Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump motions to the crowd after speaking at a rally, Oct. 1, 2016, in Manheim, Pa.
Photo by John Locher/AP

Did Trump pick the wrong guy for the wrong job?

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Donald Trump created quite a controversy with baseless allegations that the U.S. elections process, right down to some individual voting precincts, has been corrupted. The whole system, the Republican insists without evidence, is “rigged” against him.

And with that in mind, Trump and his campaign want his core supporters to not only vote, but also to volunteer to “monitor” voting in areas where Republicans fear irregularities. Some on the far-right have responded to the call, vowing to identity people of color and “make them a little bit nervous.” There is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate encouraging “groups of vigilantes to hang out at polling places” in order to make people uncomfortable while casting ballots.

The Guardian reported yesterday that Team Trump has even hired someone to oversee the efforts.
Donald Trump’s “election protection” effort will be run by Mike Roman, a Republican operative best known for promoting a video of apparent voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers outside a polling place in 2008.

Roman is to oversee poll-watching efforts as Trump undertakes an unprecedented effort by a major party nominee by calling into question the legitimacy of the popular vote weeks before election day.
Roman reportedly led “an ‘intelligence agency’ connected to the Koch brothers’ Freedom Partners network, Politico reported in 2015, that sought to monitor the election-related activities of Democrat-supporting groups.”

But it’s that New Black Panthers video that stands out for a reason.

As Rachel explained on the show last night, in 2008, a short video was taken at a Philadelphia voting precinct, at which two guys who claimed to be New Black Panthers stood outside. Some locals found them menacing, the police came, and the men left.

That’s it. That’s the whole story. An 80-second video of two unidentified guys with braids in their beards, who stood by the doors of one voting precinct for about one hour before going away. This became a national phenomenon on the right because of the work done by Mike Roman – who’s now overseeing Trump’s “election protection” initiative.

It’s worth noting that the Justice Department – or more specifically, the Bush/Cheney Justice Department – reviewed the video of the two guys with braids in their beards standing for an hour in front of a voting precinct and didn’t see any reason to pursue this.

But the right didn’t care. From Rachel’s segment last night:
“Whole swaths of the Fox News Channel were built on this story, on that 80 seconds of tape. For a while, you could not avoid that tape on the Fox News Channel. In 2010, the liberal watchdog Media Matters, they counted 95 different Fox News Channel segments in the span of just over two weeks all based on that 80-second video.

“So, that video became a study in how Fox News works. But it’s also a study in the roots of the Donald Trump campaign because Fox News got that video from a guy named Mike Roman. […]

“We tend to think of the New Black Panther thing as a ridiculous Fox News story and rightly so, but if you were looking for the root of this, how people in Alaska were telling me that Barack Obama and Eric Holder were part of a big black conspiracy to steal elections all over the country and the New Black Panthers are operating in every city of the country, how a crisis of confidence and the integrity of American democracy gets its start with accusations of scary black nationalists engage in voter intimidation, if you are looking for the root of all that, you are looking at this guy, Mike Roman. This merchant of doubt, this guy Mike Roman who started that whole thing. And Mike Roman is who the Donald Trump campaign has just hired to run its nationwide ‘election protection’ operation for the presidential election this year… What could possibly go wrong?’
The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/18/16, 9:42 PM ET

Source of 'Black Panther' hysteria hired by Trump campaign

Rachel Maddow looks back at how a brief clip of two men claiming to be New Black Panthers pacing outside a Philadelphia polling station spiraled into a nation-wide, years-long panic among conservatives and Fox News viewers, and relays reports that the…

Donald Trump, Voting Rights and War On Voting

Did Trump pick the wrong guy for the wrong job?

Updated