Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is in a politically tricky position. On the one hand, he’s a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in a crowded primary, and he’s eager to please Donald Trump and his party’s far-right base.
On the other hand, he’s also Arizona’s top law enforcement official, who’s faced intense lobbying from the former president to “help” with the party’s crusade against the 2020 election.
The more Brnovich boosts Trump’s Big Lie, the more it’s likely to help his statewide campaign. The more he uses his office responsibly, and sidesteps ridiculous conspiracy theories, the more he risks being seen as a villain by the former president and his followers.
As Politico recently put it, Brnovich is effectively “caught in a vice.”
With this in mind, Trump’s pressure campaign has been overt and public. Indeed, as we’ve discussed, Trump has publicly criticized the state attorney general for not going far enough to kowtow to the former president’s anti-election nonsense. Trump even issued a written statement law year, saying Brnovich was “nowhere to be found” in helping spread ridiculous ideas about the 2020 race.
“The lackluster Attorney General of Arizona, Mark Brnovich, has to get on the ball and catch up with the great Republican patriots in the Arizona State Senate,” Trump added.
Last month, the former president went on to demand to know whether Brnovich would do “the right thing.” Soon after, Trump called on the state attorney general to take the matter to “the next level.” He also held a rally in Arizona in which he told supporters, in reference to Brnovich, “I think he’s going to do his job — we’ll find out.”
Subtle it was not.
It’s against this backdrop that NBC News reported on the Arizona Republican’s latest findings related to the 2020 campaign.
A report issued Wednesday by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich found no evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities associated with the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County while raising concerns about some voting procedures. The interim report, six months into an investigation, was detailed in a 12-page letter to Senate President Karen Fann. Brnovich, a Republican, said his office “has left no stone unturned in the aftermath of the 2020 election.”
To be sure, Brnovich couldn’t come right out and say, “The conspiracy theories are baseless,” because then his Senate candidacy would be doomed. He also couldn’t manufacture evidence of election irregularities out of thin air, because that would constitute fraud.
Instead, the state attorney general released a report yesterday that was critical of assorted election procedures, while simultaneously conceding that there’s no evidence of widespread fraud that would’ve changed the outcome of the Grand Canyon State’s 2020 results.
So what happens now? I can think of a couple of possible scenarios.
The first is that Trump will be outraged, struggling to understand why Brnovich failed to produce the proof that definitely exists in his overactive imagination.
The second is that Trump will be delighted, seizing on Brnovich’s criticisms of election procedures as evidence that his conspiracy theories are true, reality be damned.
Watch this space.