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How Arizona Republicans' bizarre 'audit' managed to get even worse

When it comes to the Arizona Republicans' election "audit," we were reminded yesterday that this dumpster fire is clearly more pitiful than powerful.

At Donald Trump's rally in Alabama over the weekend, there was a point at which the former president not only assured his followers that his election conspiracy theories are true, he also added, "You'll see the evidence starting to come out."

Nearly 10 months after the Republican's defeat, there is still no such evidence, and he didn't specify what kind of substantiation he believes is "starting to come out." My best guess, however, is that he was referring to an utterly bonkers "audit" created by GOP members of the Arizona state Senate, who are reportedly prepared to release their findings.

As NBC News reported late yesterday, that's not going especially well.

Arizona Republicans will get only partial findings from their partisan review of 2020 ballots Monday after three people from the private company leading the so-called audit tested positive for Covid-19, state Senate President Karen Fann said.

"The team expected to have the full draft ready for the Senate today, but unfortunately Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and are quite sick," Fann said in a statement.

It's worth appreciating how we arrived at this point. As Rachel explained on last night's show, it was in April when Republican state senators, unmoved by the official election results and the findings of independent audits, thought it'd be a good idea to hand over Maricopa County's ballots and election equipment to a Florida-based outfit called Cyber Ninjas, led by a conspiracy theorist associated with the QAnon delusion.

The original plan was for Cyber Ninjas to take a few weeks to conduct an "audit." That was roughly five months ago.

As the outlandish review proceeded -- who can forget the bizarre search for bamboo fibers? -- we were told a final report would be available late last week. Then we were told to expect it yesterday.

As yesterday neared its end, Arizona Republicans said Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan and two other members of the five-person audit team have tested positive for COVID-19 and have fallen ill, which will delay the disclosure of the findings. One of the auditors has reportedly even been hospitalized with COVID-related pneumonia.

And while this was obviously horrible news, among the reasons this was so extraordinary was that this was the first public acknowledgement that a five-person audit team actually exists. Despite the fact that proponents of this ridiculous process have claimed the review is all about "transparency," key details like these have been kept under wraps for months.

Who comprises this five-person audit team, and what qualifications do they bring to the table? There are no answers to such questions because we still don't know who they are. One might be tempted to assume they're employed by Cyber Ninjas, but to date, there's little to suggest Cyber Ninjas has a roster of employees beyond its CEO.

Former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who has ostensibly served as a liaison for the "audit" process, and communicated with the public on behalf of the auditors, also expressed surprise yesterday -- not only because of the COVID-related developments, but also because he thought the audit team had nine members, not five.

Making matters just a little worse, aside from the COVID problem, Arizona Republican state senators also conceded yesterday that the report that was due to be released isn't actually done anyway.

In case this isn't obvious, Trump and other election conspiracy theorists have spent months not only touting the outlandish process in Arizona, but also preparing to use the investigation's findings as proof of 2020 wrongdoing. Far-right officials in other states intend to use the Arizona report to push for similar "audits" in other states in which Republicans disapproved of the voters' judgment.

In reality, however, Arizona's dumpster fire is clearly more pitiful than powerful.