Politics

Jan. 6 Crime-O-Meter: The Journey of a Truly Stupid Conspiracy Theory About Suitcases

CCTV footage from Atlanta's State Farm Arena on election night 2020.
CCTV footage from Atlanta’s State Farm Arena on election night 2020. Screengrab from 11Alive News/Youtube

In the tradition of the Clintonometer, the Trump Apocalypse Watch, and the Impeach-O-Meter, the Is It a Crime-O-Meter is a wildly subjective and speculative estimate of whether the Jan. 6 select committee’s work will convince enough individuals of relevance (prosecutors, juries, voters) that Donald Trump committed insurrection-related crimes that he will be, in some fashion, held accountable for them.

Today’s update, which provides some background on material covered in Tuesday’s hearing, is submitted with apologies to the Harper’s Index.

Advertisement

Date that a Georgia lawyer working with Rudy Giuliani showed Georgia state legislators a closed-circuit TV camera clip which purportedly showed election staffers taking four suitcases of counterfeit ballots, presumably marked with votes for Joe Biden, out from under a table at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena vote counting center late on election night: Dec. 3, 2020

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Date on which Atlanta TV reporter Justin Gray, in consultation with Georgia state elections officials Gabriel Sterling and Frances Watson, broadcast a nightly news segment and posted a long, accompanying Twitter thread making clear in great detail (with video images) that the “suitcases” were storage crates that had been filled, on camera and in the presence of members of the press and other election observers, with real ballots on election day: Dec. 4, 2020

Advertisement
Advertisement

A photo from Gray’s thread of the “suitcases,” which are obviously not suitcases, being filled:

A woman leans over what is very clearly a crate filled with papers in a still image from security camera video taken from an overhead angle.
Georgia secretary of state video feed / Justin Gray
Advertisement
Advertisement

Date that Georgia official Frances Watson filed an affidavit formally attesting that there were no counterfeit-ballot “suitcases” in State Farm Arena on election night: Dec. 6, 2020

What Frances Watson’s affidavit said about a plumbing problem that the arena had experienced on election day, which featured in some versions of the “suitcase” theory: “The incident initially reported as a water leak late in the evening on November 3rd was actually a urinal that had overflowed early in the morning.”

Number of times that suspicious Georgia “suitcases” were mentioned on Fox News in the next month despite video evidence that they were storage crates that had been filled, on camera and in the presence of members of the press and other election observers, with real ballots on election day: 11

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

What BJay Pak, who was then the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia, and who is also a former Republican member of the Georgia state legislature, told the Jan. 6 select committee that his office concluded regarding the suitcase allegations: “There was nothing there. Giuliani was wrong in representing that this was a suitcase full of ballots.”

What Republican lawyer Bobby Christine, who became acting U.S. attorney for the northern district of Georgia in January 2021 after Pak resigned under pressure from the White House, reportedly told district staff, almost immediately after taking office, that he had concluded about allegations of election fraud in Georgia : “There’s just nothing to them.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

What then-U.S. attorney general William Barr told the Jan. 6 committee that the Department of Justice as a whole concluded regarding the suitcases: “The ballots under the table were legitimate ballots. They weren’t in a suitcase.”

Advertisement

Dates on which former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen and former acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue told the Jan. 6 committee that they had distinct conversations with Donald Trump in which they explained to him that there were no suitcases in the State Farm Center on election night: Dec. 15, Dec. 27, and Dec. 31, 2020

Date that Trump called Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger and asked him to “find” 11,000 more Trump votes: Jan. 2, 2021

Number of times Trump brought up suitcase-related fraud during this conversation: Three

Number of minutes that Trump spent talking about the subject during the call: Eight

Amount of time that Raffensperger spent responding to the suitcase allegation before he was cut off by Trump: Twenty-four seconds

Advertisement

Explanation Trump gave for having lost in Georgia during his Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally speech: Suitcases of ballots

Advertisement

Number of people who died in or around the Capitol later that day: Four, which doesn’t include the police officer who was attacked on Jan. 6 and died on Jan. 7 after suffering multiple strokes which may have been related

Current mood of the crime-o-meter: Wishfully insisting that behavior like this simply has to have consequences

The Crime-O-Meter is set at the "Lock Him Up" level.
Illustration by Slate. Photos by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images, Drew Angerer/Getty Images, and Getty Images Plus
Advertisement