Video shows how Trump allies deal with voting devices in Georgia

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The Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, Dec. 22, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)

Recently released videos show former President Donald Trump’s allies and contractors who worked for him with sensitive voting equipment in a rural Georgia county weeks after the 2020 election.

The footage, which was made public as part of long-running lawsuits over Georgia’s electoral system, raises new questions about the efforts of Trump affiliates in some swing states to access and copy sensitive election software, using friendly locals. elections. administrators. One such incident occurred on January 7, 2021, the day after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, when a small team traveled to rural Coffee County, Georgia.

The group consisted of members of an Atlanta-based firm called SullivanStrickler, which was hired by Sidney Powell, a lawyer who advises Trump and who is also a conspiracy theorist.

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“We are on our way to Coffee County, Georgia, to gather what we can from the election/voting machines and systems,” one of the company’s executives, Paul Maggio, wrote to Powell that January morning. Weeks later, Scott Hall, a Trump supporter and guarantor from the Atlanta area who also traveled to Coffee County, said in a recorded phone call that “we scanned every damn vote.”

Hall said the team had the blessing of the local election council and “scanned all equipment, imaged all hard drives and scanned every vote”.

The new videos show members of the team in an office that processes county polling stations, which contain sensitive voter data. (The equipment cases in the footage are labeled with the words “POLL PAD.”) In a September 9 court hearing, David D. Cross, a lawyer for a nonprofit who is suing for alleged security vulnerabilities in the Georgian voting system — and who released the new videos after obtaining them in the process — told a judge his group suspected the “personally identifiable information” of about 7 million Georgian voters had been copied.

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Charles Tonnie Adams, the election supervisor for Heard County, Georgia, said in an email that “in the poll blocks, every registered voter is on the state list.” It was not immediately clear what specific personal information about voters was on the polling stations, or what was done with the data.

Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State for Georgia, said a polling station “does contain voter information, but it cannot be accessed because it is encrypted behind security protocols.” He added that there were no driver’s license numbers or social security numbers on the polling stations at the time.

The new videos also show that some of the Trump allies who visited Coffee County were given access to a storage facility, and several people associated with Trump’s campaign, or his allies, had access to the building for several days.

The new footage also shows Cathy Latham, then the head of the county’s Republican Party, with members of the Trump team, together in an office where the county’s polling stations were lined up on a table. Latham is one of the targets of an Atlanta criminal investigation linked to her participation as one of the alternative voters trying to reverse Trump’s loss in Georgia. That investigation, which is being led by Fani T. Willis, the Fulton County District Attorney, also covers what happened in Coffee County.

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In a court filed late Monday night, plaintiffs in the civil case attacked what they called “Latham’s and her counsel’s continued refusal to be honest with this court about the facts”. They accused her of downplaying her involvement with the Trump team when “she literally instructed them what to collect in the office.”

Robert D. Cheeley, an attorney for Latham, declined to speak officially on Monday. This month, he told CNN that his client “would not have been and would not have been involved in any impropriety in any election.”

Investigators from Raffensperger’s office also appear in the new videos, raising questions about what they knew. Raffensperger’s office, along with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, is investigating what happened in Coffee County, 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, but voting rights attorneys involved in the lawsuit have questioned why Raffensperger, the defendant in the civil case, did not acted more aggressively. .

Hassinger said the Secretary of State had “no idea” why his investigators were at the Coffee County polling station in early January.

“We are investigating it,” he said. “Again, we take this very seriously. This investigation is a joint effort of the Secretary of State and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and if people are found to have committed a crime, they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Hassinger added that the Secretary of State was at the time “working on vote-counting procedures when Coffee County was unable to certify the results of their election by the time of the TBEN.”

SullivanStrickler’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment. The company’s attorneys have previously said it was “categorically inaccurate” that it was part of an attempt to “illegally ‘violate'” servers or other voting devices, but that “in hindsight, and knowing all they know now, they would not take on this kind of work again.”

Rachel Ann Roberts, the current election supervisor for Coffee County, was reached by phone Monday and said she was unable to comment on the polling station issue because she started the job after the visit took place.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “I wasn’t there then.”

Georgia is not the only state where such activities have taken place. In Michigan, a special counsel is investigating the efforts of Trump allies, including Republican attorney general nominee Matthew DePerno, to gain access to voting machines. And in Colorado, the Secretary of State estimated that taxpayers would have to pay a bill of at least $1 million to replace voting equipment in Mesa County after a pro-Trump election supervisor was indicted on charges of tampering with the county’s voting equipment after the election. elections of 2020 .

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