Posts tagged with "Fake elector scheme"

DOJ issues 40 subpoenas in a week—expanding its January 6 inquiry

September 14, 2022

Justice Department officials have seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Donald Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the inquiry, reports The New York Times.

The seizure of the phones—coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Trump after the 2020 election—represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the January 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

The extent of the investigation has come into focus in recent days, even though it often has been overshadowed by the government’s legal clash with Trump and his lawyers over a separate inquiry into the handling of presidential records—including highly classified materials, the former president kept at his residence in Florida, the Mar-a-Lago Club.

Federal agents with court-authorized search warrants took phones last week from at least two people: Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Trump’s legal efforts; and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist who was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in 2020, people familiar with the investigation said.

Epshteyn and Roman have been linked to a critical element of Trump’s bid to hold onto power—the effort to name slates of electors pledged Trump from swing states won by Joe Biden in 2020 as part of a plan to block or delay congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Epshteyn and Roman did not respond to requests for comment. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.

The names of those receiving the latest round of subpoenas in the investigation related to January 6 have dribbled out gradually, with investigators casting a wide net on a range of issues, including Trump’s postelection fund-raising and the so-called fake electors scheme.

One of the recipients, people familiar with the case said, was Dan Scavino, Trump’s former social media director who rose from working at a Trump-owned golf course to become one of his most loyal West Wing aides, and has remained an adviser since Trump left office. Stanley Woodward, one of Scavino’s lawyers, declined to comment.

Another was Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner. Kerik, who promoted claims of voter fraud alongside his friend Rudy Giuliani, was issued a subpoena by prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., his lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said on Monday, September 12. Parlatore said his client had initially offered to grant an interview voluntarily.

The subpoenas seek information in connection with the fake electors plan.

For months, Trump associates have received subpoenas related to other aspects of the investigations into his efforts to cling to power. But in a new line of inquiry, some of the latest subpoenas focus on the activities of the Save America political action committee, the main political fund-raising conduit for Trump since he left office.

The fact that the Justice Department is now seeking information related to fund-raising comes as the House committee examining the January 6 attack has raised questions about money Trump solicited under the premise of fighting election fraud.

The new subpoenas encompass a wide variety of those in Mr. Trump’s orbit, from low-level aides to his most senior advisers.

The Justice Department has spent more than a year focused on investigating hundreds of rioters who were on the ground at the Capitol on Jan. 6. But this spring, it started issuing grand jury subpoenas to people like Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer with the pro-Trump Stop the Steal group, who helped plan the march to the Capitol after Mr. Trump gave a speech that day at the Ellipse near the White House.

While it remains unclear how many subpoenas had been issued in that early round, the information they sought was broad.

According to one subpoena obtained by The New York Times, they asked for any records or communications from people who organized, spoke at, or provided security for Trump’s rally at the Ellipse. They also requested information about any members of the executive and legislative branches who may have taken part in planning or executing the rally, or tried to “obstruct, influence, impede, or delay” the certification of the presidential election.

By early summer, the grand jury investigation had taken another turn, as several subpoenas were issued to state lawmakers and state Republican officials allied with Trump who took part in a plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in several key swing states that Biden actually won.

At least 20 of these subpoenas were sent out and sought information about, and communications with, several lawyers who took part in the fake elector scheme, including Giuliani and John Eastman.

Around the same time, federal investigators seized Eastman’s cellphone and the phone of another lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump had sought at one point to install as the acting attorney general. Clark had his own role in the fake elector scheme: In December 2020, he helped draft a letter to Governor Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia, saying that the state’s election results had been marred by fraud and recommending that Kemp convene a special session of the Georgia Legislature to create a slate of pro-Trump electors.

At least some of the new subpoenas also requested all records that the recipients had turned over to the House January 6 committee, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Research contact: @nytimes

Election deniers repeatedly visited Georgia county office at center of criminal probe, video shows

September 7, 2022

Technology consultants who sought evidence that Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat was fraudulent made multiple visits to a county elections office in rural Georgia in the weeks after an alleged post-election breach of voting equipment there that is the subject of a criminal investigation, reports The Washington Post.

Surveillance video reviewed by The Washington Post shows that the consultants, Doug Logan and Jeffrey Lenberg, made two visits in January 2021 to the elections office in Coffee County, about 200 miles south of Atlanta. Lenberg made an additional five visits on his own. The two men are under investigation for separate alleged breaches of voting machines in Michigan.

The footage also shows that, earlier in January, Cathy Latham, a teacher and then-chairwoman of the county Republican Party, greeted a group of outside data forensics experts when they arrived at the elections office shortly before noon on the day of the alleged breach.

Latham has said in sworn testimony that she taught a full day of school that day and visited the elections office briefly after classes ended. She was one of 16 Republicans who signed certificates declaring Trump the rightful winner of the 2020 election as part of the “fake elector” scheme now under investigation by federal and state prosecutors.

The new video adds to the picture of the alleged breach in Coffee County on January 7, 2021—and reveals for the first time the later visits by Logan and Lenberg. It also provides further indications of links between various efforts to overturn the election, including what once appeared to be disparate attempts to access and copy election system data in the wake of Trump’s loss.

Experts have expressed concern that such efforts could expose details of voting systems’ hardware and software that are intended to be tightly controlled—potentially aiding hackers who might seek to alter the results of a future election.

Data copied from elections systems in other states have been published online. Georgia state officials and voting-machine makers have downplayed the risk, pointing to safeguards that they say protect the systems from tampering.

The Post reported last month that a data forensics firm hired by the pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell copied software and data from the Dominion Voting Systems machines used by Coffee County. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said it is investigating the matter.

Details of the Coffee County incident have come to light, largely because of a flurry of subpoenas and depositions by plaintiffs in a long-running federal lawsuit against Georgia authorities over the security of the state’s elections. Emails and other records they obtained from the data forensics firm, Atlanta-based SullivanStrickler, showed that the Coffee episode was part of a coordinated multistate effort to access voting equipment in a hunt for evidence that the election was rigged.

The plaintiffs, including several Georgia voters and the nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance, obtained the new surveillance video in response to a subpoena to county authorities and provided it to the Post.

The security footage shows only the exterior of the office’s entrance area, and it is not clear what the consultants Logan and Lenberg did inside.

The new surveillance footage shows three SullivanStrickler employees arriving at the Coffee elections office at 11:42 a.m. on January 7. Latham had arrived five minutes earlier, the footage shows. She greeted the SullivanStrickler team and led them inside. Shortly before 1 p.m., a fourth employee from the firm arrived.

In her deposition last month, taken by plaintiffs in the long-running civil case, Latham said she recalled having gone to the Coffee County elections office for “just a few minutes” that day—arriving sometime after 3:48 p.m. when she received a text from Misty Hampton, then the county elections supervisor, that said: “Going great so far.”

Asked during the deposition whether it would have been possible for her to go to the election office during work hours, Latham answered: “I mean, I taught a full schedule, I didn’t have a planning period, so I can’t remember.”

Records filed in the civil case last week also show that an attorney for SullivanStrickler described Latham as the “primary point of contact in coordinating and facilitating” the firm’s work in Coffee County.

The footage shows Latham entering the building before noon, then leaving at 1:26 p.m. She returned several minutes after Hampton’s 3:48 p.m. text and then finally departed after 6 p.m., it shows. The building has a side door that is not shown in the footage.

“While Mrs. Latham does not pretend to remember the details of all that occurred on that specific date more than a year and a half ago, she does remember going to the Elections Office after teaching school on January 7, 2021, to check in on some voter review panels from the runoff election, and she truthfully testified to those facts,” Cheeley, her lawyer, told The Post.

The SullivanStrickler team left the building at 7:43 p.m., more than 2½ hours after the office’s regular closing time, the footage shows. Hampton immediately followed.

The data obtained from Coffee County by SullivanStrickler included copies of virtually every component of the county voting system, including the central tabulation server, according to an inventory obtained by the plaintiffs through discovery. The firm billed Powell $26,000 for the day’s work, an invoice shows.

Hampton previously told The Post that she allowed a team of outsiders into her office after the 2020 vote so they could prove “that this election was not done true and correct.”

Hampton and attorneys for Coffee County did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The new surveillance footage shows that on January 18—eleven days after SullivanStrickler completed its work in Coffee County, Logan and Lenberg arrived at the elections office with Hampton at 4:20 p.m.

Logan, 42, was chief executive of the security firm Cyber Ninjas, which was hired by Republican state lawmakers in Arizona to hunt for fraud in the 2020 vote there. The firm’s review found Trump had lost to Joe Biden in Arizona by an even greater margin than the certified result. Logan, of Sarasota, Florida, announced earlier this year that he had shuttered the company.

Lenberg, 66, lives in Tijeras, New Mexico and previously worked in technical roles at a private laboratory operated for the National Nuclear Security Administration. A résumé for Lenberg filed in the Antrim court case stated that he has held high-level security clearances and that his past work included “developing ways to break in (if possible) to what were considered to be secure systems.”

When the pair arrived at the Coffee County elections office, both were carrying backpacks, and Lenberg brought snacks and energy drinks. Hampton and the two consultants were recorded leaving the building nearly four hours later. Logan and Lenberg returned to the elections office shortly before 9 a.m. the next morning, the footage shows, and exited after 6 p.m.

Six days later, on January 25, Lenberg was again recorded arriving at the elections office. He left nearly three hours later, then returned for shorter visits on each of the following four days, the video shows. On one occasion, he was carrying the box for a ring light system typically used to illuminate the subjects of video recordings.

Lenberg was part of an election review team in New Mexico that last month published a report featuring an image of what it called “a system log from a Dominion machine in Georgia.” At a public hearing of the Otero County Commission earlier this year, Lenberg said he had obtained “data from multiple counties” in Georgia and that he met with Hampton of Coffee County.

The Post has reported that, according to computer logs obtained by the plaintiffs, an account in Logan’s name had accessed Coffee County data on SullivanStrickler’s file-sharing system.

In spring 2021, after Hampton resigned, Logan’s business card was found on her desk by her successor, James Barnes. Barnes sent a copy of the card to the secretary of state’s office, expressing alarm in light of the fact that the Justice Department had raised concerns about the ballot review led by Cyber Ninjas in Arizona, according to an email obtained by The Post.

An investigator in the secretary of state’s office was directed to follow up with county officials and “verify what if any contact cyber ninjas had with any election equipment,” emails show. Barnes said in a sworn deposition that state officials never contacted him.

A spokesman for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) did not directly address questions from the Post about the agency’s response to Barnes’s concern or say whether the agency sought the security-camera footage at the time.

Raffensperger has said publicly that, after the election, his staff devoted time to pursuing every tip of alleged voter fraud. Raffensperger’s office has told the court that it began investigating the Coffee County matter in February of this year—when allegations of the breach first became an issue in the long-running lawsuit.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it has been working with Raffensperger’s office and opened the criminal case on August 15.

Research contact: @washingtonpost