With a sexual assault verdict, campaign finance and fraud indictment, multiple federal investigations under Special Counsel Jack Smith, and more investigations pending in New York and Georgia, it seems that Donald Trump may finally face accountability for his criminal misconduct. Yet federal investigators appear to be ignoring Trump’s potential involvement in a criminal conspiracy to access and copy voting software systems as part of the broader scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election. As we reported to federal officials last month, testimony suggests that Trump himself was, at a minimum, aware of the unlawful scheme which was discussed with him at an Oval Office meeting with weeks left to go before the Jan. 6 electoral college count.
Over the last two years the scope and breadth of Trump’s campaign to overturn the 2020 election has come into focus, though, this particular piece has been missing from public view. What’s long been clear is that the multipronged plan included pressuring state officials to make unfounded claims of voting irregularities and discard legitimate vote totals; corruptly pressuring the Department of Justice to adopt Trump’s false claims of election fraud; recruiting fake electors to defy the voters’ will; and pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to certify fake electors over the real ones. Most terrifying, Trump incited the violent and deadly Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol in an effort to exert even more pressure on Pence and prevent the certification of his electoral defeat, all to overthrow our democracy and defeat the constitutionally mandated transfer of power.
The Jan. 6 Committee compiled a compelling record and report demonstrating that all these schemes were part of a coordinated plot to unlawfully keep Trump in power. But other evidence, some unavailable to the committee during its tenure, shows that conspiracy stretched even further.
After Jan. 6, reports emerged of Trump supporters’ efforts to gain access to voting systems and software in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado. Many assumed these incidents were unconnected—just overzealous Trump supporters freelancing in different states to support their fervent belief in the Big Lie.
More recently, evidence uncovered by plaintiffs in a Georgia lawsuit indicates that these incidents were part of the broader scheme to falsely cast doubt on, and overturn, the 2020 election.
During 2022, plaintiffs in a long-standing civil lawsuit against the Georgia Secretary of State unearthed evidence of a another voting system software breach in Coffee County, Georgia. Documents and depositions revealed that the Coffee County software breach was directed and funded by Trump attorney Sidney Powell’s organization “Defending the Republic.” Powell also arranged for the same operatives to access and copy voting software in Michigan and Nevada. The Coffee County breach was coordinated by Cathy Latham, the then-local GOP party chair and a fake elector. In her sworn deposition, Latham denied being at the Coffee County election office for the unauthorized software breach. But security camera footage showed she welcomed the operatives and spent the day with them. Copies of the voting software (that runs all the voting machines in Georgia and many other states’ counties) were posted to a sharefile site, then covertly distributed to Trump-allied election deniers.
This evidence tying Trump’s campaign to multiple software breaches, uncovered in the civil lawsuit, was publicly reported in late summer and fall of 2022, when the Jan. 6 Committee had already taken many key depositions and was winding down its work. Unfortunately, this timing may have prevented the committee from thoroughly probing or reporting on the voting system breaches. But our review of the committee’s testimony establishes that the unlawful scheme to copy voting system software in multiple states went straight to the top—Trump himself. During a now-infamous December 18, 2020 Oval Office meeting with Trump attended by Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and others—during which Powell advocated the federal government seizing voting machines—Giuliani offered an alternative plan, promising that he was “going to be able to secure access to voting machines in Georgia through means other than seizure.”
As recently reported in the New York Times, we shared this evidence with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice and requested a federal investigation. Despite the ongoing Justice Department investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, and the evidence tying the unlawful access software scheme to those efforts, publicly available information indicates that there is still no federal investigation into the software scheme, either as part of the broader conspiracy or otherwise. Even the perpetrators caught on security cameras, as yet, face no consequences. Indeed, according to a letter the FBI sent to one of the undersigned, the FBI has declined to investigate this scheme based on the erroneous view that it can’t do so without a request from local authorities
There’s no excuse for the Justice Department and the FBI to continue to ignore this evidence. By itself, this multistate plot to copy and distribute election software in order to interfere with and discredit federal election results would justify a federal investigation into a potential conspiracy to defraud the United States and other federal crimes. That this plot may have been carried out with the former president’s knowledge, at his key advisors and allies’ direction, as part of a broader conspiracy to unlawfully overturn the election—a conspiracy already being investigated by Special Counsel Smith—makes the case for investigation even more compelling.
Finally, aside from exposing unlawful efforts to overturn the last presidential election, a thorough federal investigation is needed to uncover any ongoing threats posed by these security breaches to future elections and inform federal efforts to protect elections in the future. Our democracy is in the balance.