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In Statehouses, myth of stolen elections fuels GOP campaign to rewrite the rules

Ms Bernier of Wisconsin, for example, said she saw no problem with a bill that would allocate one ballot box to voters in cities like New Berlin, with 40,000 residents, and one for voters in Milwaukee, with 590,000 inhabitants. There were no drop boxes at all, she noted, until state officials made an emergency exception during the pandemic.

“The Legislature could say that no drop box is needed at all,” she said.

Nathaniel Persily, political scientist and election specialist at Stanford University, said he disagreed. Presidential elections always attract more voters, he said, but the hard work of democracy often occurs during off-year votes for smaller offices where interest is lower. In these elections, “if there are barriers placed in the path of voters, they will not stand,” he said.

Mike Noble, a public opinion expert from Phoenix, wondered if Trumpian’s Arizona Legislature’s anti-fraud program has political legs, even though polls show a level of belief Republican in the stolen election myth of Mr. Trump which he calls “staggering.”

Republicans who consider themselves more moderate make up about a third of party support in Arizona, he said, and they are much less likely to believe the myth. And they can be turned off by a legislature that wants to reduce mailings of postal ballots in a state where voters – especially Republicans – have long voted overwhelmingly by mail.

“I don’t see how a rational person would see where the advantage is,” he said.

Some other Republicans apparently agree. In Kentucky, which has some of the toughest voting laws in the country, the staunchly Republican State House voted almost unanimously on Friday to allow early voting, albeit only three days, and online requests for postal votes. Both were first tried during the pandemic and, most importantly, were popular with voters and county election officials.

If that kind of recognition of November’s successes resonated in other Republican states, Mr. Persily and another electoral scholar, Charles Stewart III of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in a recent study, it could bode well for alleviating deep divisions over future elections. rules. If the stolen election myth continues to guide Republican politics, Mr Persily said, it could predict a future with two types of elections in which voting rights, turnout and confidence in the results would be significantly different, according to the Minister. party that wrote the rules. .

“These trajectories are on the horizon,” he said. “Some states take a deception approach to regulating voting that is only distantly linked to fraud issues. And that could lead to massive collateral damage for voting rights. “

Susan C. Beachy contributed to the research.

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Lady Gaga’s dogs are stolen, dog walker is gunned down

A man was shot while walking two French Bulldogs in Los Angeles on Wednesday night and the dogs were stolen, police said. The dogs belonged to singer Lady Gaga, according to a rep.

The shooting took place around 9:40 p.m. local time as the man, whom police did not identify, walked north on Sierra Bonita Avenue in Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

It was not known why the man was shot. The man, in his 30s, was shot dead at least once, police said. The gunman stole the dogs and was seen leaving in a white vehicle, authorities said. The victim was cradling a third dog while emergency medics treated him, according to KABC-TV which had a helicopter over the scene.

“Looks like a semi-automatic handgun was used,” Constable Jeff Lee, spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department, said on Thursday.

The victim was taken to hospital and was in critical condition on Thursday. No arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing, Constable Lee said. The Ministry’s Robbery and Homicide Division is handling the case.

The shooting and theft were reported by KABC in Los Angeles on Thursday morning. TMZ reported that the dogs belonged to Lady Gaga.

The dogs, named Koji and Gustav, are owned by Lady Gaga, who is offering a reward of $ 500,000 for information about the dogs, a representative for the singer said. Anyone with information should send an email to KojiandGustav@gmail.com, the rep said.

Lady Gaga, real name Stefani Germanotta, announced in 2016 that she had added a black and white puppy to her dog family, which included two named Koji and Asia.

At the time, she named the puppy “cowpig and moopig” before naming it Gustav. She has featured the dogs in her social media posts over the years.

Lady Gaga, who performed the national anthem at President Biden’s inauguration last month, released her latest album, “Chromatica,” last year.

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Pushing QAnon and the election stolen lies, Flynn reemerging

“We love you, we love you, we love you,” they chanted. None of the rally’s other speakers – a bold-named collection of Trumpworld characters like Roger Stone and Alex Jones – have received such an enthusiastic reception.

With Mr. Trump now in his post-presidency at Mar-a-Lago, a loose coalition that brings together militia members and conspiracy theorists as well as evangelical Christians and suburban Trump supporters is seeking direction. Call it the Alternate Truth movement, and if it is to merge into something more permanent, it may well be, at least in part, because figures like Mr. Flynn continue to make false claims about the how a deep state cabal stole the election. .

“So that we can breathe the fresh air of freedom, we the people, we are the ones who will decide our way forward, the future of America forward,” he said at the gathering of the January 5. “It might not be a Republican Party, it might not be a Democratic Party, it will be a People’s Party.”

Mr. Flynn, who did not respond to an interview request for this article, spent 33 years as an Army intelligence officer, earning a reputation for being outspoken and unconventional and, in years after the September 11 attacks, to be exceptionally good. to unravel terrorist networks.

Much of this work involved mapping loose networks of ideological fellow travelers, determining who voiced extremist ideas and who committed the violence – two groups that were not always directly related to each other. If a similar attempt were made to map the network of people who spread Mr. Trump’s stolen election lie that led to the storming of Capitol Hill, Mr. Flynn himself would likely emerge as one of those main ones. voice for his role in agitating Mr. Trump’s supporters without taking part in the attack.

Perhaps most responsible for the reemergence of Mr. Flynn is conspiracy theory attorney Sidney Powell. Ms Powell has resumed her legal defense in the Russia probe after pleading guilty twice in a cooperation deal with prosecutors and blazing a combative new course. She challenged the deal and, mustering a small army of like-minded Twitter users, transformed Mr. Flynn from a cloak into a victim, a man who took the fall to save his son, who also made the ‘under investigation.

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Prosecutors are considering prosecution for theft of national security information after laptops and documents were stolen during the Capitol siege.

Michael R. Sherwin, the US attorney in Washington, said on Sunday that the Justice Department was considering charges of “theft of national security information” after the violent mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday looted laptops, documents and other items from congressional offices.

In an interview with NPR, Mr Sherwin did not give details of what was stolen or the extent of the violation, but he had previously alluded to “electronic items” and “documents” that had been stolen from offices.

Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, posted a video on Twitter in the hours following the riot showing the extent of the damage to his office. He said the rioters “practically broke the door off its hinges” and stole a laptop from his desk.

Drew Hammill, Deputy Chief of Staff to President Nancy Pelosi, said in a tweet A laptop computer was also stolen from a conference room on the Capitol on Friday, although he added that the device “was only used for presentations.”

In one internal memo Sent the day after the attack, Catherine Szpindor, the administrative director of the House of Representatives, said there was “no indication that the House network was compromised”. But she urged lawmakers and their staff to take inventory of their electronic equipment and treat any storage devices found as “potentially compromised.”

The crowd also had access to paper documents during the breach of lawmakers’ offices. Richard Barnett, 60, from Gravette, Ark., posed for a photo holding a personalized envelope from Ms. Pelosi’s office. He was then arrested.

Ali Zaslav, a CNN reporter who was with lawmakers in the Senate chamber as the Capitol was stormed, published a video on twitter showing the Senate parliamentarian’s office vandalized, with documents strewn on the floor.

Elijah Schaffer, a reporter for The Blaze, a right-wing media company, was among the crowd – which he called “revolutionary” – as they ransacked Ms Pelosi’s office. He posted a photo to Twitter showing a computer in the office with “always on screen” emails.

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In torrent of lies, Trump claims election is stolen

WASHINGTON – Even for President Trump, it was an imaginary version of reality, one in which he didn’t lose, but the victim of a vast conspiracy that stretched across the country in several cities, counties and states, involving countless numbers of people. collaborate to steal the election in a way he couldn’t really explain.

Never mind that Mr. Trump presented no evidence in his first public appearance since late election night, or that few senior Republican officials endorsed his bogus allegations of high-profile fraud. A presidency born in a lie about Barack Obama’s birthplace seemed poised to end in a lie about his own hesitant bid for re-election.

“If you count the legal votes, I win easily,” Mr. Trump said Thursday evening in an unusually moderate 17-minute televised statement from the desk in the White House briefing room, complaining that Democrats, the media information, pollsters, tech companies and non-partisan poll workers had all bribed into denying him a second term.

“This is a case where they try to steal an election,” he said. “They are trying to rig an election, and we cannot let that happen.”

He convinced few people who weren’t already in his corner. Most TV networks backed away from the statement on the grounds that what Mr. Trump was saying was not true. On CNN, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican often put in the position of defending Mr. Trump over the years, appeared exasperated as he denounced the president’s vague speech on election theft as “dangerous” and ” shocking ”and declared that“ counting mail-in ballots and counting mail-in ballots is not fraud. “

The New York Post, which ran salacious articles about Hunter Biden planted by Mr. Trump’s associates ahead of the election, headlined: “Downcast Trump Makes Allegations of Election Fraud Without Basis in White House Speech . ” Even Fox News noted that it had not seen any “hard evidence” of widespread wrongdoing.

“There is no defense for the president’s comments tonight that undermine our democratic process,” said Gov. Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland and critic for the president, written on twitter. “America counts the votes and we have to respect the results as we always have before. No election or person is more important than our democracy. “

Former Governor Chris Christie, a Republican of New Jersey and longtime ally of Mr. Trump, also challenged the president. “I speak tonight not as a former governor but as a former American lawyer – there is simply no basis for making this argument tonight,” he said on ABC News. “There just isn’t any.”

With his presidency on the line, Mr Trump’s lonely appearance in the briefing room with no ally joining him and only staff members and reporters in attendance underscored how isolated he had become just two days after polling day . With the vote count in key states getting darker even as he spoke, Mr Trump was on the verge of ending this term as he began his presidential campaign in 2015 – championed more strongly by members of his family and a few loyalists as Republican leaders kept it at arm’s length rather than accept extravagant demands.

With Republican members of Congress remaining largely silent or making innocuous comments about the importance of transparent vote counting, Mr Trump had to send his two adult sons to hold press conferences in Pennsylvania and Georgia to protest against certain aspects of the vote count. They were joined by allies like Rudolph W. Giuliani, his personal lawyer, and Corey Lewandowski, his first campaign manager from 2016. The same scene took place in Nevada, where a Trump ally, Richard Grenell, has made allegations of electoral fraud that the media debunked soon after.

Members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle looked almost desperate as they sought to threaten other Republicans to back Mr. Trump. Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have both posted messages on Twitter complaining that Republicans were not standing by their father’s side, especially those who might want his support if they run for president in four years.

“The complete lack of action on the part of virtually all ‘GOP 2024 hopefuls’ is pretty incredible,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote. “They have a perfect platform to show that they are ready and able to fight, but they will rather curl up in front of the media crowd.”

“Where are the Republicans!” Eric Trump added about an hour and a half later. “Have a certain backbone. Fight this fraud. Our constituents will never forget you if your sheep!

Brad Parscale, who was fired this year as the president’s campaign manager, echoed the theme in more threatening terms. “If you want to win in 2024 as a Republican,” he wrote, “I would probably start saying something.”

After Donald Trump Jr. lashed out at Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, for not speaking, the senator appeared on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox Thursday night and came to the defending the president, claiming without proof that “the election in Philadelphia is twisted like a serpent” and that the “allegations of wrongdoing are heartbreaking”.

Others, such as Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and John Barrasso of Wyoming, have supported Mr. Trump’s insistence that election observers be allowed to watch the tally, which they usually are, without accept the allegations that the election was stolen. “The president is right to ensure that all legally cast votes are observed and counted,” Barrasso said.

But they were among the few to echo Mr. Trump’s refrain that he was denied his due in the form of winning the election, a primitive cry from the president that was summed up earlier today by his own anger, plaintive tweet in all caps: “STOP THE ACCOUNT!”

The Allies have said privately that the president appears to be raging against the inevitable and is doing nothing but wreaking havoc with his baseless accusations of widespread fraud. Even allies who have said they share some of his concerns in a targeted fashion over the specific rules governing postal voting during the coronavirus pandemic were unwilling to join Mr Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.

Many of those who commented simply said they wanted “transparency” or all “legal” votes to be counted, one sentence used by Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter it was meant to make it sound like he echoed Mr. Trump. In Mr. Trump’s circle, Kellyanne Conway, his former advisor, was one of the few who spoke about counting all the votes.

For much of the year, some of Trump’s advisers wondered if the president really wanted a second term, or if he just didn’t want to be seen as the worst epithet in his lexicon: a loser. The answer was still not clear as the votes were counted this week.

He looked dejected Thursday night as he went through a litany of random minor incidents involving ballots, called Philadelphia and Detroit “corrupt” and insisted he actually won an election in which former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. ruled by millions of people. votes nationwide and looks likely to muster a majority in the Electoral College once a handful of swing states finish counting.

Mr Trump lamented the number of postal votes that appeared to be cast for Democrats. “All of a sudden they find ballots: ‘Oh, we have ballots in the mail,’ he said. “It’s amazing how one-sided these mail ballots are.” He glossed over the fact that he had spent months telling his supporters that postal voting was corrupt and urging them to vote in person instead.

He also lashed out at others, looking for much to blame for his problems. “The pollsters are knowingly wrong,” he said. (In fact, they got a lot of wrong results, but there’s no evidence that this was intentional.)

“The electoral apparatus of these states is run in any case by democrats,” he said of the states that still count. (In fact, Georgia and Arizona have Republican governors.)

“We won a deal, a big deal,” he said. (In fact, the campaign simply won a court ruling saying observers should be allowed to stand six feet from the count rather than further.)

After finishing, the president did not answer any questions from reporters and walked out of the room, looking glum. It was the kind of appearance that several assistants said made them happy that he had been out of public sight since the early hours of Wednesday morning, when he insisted he won the election. because several key states still had no predicted winner and called what was happening a “fraud” on the American public.

The Trump campaign initiates a series of lawsuits, but White House allies have said the approach appears to be aimed both at running out of time and appeasing a contentious president, who often turns to court filings as a line immediate driving.

But while Mr. Trump has seasoned lawyers and political professionals spearheading his campaign, the public effort to raise questions about the election has been rambling and seemed thrown together at the last minute. Some administration officials said they were mortified by images of Mr Giuliani screaming in Philadelphia.

Some of Mr. Trump’s allies have encouraged the call for legal action, including people like Stephen K. Banon, the former White House chief strategist who faces criminal charges for an allegedly fraudulent scheme defrauding supporters of Mr. Trump’s border wall.

Republicans have started to have discussions about how to bring up the subject with Mr. Trump to focus on life after the presidency and what leaving quietly could mean for his family, his business and his own ability to stay in. Politics.

Some have suggested that encouraging notes about a 2024 campaign might be effective. Others believe he will concede if it’s clear he lost, but will likely never publicly accept the outcome.

In the meantime, Mr. Trump’s advisers were divided over what he should do until the final vote count was announced. There have been talks of holding a rally as early as this weekend, a person briefed on the talks said.

But after Mr. Trump appeared in the briefing room, several advisers admitted that the Trump presidency clock was almost certainly running out.

Peter Baker reported from Washington and Maggie Haberman from New York. Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington.