justice Department could be used to seize the machines, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump told Mr. Barr that his lawyers had told him the department had the power to seize machines as evidence of fraud. Trump mentioned a specific state that had used machines built by Dominion Voting Machines -- excuse me, Dominion Voting Systems -- where his lawyers believed there had been fraud. Mr. Barr had been briefed extensively at that point by federal law enforcement about how the theories being pushed by Trump's legal team about Dominion were unfounded. Barr told Trump that the Justice Department had no basis for seizing the machines because there was no probable cause to believe a crime had been committed."

I mean, the more we learn about Trump's efforts to overthrow the government and prevent the next duly elected president from being sworn in, the more it sounds like a little bit like speed dating, right? I mean, he tries roping the Defense Department into the scheme. Hey, send out the military and go seize all the voting equipment. Military apparently passed. Then he tried the Homeland Security Department; also, eh, passed. Also a no go. Oh, well. How about the Justice Department? Bill Barr, have the Justice Department go out and seize the voting equipment. Apparently Bill Barr wasn't into it either. But in this new reporting from the Times we learn about one more potential suitor, one more potential date that Donald Trump tried to get on board for his effort at an insurrection.

This is fascinating to me. This is what the Times reports: quote, "Around the same time that Mr. Trump brought up the possibility of having the Justice Department seize the voting machines, he also tried to persuade state lawmakers in contested states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, that they should use local law enforcement agencies to take control of the machines. The state lawmakers refused to go along with the plan."

So, I mean, you might remember there was reporting in the days after the election about how Trump was calling up Republican state legislators in states where he lost, trying to get them to throw out the election results. He made this big show of inviting Republicans from Michigan and Pennsylvania to the White House in late November to complain to them about how he really won those two states and they should do something about it. But this new reporting in the Times is that Trump was not only telling these guys that Joe Biden lost their states, he was telling them that they should have local law enforcement in Michigan and Pennsylvania start seizing voting equipment. That reporting is brand new and, frankly, red hot. I mean, presumably local reporters in Michigan and Pennsylvania are now doing backflips to try to follow up on this reporting, to try to contact those local officials who were in contact with Trump after the election to find out what was said to them, to find out if there was ever an active plot to use law enforcement in the state of Michigan, law enforcement in the state of Pennsylvania, to try to go get voting equipment at Trump's insistence. He was asking them for that. Did it go any further than that?

And this opens up a whole new line of inquiry. After Trump told state lawmakers they should have law enforcement seize voting machines. I mean, we should hear about it from those local Republicans in Michigan and Pennsylvania, but we should also probably hear about it from the January 6th investigators, potentially from anybody bringing criminal charges around this plot.

Reform the Insurrection Act_ Former Pentagon Adviser Says Trump Almost Used It to Subvert Election - Democracy Now! - Air Date 1-6-22

[00:20:46] AMY GOODMAN: Welcome to Democracy Now!, Professor Goodman — no relation.

So, you’re ending today’s show. Talk about the high points, or low points, of this timeline that you have laid out, beginning with January 5th.

[00:21:02] RYAN GOODMAN: So, the high point is that the Justice Department used a lot of its resources, including the FBI investigations, to, basically, affect the outcome of the Georgia runoff. So, that was their attempt.

We have, from very good reporting, that the speaker of the — the majority speaker of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and Bill Barr, engaged in a side agreement, that they wanted to convince Republican voters in Georgia that Biden had won, and that the election was conducted fairly.

And this is now, in December, where they had given up on Trump. But that’s an extraordinary politicized use of the Justice Department, and the FBI, to do anything like that, to try to use it to shape the outcome of an election.

And many people have thought about Barr’s actions, and the like, post the presidential election, as being nefarious, in different ways, after people voted. But this is even more nefarious, in a certain sense, because he was trying to affect how people were going to vote. That’s one of the high points.

The other high point — or, in a certain sense, low point for our nation — is it also demonstrates the power of disinformation.

So, the ways in which Giuliani and members of the — Republican members of the House, were promulgating these conspiracies around Georgia, and how the election had been run, that actually pushed pressure inside the Justice Department, that it wasn’t just Bill Barr, but it’s other senior members of the Justice Department, and the FBI say, “Oh, we have to open these investigations to respond to what the public is conceiving of in these elections,” not to predicate their investigations, as they’re supposed to do, which is, evidence that a crime has been committed. But instead they open up these investigations based on the effectiveness of the disinformation campaign.

So, it’s a remarkable case study in how the disinformation effort has affected powerful institutions like the Justice Department, and not just the people that we’ve heard of a lot before, like Bill Barr, but people below him.

[00:23:16] AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how then-Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and General Mark Milley, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were both concerned about deploying the military, because of what had happened during the Black Lives Matter protests; this whole argument that they didn’t want military, in uniform, on the streets again?

[00:23:38] RYAN GOODMAN: So, there’s very strong evidence that that was very much their concern, and that one of the best explanations for why we didn’t see the National Guard deployed more quickly is that they actually wrote into the rules for the deployment of the National Guard, specifically for January 6, of all sorts of limitations.

And they were concerned about the, quote-unquote, “optics,” but they were also concerned, very much, that if the National Guard went into the Capitol, that President Trump, as commander of the D.C. National Guard, could, at the stroke of a pen, or essentially a tweet, recommission the Guard to use the military force to hold onto power.

They were concerned that he would do something like invoke the Insurrection Act.

And, you know, one of the most remarkable episodes is on January 4th. Miller and Milley convene a Cabinet-level meeting. And at the meeting, they’re so concerned that they raise the question: Can we rescind the permits of these Trump supporters at the Capitol? They’re very aware of the threat of violence. On their minds are there Proud Boys and others. And they say this to the other Cabinet members.

And then there’s strong evidence that that explains the delay on January 6 itself, of this remarkable piece in which the National Guard is — you know, as William Arkin just described — gets there after the Capitol has already been secured. Very strong evidence that what was going on at the highest levels of the military, inside the Pentagon, is this deep concern of Donald Trump, that he would do the very thing of using the military to try to hold onto power.

[00:25:20] AMY GOODMAN: And what would prevent that from happening again?

[00:25:25] RYAN GOODMAN: In the future? I mean, unfortunately, we need legislation on this. And it’s not just the executive binding itself. And there needs to be reform of the Insurrection Act, for one.

And I think another piece that’s chilling about the episode is, it is an instance, if you think about it, as the military is, basically, defying the commander-in-chief. And that’s not exactly the structure that we want in our government.

So I think that it’s a chilling lesson in what happened with civil and military relations. In that instance, in a certain sense, the military landed the plane, so that they did, in a way, prevent that kind of an abuse of power.

But I’m very worried for our country, both in terms of what it might mean with another, kind of, despicable president who would use the military for their own political purposes.

And I’m also worried for the country in terms of what it means about the military’s concerns that they have people within the military that would have even responded to Trump in that instance.

And, right now, the Secretary of Defense seems to be on the road to trying to root out some of the extremists within the military, because I think that’s part of the concern that’s here. It’s not just about the laws, but it’s about political culture, and white supremacists that are part of different institutions, including, unfortunately, the DOD.

Fake Trump electors, Trump White House official receive January 6th Committee subpoenas - The Rachel Maddow Show - Air Date 1-29-22

[00:26:51] AYMAN MOHYELDIN - STAND IN HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: But we start tonight with news that has just broken today in the investigation into the fake election documents that Republicans created in multiple states to try and cast forged electoral college votes for Donald Trump after the last election.

In several states that Joe Biden won -- states in which Joe Biden had been certified, I should emphasize, the winner -- pro-Trump Republicans, nevertheless, forged and signed documents in which they purported to be the real and true electors for their state. And they submitted those fake elector certificates to Congress, and then to the National Archives. It was an effort apparently coordinated by the Trump campaign to try and give the vice president, Mike Pence, the option at the very least -- the option to accept the fake slates of electors, rather than the real ones on January the 6th, and by doing so, keeping president Trump in the White House. Today, the January 6th investigation in Congress subpoenaed 14 of those fake electors from seven states seeking the documents and the depositions from all of them.

Now we knew that the January 6th investigation has been looking into the fake electric scheme for some time. And we learned recently that the investigators at the National Archives have also, interestingly enough, have also been looking into at least one fraudulent state of electors, one of the two submitted from the state of Arizona.

And we also knew that attorneys general in [New] Mexico and Michigan have referred the matter of the fake Trump electors in their states to federal prosecutors. And at least one state, in Michigan, the attorney general there, Dana Nessel, has said that if the feds do not pursue charges, she is prepared to do so. The state of Michigan is prepared to do so.

And this week brought the first peep, if you will, about this issue that we've learned from the feds, from the Justice Department itself. This is from a rare TV interview with a deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco.

[00:28:56] DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL LISA MONACO: On the issue you raised, in terms of fraudulent elector certifications has been reported, we've received those referrals. Our prosecutors were looking at the, at those and, I can't say anything more on ongoing investigations.

[00:29:12] AYMAN MOHYELDIN - STAND IN HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: All right. So federal prosecutors here, they're looking at, at least, at least the fake electors from the two states where the attorney general has referred it to the Justice Department, we can say that those federal investigations are ongoing as you heard there. But you know what's interesting in all of this? It's not like these fake electors were carrying out their scheme in secret or behind closed doors. They weren't trying to hide what they were doing at the time. Now it's the exact opposite. They were actually quite proud of it.

In Nevada, for example, you had the fake electors there set themselves up right outside the state capital. And they stream the thing on a right-wing livestream when they sign those fake documents. In Michigan, that same day, we have footage of Republicans claiming to be the state's electors, demanding to be let in to the state capital while the real electors were inside going about their business. In Arizona, the state Republican party itself, the actual party tweeted out a video of the fake electors signing their forged election certificate.

Folks, I don't know how to say this any clearer: They wanted everyone to know what they were doing. But more recently, as there has been this renewed interest in what they were up to, as it has become clearer and clearer that these Trump electors in all these different states were not just staging kooky publicity stunts to draw attention to themselves or seek the support of president Trump; they were part of a coordinated multi-state effort to overturn the election.

Recently the electors have been much more reticent though about their actions. Take Nevada for example. The Las Vegas Sun tried without success to get comment multiple times from several of the fake electors, including the state's Republican party chairman, who served, ironically enough, as the chairperson of the fake electors group.

Same thing in New Mexico. One elector told the Albuquerque Journal he had, quote, "no regrets." But he wouldn't answer any further questions and attempts to reach the other electors went nowhere. Producers on this show have also tried in vain to reach several electors. Again, no dice.

In Arizona, when a reporter from the Arizona Republic did in fact catch up with one of those electors, this is what he got:

[00:31:37] ARIZONA REPUBLIC REPORTER: Did you have direction from anybody in doing this? Was it you 11 yourself doing this? Or did someone give you advice on the manner in which you can do it?

[00:31:48] UNNAMED ARIZONA FAKE ELECTOR: So I'm simply, I was one of the electors, right? I'm not in charge of the electors. So you would need you ask --

[00:31:53] ARIZONA REPUBLIC REPORTER: How did you hear about it?

[00:31:54] UNNAMED ARIZONA FAKE ELECTOR: You would need to ask the party chair about that.

[00:31:56] ARIZONA REPUBLIC REPORTER: How did you hear about the plan? Were you just told to be somewhere?

[00:31:58] UNNAMED ARIZONA FAKE ELECTOR: You would need to ask the party chair that question.

[00:32:00] ARIZONA REPUBLIC REPORTER: But you're the person who received the call, you showed up. Right? How did you know to show up that day?

[00:32:05] UNNAMED ARIZONA FAKE ELECTOR: So as I said, you can go ahead and ask the party chair, the logistics of it.

[00:32:09] ARIZONA REPUBLIC REPORTER: Ask how you got a phone call to go somewhere?

[00:32:11] UNNAMED ARIZONA FAKE ELECTOR: You're welcome to talk to them about logistics.

[00:32:12] ARIZONA REPUBLIC REPORTER: You do not know how you arrived at a place?

[00:32:14] UNNAMED ARIZONA FAKE ELECTOR: Thank you. I appreciate your question.

[00:32:15] ARIZONA REPUBLIC REPORTER: Do you really not know how you got a call?

[00:32:17] UNNAMED ARIZONA FAKE ELECTOR: Have a great one.

[00:32:20] AYMAN MOHYELDIN - STAND IN HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: I mean, it just doesn't get any more awkward than that. That is how it has gone when reporters try to question these fake electors about their scheme.

But now they're going to have to answer these questions and more under subpoena. Because the January 6th investigation today subpoenaed two electors, in each of the seven states, the ones who were elected as chairperson and secretary to preside over the signing of these fraudulent documents.

Now that list of 14 subpoenaed fake electors actually and surprisingly includes prominent figures. It actually includes figures like the chairman of the state Republican party in the state of Georgia, in the state of Nevada. And it's interesting because the chairman of the January 6th investigation, Congressman Bennie Thompson, said, quote, "We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme. Now we encourage them to cooperate with the select committees investigation to get answers about January 6th for the American people and help ensure nothing like that day ever happens again."

And as those subpoenas go out today, NBC News tonight has confirmed news first reported by CNN that the January 6th investigation has also subpoenaed Trump White House press secretary -- deputy press secretary, excuse me -- Judd Deere. Investigators apparently want to ask Mr. Deere in particular about an oval office meeting with president Trump the day before the attack on the Capitol.

Now all of which, when you think about it, goes to show really the scope of the January 6th investigation, from meetings that took place in the White House immediately around the events of January 6th, to these gatherings of fake electors in seven states that happened weeks earlier. Lots of questions. And the timeline is just being flushed out.

Former FL county election chief Ion Sancho on MAGA threats to election officials Part 1 - The BradCast - Air Date 3-15-22

[00:34:18] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: But of course, in swing states like Georgia, election officials faced even worse harassment across the state. Here is one call left for Fulton County Georgia's election director, Richard Barron, last June, according to Reuters, long after the 2020 election was actually over.

[00:34:36] UNKNOWN: Time's running out, Richard. We're coming after you and every mother[bleep] that stole this election with our second amendment. Subpoenas, be damned. You're going to be served lead, you [bleep] enemal enemy communists. You will be served lead.

[00:34:58] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: Reuters documented hundreds of such calls across the country, but those threats, uh, as bad as they are, have now turned into action, by GOP lawmakers.

Since the 2020 election, lawmakers in Georgia's GOP-majority state legislature, for example, have introduced 14 bills reorganizing county election boards that oversee election offices.

So far, according to Washington Post, eight bills have been signed into law, resulting in a purge of long-time election board members, exodus of election staffers, and the installation of Republicans who have proposed measures to reduce poll locations and cancel Sunday voting.

In the case of Floyd County, Georgia, for example, as documented by the Post yesterday, the result was the abrupt disillusion of the entire nonpartisan election board that had been in place for decades.

It was a county that elected one of Congress's most radicalized MAGA members-- that would be Marjorie Taylor Greene-- and where Trump won in that county twice, with roughly 70% of the vote.

And yet, even there, those who had been running the election system had to go under the state's new MAGA election laws, allowing insufficiently Republican members of county board... uh, county election... uh, elections boards to be replaced by partisan county commissioners.

Just prior to the state's January 5th, 2021 senatorial runoff elections that resulted in both Democrat... both Democrats winning in Georgia, giving their party a majority in the U S Senate, Floyd County's then-acting election director, who had served on the board for some 27 years, received an email warning her, quote, "This country was founded on righteous war. And if this is what is required of us to defend our very democracy, we will step forward." It continued: "Anyone at these poll sites is worthy of our wrath. Detonations will occur at every polling site set up in this county. We'll make the Boston bombings look like child's play at the poll sites in this county. You have been warned. We will end you all."

That was just before the U S Senate runoff back on January 5th, 2021. Nonetheless, that note sent to election director, Vanessa Wattle, um, resulted in her notifying the police, and then moving ahead, carrying out the election, anyway, successfully.

On election day, the results were delivered on time; there were no discrepancies, according to the Post.

The next day, you'll recall, the U S Capitol was attacked by Republicans incited by Donald Trump in hopes of preventing the certification of Joe Biden's electoral college victory.

The Floyd County election director would, months later, be dismissed by the GOP county commission. Any thought that she, and the rest of the election board, had, that the atmosphere might somehow calm down during those several months, well, that was gone. What amounted to a grassroots uprising had gained momentum in Georgia, and had become more organized, and started coming... and they started coming after the election office in the county, as the state legislature made it easier to replace longtime, nonpartisan election officials on a partisan basis for virtually any reason that they could dream up.

At one point, Floyd County election board members said their basement office began to feel like a bunker. One official would carry pepper spray to work. Another bought a stun gun and began checking the hands of people who showed up at the office. For her part, Waddell, uh, said she considered bringing her gun to work-- as an election official!

That story, of course, is just one of hundreds that we could tell about the attacks and the threats against, and the replacement of, election officials in Georgia, and elsewhere, since Donald Trump unleashed his "Big Lie" about the 2020 elections.

Last December, for example, we were joined on this program by one of Georgia's longtime civil rights icons, Helen Butler, who had served on Morgan County's board of elections for decades, until, as Reuters reported last year, the majority Republican county commission reconstituted its election board, ousting two outspoken Black Democrats; one of them of course, was Butler, removed after a new law eliminated political party appointments to the election board and handed appointment power to the Republican-dominated county commission.

And now, as a new Brennan Center poll of local election officials around the country finds-- this was taken more than a year since the Trump-incited attack on the Capitol-- the new poll shows how damaging this sustained attack against those officials and their colleagues have been, putting apolitical election administrators and our democracy... democratic system in serious danger. According to the Brennan Center, one in six election officials, they say, have experienced threats because of their job; 77% say that... that they feel these threats have increased in recent years, ranging from death threats, that name officials' young children, to racist and gendered harassment. These attacks have forced election officials across the country to take steps, like hiring personal security, fleeing their homes, putting their children into counseling.

Over half of poll respondents reported that they are concerned about the safety of their colleagues. More than one in four are concerned about being assaulted on the job. Some election workers have decided these threats are too high a risk; 30% of the officials in their poll... of... uh, one or more... *know* of one or more election officials who have left, at least in part, because of fear for their own safety, increase threats, or intimidation.

In the longterm, 60% of officials are concerned that threats, harassment, and intimidation against officials will make it difficult to retain and recruit election workers. Most election officials like their jobs, the study finds, with three and four agreeing that they find real enjoyment in their roles. However, 20% plan to leave before the 2024 election, with one third of those citing political leaders' attacks on a system they know is fair and honest is one of their top reasons for leaving.

And nearly one third site unnecessary stress as one of their top reasons for leaving.

Trump flouting of Presidential Records Act leaves National Archives scrambling - The Rachel Maddow Show - Air Date 2-7-22

[00:42:02] ALI VESHI - STAND IN HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: We're joined now by Michael Schmidt, Washington correspondent for the New York Times. In addition to getting new details tonight on those 15 boxes of records rescued from Mar-a-Lago, Michael also has new reporting on the January 6 committee. He writes that their goal is not just to hold hearings and write a report. They. Are hoping that their work will lead to criminal prosecutions. The investigation is "borrowing techniques from federal prosecutions, employing aggressive tactics typically used against mobsters and terrorists, as it seeks to break through stonewalling from former president Trump and his allies and develop evidence that could prompt a criminal case, the committee. Which has no authority to pursue criminal charges is using what powers it has in expansive ways, in hopes of pressuring the attorney general Merrick Garland to use the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute them."

Michael, good to see you, thank you for joining us. Your reporting tonight gets to a question that I think is on every viewer's mind, what can this committee do given the running out the clock and the stonewalling that it continues to get from some people around the Trump orbit? And what your reporting describes is very much what I'm used to as a business journalist, —when you see the government go after a company, where they start and they just move their way up, and they figure out ways to get to central characters, even if the central characters won't participate.

[00:43:25] MICHAEL SCHMIDT: I think that's right. The committee has done, it's taken an aggressive stance for several reasons. One of them is that a lot of the attempts to hold Donald Trump accountable, whether it was the Mueller investigation, that two impeachments, the other congressional investigations that have gone on, those all, while they did political damage to Trump and he ultimately lost the election, Donald's Trump still looms and is not changed his behavior, and continues to push his brand of Trumpism down into the country in ways that really concerns Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans.

So they're taking the most aggressive stance that we've seen in any recent congressional investigation and going out and getting phone records that sweeping up personal data of a lot of different people, and they're using link analysis, a tool that the FBI used in the years after the September 11th attacks to identify terrorist networks to see who was talking to who. They've looked at the org chart of the White House and of who was around the president, and they've said, okay, well, if Mark Meadows, isn't going to talk to us, and if this other senior officials isn't going to talk to us, who were the aides that were right underneath them, and who were the aids underneath them? And what did they know?

Because they noticed when they went down the ladder in the same way that you go down the ladder if you were looking at a mob organization, those people can be more vulnerable. They may be less loyal to the person at the top. Certainly the younger you are, the less money you have to hire a high-end white-collar criminal defense lawyer to defend you, and to try and stop the committee from getting your phone records or stop the committee from questioning you.

So the committee is doing this, to your point, to one, to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6th and everything, the lead up to it, but also because they are trying to come up with as much damning evidence as possible to pressure Merrick Garland. They see this as their best opportunity to try and get the Justice Department to do something. Garland has given no indication, there's been no public indication, that he's investigating Trump or that the investigation of January 6th is headed in that direction. And what the January 6 committee, if it could have its way, it would develop as much damning information as possible and be able to tie it, in good faith, in a good faith argument, to the criminal code and say to the Justice Department, "okay, we went out and did this investigation. Here's what we found. These are the criminal laws that we think have been violated and you should do something," and they would probably make something like that public, and that would, at the very least, I think, force the Justice Department to at least publicly address the question of what they're doing in regard to Donald Trump.

Now, Merrick Garland has shown immense independence in his short period of time as Attorney General, and he may just try and ignore it, but the Democratic party is being pushed, the Democratic leaders on the hill are being pushed by their base, which wants Trump held accountable. And at the center of this is Liz Cheney, who wants to use the most aggressive techniques possible. She is considered on the committee to be the most aggressive member. She says we are going to get criticized no matter what we do. They're going to come after us no matter what we do, and they're not going to cooperate no matter what we do. So we have to use every tool possible. And that is why the January 6 investigation looks different than many, many, many other investigations that we've seen come out of congress.

[00:47:19] ALI VESHI - STAND IN HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: So there's great reporting that you've got today, but there's also one big asterisk, in which you say the committee's aggressive approach carries with it another obvious risk, that it could fail to turn up compelling new information about Mr. Trump's efforts to hold on to power after his defeat, or to make a persuasive case for a Justice Department prosecution. After all, Mr. Trump survived years of scrutiny by the special counsel in the Russia investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, and two impeachments.

Despite a swirl of new investigations since he left office, the former president remains the dominant force in Republican politics. In fairness, we are learning new things that we didn't know during the impeachment. What's the point here, that we're not learning new things that fundamentally change anyone's thinking about what happened? We just have more details about what we already know.

[00:48:06] MICHAEL SCHMIDT: Well, in many ways, I think January 6th may be one of the most important historical events certainly to happen in my lifetime that I've witnessed. In other ways and because of that, we need to learn as much as we can about it. How did it happen? Who was behind it? Who were the intellectual people coming up with the underpinnings of it, the plans of it? Who was executing things? How did this all happen? How did thousands of people end up on the steps of the Capitol in a violent attack that led to deaths and to the interruption of one of the most sacred parts of our democracy?

On the other hand, what else do you need to know about January 6th to change your mind about what happened? Donald Trump said everything out loud. He still defends what he did. He is as open about it as possible. So there are two competing issues here. We are going to get to the bottom of as much of it as possible. It is a highly important event. I think the committee runs into difficulty when the report comes out because they have made a lot of news. They put subpoenas out. They're the ones that put the subpoenas out every week generating the stories about the people that they want to question and get documents for. And all of that has a beat to it, a momentum to it, that shows that this investigation is moving forward.

Now, when that report comes out and when they're done, where will that momentum have left the committee? Will the committee have a new narrative and entirely new appendage of the efforts to overturn the election, that changed the way that we look at January 6th? Or, will it just be an evidence-based version of media and book accounts of it?

We don't know, but the expectations are high because the committee has put so much time and effort into this, and has generated so much news. It'll be interesting to see where they end up.

Trump Facing CRIMINAL Charges Per Trump Riot Committee - David Pakman Show - Air Date 3-3-22

[00:50:12] DAVID PAKMAN - HOST, DAVID PAKMAN SHOW: Major breaking news last night, and that is that the January 6th committee investigating the Trump riots has now laid out in clear terms the possible criminal charges against Donald Trump. Now, remember, they can't bring criminal charges. These are members of the House. They have investigative powers. It is up to the Justice Department, currently guided by Attorney General Merrick Garland, to decide are we bringing criminal charges or not, but there was this open question for a very long time, would the investigation point to criminal charges against Donald Trump? And the answer now is yes, and of course the million dollar question is, is there a prosecutor willing to bring charges against a former president?

So we'll start with a New York Times article. January 6th committee lays out potential criminal charges against Trump. In a court filing, the panel said there was enough evidence to suggest Trump might've engaged in a criminal conspiracy as he fought to remain in office. These are such strange times where outrageous things are normalized. Things that would have been unthinkable at times past, five of them happen in a week, and we just kind of don't react. This is not normal. This is a really big deal. Not only is there a committee investigate riots incited by a former president desperate to keep his grip on power on January 6th, 2021, but they believe that he may have engaged in criminal conspiracy.

The House committee investigating the riots said there is enough evidence to conclude former president Donald Trump and some of his allies might've conspired to commit fraud and obstruction by misleading Americans about the outcome of the election and attempting to overturn the result. This is a big, big deal.

In a court filing in a civil case in California, the committee's lawyers, for the first time, laid out their theory of a potential criminal case against Donald Trump. They said they had accumulated evidence demonstrating that Trump, the conservative lawyer John Eastman, and other allies could potentially be charged with criminal violations, including obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and conspiracy to defraud the American people. The filing also said the men might have broken a common law statute against fraud through Trump's repeated lies that the election had been stolen. The filing disclosed only limited new evidence. The committee asked the judge in the civil case to review the material behind closed doors. This is insane. In asserting the potential for criminality, the committee largely relied on the extensive and detailed accounts already made public of the actions Trump and his allies took to keep him in office after defeat.

CBS reporting: House January 6 committee says it has evidenced Trump and allies engaged in "criminal conspiracy". The House Select Committee investigating the riots set in a court filing it has evidenced Trump and allies engaged in a criminal conspiracy by trying to block Congress from certifying the election. This is the first time the committee has laid out a potential criminal case against Donald Trump. This is a significant moment in the investigation because it includes rare disclosure of findings, excerpts from depositions and interviews with witnesses, including Mike Pence's top advisor, former Justice Department leaders, and those close to Trump.

Newsweek: Donald Trump could face criminal charges after explosive John Eastman emails revealed. Remember John Eastman's this lawyer who laid out what a theoretical framework for trying to flip the results of the election.

This is not normal, but, and I know I'm getting now dozens of emails and voicemails from viewers and listeners every day, "David, do you still think Trump won't go to prison?" Yes, yes I do. And people who say, "David, when you say that it makes it less likely he will go to prison." No, I'm a random guy with a microphone. Nobody, no potential prosecutor cares what I am saying. It doesn't make any difference.

We have a situation here where, think of the steps. First, there has to be some prosecutor willing to be the first to charge Donald Trump, a former president—that already takes a lot. And it doesn't seem Merrick Garland is going to be that guy. We've talked about Southern District of New York. We've talked about Manhattan District Attorney. We've talked about Georgia. Are any of these prosecutors willing to be the first? I don't deny that if one prosecutor filed charges more would fall. I believe there would. I believe that there's many prosecutors willing to be the second prosecutor or the third prosecutor to file charges against Trump. I'm not seeing any evidence anyone is willing to be the first.

If you did see that in almost 99% of these types of cases, you don't get a trial. You get some kind of a plea, you get charges being dropped because things get complicated, et cetera. If you get a trial, you don't necessarily get a guilty verdict. If you get a guilty verdict, you almost certainly don't get prison time. So think about the number of steps here. So yes, if you want my opinion and that's all it is, I don't think Trump does a day in prison. Will we see charges at some point? Maybe. That's far more likely than prison time, but that is still my belief at this point in time.

Trump flouting of Presidential Records Act leaves National Archives scrambling Part 2 - The Rachel Maddow Show - Air Date 2-7-22

[00:55:50] ALI VESHI - STAND IN HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: And this week, the Washington Post reported that, " Trump's shredding of paper was far more widespread and indiscriminate than previously known. Throughout his presidency, staffers made a habit of coming in behind Trump to retrieve the piles of torn paper left in his wake," and then, "jig sawing the documents back together with tape." It went beyond just tearing things up, "one senior Trump White House official said he and other White House staffers frequently put documents into burn bags to be destroyed rather than preserving them, and would decide themselves what should be saved and what should be burned. When the January 6 committee asked for certain documents related to Trump's efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence, for example, some of them no longer existed in this person's files because they had already been shredded." A former senior Trump official set of Trump, "He didn't want a record of anything."

I guess, one simple, straightforward way to describe that might be this.

[00:56:55] PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That's an official document. You're not allowed. It's illegal what she did. She broke the law.

[00:57:01] ALI VESHI - STAND IN HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Apparently not content to violate the presidential records just by ripping up documents into pieces, or by putting them into burn bags and shredding them or burning them, Donald Trump apparently also took a whole bunch of presidential records with him when he left the White House, and just stuck them at his golf club in Florida. The Washington Post reports today that the National Archives had to go retrieve 15 boxes of records from Mar-a-Lago that should have been turned over when Trump left the White House. And the National Archives says that Trump staff are, "continuing to search" for additional records that may have been thrown into Trump's U-Haul when he left the White House for Mar-a-Lago.

And don't forget to check the clubhouse for any more letters from world leaders. Make sure a box of presidential memorabilia or memoranda didn't get stuck behind the wet bar at the pool. The Post, and now the New York Times, both report that the contents of the 15 boxes include correspondence between Trump and the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, as well as a letter that president Obama left for Trump when Obama left office.

According to the Times tonight, also in the boxes is, amazingly, this, the National Weather Service map that he altered with a Sharpie during a hurricane briefing in 2019. Now you will recall that he used a Sharpie to change the projected path of a hurricane in order to match what he had incorrectly said about the hurricane's path in a tweet. Dear leader's tweet, obviously couldn't be wrong, so an entire weather system had to be altered by Sharpie to match it. Yes, that Sharpie-gate map definitely belongs in the National Archives. We need a record of it, mostly because the people of the future will not believe that something so ridiculous ever happened.

As for how those 15 boxes end up at Mar-a-Lago instead of at the National Archives, the Times reports that had happened during a hasty exit from the White House, when, instead of packing up like a president planning to leave office in accordance with the law should have been, "Mr. Trump had spent the bulk of the presidential transition trying to find ways to stay in power. At the time, Mr. Trump's age were either preoccupied with helping him overturn the election, trying to stop him, or avoiding him."

Speaking of trying to overturn the election, there's no word yet on the question on everyone's mind, is there anything in those 15 boxes that might be of interest to the January 6th investigation? Well, let's find out. Joining us now is the reporter who had the original scoop today, that the National Archives had recovered multiple boxes of Trump presidential records from the former president's Mar-a-Lago estate, Washington Post congressional correspondent, Jackie Alemany.

Jackie, good evening to you, thank you for being here. This is definitely one of those stories that you can't make up, and I'm sure you weren't ever expecting that you'd have to report on, but in fact, we've had hints of this from the past. We've known for a while that Donald Trump had some sort of habit of destroying documents he wasn't supposed to be destroying.

[01:00:07] JACQUELINE ALEMANY: Yeah, like so much of what Trump has done over the course of the last five years, he did all of this pretty publicly and flagrantly. As Annie Karni had reported in 2018 for Politico in a pretty brilliant story, the president had a habit of ripping up documents that he carried from his past life as a businessman into the White House, despite it being unlawful and despite being warned by his former Chief of Staff and White House Counsel repeatedly. The entire apparatus around record archiving and the whole process of the White House records management and the transfer to the National Archives had to completely rejigger their approach because of the former president's habits. He was shredding up everything in sight and it was almost involuntary and pretty habitual.

This actually continued through 2021, right until he left office, which we found out in the course of our reporting about the January 6th investigation, but we really have no idea that the reporting was going to lead to where we landed today, which is the National Archives telling us that actually, and it resulted in 15 boxes being retrieved from Mar-a-Lago after they were failed to be properly transferred from the Trump White House to the National Archives. This is in violation of the Presidential Records Act, and perhaps even more importantly, the archives said in their statement to us, that Trump's lawyers are still actually searching for additional documents and might be handing even more documentation over.

[01:01:34] ALI VESHI - STAND IN HOST, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: So we know shredding. We have now heard of burn bags, I don't know if that means that that the burn bag stuff actually got burned. I spoke to Omarosa Manigault Newman yesterday, who alleges at one point she saw Donald Trump eating something, like ripping something up and eating paper, which he found odd, given that he's a germaphobe and doesn't typically put things in his mouth.

So what do we know? What do we know about what we don't know, what's not there? Is it possible that there are documents entirely missing that we may never find out about?

[01:02:02] JACQUELINE ALEMANY: So we do know that the career staff at the White House Records Management devised a system around the president's tendency to sort of throw things at his own personal individual discretion into the burn bags, regardless of whether or not they should be burned. The presumption is, the operating basis under the Presidential Records Act, is that every document the president touches/creates is a presidential record. It's been up to the people, the career staff around him, to decide whether or not certain classified documents should be incinerated. So thrown into a burn back and then taken to the Pentagon where ultimately those documents would get burned up.

It's it's unclear if any documents were maybe lost in that period when people hadn't quite realized that this president was not abiding by the normal processes, but I think this recent development does cause some more questions about what don't we know. What does the president still have at Mar-a-Lago, and what are they going to, what's actually in those 15 boxes?

We're not actually sure the impetus for the National Archives to realize that they were missing a lot of documents that they recovered last month from Mar-a-Lago, but we do know that some of these documents that have come out that we've been able to reveal, the love letters with Kim Jung-un and a letter from President Obama that he left for President Trump as he took office in 2016, that these were documents that were very publicly and widely extensively reported on and known. If the archives had decided that they were maybe potentially looking for a document and because it was publicly reported on, they wouldn't have been able to have found it until this past month.

Former FL county election chief Ion Sancho on MAGA threats to election officials Part 2 - The BradCast - Air Date 3-15-22

[01:03:44] ION SANCHO: And this is something that most of your audience need to understand; that election officials are... to be good at this job, you have to be an excellent administrator. And you have to essentially recognize that you have to put loyalty to the principles of elections over loyalty to persons, political officials, political parties, or even government departments.

As an elected official, I had the ability to stand up and act as an individual. And yes, I did get slings and arrows thrown at me. But the fact of the matter is, most elected officials are administrators; not activists, not individuals who are used to dealing with the political process-- except as standing away from it, and facilitating elections.

We take oath to be nonpartisan. And one of the proudest moments of my life was the creation of helping write the standards of code and conduct for the election center to apply to all national election officials relative to putting loyalty to the principles of fair and honest elections over anything else.

I will tell you, for example, while my position was an elected official in Leon County, when I was elected, um, one of my major volunteers wanted to work in the office, and I told them "You would have to resign from the president of the Young Democrats at the State of Florida, or I could not employ you, because I could not... Positions in my office had to be scrupulously nonpartisan. And if you were the president of a Democrat, or president of a Republican, organization, that would seem to have a conflict to me.

And so I, essentially, had to break friendships with individuals who had helped me gain victory, because it was simply improper to do that.

And, election officials have this mindset of staying away from the political process.

And this unfortunately has fed into the problem, because in order to defend themselves, they actually have to do, what? They have to, actually, attack a former president as a liar! And that is not something that election officials, whether it's in Florida, or Illinois, and New York, that's not something that we do. We try to stand away from the political process.

Our goals is to facilitate fair elections. And.... so... the... one of the additional problems of this attack is, it's against a group of individuals who are probably least able to defend themselves against the sort of political attacks.

[01:06:37] BRAD FRIEDMAN - HOST, THE BRADCAST: Let me ask you, uh, Ion, because this election-- obviously, the 2020 election-- has made a lot of, uh, strange bedfellows. I find myself-- oddly enough, and uncomfortably enough, you know-- defending companies like Dominion Voting Systems, which is, you know, really bizarre. You know my history, you know I've held all of the voting system, uh, companies accountable over these years. But then, the... the MAGA mob has taken a lot of my work and, basically, twisted it, to lie about those companies, to make up facts, to get facts wrong.

I have been, over the years, not just critical of voting machine companies, but of election officials as well. Uh, in certain cases, I've tried to hold their feet to the fire, when it was deserved.

What is different... you know, should I be, uh, criticized for... you know, I... I... I've been told, "Oh, you're... you're, uh, attacking election officials, you're attacking poll workers."

What's different about that sort of criticism, versus what we are seeing now?

[01:07:41] ION SANCHO: Well, the... the difference is, that you were focusing on specific issues, issues that are provable fact; whether or not this system was working, or this process was disenfranchising these individuals, and you... X, you could do Y over here, and do a better job.

That's... that's different than the kind of criticism that we have right now; because quite frankly, your criticism doesn't threaten the democratic experiment. And what we find ourselves now is that the great American experiment, our democracy, is being threatened. And our nation is only as strong as the faith our citizens have in their voice, and their vote being counted. It's as strong as that.

And it's been destroyed. It's been destroyed by individuals who would rather believe a narcissistic liar than understand the truth.

And the ironic thing is that many of these individuals have voted for their election officials over the years, have contributed to them.

And let me give you the example: when... when the immediate past president of our association, a Republican, Pam Jones, from... from Levy County, she sent out a flyer, asking people if they wanted to vote by mail. She was a Republican, in a majority-Republican county who'd been overwhelmingly elected, multiple times. She was viciously attacked. "Why are you using this fraudulent method? Why are you trying to steal our elections?"

She was not trying to steal the election. During the COVID, people could not show up and vote in many situations. I myself, um, suffered an immune disease, an autoimmune disease that prevented me from, actually, meeting with, mingling with any human beings. And so I voted by mail, um, and I was really glad to have that opportunity to do so, because otherwise my life could have been threatened by the disease that I was dealing with.

And yet, all of these efforts to try to provide good service have morphed into, "You're stealing our elections." These... raising doubts about elections in the absence of evidence of wrongdoing is horrible.

And there's the absence of evidence is a critical thing. If you have valid criticisms, you bring the evidence, as we did in Leon County; when we performed the heck, we filmed it. We had the evidence, you could see it scientifically, and it was verified by other scientists and technicians across the country.

There is no validation here from independent experts at all. In fact, there's a closed mind, kind of, echo chamber, which mirrors the same kind of echo chamber that we have split our nation into camps now. And these echo chambers are resistant to truth and evidence. We live now almost in a fact-free existence in some areas.


[01:10:48] ION SANCHO: And this is going to destroy our ability to be a democratic state.


[01:10:55] ION SANCHO: I do not think it was mere chance that the attack in Ukraine occurred now, because we are as split as we've ever been. And our ex-president, put us into that situation.

So, leasving aside the foreign policy implications, here, with election officials, we are in the process of destroying a model of non-partisan elections administration that has taken decades to build; to inculcate in these individuals that you really should not be partisan, because, quite frankly, our history was that many election officials over the years were.

As a student of history of elections, I can tell you that, really, up until the 1950s, really, parties control the elections. You know?

Lyndon Baines Johnson, who was attacked for stealing his first congressional victory in Texas, actually had the cooperation of his local supervisor of elections. And those tainted ballots, from the cemetery, were driven to the courthouse by the Texas... the Texas Rangers.

And so, up until, really, up... up until World War II, we were a pretty parochial process of elections, in which bosses could, in fact, deliver votes.

That age is, pretty much, gone, for the most part. And we've tried to replace that with non-partisan elections administration, a commitment to the service, not the people, or the party,

But, it... it's... it's... it's a constant dilemma.

I can tell you, when I was first elected, I had a city commissioner attack me for registering university students, who were registered far lower than their percentages in the population. This individual was a Democrat, and of course, as old as I am, we're talking about the Reagan administration. He didn't want me to register university students because he felt that president Reagan was influencing a lot of the young people to register as Republicans.

I had to tell him, it is irrelevant to me. It is their choice. They can choose, and they have the right to choose, and that's the end of the story. I will register people who are not registered to vote, because that is the job of an election official; because as we have stated in our founding documents, in the Declaration of Independence, the will of the governed must be made manifest. The will of the governed can only be expressed at the ballot box in a democratic republic.

And today, what I'm seeing, is threatening to destroy, what we have taken 200 plus years to build.

Summary 3-19-22

[01:13:44] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: We've just heard clips today, starting with:

The Majority Report detailing the violence that had been planned for January 6th, and the right-wing media machine that's been muddying the waters ever since;

Democracy, Now! explained the plan to declare an emergency on January 6th;

The Rachel Maddow Show looked at the floated plan to seize voting equipment;

Democracy, Now! explained the concern that Trump planned to use the National Guard and the Insurrection Act in support of the insurrectionists;

The Rachel Maddow Show highlighted the array of fake electors poised to cast their fake votes for Trump at the electoral college;

The Bradcast explained the intimidation and legislative tactics attempting to purge our election system of impartial civic-minded election workers;

The Rachel Maddow Show looked at the actions of the January 6th Commission in Congress, and their efforts to break through the stonewalling, and reach criminal charges; and

The David Pakman Show discussed the commission's proposed criminal charges, and why we shouldn't expect Trump to ever see jail time.

That's what everyone heard. But members also heard bonus clips from the Rachel Maddow Show, which looked at Trump's habit of destroying documents, and the National Archives' efforts to retrieve documents Trump removed from the White House on his way out; and

The Bradcast spoke with a career election administrator who explained why election workers have difficulty defending themselves from political attacks.

To hear that, and have all of our bonus content delivered seamlessly into your new members-only podcast feed that you'll receive, sign up to support the show at bestoftheleft.com/support, or request a financial hardship membership, because we don't make a lack of funds a barrier to hearing more information. Every request is granted. No questions, asked.

And now we'll hear from you.

Thoughts on the Ukraine context episode - Alan from Connecticut

[01:15:36] VOICEMAILER: ALAN FROM CONNECTICUT: Hey, Jay!, It's Alan from Connecticut calling in. Episode 1474. Really, in my mind, this is one of your top award-winning episodes if I were to pick one. The timing was phenomenal and I had to go back and listen to it a couple of times, but it gave a great perspective and understanding on a country, and Russia overall, that I really never got in any history book or history class. And if I did, it certainly wouldn't give it the justice that this did. So I really thank you. I've shared it a number of times, and gone into some of the links, and done some further research to get some better understanding, and listened to it three times, because I didn't hear in the second time to stop listening. So I went back three times. But I guess that's on me. So I'm a little behind, but, really, that was definitely a total touchdown on that one. So thank you. Stay awesome, keep wearing your mask and be cool.

Final comments on our new Discord community server and how to join

[01:16:31] JAY TOMLINSON - HOST, BEST OF THE LEFT: Thanks to all those who called into the voicemail line, or wrote in their messages to be played as VoicedMails. If you'd like to leave a comment or question of your own to be played on the show, you can record a message at 202 999 3991, or write me a message to [email protected].

I'll get back to Alan in a second, but first I just wanted to put a finer point on the urgency of the disintegration of our election system.

The results of a national survey of 600 U S election officials came out this month, revealing that one in five may quit before the 2024 election amid threats, harassment, and intimidation. One in six election officials in the poll said that they have been threatened personally.

And while it's understandable for people to be fearful, it is critical that we collectively stand up to these scare tactics. So, if you can become a poll worker, or an election official in your area, please, please do. And start the process, now: go to workelections.org and simply select your state and enter your county, city, or town to instantly get the information you need, including compensation rates, and to apply to be a poll worker.

If you're interested in other election official roles, the contact information will allow you to find out more. So check out the show notes for the link and other resources.

Now we just heard from Alan, and I... I thank him for his nice comments. Alan usually has nice things to say. So I don't have a response to what he's saying exactly, but...

I am using him as bait, because the big news that I have for everyone is that we have just launched a Best of the Left community on Discord. And if you don't know what Discord is, or what I'm talking about, there's a link in the show notes to an article that explains what it is; but, super quick:

Discord is, essentially, a social media platform that doesn't act like a social media platform. So there's no algorithms, there are no ads, there's no manipulation of your attention, nothing like that. But it's a place where entities or interest groups-- you know, entities like Best of the Left, or interest groups of any kind-- can create a community and have people plug into it super easily. And it, sort of, just acts like a fancy text messaging app with lots of other bells and whistles.

So we, at Best of the Left now have a community on Discord. You can join us there and chat with Alan from Connecticut. That's the real bait, I think. I mean, if anything is gonna get you interested in a best of love community, it is a direct and unfettered access to Alan from Connecticut.

I won't bore you with all the details right now, but I would just say that the community is open to everyone. Anyone can access it. You just have to use the invite link in the show notes.

But, there are, sort of just like the show itself, members-only areas of the community. And so, if you are a member through Patreon, you're gonna want to connect your Discord account to your Patreon account; and if you're a member through either our website or the Apple podcast app, you'll just want to follow the link in the show notes that is, uh, custom tailored to you, as a member.

But anyone can access it; just, you get the slightly restricted version of the community, and... and you can get in there... uh, test the waters and... uh, and... and see if membership is right for you to access the rest of it.

Just quickly, I will, sort of, let you in on the seed of the idea for this community; what... what made me decide to form it in the first place. And honestly, it goes all the way back to me starting this show.

You know, 15 years ago, when I started this show, the impetus for it was this, sort of, instinctual desire I had to share good and interesting things that I was hearing on the radio. Way back in the day, I actually did start out just listening to terrestrial radio, and then satellite radio, and then figured out that podcasts had just been invented.

So, I had this instinctual desire to share this interesting stuff with other people, hoping that they would get something out of it, and this community, the seed of it... I mean, there... there are, you know, lots of things that people can talk about; but what I really hope it'll get used for is fulfilling that instinct in other people as well.

And this is what is part of the... the members-only area, where I'm hoping that people will share the most interesting stuff that they come across: podcasts, videos, articles, books, you know, whatever you come across. And that this community can become a place where you could go, assured that you will have something really, really interesting recommended to you, and that you would do the same in return; when you come across something really interesting, that you would post it in the Best of the Left community for the rest of the community to benefit from.

And, look, not-so-secretly, this could be great for the Best of the Left podcast as well, because it is our jobs to find all the great stuff there is, uh, out there and share it with you in a nicely-curated package, but how much better could it be if we have a community of people sharing interesting stuff with us all the time, giving us interesting leads, interesting ideas, making interesting connections, that we could formulate and turn into future podcast episodes?

So that's where the idea for the community initially came from. But, you know, of course, it's also fun to just make snarky comments about the day's news, or, I was just having a conversation with a listener on there-- members have already been told about this, so there's a few people already in there, and, uh, and so I was just having a chat with a member-- about inoculation theory, and how to protect ourselves against misinformation, and deep fakes, and all that sort of stuff, uh, using inoculation theory.

So interesting conversations are happening on all levels on all topics. And so you should definitely check it out.

And as I said, all the information that you need to get connected is in the show notes, including information on what the hell it is I'm even talking about. So, go look in the show notes, uh, see for yourself, and if you still have any questions, please don't hesitate to send them my way to [email protected].

Now, as always, keep the comments coming in at 202 999 3991, or by emailing them to [email protected].

Now as always keep the comments coming in, either by email me to that address, or by dialing 202 999 3991.

That's gonna be it for today. Thanks to everyone for listening. Thanks to Deon Clark and Erin Clayton for their research work for the show and participation in our bonus episodes.

Thanks to the Monosyllabic Transcriptionist Trio, Ben, Ken, and Scott, for their volunteer work, helping put our transcripts together.

Thanks to Amanda Hoffman for all of her work on our social media outlets, activism segments, graphic designing, web mastering, and bonus show co-hosting.

And thanks to those who support the show by becoming a member or purchasing gift memberships at bestoftheleft.com/support through our Patreon page, or from right inside the Apple podcast app. Membership is how you get instant access to our incredibly good bonus episodes, in addition to there being extra content and no ads in all of our regular episodes; all through your regular podcast player, in addition to full and unfettered access to our new Discord community, of course.

So coming to you from far outside the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC, my name is Jay, and this has been the Best of the Left podcast coming to you twice weekly thanks entirely to the members and donors to the show from bestoftheleft.com.

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  • Jay Tomlinson
    published this page in Transcripts 2022-03-19 10:06:28 -0400
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