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Sham audit backfires on Arizona GOP, Biden won by a wider margin

Trump had told people the Arizona audit "could undo" the 2020 presidential election. That was bonkers at the time; it's much worse now.


There was never any reason to question the election results out of Arizona. There was an official count of the state's ballots, followed by an official recount. There was an independent audit, which found literally nothing untoward. The facts were unambiguous: President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Donald Trump in the Grand Canyon State last fall.

But Republican conspiracy theorists — from Phoenix to Mar-a-Lago — were nevertheless convinced that the vote count, recount, and independent reviews weren't quite good enough. What the GOP needed was a strange company called Cyber Ninjas, led by a guy who promoted QAnon content, which had no relevant experience, to conduct yet another review of the ballots from Arizona's most populous county.

Republicans in the state Senate, who authorized the fiasco, said it would take a few weeks. Five months later, according to multiple accounts, the endeavor appears to have backfired spectacularly. The Arizona Republic, among many other news organizations, reported overnight:

A monthslong hand recount of Maricopa County's 2020 vote confirmed that President Joe Biden won and the election was not "stolen" from former President Donald Trump, according to early versions of a report prepared for the Arizona Senate. The three-volume report by the Cyber Ninjas, the Senate's lead contractor, includes results that show Trump lost by a wider margin than the county's official election results. The data in the report also confirms that U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly won in the county.

The official results won't be released until this afternoon, at a presentation scheduled for 4 p.m. eastern, but not surprisingly, the findings appear to have leaked.

To be sure, Arizona's utterly bonkers sham "audit" appeared pitiful long before these revelations. From the hunt for bamboo fibers to the examination of non-existent watermarks to the scrutiny of "kinematic artifacts," this process has been an obvious debacle from the outset.

As far back as May, Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors tried to convince GOP state senators that the outlandish process had become a "spectacle that is harming all of us," adding, "Our state has become a laughingstock." Around the same time, one Republican state legislator conceded, "It makes us look like idiots.... I didn't think it would be this ridiculous."

But if the overnight reporting is correct, and the "audit" showed the Democratic ticket winning by an even wider margin than previously known, the Arizona Republicans' multi-million-dollar process will soon enter the American Politics Hall of Shame as one of the most brutal own goals of all time.

The degree to which Trump will be crushed is difficult to overstate. In the spring, the Republican spoke to a group of supporters and sounded like a politician who expected the "audit" to tell him he'd won the race he'd actually lost. The Washington Post's Philip Bump asked soon after, "This appears to be Trump at Mar-a-Lago telling his customers that the bizarre Arizona recount will be the first domino to fall in apparently somehow undoing the election?"

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman also noted in May that Trump had told people the Arizona audit "could undo" the 2020 presidential election.

Even at the time, that was insane. It's much worse now.