On June 14, washed-up former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn appeared on the show of insurrectionist-in-chief Steve Bannon and bragged that the sham Arizona “audit” of the 2020 elections and the calls for other states to audit their results are being driven by the support of the “MAGA brain trust, the MAGA patriots, which is the viewership and audience of this very show.” Bannon agreed, saying, “This audience, it’s all about you, you’ve had it on your shoulders from the beginning.”
Election officials -- especially those in the closely contested states of Michigan, Georgia, and Arizona -- are suffering as a result of this election-fraud narrative led by Trump supporters and their media allies. As a recent report in Reuters details, “Election officials and their families are living with threats of hanging, firing squads, torture and bomb blasts,” and the impetus of these threats has been “Trump’s voter-fraud falsehoods.”
These threats and intimidation, which started before the election and ramped up immediately after, have not abated. Reuters details that Tricia Raffensperger, the wife of Georgia’s top election official and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, received a death threat against her family as recently as April 24. And a recent report by The Associated Press documents how “after facing threats and intimidation during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, and now the potential of new punishments in certain states, county officials who run elections are quitting or retiring early.”
Later in the day, after Epshteyn and Bannon’s gloating, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson appeared on MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes to speak about her experience dealing with threats against her leveraged by Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen. She described the threats as “ongoing, … in part because there’s not yet been any real accountability for the political leaders who have been lying to folks” about “what is the truth about the election.”
Just a few days prior to Benson’s appearance on MSNBC, Bannon threatened Attorney General Merrick Garland with prison for promising to protect the integrity of the 2020 election. Election falsehoods and conspiracy theories remain a central focus on War Room: Pandemic, and our democracy is suffering as a result.