Nine of Clubs: Stephen Miller, Trump Policy Advisor, Trump’s Jan. 6 speechwriter, advocated alternative electors to overturn 2020 presidential election

Mark Meadows, on leaving the White House as former President Trump’s chief of staff, joined the Conservative Partnership Institute (a dark money initiative headed by Jim DeMint, ousted executive of The Heritage Foundation), “helped incubate and launch” the America First Legal Foundation, a litigious conservative firm led by the former White House senior policy adviser and speechwriter Stephen Miller.


A Nerve Center for the Right Wing Rises in Washington

The Conservative Partnership Institute has become a breeding ground for the next generation of Trump loyalists and an incubator for policies he might pursue. Its fast growth is raising questions.

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In the lobby of the grand Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., where a sprawling new force in Washington’s right-wing ecosystem, the Conservative Partnership Institute, was holding its winter conference, the former Trump legal adviser Cleta Mitchell was exultant.

“Did you hear the ‘War Room’ today? Bannon was on fire!” she said to a friend. She was referring to the podcast hosted by Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump White House senior adviser who had been condemning Republican senators for supporting billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine and Israel earlier that day.

Ms. Mitchell was among some 150 conservative donors and activists who gathered in Coral Gables earlier this month to celebrate the ascendancy of a group that has become a well-paying sinecure for Trump allies and an incubator for the policies the former president could pursue if elected. The participants toted gift bags in the warm sunshine and swapped golf clothes for business attire at a dinner where they applauded as two Black speakers — Ben Carson, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Representative Byron Donalds of Florida — extolled conservative values while condemning the racial identity politics of the left.

The group’s top executive, Jim DeMint, the former U.S. senator from South Carolina, was there, as was Mark Meadows, President Donald J. Trump’s former chief of staff, who is paid $847,000 annually as the organization’s senior adviser. More than a dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus also turned up, as did Mollie Hemingway, the editor in chief of the right-wing journalism website The Federalist, whose parent company C.P.I. helps underwrite.

The message at the conference was “taking on the Swamp” from a nonprofit with a $36 million annual budget from private donors that now operates as a full-service nerve center for right-wing activity and a breeding ground for the next generation of Trump loyalists.

Legislators can hold fund-raisers in its event rooms; send their staff members to training sessions at the group’s getaway lodge in Maryland; do their TV news hits in its studio; or be fed, by text message, follow-up questions for lawmakers to ask witnesses during congressional hearings. Donors can funnel their money through the institute into a host of conservative causes, from promoting Christian values in education to helping pay legal fees incurred by what the group calls “America First public servants.”

“We’re just doing what the other guys have been doing for decades,” Robert Bruce, a retired Texas aviation entrepreneur and C.P.I. donor, said in an interview two days after the conference. “There’s been a void in Washington, D.C., and C.P.I. has filled it by giving conservatives a refuge.”

The organization aims to be much more than a refuge. One of the groups it has staffed and funded, the American Accountability Foundation, says in its mission statement that it seeks to “advance conservative messaging” by aggressively attacking appointees for the Biden administration. Another offspring, the Center for Renewing America, aims to take on what it calls a leftist “cultural revolution” as well as a “taxpayer-funded woke federal bureaucracy.”


No one should fear a history that asks a country to live up to its highest ideals.


These Trump associates have appeared before the Jan. 6 grand jury



Multiple associates of former President Trump have appeared before the grand jury investigating Jan. 6, 2021, that informed Trump on Sunday he’s a target of their probe — likely indicating charges are coming soon.

The grand jury, convened by special counsel Jack Smith, has been looking into whether Trump knew he lost the 2020 presidential election, along with broader efforts to interfere with the transfer of power following election.

Trump’s former associates have reportedly been asked whether the former president acknowledged he lost the presidency while he was publicly outraged and claiming the election was stolen. 

Here are the most notable Trump associates who have appeared before the Jan. 6 grand jury.

Stephen Miller

Former White House senior adviser Stephen Miller was seen in April entering the courthouse in D.C. where the grand jury met and reportedly was questioned about a phone call he had with Trump minutes before the rally at the Ellipse that preceded the attack.

Miller was working as a speechwriter for Trump at the time and Trump’s now-infamous speech at the Ellipse included false claims that Pence could overturn the election results and calls for supporters to “fight like hell.” 

Miller, along with Meadows, was ordered in March to testify before the grand jury.

How a Trump-allied group fighting ‘anti-white bigotry’ beats Biden in court

America First Legal was founded last year by Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s immigrant family separation policy


According to Trump advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, Miller stays in close touch with Trump, contributes to his speeches and gave significant input on his endorsements in the midterm election, where many Trump-backed candidates who rejected Biden’s 2020 victory and took other far-right positions were defeated. Miller repeatedly complained during the campaign that Republican candidates were not talking enough about culture war issues and immigration and focusing too heavily on an economic message, people who spoke to him said. America “is the apex of achievement of Western civilization,” Miller said, with “a heritage to be jealously guarded.”

Miller founded AFL in early 2021, as a newly elected President Biden issued a flurry of executive orders dismantling the former president’s nativist agenda. Miller was involved in policies fervidly challenged by civil rights groups that banned immigration from several Muslim-majority countries and separated immigrant children from their parents.

“During the four years of the Trump administration — especially in the arena of immigration — every single executive action, no matter how rigorously lawful, was subjected to a never-ending stream of activist litigation,” Miller said. “One of my goals when I left the administration was to try to help and inspire and coordinate a larger legal movement on the conservative side of the spectrum to do the same.”

AFL was among several groups incubated in the first year of the Biden administration by the Conservative Partnership Institute, a central hub of the GOP’s pro-Trump wing. CPI describes AFL as a “partner” on its website, and three AFL board members, including Mark Meadows, who served as a chief of staff to the former president, also have top CPI posts

Neither of these tax-exempt groups are required to disclose their donors to the public, though federal campaign records show Trump’s political committee, Save America, donated $1 million to CPI last year. In its 2021 annual report, CPI called AFL “the sling that hardworking, patriotic Americans can use to fight back against the abusive Goliath of the Biden Administration’s Deep State.”

CPI’s revenue exploded last year to $45 million, up from about $7 million in 2020, according to its latest tax filing, obtained by Accountable.US and the Center for Media and Democracy. Its $1.3 million donation to AFL was the largest of eight grants that it made last year. Tax records also show AFL last year received $25,000 from DonorsTrust, a nonprofit that contributes to a number of right-wing causes, and $10,000 from Citizens for Self-Governance, which favors a convention of states to limit the power of the federal government.

Miller declined to answer questions about the group’s donors. “It’s best for your adversaries to have less rather than more information when they meet you in court,” he said.

A Washington Post review found at least four dozen AFL-backed lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country since April 2021, some of which have received little attention outside of right-wing media.

To attack Biden’s aid to disadvantaged, minority farmers, Miller’s group made a brash choice for lead plaintiff: Sid Miller, the Trump-endorsed agriculture commissioner of Texas, who has questioned Biden’s dire warnings about white supremacy and compared Syrian refugees to rattlesnakes in social media posts.


Stephen Miller blames Mail-In Voting for Oz Loss 


The big picture: Miller pointed to mail-in voting as one hurdle for Republicans, claiming that by the time Republican Mehmet Oz began to resurge in the polls for his U.S. Senate race closer to election day, many people had already cast their ballots.


Unsurprisingly, Miller does not blame Trumpism’s Big Lie of Election Fraud – read on:


February 2017: White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller appeared on ABC’s “The Week” on Sunday, spouting a bunch of false talking points on alleged voter fraud. (He also repeated similar claims on other Sunday talk shows.) 

  • To his credit, host George Stephanopoulus repeatedly challenged Miller, noting that he had provided no evidence to support his claims. But Miller charged ahead, using the word “fact” three times in a vain effort to bolster his position. The Fact Checker,, Feb. 12, 2017

December 2020Trump advisor Stephen Miller spent part of Monday morning on Fox & Friends telling the hosts that “alternate” electors would still offer a secondary set of results seemingly designed to overturn the election and declare Trump the winner. 

  • But as Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade reminded Miller, Trump’s legal team has actually struggled to produce any evidence of the widespread voter fraud that is the basis of their claims for arguing that any officials intervene in the Electoral College process. The alternate electors wouldn’t even come into play unless the Trump campaign suddenly revealed actual reasons to doubt the legitimacy of the election, which they’ve so far failed to do in any meaningful arena., Dec. 14, 2020

April 2021: Miller has come to admire the effectiveness of the legal campaign Democrats and their supporters mounted against the Trump administration’s agenda.The architect of the last administration’s restrictive immigration policies and a leading backer of its socially conservative initiatives, he is launching this week a new organization, America First Legal, to challenge Biden administration initiatives at odds with Trump-era priorities. [Aren’t they all?] Brent Kendall April 7, 2021 [Edited for brevity]

August 2021: Former Insider Blames Miller, allies for sabotaging refugee process 

It’s one thing for a judge to call out Team Trump for a broken process; it’s another for a Trump insider to say the process was broken deliberately 

Aug. 23, 2021

By Steve Benen

Among the questions the United States has confronted in Afghanistan is why, exactly, our allies have struggled to get their visa applications processed. At issue is a group of unique Afghans who played a special role working with, for, and alongside U.S. forces, qualifying them for a special visa category.

And yet, these same special allies have faced bureaucratic struggles for quite a while, and a newly offered explanation has jolted the larger conversation. The New York Times reported over the weekend:

A homeland security adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence accused the Trump administration of distorting the truth about Afghan refugees, writing on Twitter that the former president and Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser, sought to prevent the refugees from entering the United States.

Read More

At issue are revelations from Olivia Troye, a lifelong Republican who served as a counterterrorism and homeland security adviser to then-Vice President Mike Pence, and who ultimately came forward to expose wrongdoing in the Trump White House.Late last week, she did so again, publishing a social-media thread on her efforts to advocate for refugees during her tenure, only to confront a system that wouldn’t budge, even when then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis intervened.

As Rachel explained during Friday night’s show, we dug in on that point, and corroborated the claim: Mattis did, in fact, send a memo in September 2018 advising the Trump administration not to limit entry to Iraqis and Afghans who provided essential mission support.

But the Trump administration dragged its feet anyway, not because of a non-responsive bureaucracy, but because of deliberate malice. As Troye wrote, “There were cabinet [meetings] about this during the Trump [administration] where Stephen Miller would peddle his racist hysteria about Iraq and Afghanistan. He and his enablers across [government] would undermine anyone who worked on solving the SIV issue by devastating the system” at the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.

Troye added that Miller and the former president had “watchdogs in place” in key agencies and departments, who in turn “made an already cumbersome SIV process even more challenging.”

The allegations are striking in their significance. These are, after all, allies who played lifesaving roles. They’re eligible for special immigration visas, for themselves and their families, which they earned. That process was going to be cumbersome anyway, but according to Troye, while Team Trump made overt plans to end the war in Afghanistan, it also chose to make the SIV process worse on purpose.

Also on Friday afternoon, Elizabeth Neumann, a former DHS assistant secretary for counterterrorism threat prevention in the Trump administration, confirmed Troye’s account.

What’s more, let’s also not forget that it was two years ago when a federal court concluded that the Trump administration was, in fact, ignoring the law by needlessly delaying the process through which visas were processed.

But as Rachel concluded on the show, it’s one thing for a federal judge to call out the Trump administration for a broken process; it’s something else for a Trump administration insider to tell the public that the process was broken deliberately by officials who didn’t want to help those who helped us.


September 2021: How Trump adviser Stephen Miller slowed down the entry of Afghan allies who helped the US  

By Priscilla Alvarez and Michael Warren,

CNN Updated Sat September 4, 2021

Stephen Miller seemed floored by the idea, raised during a fall Cabinet meeting in 2018, of  keeping open the doors for Afghan allies and other Middle East refugees to enter the US.  

“What do you guys want?” Miller, then a top adviser to President Donald Trump, asked incredulously, according to one person in the room. “A bunch of Iraqs and ‘Stans across the country?” 

His words stunned many in the meeting, but they were no accident. Under Miller’s guidance, several sources told CNN, the Trump administration was purposefully slow-walking the entry of all refugees — including allies who aided American soldiers in Afghanistan. 

Now, after the end of America’s longest war, “the majority” of Afghans who worked for the US during its two-decade military campaign have likely been left behind in Afghanistan, according to State Department estimates, at the mercy of the country’s new Taliban regime. And Republicans are criticizing President Joe Biden for the chaotic withdrawal and for vetting allies too loosely. 

But the mayhem in Kabul, as crowds of Afghans tried desperately to flee the country in the final days of August, was due in no small part to the slowdown during the previous administration, according to former officials who argue more allies could have been admitted in the years prior. 

Fact check: Afghans coming to US are not ‘unvetted refugees’

Read More

The Trump administration’s suspicion of refugees stalled an already cumbersome system of approval for Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan allies, these officials said, and the Biden administration ultimately inherited a significant backlog of more than 17,000 SIV applicants.

The SIV program for Afghan nationals has been plagued with management problems and low annual caps for years leading up to the withdrawal by US forces. But while Congress and the Obama and Biden administrations share some of the blame, the Trump administration — specifically Miller, according to former administration officials — did much to hamper the process long before the US ramped up its efforts to withdraw from the country. 

That 2018 White House meeting was one in a series of incidents with Miller and his allies within the administration that stunned officials at the time. But Miller, one of Trump’s most strident anti-immigration advisers, had the President’s ear on refugee policy and wielded considerable power on the issue. 

“I can’t understate the sign and impact of the signal Stephen Miller was sending,” a former official told CNN. “You can’t undersell the impact that those folks had on gumming up the system as a whole.” 

Miller did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Speaking to CNN on Friday, after this story published, he disputed the words attributed to him in the 2018 meeting. He added that he has advocated for resettling refugees within safe countries in their region rather than in the United States.

Among the vocal advocates for the Afghan applicants, said former officials, was James Mattis, then-Defense secretary and a retired four-star Marine general. Multiple Cabinet members and senior staff sought to convey that Afghan allies had put their lives on the line for US troops and that refugees generally were among the most vetted immigrants. 

But Miller, the former officials said, was insistent that more security checks were necessary to remain in-line with Trump’s policy of “extreme vetting,” which stemmed from his travel ban on Muslim-majority countries. Miller told CNN on Friday that he pushed for and stands by “holistic” increased visa security screening, which would have affected visa grants for Afghan allies.

‘We were just blown off’ 

The Trump administration had a “zero risk tolerance approach” to admitting refugees, including those who put their lives on the line for US troops, according to two former administration officials, despite appeals from officials at the time that Afghan allies applying for the special immigrant visa program are heavily vetted. 

It was “jarring,” one former official said, when recalling internal White House meetings where Afghans who worked alongside the US government were cast aside. 

“Part of what happened was a change in the way derogatory information was assessed. This wasn’t necessarily done in strict orders, but encouragement was given to people doing the vetting to make people ineligible or put aside people for further processing, anyone that had ambiguous information,” the former official told CNN. 

The consequence: applicants might be sent to the back of the line if any questions were raised about information pertaining to their application, potentially delaying cases months if not years. 

“We did lose time,” the former official added. 

As a point of comparison, under the Obama administration, the number of Afghan SIVs issued increased — from 262 in fiscal year 2009 to 3,626 in fiscal year 2016. But under Trump, the number dropped to 1,649 in FY 2018, increased to 2,347 in fiscal year 2019 and culminated in 1,799 for fiscal year 2020. 

Trump also slashed the number of refugees allowed to come to the US and put a series of limits in place curtailing who was eligible to arrive, resulting in historically low admissions. A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their country. While that can also be true for SIV applicants, that program is designed to provide a pathway to the United States for Afghans who were employed by or worked on behalf of the US government.

Current and former officials have stressed the importance of thoroughly vetting refugees and applicants of the special immigrant visa program. While Afghans are thoroughly vetted before working alongside US forces, they still go through a meticulous process riddled with checks before obtaining a visa to come to the US, making them among the most vetted immigrants to arrive in the US. 

Former officials said they tried to relay that to the Trump administration but found themselves shut out and starved of resources. Staff-level meetings at the White House about refugees became smaller, with critics of Miller’s approach kept in the dark. 

“We were simply asking for justification for the kinds of decisions that seemed to us to be taken on an arbitrary basis,” one former official said. “We were just blown off.” 

A program in need of reform

The special immigrant visa program was established in 2009 specifically for Afghan citizens, along with their spouses and unmarried children under 21, who work for the US government in Afghanistan, and who face threats for their allegiance to the US. It was later amended in 2013 to improve efficiency. But challenges remain. 

Special immigrant visas “have always been the redheaded stepchild of immigration processes,” an administration official previously told CNN. “Very slow, but little attention to fix.” 

A State Department inspector general report released last year found that staffing levels during the interagency and security check process contributed to delays, as well as reliance on multiple information technology systems. 

Still, the program was not designed to work in a pressure cooker situation as evidenced over recent weeks. It also didn’t take into account a global pandemic, which led to interviews being temporarily put on pause. 

But refugee advocates and veterans argue more should have been done by the Biden administration to prepare for the thousands of Afghan allies who face reprisals, even death, for working for the US, before the withdrawal. 

“What we fear is that if our numbers are correct, if there’s some 175,000 people, the SIVs, family members and the P1 and P2 applicants that were left behind,” said Matt Zeller, an Afghanistan veteran, referring to refugee programs open to fleeing Afghans. “We estimate this could take the better part of the next 10 years. That’s even if we can get them out alive.” 

Faiza Sayed, director of the Safe Harbor Clinic, told CNN that the State Department and Department of Homeland Security, which oversee the SIV program, “could, but have failed to speed up the process.” 

A senior State Department official told reporters this week that in the early stages of the evacuation the US tried to prioritize access for late-stage SIV applicants and other categories, but said the effort was unsuccessful because “every credential we tried to provide electronically was immediately disseminated to the widest possible pool.” 

“Every day was a constant improvisational effort to figure out what was going to work that day,” they said. “As we got deeper into the process, we unfortunately had to start prioritizing the people to whom we had a legal obligation first and foremost, and that was our fellow American citizens.” 

In late July, the Senate passed provisions of a bill to streamline the SIV program and expand the number of authorized visas. 

“The expedited effort to clear my legislation with Senator Ernst and rapidly process SIV applicants is partly in response to the Trump administration’s failure to process SIV applications, which let the program languish for years,” Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a longtime proponent of the program and co-sponsor of the bill, told CNN in a statement, referring to her work with Iowa Republican Joni Ernst.

Some elected Republicans — primarily veterans like Ernst — have been vocal about expediting the SIV process and aiding Afghans who worked with American service members. But while efforts have been made to speed up processing to meet the urgent need, Republicans have had little to say about the Trump administration’s culpability.

Many GOP lawmakers and opinion leaders continue to urge caution on vetting. With Trump out of office and Miller no longer in the White House, the concerns about potential security threats of Afghan allies remains a talking point in conservative media, underscoring the former administration’s influence on the right.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham, for instance, warned her viewers on August 16 about a vague threat from “potentially unvetted refugees from Afghanistan.” 

And in an interview with the conservative Spectator magazine published August 27, Miller himself repeated his view that resettling refugees from places like Afghanistan threatens national security. 

“When you have large pockets of migration from places where jihadist ideology is prevalent, it can easily create the conditions where large numbers of people, especially young people, can become radicalized or swept up into a radical fervor,” he said. 

Days later, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to the Biden administration seeking more information on the vetting process. 

This story has been updated with comments from Stephen Miller.


November 2021: At the Willard and the White House, the Jan. 6 Panel Widens Its Net

What went on at a five-star hotel near the White House the day before the riot could be a window into how a Trump-directed plot to upend the election ended in violence at the Capitol.


This week, the committee issued subpoenas to several of Mr. Trump’s advisers who gathered there — including Mr. Flynn, Mr. Eastman and Mr. Kerik — and communications with Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Stone are among the materials investigators have demanded from the former president, who is stonewalling the inquiry.

On Tuesday, the committee announced 10 new subpoenas that seemed to expand the aperture of the inquiry even further, seeking information from top officials in Mr. Trump’s White House including Stephen Miller, his senior adviser; Keith Kellogg, the national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence; Johnny McEntee, the former president’s personnel chief; and others.

In its order to Mr. Miller, the committee said that he had helped to spread false claims of voter fraud in the election, and to encourage state legislatures to appoint alternate slates of electors in an effort to invalidate Mr. Biden’s victory.


March 2022:

From: Heather Cox Richardson from Letters from an American <>
Date: March 9, 2022

Trump advisor Stephen Miller today sued to block the January 6th committee’s November subpoena for his phone records. Miller is on a cell phone plan with his parents and says that the subpoena might pick up the other numbers on the account. He also says it violates his privacy rights because there are personal communications about his wife and newborn daughter.


July 2022:

The insurrectionists’ clubhouse: Former Trump aides find a home at a little-known MAGA hub

Nearly two dozen alleged members of the Jan. 6 plot are connected to a single Capitol Hill address.


The network has broad reach and keeps an eye on future elections: CPI helped found and support the election monitoring nonprofit run by ex-Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell, along with roughly a dozen other dark money and advocacy groups, virtually all of which share the address of the CPI town house on official reporting. Mitchell did not respond to inquiries from Grid for this story.

Several of the figures of greatest interest to the Jan. 6 committee are now employed by CPI or its subsidiary groups, including:

  • Stephen Miller: Trump’s former senior adviser for policy and speechwriter has been subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee for his involvement in the day’s events. He may have prepared some of Trump’s remarks at the Stop the Steal event before the riot. He is identified as a founder of America First Legal, a nonprofit legal organization with Meadows and former counsel Gene Hamilton, which is associated with CPI. Miller did not respond to a request for comment from Grid.

These organizations employ or assist at least 20 key operatives, reportedly involved in Trump’s failed effort to subvert the 2020 election, including Mitchell, ex-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, and former Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, who was the subject of both a recent Jan. 6 hearing and an FBI raid. And they help raise millions for Trump-aligned members of Congress — more than $38 million over the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, according to the nonprofit OpenSecrets.

CPI and its affiliates are more than just a safe harbor: The network and its employees are a continued source of false vote fraud allegations, and produce and amplify defensive messaging in conservative circles responding to the major revelations of the Jan. 6 hearings.

Last week, following the surprise bombshell testimony of former top Meadows aide Cassidy Hutchinson before the Jan. 6 committee, the CPI network went into action.

Hutchinson told the panel Meadows was in communication with Rudy Giuliani and other alleged Jan. 6 plotters, that Meadows appeared to know violence on the sixth was a possibility, that Trump knew his supporters on the Mall that day were armed when he dispatched them to the Capitol, that Trump wanted to go to the Capitol with his supporters and that White House lawyers warned “people are going to die.”

That evening, Stephen Miller, Trump’s former adviser who now runs CPI-linked America First Legal, appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show to call Hutchinson “an extremely junior, low-level aide.”

“This is a Rorschach test for your sanity,” Miller went on. “If you heard this story, and you thought, ‘Man, I believe every word about this and I’m going to go online and say something about it energetically,’ something is wrong with you. Something is wrong with you if you’re that gullible.”  [Boldface added]

Later that evening, former Trump Pentagon official Kash Patel, now with CPI’s Center for Renewing America, went on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show to join the attacks on Hutchinson. The 26-year-old former Meadows aide, Patel said, was a “junior staffer who is completely, I believe, lying to the Jan. 6 committee for [her] own self-gain.”

Though young, Hutchinson had so much access around the White House that some people derisively called her “Chief Cassidy,” the Washington Post reported.

On Hannity’s show the day after Hutchinson’s testimony, Freedom Caucus co-founder Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio laid into the committee: “This is not an unbiased finder of fact. These are nine people as you said, Sean, nine people who voted to impeach President Trump, nine people who are out to get President Trump and don’t want him to run. … All we have got from them is lie after lie after lie.”

October 2022:

Election Day is Nov. 8, but legal challenges already begin

October 27. 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — Election Day is 12 days away. But in courtrooms across the country, efforts to sow doubt over the outcome have already begun.

More than 100 lawsuits have been filed this year around the Nov. 8 elections. The legal challenges, largely by Republicans, target rules for mail-in voting, early voting, voter access, voting machines, voting registration, the counting of mismarked absentee ballots and access for partisan poll watchers.

The cases likely preview a potentially contentious post-election period and the strategy stems partly from the failure of Donald Trump and his allies to prevail in overturning the free and fair results of the 2020 presidential election that he lost to Joe Biden.

That was an ad hoc response fronted by a collection of increasingly ill-prepared lawyers that included Rudy Giuliani. The current effort, however, is more formalized, well-funded and well-organized and is run by the Republican National Committee and other legal allies with strong credentials. Party officials say they are preparing for recounts, contested elections and more litigation. Thousands of volunteers are ready to challenge ballots and search for evidence of malfeasance.

“We’re now at the point where charges of fraud and suppression are baked into the turnout models for each party,” said Benjamin Ginsberg, co-chair of the Election Official Legal Defense Network and former counsel to the George W. Bush campaign and other Republican candidates. “Republicans charge fraud. Democrats charge suppression. Each side amplifies its position with massive and costly amounts of litigation and messaging.”

The RNC said it has a multimillion-dollar “election integrity” team. It has hired 37 lawyers in key states, held more than 5,000 training sessions to teach volunteers to look for voter fraud — which is rare and isolated — and filed 73 suits in 20 states. Other Trump-allied legal teams, including America First Legal, run by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, are involved.

“We built an unprecedented election integrity ground game to ensure that November’s midterm elections are free, fair and transparent,” the RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, said last month.

The Democrats’ legal effort focuses on making voting easier and helping those denied a chance to vote. A team led by lawyer Marc Elias and his firm is litigating roughly 40 cases in 19 states, though many are interventions in Republican-led suits.

Elias said he is bracing for a deluge of challenges to election results. Some Republican candidates have already said they will not accept a loss or have planted doubt on the election process despite no evidence of fraud.

“The problem with the Republican Party right now is that conceding you lost an election is the only thing that will hurt you,” Elias said. “Contesting an election that is clearly lost is now where all the incentive structure is, and that is incredibly corrosive for democracy.”

Almost every election begets legal challenges. But the much of that generally comes after Election Day.

In 2020, pro-Trump lawyers filed roughly 60 suits and asked judges to set aside votes. Those suits were roundly rejected. Trump’s own leadership found the election was fair, and state election official saw no widespread evidence of fraud. Biden earned 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the same margin as Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, when he called it a “landslide.”

At that time, the Republican establishment had not adopted Trump’s lies about the election. Since then, the falsehoods have taken root within the GOP.

Ginsberg said unsubstantiated charges that elections were fraudulent or rigged or unreliable have became the mantra for a Republican to win a contested 2022 primary in most states.

“That can only harm public faith in elections, something for which Republicans will eventually pay a price,” he said.

For three decades, the RNC was under a consent decree that prohibited it from challenging voters’ qualifications and targeting alleged fraud. That legal agreement, which ended in 2019, arose from a Democratic National Committee suit that argued Republicans sought to dissuade Black Americans from voting by posting armed, off-duty law enforcement officers at certain polling sites and sending targeted mailings warning about penalties for violating election laws.

In 2020, Republican poll watchers, who have no direct role in the elections and cannot interfere in the electoral process apart from watching and reporting issues, were the basis of many of the suits filed by Trump allies. But when pressed by judges for evidence backing partisan claims of suspicious behavior by election workers, the litigation faltered.

Election workers have increasingly been subjected to abuse and threats of violence. Voter intimidation cases are on the rise, and there is growing concern among election officials and law enforcement about overly aggressive poll watchers or people pretending to be poll watchers intimidating voters.

Last week the RNC won a legal challenge against Michigan’s secretary of state, Democrat Jocelyn Benson, over rules about how poll challengers can operate.

“Jocelyn Benson not only disregarded Michigan election law in issuing this guidance, she also violated the rights of political parties and poll challengers to fully ensure transparency and promote confidence that Michigan elections are run fairly and lawfully,” McDaniel said in a statement.

The RNC has won legal challenges in Nevada and Arizona over the appointment of poll workers and in Wisconsin on “ballot curing” — a process whereby voters can fix problems with their ballots so they can be counted — and drop boxes. Litigation in Pennsylvania involved absentee ballots dating and whether outside parties should be allowed examine voting machines.

Democrats-led groups have initiated about 35 suits that focus largely on making voting easier. Just this week, litigation was filed on behalf of Voto Latino and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans to stop intimidation over using drop boxes in Arizona. The ACLU of Pennsylvania sent a letter to Allegheny County officials on mail-in ballot concerns.

Heading into 2020, the U.S. focused on the possibility of foreign threats, from Russia or possibly China, to the integrity of the election, such as by manipulating vote tabulations. Election officials and Trump’s own agencies said it was the most secure election ever. It was Trump and his supporters who nurtured conspiracy theories about voter fraud.

U.S. officials are again sounding the alarm that Russia is working to amplify doubts over the integrity of the elections.

This week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “No outside cyber activity has ever prevented a registered voter from casting a ballot; compromised the integrity of any ballot cast; or affected the accuracy of voter registration information.”

She said the government would “monitor any threats to our elections if they arise and work as a cohesive, coherent interagency to get relevant information to the election officials and workers on the ground.”

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November 2022



Trump’s chief anti-immigration adviser has spent the last year suing Democrats over their racial-justice agenda. Now, Miller’s group is amplifying messages of “antiwhite bigotry” in a swing state home to the highly contentious Senate race b etween Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock.


OCTOBER 31, 2022

“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor. Under my watch that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing. All Americans are entitled to the evenhanded application of the law, to due process of the law, and to the presumption of innocence.”

— U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland