The Trump campaign presented the public with a cornucopia of bogus new election fraud claims on Thursday, including one that seemed to have its roots in a 2016 conspiracy involving perpetual GOP boogeyman George Soros.
The press conference will be remembered best for Rudy Giuliani, who in between trying to wipe up the apparent hair dye dripping down his face, promised that he had over 100 affidavits showing voter fraud, but alas, just couldn’t show them to anyone. But the real star was attorney Sidney Powell, who has been at the vanguard of absolute election nonsense since election night.
On Thursday, Powell declared that she had found the real villains behind Trump’s election defeat: billionaire Soros and deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. In Powell’s telling, Chavez had been pulling the strings on American voting software this whole time.
“The Dominion Voting Systems, the Smartmatic technology software, and the software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well, not just Dominion, were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” Powell declared.
Chavez died in 2013, which sounds like solid evidence that he isn’t playing an active role in any election seven years later. But the Chavez-Soros nexus has become a surprisingly thriving storyline as Trump’s legal team scrambles for proof that Biden’s election was illegitimate.
To understand where the focus on Venezuela is coming from, you have to realize that the Trump campaign and their allies have become fixated on voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems. In the days after the election, Trump and his supporters insisted that nearly huge tranches of Trump votes in Georgia and Michigan had been switched to Biden—often only citing evidence posted on anonymous pro-Trump forum TheDonald.Win.
In reality, though, the machines were only used in a handful of relevant counties, and they hadn’t changed votes.
With that claim foundering, Powell and the Trump internet grassroots became fixated on a totally different voting company: Smartmatic. In a Nov. 13 appearance on Fox Business, Powell promised to “release the kraken” on both companies, a term that’s been embraced on the right as the lead-up to proving widespread election fraud.
It’s hard to stress enough how wild the MAGA internet went over “release the kraken.” At the “Million MAGA March” in D.C. last weekend, I saw people chanting “release the kraken!” and holding kraken-themed signs. Trump forums have been flooded with images of Powell smiling next to a kraken.
But there was also doubt about whether Trump supporters were just getting strung along once again. On 4Chan and TheDonald.Win, a handful of posters started to wonder whether Powell should just release her supposed proof of fraud rather than hyping it up with catchy phrases.
This week, Powell finally made an offering and it quickly sunk to the bottom of the sea. On Tuesday, allied attorney Lin Wood released “the kraken” — a heavily redacted affidavit from an anonymous former Venezuelan military official who saw Chavez many years ago playing around with a supposedly rigged Smartmatic machine.
“It is a stunning, detailed affidavit because he was with Hugo Chavez while he was being briefed on how it worked. He was with Hugo Chavez when he saw it operated. He made sure the election came out his way,” Powell said on Thursday.
Powell also claimed that Soros controlled the voting machines, because the former chairman of Datamatic is also on the board of a Soros foundation — a striking echo of a claim that appeared in The Daily Caller ahead of the 2016 election.
Even if you buy these vague claims, however, Venezuela is a different country from the United States. And Smartmatic and Dominion are different companies.
To bridge these gaps, Powell has focused on the fact that Dominion bought a company called Sequoia Voting Systems from Smartmatic in 2010. The implication is that, somehow, Smartmatic installed its Hugo Chavez code in Sequoia machines, which then went on to infect Dominion’s owner systems with this crazed election-stealing ten years later.
Intriguingly, Powell has turned these claims into an attack on American elections more broadly. She’s declared that any Republican who lost by less than six percent of the vote shouldn’t concede, with the implication that they were probably conned by voter fraud machines. At the Thursday press conference, Powell said that “Republican or Democrats candidates” may have given Dominion and Smartmatic money to “have the system rigged to work for them.”
Does this strike you as outlandish? Of course it does. On Thursday night, Tucker Carlson himself expressed utter bafflement with it all and portrayed Powell as a swindler.
“So we invited Sidney Powell on the show. We would have given her the whole hour. We would have given her the entire week, actually,” he said. “But she never sent any evidence, despite a lot of requests, polite requests. Not a page. When we kept pressing, she got angry and told us to stop contacting her."
But defenders of Powell, Giuliani, and Wood have a response for their detractors, saying that the lawyers’ reputations would be destroyed if it turned out they’re just making things up.
Rush Limbaugh said Powell and Wood would look like fools if their allegations failed to be true, comparing the claims’ fizzling to Geraldo Rivera’s much-hyped, disastrous excursion into Al Capone’s vault. Therefore, it had to be legit!
“I’m telling you that if you listen to Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, they continue to make it sound like it’s a slam dunk,” Limbaugh said Wednesday on his radio show. “And you know, you just know they don’t want to end up on the wrong end of Geraldo’s vault and that joke.”
Conservative pundit and “Intellectual Dark Web” member Dave Rubin went further, arguing that Powell and Giuliani can’t be lying, because they’d look nuts if it’s fake. As a result, Rubin said, the voter fraud claims obviously must be true.
“If they’re just making it up, then Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani are legitimately insane,” Rubin said.