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    Giuliani Meets With Jan. 6 Committee for Over 7 Hours

    The onetime Trump lawyer was central to the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.WASHINGTON — Rudolph W. Giuliani, who helped lead President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election as his personal lawyer, sat on Friday for a lengthy interview with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to people familiar with the closed-door interview.Mr. Giuliani’s interview, which was virtual, lasted for more than seven hours, the people said. The interview was transcribed, and he was under oath. He took a break in the middle of it to host his hourlong afternoon radio show.It was unclear what Mr. Giuliani told the committee, but his centrality to Mr. Trump’s various attempts to subvert the election made him a potentially pivotal witness for the panel, with knowledge of details about interactions with members of Congress and others involved in the plans.Mr. Giuliani, whose interview was reported earlier by CNN, had negotiated with the panel about testifying for months, and he reached an agreement to speak about matters other than his conversations with Mr. Trump or any other topic he believed was covered by attorney-client privilege.Earlier this month, he abruptly pulled out of a scheduled interview with the committee after the panel refused to let him record the session. He later dropped that objection and agreed to testify after the panel threatened to use its “enforcement options,” an implied referral to the Justice Department for criminal contempt of Congress, the people said.The committee has interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses and has recommended criminal contempt of Congress charges against four of Mr. Trump’s closest allies, who have refused to cooperate fully.Mr. Giuliani was one of the last major witnesses the committee had pressed to interview in the final weeks before it begins holding public hearings in June. Others include more than a half-dozen Republican members of Congress, such as Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader.The panel has not yet made final decisions about whether to call Mr. Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence or Virginia Thomas, a right-wing activist who pushed to overturn the 2020 election and who is the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas. The chairman of the panel, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, recently indicated the committee might not ultimately summon any of the three.Mr. Giuliani was a key figure in Mr. Trump’s attempts to stave off electoral defeat and was involved in plans to disrupt the normal workings of the Electoral College by persuading lawmakers in contested swing states to draw up alternate slates of electors showing Mr. Trump as victorious in states actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.Mr. Giuliani was also instrumental in vetting a plan to use the Department of Homeland Security to seize voting machines and examine the data housed inside them for supposed evidence of fraud. At Mr. Trump’s direction, Mr. Giuliani asked a top homeland security official if the department could legally take control of the machines — a notion the official shot down. Mr. Giuliani later opposed an even more explosive proposal to have the military seize the machines.Mr. Giuliani was subpoenaed with other members of a legal team that billed itself as an “elite strike force” and pursued a set of lawsuits on behalf of Mr. Trump in which they promulgated conspiracy theories and made unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the election.The committee’s subpoena sought all documents that Mr. Giuliani had detailing the pressure campaign that he and other Trump allies initiated targeting state officials, the seizure of voting machines, contact with members of Congress, any evidence to support the conspiracy theories he pushed and any arrangements for his fees.On Jan. 6, speaking to a crowd of Trump supporters before a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, Mr. Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” Later, after the building was under siege, both he and Mr. Trump called lawmakers in an attempt to delay the certification of Mr. Biden’s victory. More

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    Ginni Thomas Urged Arizona Lawmakers to Overturn Election

    The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote to legislators in a crucial swing state after the Trump campaign’s loss in 2020.In the weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, twice lobbied the speaker of the Arizona House and another lawmaker to effectively reverse Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s popular-vote victory and deliver the crucial swing state to Donald J. Trump.Ms. Thomas, known as Ginni, a right-wing political activist who became a close ally of Mr. Trump during his presidency, made the entreaties in emails to Russell Bowers, the Republican speaker, and Shawnna Bolick, a Republican state representative. Ms. Bolick’s husband, Clint, once worked with Justice Thomas and now sits on the Arizona Supreme Court.The emails came as Mr. Trump and his allies were engaged in a legal effort to overturn his defeats in several battleground states. While the Arizona emails did not mention either presidential candidate by name, they echoed the former president’s false claims of voter fraud and his legal team’s dubious contention that the power to choose electors therefore rested not with the voters but with state legislatures.“Do your constitutional duty,” Ms. Thomas wrote the lawmakers on Nov. 9. On Dec. 13, with Mr. Trump still refusing to concede on the eve of the Electoral College vote, she contacted the lawmakers again.“The nation’s eyes are on you now,” she warned, adding, “Please consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you do not stand up and lead.”After she sent her first round of emails, but before the second round, Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, more directly pressured Mr. Bowers. They called him and urged him to have the state legislature step in and choose Arizona’s electors.Mr. Bowers could not be reached for comment on Friday. In a statement to The Arizona Republic, a spokesman said that Mr. Bowers never saw Ms. Thomas’s email. He ended up rebuffing all the requests to intervene, even in the face of protests outside his house.Ms. Bolick, who did not return requests for comment and is now running to become Arizona’s next secretary of state on a platform to “restore election integrity,” proved more of an ally. She thanked Ms. Thomas for reaching out, writing that she hoped “you and Clarence are doing great!” Among other things, she would go on to urge Congress to throw out Arizona’s presidential election results and award the state’s Electoral College votes to Mr. Trump.The emails, reported earlier by The Washington Post and obtained by The New York Times, were part of a letter-writing campaign hosted on FreeRoots, a political advocacy platform. On Friday, Mark Paoletta, a lawyer and close friend of the Thomases, said on Twitter that Ms. Thomas “did not write the letter and had no input in the content,” but rather merely “signed her name to a pre-written form letter that was signed by thousands of citizens.”“How disturbing, what a threat!” he wrote, dismissing the revelations as a “lame story.” He added: “A private citizen joining a letter writing campaign, hosted by a platform that served both conservative and liberal causes. Welcome to America.”In fact, the emails are a reflection of the far broader and more integral role that Justice Thomas’s wife played in efforts to delegitimize the election and install Mr. Trump for a second term — efforts that culminated on Jan. 6, 2021, with a protest called the “March to Save America” that turned into a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.As a string of revelations by The Times and other outlets in recent months has demonstrated, Ms. Thomas actively supported and participated at the highest levels in schemes to overturn the election. Those efforts have, in turn, cast a spotlight on her husband, who from his lifetime perch on the Supreme Court has issued opinions favoring Mr. Trump’s efforts to both reverse his loss and stymie a congressional investigation into the events of Jan. 6.This February, The New York Times Magazine reported on Ms. Thomas’s role on the board of C.N.P. Action, a conservative group that had instructed members to adopt letter-writing tactics — of the kind she personally used in Arizona — to pressure Republican lawmakers in swing states to circumvent voters by appointing alternate electors.C.N.P. Action had also circulated a newsletter in December 2020 that included a report targeting five swing states, including Arizona, where Mr. Trump and his allies were pressing litigation. It warned that time was running out for the courts to “declare the elections null and void.” The report was co-written by one of Mr. Trump’s leading election lawyers, Cleta Mitchell, a friend of Ms. Thomas.And in the lead-up to the rally on Jan. 6, Ms. Thomas played a mediating role, uniting feuding factions of planners so that there “wouldn’t be any division,” one of the organizers, Dustin Stockton, later told The Times.Ms. Thomas declined to speak to The Times for that article, but a few weeks later, in an interview with a friendly conservative outlet, she denied playing any role in the organization of the rally, even as she acknowledged attending it. (She said she left before Mr. Trump addressed the crowd.)But she has adamantly opposed a fuller inquiry into the insurrection. Last December, she co-signed a letter calling for House Republicans to expel Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger from their conference for joining the committee investigating the Capitol riot, saying it brought “disrespect to our country’s rule of law” and “legal harassment to private citizens who have done nothing wrong.”And in late March, The Post and CBS reported that she had sent a series of text messages to Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, imploring him to take steps to reverse the election. Ms. Thomas urged him to “release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down,” invoking a slogan popular on the right that refers to a set of conspiratorial claims that Trump supporters believed would overturn the vote. In the text messages, she also indicated that she had been in contact with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about a post-election legal strategy.Democrats expressed outrage. In a letter after the text messages were reported, two dozen Democrats, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, wrote: “Given the recent disclosures about Ms. Thomas’s efforts to overturn the election and her specific communications with White House officials about doing so, Justice Thomas’s participation in cases involving the 2020 election and the January 6th attack is exceedingly difficult to reconcile with federal ethics requirements.”Still, it remains an open question whether the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack will seek an interview with Ms. Thomas. In March, people familiar with the committee’s work signaled a desire to ask Ms. Thomas to voluntarily sit for an interview. But the committee has yet to do so, and its chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, told reporters that Ms. Thomas had not come up recently in the panel’s discussions.Justice Thomas has remained defiant amid questions about his own impartiality, resisting calls that he recuse himself from matters that overlap with his wife’s activism. Earlier this year, when the Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 to allow the release of records from the Trump White House related to Jan. 6, Justice Thomas was the sole dissenter. In February last year, he sharply dissented when the court declined to hear a case brought by Pennsylvania Republicans seeking to disqualify certain mail-in ballots.The latest revelations about his wife follow a speech last week in which he lambasted protests in front of the houses of justices after a draft opinion was leaked that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion case. “I wonder how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them,” he told a conference of fellow conservatives. “And then I wonder when they’re gone or destabilized, what we’re going to have as a country.”And he flashed at his own partisanship in claiming that the left’s protests lacked the decorum of the right — while failing to mention last year’s attack on the Capitol, or protests like those in front of Mr. Bowers’s house.“You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn’t go our way,” he said. “We didn’t throw temper tantrums. It is incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not to repay tit for tat.”Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife have frequently appeared at political events despite longstanding customs of the Supreme Court.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesThe Thomases have long defied norms of the high court, where justices often avoid political events and entanglements and their spouses often keep low profiles. No spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice has ever been as overt a political activist as Ms. Thomas. C.N.P. Action, where she sits on the board, is a branch of the Council for National Policy, a secretive conservative organization that includes leaders from the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council, a Christian advocacy group. Ms. Thomas also founded an organization called Groundswell that holds a weekly meeting of influential conservatives, many of whom work directly on issues that have come before the Supreme Court.Justice Thomas, for his part, has frequently appeared at political events hosted by advocates hoping to sway the court. He and his wife sometimes appear together at such events, and often portray themselves as standing in the breach amid a crumbling society.“It’s very exciting,” Ms. Thomas said during a 2018 Council for National Policy meeting, “the fact that there’s a resistance on our side to their side.”Luke Broadwater More

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    John Eastman Says He Dealt Directly With Trump Over Jan. 6 Plans

    John Eastman said in a court filing that he had received handwritten notes from President Donald J. Trump as they strategized about how to keep him in power.WASHINGTON — The conservative lawyer John Eastman, the architect of a strategy to overturn the 2020 election, dealt directly with President Donald J. Trump and received handwritten notes from him as the men sought to keep Mr. Trump in power, according to a new court filing.The filing underscored how instrumental Mr. Eastman was in devising ways to fight Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, and how personally involved Mr. Trump was in the attempt to keep the presidency in his hands. It also provided further documentation of how members of the Trump campaign and White House aides were involved in the plans.The filing came as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is preparing for public hearings in June about the attempt to overturn the election, and as more information has emerged about Mr. Eastman’s role in advising state officials in Pennsylvania to reject votes cast in favor of Mr. Biden.Mr. Eastman did not release the contents of his communications with Mr. Trump and others in the White House and the Trump campaign, but he described them in general terms in a filing in his federal lawsuit in California against the House committee. He is fighting the release of hundreds of documents that the panel has demanded via subpoena, including by arguing that some of them are protected by attorney-client privilege.In the filing on Thursday, Mr. Eastman argued that some of his emails with the White House and Trump campaign were covered by attorney-client privilege because, he said, the people he communicated with were functioning as “conduits” for or “agents” of Mr. Trump. He said he mostly communicated with Mr. Trump using six intermediaries, three of whom worked for the Trump campaign and three of whom worked directly for Mr. Trump while he was in office.But Mr. Eastman said he also spoke directly to Mr. Trump, and the filing stated that Mr. Eastman received two “handwritten notes from former President Trump about information that he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation.”“While Dr. Eastman could (and did) communicate directly with former President Trump at times, many of his communications with the president were necessarily through these agents,” Mr. Eastman’s lawyers, Anthony T. Caso and Charles Burnham, wrote, referring to the six intermediaries.The documents Mr. Eastman is seeking to block from release include the two handwritten notes from Mr. Trump; communications with what he called “potential clients,” including seven state legislators, who were seeking advice about how to challenge their states’ election results; a document discussing “various scenarios for Jan. 6”; and another discussing the “need to pursue election integrity litigation even in the event of Trump loss for the good of the country.”In March, the federal judge in the case ruled that Mr. Eastman and Mr. Trump had most likely committed felonies as they pushed to overturn the election, including obstructing the work of Congress and conspiring to defraud the United States. The actions taken by Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman, the judge found, amounted to “a coup in search of a legal theory.”At the time, the judge, David O. Carter of Federal District Court for the Central District of California, ordered the release of more than 100 of Mr. Eastman’s emails; Mr. Eastman turned them over to the House committee as he continued to fight the release of others.Among the documents that Mr. Eastman turned over was a draft memo written for Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, that recommended that Vice President Mike Pence reject electors from contested states in his role overseeing the certification by Congress of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6.In their filing, Mr. Eastman’s lawyers wrote that their client disagreed with Judge Carter’s conclusion that he had undermined democracy, arguing that Mr. Eastman truly believed the election was stolen. The filing cited the work of conservative media figures — including the new film “2000 Mules” by Dinesh D’Souza, which fact checkers have described as misleading — as evidence that widespread fraud occurred in the election.“If, as seemed clear to Dr. Eastman and his client at the time, there was illegality and fraud in the election of sufficient magnitude to have altered the outcome of the election, then far from ‘undermining’ democracy, Dr. Eastman’s actions and advice must be seen for what they were — a legitimate attempt to prevent a stolen election,” Mr. Eastman’s lawyers wrote. “Perhaps Dr. Eastman was wrong about that. But even if he was, being wrong about factual claims is not and never has been criminal.”They added, “Dr. Eastman’s position remains that his legal theories, controversial though they may have been, were not unlawful.”In the filing, Mr. Eastman said he began working for Mr. Trump two months before the 2020 election at the invitation of Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who the Jan. 6 committee said “promoted false claims of election fraud to members of Congress” and participated in a call in which Mr. Trump tried to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state to “‘find’ enough votes to reverse his loss there.”Mr. Eastman, Ms. Mitchell and others began preparing to fight the election results well before Election Day, but the effort “kicked into high gear” on Nov. 7 — four days after the election — when Mr. Eastman met with Mr. Trump’s campaign team in Philadelphia to assist with the preparation of an election challenge, the filing said.In deciding in March that Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman had “more likely than not” broken the law, Judge Carter noted that Mr. Trump had facilitated two meetings involving Mr. Eastman in the days before Jan. 6 that were “explicitly tied to persuading Vice President Pence to disrupt the joint session of Congress.”At the first meeting, on Jan. 4, Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman invited Mr. Pence and two of his top aides, Greg Jacob and Marc Short, to the Oval Office. There, Judge Carter wrote, Mr. Eastman “presented his plan to Vice President Pence, focusing on either rejecting electors or delaying the count.”That meeting was followed by another, Judge Carter wrote, on Jan. 5, during which Mr. Eastman sought again to persuade Mr. Jacob to go along with the scheme. More

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    It’s Trump’s Party, and He’ll Lie if He Wants To

    To win a Republican primary in 2022, you’ll probably need to support a coup attempt.It’s not sufficient — David Perdue, a former senator, looks like he’s going to lose to the incumbent governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, in next week’s primary, despite his support for the “big lie” — but it makes a difference.The Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano, won his race on the strength of his enthusiastic support for Donald Trump’s effort to subvert and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. As a state senator, Mastriano demanded that lawmakers invalidate Joe Biden’s electoral votes. He attended the “stop the steal” rally on Jan. 6 and has continued to accuse Democrats of fraud. Mastriano has not commented on the 2024 election, but he has let it be known that he supports the view that state legislatures can assign electoral votes against the will of the voting public.The Republican nominee for the Senate in North Carolina, Ted Budd, was similarly committed to Trump’s effort to keep himself in office. He was among the 139 House members who objected to certifying the presidential election in Biden’s favor.J.D. Vance, the Republican nominee for the Senate in Ohio, has not endorsed the claim that Biden stole the election from Trump, but he did play footsie with the idea during his campaign. “I think we’ve got to investigate as much as possible,” Vance said of the 2020 election results. “I believe sunshine is the best disinfectant. And we’re going to learn a lot about what happened. But, you know, I think at a basic level we already know mostly what happened.”Overall, there are hundreds of Republican candidates in races across the country who have embraced Trump’s false claims about his defeat. Many, like Budd, voted against Biden’s Electoral College victory. Some, like Mastriano, attended the “stop the steal” protest in Washington on Jan. 6. And others signed legal briefs or resolutions challenging Biden’s victory.The extent to which election denialism and pro-insurrectionism are now litmus tests for Republican politicians is clearly attributable to Trump’s huge influence over the Republican Party. Despite his defeat, he is still the leader. But even if that were not true — if, instead of the boss, Trump were only one influential figure among many — there would still be reason for Republicans to embrace this view.That’s because Republican election denialism is simply the strongest form of a belief that has defined the Republican Party since at least the Newt Gingrich era in the 1990s. For many Republicans, theirs is the only legitimate political party and their voters, irrespective of their actual numbers, are the only legitimate voters — and the only legitimate majority. Democrats, from this vantage point, are presumptively illegitimate, their victories suspect, their policies un-American, even when they have the support of most people in the country.You see this in the years of voter fraud hysteria that preceded Trump’s claim, after the 2016 election, that he had been cheated of millions of votes. “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide,” he said, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”In 2001, for example, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a crackdown on voter fraud, accusing unnamed actors (presumably Democrats) of manipulating elections. “Votes have been bought, voters intimidated and ballot boxes stuffed,” he said at a news conference that year. “The polling process has been disrupted or not completed. Voters have been duped into signing absentee ballots believing they were applications for public relief. And the residents of cemeteries have infamously shown up at the polls on Election Day.”After the 2008 election, Republicans went into a frenzy over the group ACORN, accusing it of perpetrating fraud on a national scale. How else, after all, could you explain Barack Obama’s unexpected victories in traditionally Republican states like Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina?The obsession with nonexistent voter fraud is hard to ignore. But there were other ways that Republicans expressed their belief that they were the only legitimate members of the political community.Sarah Palin’s rhetoric about the “real America,” very much in evidence during the 2008 presidential campaign — “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America” — was one of these ways. So was the Tea Party movement, whose members understood themselves as a disenfranchised majority, under siege by a Democratic Party of burdensome illegal immigrants, ungrateful minorities and entitled young people. The Fox News commentator Glenn Beck captured some of this feeling during a 2010 broadcast. “This is the Tea Party. This is you and me,” he said. “You are not alone, America. You are the majority.”Mitt Romney’s infamous claim that there are “47 percent of the people” who are “dependent upon government,” “believe they are victims” and are unable to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives” was condemned as classist and prejudiced during the 2012 presidential election. But you can also read it as an expression of the belief that there are some Americans who count — the “makers,” in the language of his vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan — and some Americans who don’t.Yes, the Republican Party’s present-day election denialism is much more extreme than the rhetoric surrounding voter fraud or the idea that there is a “real America.” But the difference is ultimately one of degree, not kind: Republicans have been trying to write Democrats out of the political community in one way or another for decades. It was only a matter of time before this escalated to denying that Democrats and Democratic voters can win elections at all.The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram. More

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    Group Chat Linked to Roger Stone Shows Ties Among Jan. 6 Figures

    The roster of participants highlights how Mr. Stone, the pro-Trump political operative, was involved with a strikingly large number of people who sought to overturn the 2020 election.It was known as F.O.S. — or Friends of Stone — and while its members shifted over time, they were a motley cast of characters.There were “Stop the Steal” organizers, right-wing influencers, Florida state legislative aides and more than one failed candidate loyal to former President Donald J. Trump. One participant ran a website that promoted disinformation about the Capitol attack. Another was an officer in the Army Reserve allied with Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser.At least three members of the group chat are now facing charges in connection with the riot at the Capitol in January 2021. They include Owen Shroyer, the right-hand man of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones; Enrique Tarrio, the onetime chairman of the Proud Boys; and Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia.But the focus of the chat was always the man whose photo topped its home page: Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime political operative and adviser to Mr. Trump.While little is known about what was said on the chat, the membership list of Friends of Stone, provided to The New York Times by one of its participants, offers a kind of road map to Mr. Stone’s associations, showing their scope and nature in the critical period after the 2020 election. During that time, Mr. Stone was involved with a strikingly wide array of people who participated in efforts to challenge the vote count and keep Mr. Trump in the White House.Some of the 47 people on the list are identified only by nicknames or initials, and Mr. Stone had pre-existing political ties with many of them. Still, as prosecutors deepen their inquiry into the storming of Capitol, the list suggests that Mr. Stone had the means to be in private contact with key players in the events of Jan. 6 — political organizers, far-right extremists and influential media figures who subsequently played down the attack.Reached by email, Mr. Stone said that he did not control who was admitted to the group chat and noted that Stop the Steal activities were protected by the First Amendment.“There is no story,” he wrote. “Just harassment.”Enrique Tarrio, the onetime chairman of the Proud Boys, maintained close ties to Mr. Stone.Eva Marie Uzcategui/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesWhile the origins of the group chat remain somewhat obscure, Friends of Stone has existed since at least 2019, when Mr. Stone was indicted in connection with the Russia investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, said one of its participants, Pete Santilli, a veteran right-wing radio host. According to Mr. Santilli, the group chat — hosted on the encrypted app Signal — was a kind of safe space where pro-Stone figures in politics and media, many of whom were banned from social media, could get together and trade links and stories about their mutual friend.“The primary reason for the chat was to have a place for supporters to share stuff,” Mr. Santilli said. “You drop a link and everyone shares it on their nontraditional channels.”But after Mr. Trump’s defeat, Friends of Stone seemed to assume another purpose as Mr. Stone found himself in the middle of the accelerating Stop the Steal movement devised to challenge the results of the election. The Washington Post, citing footage from a Danish documentary film crew that was following Mr. Stone, said that in early November 2020, he asked his aides to direct those involved in the effort to monitor the chat for developments.In recent weeks, the Justice Department has expanded its investigation of the riot from those who physically attacked the Capitol to those who were not at the building but may have helped to shape or guide the violence. Investigators appear to be interested in finding any links between organizers who planned pro-Trump rallies at the Capitol that day and right-wing militants who took part in the assault.The group chat’s membership list includes several people who fit that description.Named on the list are activists like Marsha Lessard and Christina Skaggs, leaders of a group called the Virginia Freedom Keepers who helped to organize an anti-vaccine rally scheduled for the east side of the Capitol on Jan. 6. Ms. Lessard and Ms. Skaggs worked with another anti-vaccine activist, Ty Bollinger, who was also on the list.Members of the group were among those who took part in a conference call on Dec. 30, 2020, when a social media expert who formerly worked for Mr. Stone urged his listeners to “descend on the Capitol” one week later, promising that Joseph R. Biden Jr. “will never be in that White House.”Ms. Lessard, Ms. Skaggs and Mr. Bollinger did not return phone calls seeking comment.Ali Alexander, one of the most prominent Stop the Steal organizers who planned his own event at the Capitol that day, was on the list as well. His lawyer did not return a phone call seeking comment.In the days leading up to Jan. 6, Mr. Stone was scheduled to speak at both Mr. Alexander’s event and the rally hosted by Ms. Lessard, Ms. Skaggs and others, including Bianca Gracia, the leader of a group called Latinos for Trump, according to permits and event fliers. Mr. Stone never spoke at those events, however, and hurried out of Washington even as the police were still securing the Capitol, according to the film footage cited by The Post.Ali Alexander planned his own event at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesMr. Stone’s connections to Mr. Rhodes and the Oath Keepers were based, at least in part, on the fact that the militia group provided security for him on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6. The Oath Keepers also protected Mr. Alexander and his entourage on Jan. 6 and served as security at the events hosted by Ms. Skaggs, Ms. Lessard and Ms. Gracia, court papers say.At least one of Mr. Stone’s Oath Keeper bodyguards, Joshua James, has pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy charges in the Capitol attack and is cooperating with the government’s inquiry. Kellye SoRelle, a lawyer for the Oath Keepers, was part of the Friends of Stone chat as well and is also said to be cooperating with prosecutors in the riot investigation.Mr. Stone, a Florida resident, has long maintained close ties to the Proud Boys, especially to Mr. Tarrio, who lived in Miami before his arrest. Members of the Proud Boys have acted as bodyguards for Mr. Stone and have served as some of his most vocal supporters.In 2019, after Mr. Stone was indicted by Mr. Mueller on charges including obstruction and witness tampering, Mr. Tarrio responded by wearing a T-shirt reading “Roger Stone Did Nothing Wrong” at one of Mr. Trump’s political rallies. At one point, Mr. Tarrio’s personal cellphone had a message recorded by Mr. Stone.Nayib Hassan, Mr. Tarrio’s lawyer, declined to comment on his client’s role in the chat.During his prosecution, Mr. Stone posted an image on social media of the federal judge in his case, Amy Berman Jackson, with cross hairs next to her head. When questioned in court about the image, he acknowledged that he had been sent a series of photos by Mr. Tarrio and two other Florida Proud Boys whose names appear on the Friends of Stone membership list: Jacobs Engels and Tyler Ziolkowski.Mr. Engels was with Mr. Stone in Washington on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6. He initially agreed to talk about the group chat but then did not return a phone call seeking comment.Another person who appeared on the Friends of Stone list — under the name “Ivan” — was Ivan Raiklin, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who promoted a plan after the election to pressure Vice President Mike Pence not to certify electors from several disputed swing states. This plan, which Mr. Raiklin called the “Pence Card,” was ultimately taken up by Mr. Trump and some of his legal advisers, like the lawyer John Eastman.Mr. Raiklin, who did not return phone calls seeking comment, was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but showed no sign of entering the building. Closely aligned with Mr. Flynn, he has continued to question the results of the 2020 vote, appearing at so-called election integrity events and arguing that Mr. Trump was set up by members of the “deep state.”While the government has gathered thousands of pages of private messages in its vast investigation of the Capitol attack, it remains unclear if prosecutors have gotten access to the Friends of Stone group chat. Along with the membership list, The Times was given images of a few snippets of conversations to verify the chat’s authenticity.In one of them, Ms. Skaggs told the group that she had just spoken with the pro-Trump lawyer L. Lin Wood, who took part in the effort to overturn the election. Ms. Skaggs’s message, which does not bear a date, said Mr. Wood was claiming that the Insurrection Act — a form of martial law — had been invoked the night before.Responding to her message, Mr. Rhodes, who had repeatedly urged Mr. Trump to use the Insurrection Act to stay in power, answered incredulously.“I’ll believe it when I see it,” he wrote, dismissing the account with an obscenity. More

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    Republican Panic Grows After Mastriano Wins

    The aftershocks of Tuesday’s big primaries are still rumbling across Pennsylvania, but one impact is already clear: Republican voters’ choice of Doug Mastriano in the governor’s race is giving the G.O.P. fits.Conversations with Republican strategists, donors and lobbyists in and outside of Pennsylvania in recent days reveal a party seething with anxiety, dissension and score-settling over Mastriano’s nomination.In the run-up to Tuesday night, Republicans openly used words and phrases like “suicide mission,” “disaster” and “voyage of the Titanic” to convey just what a catastrophe they believed his candidacy will be for their party.An adviser to several Republican governors, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there was wide displeasure with the outcome, calling him unelectable. The Mastriano campaign did not respond to a request for comment.Some in Pennsylvania blame Jeff Yass, a billionaire options trader and the state’s most powerful donor, for sticking with Bill McSwain for governor despite Donald Trump’s blistering anti-endorsement; others point the finger at Lawrence Tabas, the state party chairman, for failing to clear the field; still others say that Trump should have stayed out of the race altogether instead of endorsing Mastriano. Tabas did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.An 11th-hour effort to stop Mastriano failed when both McSwain and Dave White, a self-funding candidate who spent at least $5 million of his own money, refused to drop out and support former Representative Lou Barletta, whose supporters insisted he was the more viable option.Many Republicans thought that idea was futile and far too late; several said a serious effort to prevent Mastriano from winning should have begun last summer, while others said that Yass and his allies could have dropped McSwain sooner.“Had they kept their powder dry, they could have seen the lay of the land, when Mastriano’s lead was 8-10, and backed Barletta,” said Sam Katz, a former Republican candidate for governor who now backs Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee.“Had they spent $5 million in three weeks, they might have forced Trump to make a different choice and changed everything,” Katz added.Mastriano had amassed nearly 45 percent of the vote as of Wednesday afternoon.Matthew Brouillette, head of Commonwealth Partners, which bankrolled McSwain’s campaign, noted that his organization also backed Carrie DelRosso, who won the lieutenant governor’s race. He said the criticism was coming largely from “consultants and rent-seekers who don’t like us as we disrupt their gravy trains.”After the Pennsylvania and North Carolina PrimariesMay 17 was the biggest day so far in the 2022 midterm cycle. Here’s what we’ve learned.Trump’s Limits: The MAGA movement is dominating Republican primaries, but Donald J. Trump’s control over it may be slipping.‘Stop the Steal’ Endures: G.O.P. candidates who aggressively cast doubt on the 2020 election have fared best, while Democratic voters are pushing for change. Here are more takeaways.Trump Endorsements: Most of the candidates backed by the former president have prevailed. However, there are some noteworthy losses.Up Next: Closely watched races in Georgia and Alabama on May 24 will offer a clearer picture of Mr. Trump’s influence.Ties to Jan. 6 and QAnonMastriano’s vulnerabilities are legion, G.O.P. operatives lament.The state senator and retired U.S. Army colonel has taken a hard line on abortion, which he has said should be illegal under all circumstances. He organized buses to Washington for the Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington and can be seen on video crossing police lines at the Capitol as the rally became a riot. He has also been a leading advocate of the baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.Mastriano’s name has appeared in documents released by the committee investigating the Capitol riot, and he claims to have been in close personal contact with Trump about their shared drive to overturn President Biden’s victory. In February, the committee demanded “documents and information that are relevant to the select committee’s investigation” in a letter to Mastriano. He has refused to say whom he would appoint as secretary of state, a critical position overseeing election infrastructure and voting.Mastriano has appeared at events linked to QAnon, the amorphous conspiracy theory that alleges there is a secret cabal of elite pedophiles running the federal government and other major U.S. institutions. He also has made statements that veer into Islamophobia.He is likely to be an especially weak candidate in the crowded suburbs around Philadelphia, the state’s most important political battleground. On the other side of the state, the editorial page of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has already all but officially endorsed Shapiro as “the only statewide candidate who did everything the Pennsylvania way.”Operatives in both parties expect Shapiro to blitz Mastriano with advertising portraying him as a dangerous extremist while Mastriano’s shoestring organization struggles to raise money.Even before Mastriano clinched the nomination, Shapiro’s campaign aired an ad highlighting his views on abortion and the 2020 election as well as his ties to Trump, who lost the state to Biden by 80,000 votes.Mastriano gave scant indication during Tuesday’s victory speech that he was ready to shift toward a more palatable general election message. Listing his early priorities as governor, he said, “mandates are gone,” “any jab for job requirements are gone,” critical race theory is “over,” “only biological females can play on biological female teams” and “you can only use the bathroom that your biological anatomy says.”The Mastriano matchup also plays to Shapiro’s carefully cultivated image as a fighter for democracy, though his campaign plans to focus primarily on bread-and-butter economic issues such as jobs, taxes and inflation.As attorney general, Shapiro was directly involved in the Pennsylvania government’s litigation after the 2020 election, and oversaw at least 40 cases of alleged voter fraud — winning every single one.Josh Shapiro campaigning in Meadville, Pa.Jeff Swensen for The New York TimesWait-and-see modeWill national Republicans help Mastriano or shun him? Right now, the major players in governor’s races appear to be waiting to see how the race develops before making that determination.Some Republicans believe the national “tailwinds” blowing in their favor might help Mastriano win despite all of his weaknesses, but for now, Democrats are thrilled to be facing him in November. They note that Shapiro performed better than Biden did in Pennsylvania during his re-election race as state attorney general, and expect Shapiro to be flooded with donations from in and outside the state.On Tuesday night, the Republican Governors Association issued a lukewarm statement acknowledging Mastriano’s victory, but suggesting he was on his own for now.“Republican voters in Pennsylvania have chosen Doug Mastriano as their nominee for governor,” Executive Director Dave Rexrode said. “The R.G.A. remains committed to engaging in competitive gubernatorial contests where our support can have an impact.”The statement left room for the possibility that the G.O.P. governors might help Mastriano should the Pennsylvania race be close in the fall.Understand the 2022 Midterm ElectionsCard 1 of 6Why are these midterms so important? More

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    Midterm Stakes Grow Clearer: Election Deniers Will Be on Many Ballots

    Republican voters in this week’s primary races demonstrated a willingness to nominate candidates who parrot Donald J. Trump’s election lies and who appear intent on exerting extraordinary political control over voting systems. The results make clear that the November midterms may well affect the fate of free and fair elections in the country.In Pennsylvania, Republican voters united behind a nominee for governor, Doug Mastriano, who helped lead the brazen effort to overturn the state’s 2020 election and chartered buses to the rally before the Capitol riot, and who has since promoted a constitutionally impossible effort to decertify President Biden’s victory in his state.In North Carolina, voters chose a G.O.P. Senate nominee, Representative Ted Budd, who voted in Congress against certifying the 2020 results and who continues to refuse to say that Mr. Biden was legitimately elected.And in Idaho, which Mr. Trump won overwhelmingly in 2020, 57 percent of voters backed two Republican candidates for secretary of state who pushed election falsehoods, though they lost a three-way race to a rival who accepts Mr. Biden as president.The strong showings on Tuesday by election deniers, who have counterparts running competitively in primaries across the country over the coming months, were an early signal of the threat posed by the Trump-inspired movement.“It’s a big problem,” said former Representative Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican, who added that the G.O.P. needs “to show an alternative vision for the party. I don’t think we’re seeing enough of that right now.”While election issues have dominated several high-profile Republican primaries so far, G.O.P. candidates do not always place 2020 objections at the center of their pitches to voters. Instead, fomenting doubts about Mr. Biden’s victory is often the table stakes of Republican primaries that can tilt hard to the right. Candidates who avoid the subject risk losing credibility with the party’s base.When talking to voters, many Republican candidates have focused heavily on a broader list of promises to restore conservative governance. And in many general-election races, candidates from both major parties are likely to focus on inflation and the economy.Still, the election issue hangs over several races in presidential battleground states. Republicans trying to reclaim governor’s mansions and take over top offices overseeing elections have fallen over one another for the last year and a half to cater to voters who believe myriad false claims about the 2020 contest.The biggest single test will be next Tuesday in Georgia, where Mr. Trump has backed a slate of candidates running on election-denial platforms against the incumbent governor, secretary of state and attorney general.After the Pennsylvania and North Carolina PrimariesMay 17 was the biggest day so far in the 2022 midterm cycle. Here’s what we’ve learned.Trump’s Limits: The MAGA movement is dominating Republican primaries, but Donald J. Trump’s control over it may be slipping.‘Stop the Steal’ Endures: G.O.P. candidates who aggressively cast doubt on the 2020 election have fared best, while Democratic voters are pushing for change. Here are more takeaways.Trump Endorsements: Most of the candidates backed by the former president have prevailed. However, there are some noteworthy losses.Up Next: Closely watched races in Georgia and Alabama on May 24 will offer a clearer picture of Mr. Trump’s influence.Mr. Trump’s choice for governor, former Senator David Perdue, appears likely to fall short against Gov. Brian Kemp, whom Mr. Trump still blames for his 2020 loss in Georgia. All three races could wind up in runoffs if no candidate secures a majority of the primary vote.Representative Jody Hice of Georgia is running with Donald J. Trump’s backing for Georgia secretary of state. Mr. Trump was angry that Brad Raffensperger, the incumbent, did not help him overturn the state’s 2020 results.Audra Melton for The New York TimesMr. Perdue and Representative Jody Hice, who is challenging Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state, have each falsely argued that rampant voter fraud marred the 2020 Georgia contests. Mr. Perdue began a debate with Mr. Kemp by declaring: “The election in 2020 was rigged and stolen.” Mr. Hice said he would not have certified Mr. Biden’s victory.In the state’s Senate race, the leading Republican candidate, the Trump-backed former football star Herschel Walker, said on Wednesday that he wasn’t sure if Mr. Biden had been lawfully elected in 2020.“I don’t know,” Mr. Walker told a New York Times reporter after a speech in Macon, Ga. “I do think there was problems. And I think everybody else thinks there was problems, and that’s the reason right now everybody’s so upset.”But no Republican nominee for a major swing-state office has done more to amplify bogus election claims than Mr. Mastriano in Pennsylvania.Mr. Mastriano has helped promote continuing — and constitutionally impossible — efforts to decertify Pennsylvania’s 2020 results. Julio Cortez/Associated PressA state senator and retired Army colonel, he spent $3,354 in campaign funds to charter buses to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. A Senate Judiciary Committee report said that video footage had confirmed that Mr. Mastriano had “passed through breached barricades and police lines” near the Capitol, though he has denied that he breached the lines and there is no evidence that he entered the Capitol itself.This March, Mr. Mastriano held a campaign event in Gettysburg at which attendees signed a petition calling on Pennsylvania to decertify the state’s 2020 results, according to The York Daily Record.The decertification push has become the latest litmus test in 2020 election denialism. It has also rattled Republicans in Wisconsin, where one of the party’s four major candidates for governor has made undoing Mr. Biden’s 2020 victory in the state the central plank of his campaign.Mr. Trump has encouraged the decertification effort in Wisconsin and offered a late endorsement to Mr. Mastriano. The former president has conditioned his endorsement, the most valuable seal of approval in Republican politics, on amplifying false claims about the election.Once in office, Trump-backed candidates are likely to try to follow through on promises to alter election law — in some cases, by simply making voting more difficult, but in others, by going so far as to give Republican-controlled state legislatures the right to overturn election results.In Pennsylvania, Kathy Barnette, a Jan. 6 rally attendee who pushed many false stolen-election claims and campaigned on a slate with Mr. Mastriano, placed third in the state’s G.O.P. Senate primary with about 25 percent of the vote.And the two men locked in a photo finish for first place, Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick, have also cast doubt on the 2020 election results, refusing to say Mr. Biden won fairly.Dr. Mehmet Oz is not as strident as Mr. Mastriano on election issues, but he has declined to say that Mr. Biden won fairly.Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York TimesDr. Oz, who was endorsed by Mr. Trump, has said in his stump speech that “we can’t leave 2020 behind,” without articulating precisely what he means.Understand the 2022 Midterm ElectionsCard 1 of 6Why are these midterms so important? More

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    Melissa Carone, an Election Denier Who Was Parodied by ‘S.N.L.,’ Is Disqualified

    Melissa Carone was supposed to be a star witness for Rudolph W. Giuliani on his election denial tour, but she is perhaps better known as a caricature on “Saturday Night Live” — a mercurial purveyor of wild conspiracy theories about fraud and miscounted ballots whom Mr. Giuliani shushed in the middle of her testimony.Her next move was to run for the legislature in Michigan, joining a host of election deniers across the nation who have sought public office since former President Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Joseph R. Biden Jr.But her plans were short-circuited on Tuesday, when the Michigan Department of State disqualified Ms. Carone, 35, a former election contractor, as a Republican primary candidate for a State Senate seat outside of Detroit.The office said that Ms. Carone, along with 10 other legislative candidates, had made false statements on an affidavit that candidates were required to submit to election administrators. On one of the forms that was signed by Ms. Carone, she had attested that she did not have any unpaid fines for election law violations and that all of her public campaign filings were up-to-date. The county clerk where Ms. Carone was running for office said on Wednesday that had not been the case.It was the second time in recent months that Ms. Carone had been disqualified as a candidate: The Macomb County Clerk & Register of Deeds barred her in March from the Aug. 2 primary for state representative.When she signed the affidavit, Ms. Carone had owed at least $125 in late fees for missing the deadline twice for quarterly campaign filings in 2021, according to a letter from the clerk that was obtained by The New York Times. She had also failed to file an annual statement for 2022 for her campaign and an amendment to a quarterly report last October, the letter said.Ms. Carone, who was played by the “Saturday Night Live” cast member Cecily Strong in the show’s cold open in December 2020, blamed the situation on a former campaign manager whom she said in an interview on Wednesday did not file the paperwork.She accused Republican election officials and the party’s leaders of conspiring to keep her off the ballot.“This is how our elected officials keep good candidates from getting elected,” Ms. Carone said. “I’m going to fight it. Even if I don’t end up on the ballot, my voice will be heard. I’m not going anywhere. I will still be exposing these establishment sellout RINOs in the Michigan G.O.P.”Anthony G. Forlini, a Republican who is the Macomb County clerk, said on Wednesday that his office had been following the law and that the disqualification of Ms. Carone was not politically motivated.“From our standpoint, she was kicked off the ballot because she basically perjured herself,” Mr. Forlini said.Mr. Forlini said that it is a felony in Michigan to make a false statement on affidavits like those signed by candidates.“We’re just sticking to the letter of the law,” he said. “She likes the drama, and she’s been feeding on it.”Mr. Forlini said that he could not speak to the specifics of Ms. Carone’s recent disqualification by the Michigan Department of State, a separate agency headed by Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who is secretary of state.A spokeswoman for that agency said on Wednesday that she could not further discuss the nature of the false statements that led to Ms. Carone’s disqualification, which was announced in conjunction with the other candidates who were barred on Tuesday.A receipt filed with the secretary of state’s office showed that Ms. Carone had paid $125 in late fees with a check on March 24, three days after she signed the affidavit attesting that she did not owe anything.Gustavo Portela, a spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, rejected Ms. Carone’s assertions that there was a concerted effort to keep her off the primary ballot.“Terrible candidates seem to find it hard to take accountability for themselves so they pass the blame to others,” he said in an email on Wednesday.Ms. Carone claimed she was contracted by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that has been the target of a baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory about rigged voting machines. The company called her claims defamatory and sent her a cease and desist letter.During an election oversight hearing held by legislators in Michigan in December 2020, she testified that she had observed over 20 acts of fraud — not counting ballots found in rivers and under a rock — and that at least 30,000 ballots had been counted multiple times. A judge in Wayne County Circuit Court had already found Ms. Carone’s claims — made in an affidavit seeking to stop the certification of votes — were “not credible.”At times combative and glib, Ms. Carone’s performance was widely mocked, including by “Saturday Night Live.”“To be honest with you, I didn’t watch it for a really long time,” she said on Wednesday. “I think it’s funny. That kind of stuff doesn’t make me mad. I don’t care.” More