BREAKING NEWS: Team Trump Isn't Waiting Until 2024 to Find Corrupt Republicans Willing to End Our Democracy—Which Is Why Its Insurrectionist Plot Has Moved On to Blood-Red Idaho

Michael Lindell—Stop the Steal funder, Trump adviser, pillow salesman, recovering crack addict and ally of dubious foreign nationals—is now alleging the 2020 vote in every Idaho county was hacked.

Introduction

This past spring, Proof reported in great detail on the bizarrely persistent connection between Donald Trump’s pre-insurrection planning and the blood-red State of Idaho.

Trump’s January 5 “war house”Trump Town House at Trump International Hotel, the most expensive property in the former president’s real estate empire—hosted the most elite Trump war room on Insurrection Eve, and it included not one but two GOP officials from Idaho: longtime Bonneville County GOP Chairman Doyle Beck (a 2016 Trump RNC delegate) and his friend Layne Bangerter, whose GOP bona fides are still more impressive: Trump hired him to be his 2016 Campaign Chair in Idaho and then hired him to be a Special Assistant to the President; he previously worked for 13 years as a staffer of current GOP senator Mike Crapo (R-ID); and he was eventually hired by Trump to work in the Department of Agriculture. The Bonner’s Ferry Herald notes that when Bangerter worked for Trump in 2016, he was “hired by Paul Manafort.”

Proof notes that Bangerter’s close ties to Senator Crapo render it nearly unthinkable that he wouldn’t have reported back to Crapo on the deliberations that unfolded in Trump’s pre-insurrection war house (assuming Crapo wasn’t there himself; only one of the three senators known to have attended the January 5 meeting, Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville—who at first lied about attending—have thus far been revealed).

The Trump International Hotel war room also included Daniel Beck, the son of Doyle Beck and the owner of a heavy military equipment company called Combat Armor Defense (CAD). CAD has a factory in the Brazilian São Paulo district represented by Eduardo Bolsonaro, who Proof has reported on repeatedly over the last nine months because of his history of corruption, the fact that his father is neo-fascist Trump ally Jair Bolsonaro—the President of Brazil—and, most importantly, because he held two secretive, subsequently lied-about meetings at the White House with Trump family members during Insurrection Week and another in Pentagon City with Trump adviser Michael Lindell.

That the Becks—perhaps the most powerful Republican family in Idaho—and Trump whisperer Lindell appear to have a mutual friend in Eduardo Bolsonaro will be worth remembering as you read the news below, given that Trump and Lindell’s “Big Lie” conspiracy theory about the 2020 presidential election argues that the sworn enemy of the Bolsonaros, President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, was one of the architects of a communist plot to install Joe Biden as President of the United States. Lindell, with other members of Team Kraken (like Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, Patrick Byrne, and 1st Amendment Praetorian paramilitary founder/leader Robert Patrick Lewis) claim that “international” sources tipped them off to the nefarious (and as it happens, entirely fictional) plot allegedly orchestrated by Maduro.

While no definitive proof of this has yet been found, the possibility that the Becks’ Brazilian representative—and Lindell’s friend—Eduardo Bolsonaro is connected to this alleged “source” can’t be ignored, given the closeness of the Bolsonaros to the Trumps and the evident political benefit to the former in keeping Donald Trump in office and discrediting Maduro (and it should be noted, as well, that Layne Bangerter grew up in Brazil—São Paulo, specifically). In any case, the chance that the Bolsonaros helped propel the “Big Lie” places the Idaho GOP even closer to the center of Trump’s insurrection than it already would be on the basis of two of its most powerful figures meeting Trump’s inner circle—including Rudy Giuliani, Peter Navarro, and Donald Trump Jr.—in Trump’s “private residence” in Washington (as top Trump ally Charles Herbster has called it) on Insurrection Eve.

Michael Lindell Brings His Circus to Idaho

According to a report by the Bonner County Daily Bee (ID), Trump adviser Lindell recently “submitted [a document] to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office…alleging that every single county in Idaho had been digitally hacked” before the 2020 election. The newspaper goes on to report that “Lindell alleges the hack changed presidential votes cast for Trump to votes cast for Joe Biden…[and] [t]he document shows a list of IP addresses that did the hacking, the date and time the hack supposedly occurred, and [the] county IP addresses that are believed to have been hacked.”

Instead of dismissing Lindell’s document, which originated from his media platform FrankSpeech, Idaho’s Republican Secretary of State, Lawerence Denny, decided to play ball. By way of explaining why he’d take the unsubstantiated accusations of a pillow salesman seriously, Denny declared that “When we are presented with allegations that come with specific details which we can examine, we want to do so.” The fact that many Idaho counties don’t ever connect their elections infrastructure to the internet—making Lindell’s accusations of IP addresses accessing vote tallies in every Idaho county nonsensical—was no block to Denny taking these claims seriously, presumably in order to please Team Trump, a top Trump adviser, and even Trump himself, who of course is in the midst of forcefully demanding a similar statewide audit in Texas.

{Note: Nor is Trump doing so in Texas only gesturally; CNN reports that he’s now “ramping up pressure” on his ally Texas Governor Greg Abbott to “allow an election review bill to move forward” immediately—during the current special session of Texas’s state legislature—rather than the “audit” that Abbott already agreed to in order to placate Trump, which would have seen four Texas counties conduct a review of their 2020 votes sometime next year. CNN notes that the bill Trump wants Texas to pass would instantly “pave the way for reviews of election results by partisan actors.” As for the audit Trump already browbeat Abbott into supporting, the former president now calls it a “weak, risk-limiting audit that is being slow-walked.” In fact, it’s a historic attack on American democracy; that Trump is unsatisfied with a hyper-partisan audit in 2022 simply underscores that his insurgency remains in hyperdrive.}

Despite the fact that Idaho’s Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck has already announced that seven Idaho counties don’t connect their machines to the internet at any point during elections, and added that this fact raises a “huge red flag” over Lindell’s false claims—which were contained in a document Lindell unironically titled “The Big Lie”—because Idaho is controlled by Republicans, it couldn’t simply dismiss a Trumpist effort to delegitimize its 2020 presidential election results. This, of course, is the point: having failed to find more 2020 Trump votes in a partisan “audit” held in the purple state of Arizona—the review actually found additional votes for Joe Biden—what other reason could Team Trump have for now demanding partisan reviews in states that Trump won, if not that he’s hoping a pliant GOP governor or secretary of state will find new Trump votes that were in fact fraudulently manufactured? This invitation to corruption is being issued in full view of American voters.

Consider how Denny responded to the accusations from Trump adviser Mike Lindell: by sending two employees to review ballots in Camas County (where Trump won the 2020 vote by over 47%) and Butte County (where Trump won by even more—over 71%).

Camas County (ID) 2020 Presidential Election Results

Butte County (ID) 2020 Presidential Election Results

So how did Secretary Denny pick these counties? We don’t know, though defenders of the secretary would likely say they were chosen because they are small (and thus easily reviewed). But they’re also among the most blood-red counties in the United States. Butte County, for instance, was not only the most pro-Trump of Idaho’s 44 counties in 2020, it also appears among a list of the fifteen most pro-Trump counties nationwide (alongside Holmes County, FL; Winston County, AL; Brantley County, GA; Leslie County, KY; LaSalle County, LA; George County, MS; Bollinger County, MO; Holt County, NE; Beaver County, OK; Wayne County, TN; Wheeler County, TX; Grant County, WV; and Crook County, WY). This analysis suggests that 36 U.S. states didn’t have a single county that voted for Trump as passionately as Butte County did in 2020.

It’s worth noting that neither Trump nor Lindell are asking the federal government to conduct any of these vote analyses, as they know that Trump’s own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) already deemed the 2020 presidential election the most secure in American history while Trump was still president. So clearly Trump’s purpose is to go in the opposite direction—to find the smallest government unit possible, the one with the most avidly pro-Trump officials anywhere in America, and in that place find the “election fraud” that a much larger, better-resourced, and less biased government entity already determined didn’t happen. Of all the counties in America one might go to in order to try to find such a partisan elections official, Butte County would rate extremely high. This is especially so given that several members of Trump’s inner circle are influential insurrectionists within the far-right Idaho GOP.

{Note: In the event, America dodged a bullet. Camas County found one new vote for Trump, while Butte County found Trump had actually received nine fewer votes than was recorded last November.}

But Trump Is Still Going to Get What He Wants in Idaho

What Trump and his political allies wanted in Idaho was a statewide, Secretary of State–mandated audit.

Team Trump was willing to settle, however—beyond the Camas and Butte reviews—for something entirely different: audits initiated not by the Secretary of State but local elections officials, who in many instances could be regarded as easier to influence and more likely to be hyper-partisan than state officials, even in a state like Idaho that is already blood-red Republican.

And this—a local audit—is just what Trump and Lindell have gotten in Idaho, even if not in precisely the way they may have originally expected or desired.

With the stated goal of disproving the “Big Lie,” a county in northern Idaho, Bonner County, has announced that it will conduct an “audit” of its 2020 election results. At first glance, it seems like good news for American democracy that a local GOP official in northern Idaho—Bonner County Clerk Michael Rosedale—wants to discredit the Big Lie, but a closer examination of the situation produces more anxiety than confidence.

First, the Bonner County audit, which began yesterday (October 2) and is being live-streamed, was announced by Secretary Denny—though CNN reported three days ago that Denny’s requested review (in Camas and Butte counties, as noted above) had been completed. So why is Mr. Denny getting behind yet another audit, when the prior two he ordered revealed no election fraud? An observer might conclude that Denny will keep endorsing county-level reviews of Idaho’s 2020 results until either Mike Lindell or Donald Trump or both are satisfied, which of course won’t happen until some sort of major vote-tally discrepancy is located—whether it’s a real or manufactured one, a readily explained one or not, or frankly whether it benefits Trump or Biden (as even vote swings benefitting Biden may end up being deployed by Trump as a rhetorical weapon against the results of the 2020 election).

Second, to the extent it may have been Rosedale rather than Denny who initiated this new audit—the reporting on this particular issue isn’t clear—it nevertheless sets a disturbing trend of local GOP elections officials deciding on their own prerogative to answer false claims of election fraud being spread by Team Trump. Rosedale may be doing so with pure intentions, hoping to discredit the Big Lie, but what happens if dozens of other local GOP officials in Idaho or elsewhere follow suit, perhaps with less pure intentions?

Third, given that Bonner County only uses “air-gapped” elections equipment—that is, equipment that’s never been connected to the internet—it’s in a better position than any non-air-gapped county in America to not conduct an audit of its 2020 votes and simply declare that Lindell’s document is preposterous on its face, as that document is wholly dependent on Bonner County’s machines being accessible online. Yet instead of noting that Lindell’s claims are impossible by pointing to how elections are run in Bonner County, Rosedale has inadvertently lent credence to Lindell’s claim by agreeing that the best way to discredit it is not a public statement of its impossibility but by giving Lindell just what he wants—a recount whose very existence he’ll term a victory.

So why are such Team Trump-provoked recounts dangerous?

First, because if Team Trump realizes that it can go forum-shopping—cherry-picking which counties have unscrupulous elected officials willing to do anything to curry favor with Trump, even commit election fraud—it will, beyond any doubt, eventually find an official willing to say that Lindell’s claims of vote-switching are true. And if any American thinks that Trump supporters need more than just one local official to say this to accept it as gospel, consider that on November 9, 2020, 70% of Republicans didn’t think the election was free and fair, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll; today, almost a year later, that number has climbed to 78%. That’s right: despite the January 6 insurrection; despite the failure of the partisan Arizona audit to find any evidence of election fraud; despite the continued revelations in states across America that Trump’s claims of election fraud were not only bogus at the time (and are still) but weren’t even, as the New York Times reported on September 21, believed by Team Trump itself; despite all of this, more Republicans believe the Big Lie today than did immediately after the 2020 presidential election.

So it’s more beneficial to a GOP elected official today than it has ever been to find a way to please Donald Trump and 78% of Republican voters by “uncovering” election fraud by any means necessary. That is, being Trump’s patsy in an election fraud plot is the best political decision an ambitious local GOP official could possibly make right now—notwithstanding the possibility of federal arrest by the FBI, a risk that surely at least one enterprising local GOP official will be willing to take given the inaction of the Biden administration DOJ in indicting any insurrectionists but those who have engaged in acts of violence, trespassing, or destruction of property. It’s precisely those insurrectionists who’ve engaged in conspiracy to commit election fraud via inchoate, administrative, or white-collar means who thus far have escaped consequences at the state or federal levels.

But a second, still greater danger of what’s happening in Idaho goes beyond all of this.

The Object Lesson of Anthony Kern

Anthony Kern is an insurrectionist Republican state legislator in Arizona who was, with top Trump Congressional ally Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), one of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit against Vice President Mike Pence that the January 6 attack on the Capitol appears to have been intended to aid, as Proof recently reported. Proof has also reported that during Insurrection Week, Kern was in D.C. with fellow Arizona state representative Mark Finchem—the founder of the Stop the Steal “movement” in Arizona, an Oath Keeper, and, because of rather than despite these statuses, Trump’s publicly endorsed pick to the be the next Arizona Secretary of State—and was indeed part of the January 6 mob that attacked the Capitol. Here’s Kern on Insurrection Day:

But what’s significant for our purposes here isn’t where Kern was on January 6, but where Kern was in early May of 2021. And where was he? Counting 2020 ballots as part of the now-infamous partisan Arizona “audit” that was engineered by friends and political allies of Donald Trump. In fact, as Proof reported, Kern was one of just 150 people counting Arizona ballots in an effort to “prove” Trump won Arizona in 2020.

What this underscores is that every time a partisan “audit” of the 2020 election is carried out at the demand of Trump or an agent of his like Lindell, it brings with it not just the risk of a corrupt, unscrupulously ambitious local GOP official doing their utmost to please Trump and the 78% of Republicans who believe the Big Lie, but the even more difficult to catch possibility that one of such an audit’s “re-counters” will be an insurrectionist who has—like Kern—already proven themselves willing to violate federal criminal law if doing so will help put Donald Trump back in the White House.

That the ongoing Idaho recount didn’t end when it was supposed to, and indeed has now sprawled into October, underscores that Trump’s insurgency is not merely a plot to take over Congress and impeach Joe Biden in 2023, or merely a plot to ensure that the 2024 presidential election isn’t a free and fair one and installs Trump (or his son) in the White House, but a rolling insurgency that has spread from being DC-centric (albeit not exclusively so, by any means) on January 6 to one that now resides in states across America. And it’s merely a matter of time before it bears rotten, seditious fruit.

Conclusion

As MSNBC just reported, Trump has now endorsed three insurrectionist secretary of state candidates immediately after they called for the decertification of Biden’s 2020 election victory. One is Finchem, another Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA)—who helped Trump plot the events of January 6 during a December 21 Oval Office meeting with several other members of the House Freedom Caucus—and the third is Kristina Karamo in Michigan. In short, it couldn’t be clearer to any current or aspiring GOP official what they must do to gain Trump’s approval, and there’s reason to worry that it won’t be long before one makes the ultimate sacrifice and commits the crime of election fraud during a partisan election “audit” in order to make their name in a political party that is now 78% insurrectionist.

In view of this, the “good” news that’s recently come out of Bonner County, Idaho can only be celebrated in a muted way. According to the Bonner County Daily Bee, Michael Rosedale, the local official who decided to recount votes from his jurisdiction’s wholly air-gapped election machines despite Michael Lindell’s false claim that the machines were connected to the internet, is not a fan of Lindell or his tactics. As the Daily Bee reports, while Rosedale has had a few kind words for Lindell, they’ve mostly been scathing, instead (even as Lindell’s key role in the tragic events of January 6 remains unconsidered by many in major media; see these two Proof reports for more). This is what Rosedale had to say in a recent public statement:

While I generally agree with Mike Lindell’s focus on massive voter fraud in six-plus key states, his facts regarding Idaho quite miss the mark. Well, completely miss the mark. Idaho’s election equipment is not in any way, shape or form connected to the internet, we have what is called an “air gap” expressly for this purpose. There is no connection to the outside world at all with our scanners or tabulators. No Wi-Fi. No Bluetooth. No cable. Nothing. Seven of our counties actually don’t use scanners or tabulators…any electronic computing equipment at all…they hand count using paper tally books. I’m not sure how Lindell’s organization claims to have been able to get an IP address for paper tally books…[as] those precincts have what the Secretary of State calls the “Flintstone Gap”. It [election fraud in Idaho] didn’t happen. What this means is that somebody just assigned a magic vote fraud number to all Idaho counties. Their goal appears to make a big splash [by pushing the idea of] “Shock and Awe. Every State. Oh the Horror.” This [ploy by Lindell and his team] should make your blood boil (Democrats and Republicans).

What is really infuriating is that nobody from the Lindell group ever called Bonner County Elections to even find out what type of equipment we use, that we weren’t connected to the internet, how we communicated with the Secretary of State [on election day in November 2020], nothing. No verification or validation of claims. For the sake of apparently trying to make a big splash, he tarnished the reputations of possibly thousands of counties across the United States of America. Smooth move, Mr. Lindell.

{Note: emphasis in original.}

While it would be easy to feel comforted by Rosedale’s scolding of Lindell, note that even this newly minted opponent of the Trump adviser began his public statement by attesting that in November 2020 there was “massive voter fraud in six-plus key states.”

Rosedale’s use of the terms “massive” and “key” underscores his commitment to the Big Lie—the idea that there wasn’t just election fraud in the 2020 presidential vote (which there wasn’t, to any appreciable degree), but that this fraud was so widespread and so focused on battleground states that it was determinative to the outcome of the election. Indeed, taking Rosedale’s statement at face value, we would have to assume that if he had been a GOP county official in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin instead of Idaho, he would have initiated a post-election audit with the prior expectation that it would find sufficient election fraud to invalidate his state’s 2020 vote tallies. That Rosedale indicates he thinks any 2020 election fraud focused on battleground states also implies that he is convinced there was a criminal conspiracy behind Trump’s election defeat.

And this comes from a man who, in relative terms, appears to be a moderate Trumpist.

What happens if the next “Bonner County audit”—a needless “audit” in a blood-red state—is instead in Holmes County in Florida, Winston County in Alabama, Brantley County in Georgia, Leslie County in Kentucky, LaSalle County in Louisiana, George County in Mississippi, Bollinger County in Missouri, Holt County in Nebraska, Beaver County in Oklahoma, Wayne County in Tennessee, Wheeler County in Texas, Grant County in West Virginia, Crook County in Wyoming, or any other blood-red county in America where an ambitious Republican politician could make a name for themselves by substantiating Trump’s Big Lie?

Can anything be done to stop the inevitable from happening?

The answer appears to be “no.” America will have to continue to rely on the integrity of far-right Republican elected officials who, like Rosedale, embrace insurrection even as they protect their own good names by claiming they ran a clean election in 2020.

Yet the question remains: why did Michael Lindell target Idaho, of all states? Is it because Trump’s inner circle includes movers and shakers in Idaho’s Republican Party? Why is the former president now insisting on an audit in Texas, a state run by one of his most radical and unscrupulous allies, but which was close enough in 2020 that you might think Trump—who knows there was no significant election fraud in 2020—would want to leave it alone?

The answer is so evident is hardly needs stating. Trump is now looking for states with unscrupulous allies in positions of power, and his recent public endorsements of three secretary of state candidates who’ve already fraudulently claimed that Biden’s victory must be immediately decertified is intended to send a very clear message to just that sort of toady: You know what I’m expecting you to do, and one of you better do it—and soon.