With the midterm election just months away and Donald Trump still eyeing a third presidential run in 2024, the New York Times is reporting that one of the architects of the former president's attempt to throw out the results of his 2020 loss is currently working on recruiting conspiracy-minded poll workers and watchers that have state election officials fearful of future chaos and disruption.
According to the report, attorney Cleta Mitchell who rose to fame as a participant on Trump's infamous phone call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where the former president demanded the Georgia Republican "find" 11,780 votes, is working with the Election Integrity Network, which has financial ties to Trump's still-thriving political operation.
As the Times' Alexandra Berzon writes, Mitchell has been busy traveling the country and meeting with far-right activists, instructing them on how to get deeply involved with the election process in their states, putting them in a position to challenge election results and disrupt certification of the votes.
According to Berzon, no position at the state level is considered too small by Mitchell, who recently told over 150 conservatives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, "We are taking the lessons we learned in 2020 and we are going forward to make sure they never happen again."
Pointing out that Mitchell was a participant in multiple lawsuits by Trump to challenge election results at the state level -- none of which succeeded -- Berzon writes that she is undeterred as her conspiracy theories are debunked and that she has the financial backing of several conservative groups.
"In seminars around the country, Ms. Mitchell is marshaling volunteers to stake out election offices, file information requests, monitor voting, work at polling places and keep detailed records of their work," the Times report states, adding that an examination of her efforts reveals " a loose network of influential groups and fringe figures."
Her supporters "include election deniers as well as mainstream organizations such as the Heritage Foundation's political affiliate, Tea Party Patriots and the R.N.C., which has participated in Ms. Mitchell's seminars. The effort, called the Election Integrity Network, is a project of the Conservative Partnership Institute, a right-wing think tank with close ties and financial backing from Mr. Trump's political operation."
With the Times reporting, "Ms. Mitchell's trainings promote particularly aggressive methods — with a focus on surveillance — that appear intended to feed on activists' distrust and create pressure on local officials, rather than ensure voters' access to the ballot," Philadelphia Republican and former election board member Al Schmidt expressed concern about what is to come next.
"I think it's going to come down to whether they are truly interested in knowing the truth about elections or they're interested in propagating propaganda," he admitted.
Notably, the report adds that attorney Mitchell "has worked closely with Virginia Thomas, the wife of the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, on organizing through the Council for National Policy, a national coordinating group for conservative leaders."
Virginia Thomas is currently being scrutinized by the Jan 6th House select committee after it was revealed that she had been texting former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows with advice on how to overturn the 2020 election results.
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