During the House Jan. 6 committee hearings in June, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, a Black mother-daughter duo who had served as election workers in Georgia, reflected on what it was like to be on the receiving end of Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.
The two were targeted with death threats along with racist and sexist rants after Trump and his then-lawyer, Giuliani, spread lies alleging that a video showed the women illegally transporting votes to stuff the ballot box for Joe Biden. It was an obvious lie that was refuted by top election officials in Georgia.
But that didn’t stop Trump and Giuliani from spreading the lie.
“I’ve lost my name, and I’ve lost my reputation,” Freeman testified before the Jan. 6 committee. “I’ve lost my sense of security. All because a group of people starting with ‘45’ and his ally, Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye about how the presidential election was stolen.”
In light of those attacks, it’s incredibly ironic that surveillance footage obtained by NBC News appears to show Trump-linked operatives engaging in an election scheme of their own.
The video shows Cathy Latham, then the GOP chairwoman for Coffee County, escorting several members of forensics firm SullivanStrickler into a county election office on Jan. 7, 2021. State officials are currently investigating an election data breach that occurred in the same county on the same day.
Latham was one of the people who submitted fake Electoral College certification documents to Congress after the 2020 election, falsely declaring Trump the winner in Georgia.
Trump-allied lawyer Sidney Powell hired SullivanStrickler to copy information from voting machines in several states. A Washington Post report published in August quoted emails between Powell and a firm executive that were unearthed during an investigation by Georgia into the alleged data breach in Coffee County.
“On our way to Coffee County Georgia to collect what we can from the Election/ Voting machines and systems,” Paul Maggio, the firm's chief operations officer, wrote in an email the morning of the alleged breach. (A SullivanStrickler representative on Wednesday denied having “illegally ‘breached’” election equipment, calling the accusation “categorically false.”)
But, please, take time to appreciate how incredibly fitting it is that white people were literally caught on tape engaging in what looks to be an election scheme around the same time Trump and his allies spread a conspiracy theory that innocent, Black election workers were filmed doing something nefarious.
This projection is typical of Trump, but it’s also typical of white conservatives in the GOP, who routinely finger-point and condemn nonwhite people for doing things they, themselves, do — especially voter fraud (check out my MSNBC colleague Steve Benen’s coverage for more on that).
In my view, this hypocrisy — seemingly on display in the newly unearthed footage — is the tie that binds Trump to the conservative movement. It’s their shared depravity and their shameless deflection meant to distract from it.