Trump allies face potential fees in Georgia over voting machine breaches

Trump allies face potential fees in Georgia over voting machine breaches

The Fulton county district legal professional investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election ends in Georgia has proof to cost a number of allies of the previous president concerned in breaching voting machines within the state, in keeping with two folks briefed on the matter.

The potential fees at concern are laptop trespass felonies, the folks mentioned, although the ultimate checklist of defendants and whether or not they are going to be introduced as a part of a racketeering case when prosecutors are anticipated to current proof to the grand jury subsequent week stay unclear.

To carry a racketeering case beneath Georgia state legislation, prosecutors want to indicate the existence of an “enterprise” predicated on at the least two “qualifying” crimes, of which pc trespass is one. The Guardian has reported that prosecutors imagine they’ve adequate proof for a racketeering case.

The statute itself prohibits the intentional use of a pc or laptop community with out authorization in an effort to take away information, both briefly or completely. It additionally prohibits interrupting or interfering with the usage of a pc, in addition to altering or damaging a pc.

Prosecutors have taken a particular curiosity within the breach of voting machines in Espresso county, Georgia, by Trump allies due to the brazen nature of the operation and the likelihood that Trump was conscious that his allies supposed to covertly achieve entry to the machines.

In a collection of notably notable incidents, forensics specialists employed by Trump allies copied information from nearly each a part of the voting system, which is used statewide in Georgia, earlier than importing them to a password-protected web site that might be accessed by 2020 election deniers.

The story about how a bunch of Trump allies gained unauthorized entry to voting machines – knowledgeable by deposition transcripts, surveillance tapes and different data – might be traced again to 2020, when the highest elections supervisor for Espresso county got here throughout the “adjudication” system for mail ballots inside the machines.

A spokesperson for the Fulton county district legal professional’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark.

In Georgia, mail ballots are marked by hand. If a poll can’t be learn by the machine, due to stray marks or different errors, it goes by way of an adjudication course of whereby a bipartisan panel critiques the poll and agrees on the voter’s intention earlier than telling the machine the best way to rely it.

The adjudication course of grew to become some extent of controversy in native Republican occasion circles after the elections supervisor, Misty Hampton, mentioned in a viral November 2020 video that the particular person coming into the data might theoretically inform it to falsely rely a poll supposed for one candidate for an additional.

Swapping a vote by way of the adjudication course of can be straightforwardly unlawful, and there’s no proof that such conduct passed off throughout the 2020 presidential election. If it had, it might have been detected throughout the subsequent statewide hand rely, specialists have mentioned.

On 5 January 2021, Georgia held runoff elections for the state’s two US Senate seats. That day, amid a fraught ambiance, the Espresso county GOP chair, Cathy Latham, was the Republican member on the bipartisan adjudication panel.

As Latham later recounted in depositions in a long-running lawsuit introduced by the Coalition for Good Governance, the poll scanner in Espresso county repeatedly jammed because it tried to learn mail-in ballots. And in Latham’s retelling, it appeared to jam extra usually for ballots marked for Republican candidates.

When Latham complained, the on-site Dominion Voting System technician suggested her to wipe the poll scanner with a material. Latham mentioned in her assertion that the wiping didn’t work, and it was solely after the technician held his cellphone close to the scanner that the issues have been resolved.

In accordance to Latham’s account, the suspicion was that the technician had downloaded one thing to the poll scanner by way of his cellphone.

There stays no such proof thus far and the Georgia secretary of state’s workplace has affirmed the scanners don’t have any wi-fi functionality. However that weird episode seems to have been the set off for numerous Trump allies to see if somebody might have manipulated the election.

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The day after the Capitol attack in Washington, on 7 January 2021, surveillance video picked up Eric Chaney, a member of the Coffee county elections board, arriving at the county’s elections office around 11am. Latham also arrived at the office around an hour later.

The tapes then show Latham greeting data experts from SullivanStrickler, a firm that specializes in “imaging”, or making exact copies, of electronic devices, and Scott Hall, a bail bond business owner with ties to the local Republican party hunting for evidence of election fraud.

What happened inside the elections office is only partially captured on surveillance video, but records show the SullivanStrickler team imaged almost every component of the election systems, including ballot scanners, the server used to count votes, thumb drives and flash memory cards.

The company believed it had authorization to collect the data, SullivanStrickler’s director of data risk Dean Felicetti later said in a deposition, and suggested that Hampton and Latham had given their approval.

Most of the imaging work apparently took place off camera, though tapes from the lobby of the Coffee county elections office show Latham, Hampton and Chaney with the SullivanStrickler experts as they bend over to look at computer screens and walk around elections equipment.

Lawyers for Latham and Hampton did not respond to requests for comment. But Latham’s previous lawyer has told the Washington Post that she did not authorize the copying and had “not acted improperly or illegally”. Hall and Chaney also did not respond to requests for comment.

The next day, according to text messages, Trump lawyer Sidney Powell – who helped organize the clandestine operation and paid for it through her non-profit – was informed that SullivanStrickler would post the data it had gathered on to a password-protected site from where it could be downloaded.

Breaches of the Coffee county voting machines appear to have happened at least two additional times. On 18 January 2021, they were accessed on a second occasion when Hampton arrived with Doug Logan, the CEO of elections security firm CyberNinjas, and a retired federal employee named Jeffrey Lenberg.

The pair spent at least four hours that afternoon inside the elections office, and then returned the following day for another nine hours. Lenberg then again gained access to the elections office every day for four days starting on 25 January 2021.

What Lenberg did inside remains uncertain. But in a subsequent podcast interview, Lenberg said he and Logan went to Coffee county after hearing about the Senate runoffs incident because they wanted to see if they could replicate the error but “didn’t touch” the machines themselves.

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