Star MAGA attorney Lin Wood strutted across a stage in Georgia on Wednesday, riling up the crowd with a Southern revival energy and, at one point, waving around a coonskin cap he had found in the crowd. He was in his element. And at one point, he inspired a “lock him up” chant aimed at the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp.
But within the pomp, Wood had a serious message for the audience: don’t vote for Republican Senate candidates in the state’s upcoming runoffs, unless they meet our demands.
"They have not earned your vote,” Wood said. “Don't you give it to them.”
Until then, most Republican officials were happy to ignore Wood’s hapless attempts to save the election for Donald Trump, which involved wild allegations of a deep, corrupt scheme to shift thousands of votes to Joe Biden. Telling his fans not to vote for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, however, appeared to be a step too far. Within hours, Breitbart denounced Wood as a former Democratic donor in an attack that was picked up by the Trump campaign. Soon after, other conservatives were piling on too, with Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) accusing Wood of being a plant and Rush Limbaugh and Roger Stone distancing themselves from him.
The fault lines made clear just how contentious the post-election political environment has become for the Republican Party. And it underscored a new problem that it faces, mainly the rise of an aggressive, increasingly assertive QAnon wing. The GOP is now divided between conspiracy theorists and those who want to keep at least a toehold in reality.
Both Wood and former Trump lawyer-turned-professional conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell, who joined him on the stage, have built up their ties with QAnon believers. Wood includes a reference to the QAnon motto “Where we go one, we go all” in his Twitter bio, and recently endorsed a call for exactly the kind of military rule QAnon believers eagerly hope for.
Wood’s demand is also the quintessential QAnon demand: endless investigations until what he wants to come true finally happens. Wood and his supporters claim to want Perdue and Loeffler to back a special session of the Georgia legislature to investigate the 2020 election. But, since Georgia recounts have proven the race wasn’t affected by fraud, this demand really equates to the kind of endless investigations QAnon supporters crave.
At the end of the investigation, the thinking goes, there’ll be some kind of catharsis—in QAnon’s case, a violent “Storm” that features mass-arrests of Trump’s enemies, or, in Wood’s case, Georgia’s legislators assuring that the state’s electors be handed to Trump.
In the meantime, as long as the investigations are ongoing, QAnon believers won’t have to face reality: that no such arrests are coming and that Biden will be sworn into office.
That puts Republican officials in a bind: keep up the farce and order endless probes into the 2020 election, or face the wrath of QAnon believers and other Trump supporters living in their individual fantasy lands.
Wood’s intra-Republican fight has drawn in a number of other fringe groups. Interestingly, the influential “The Gateway Pundit” blog sided with him and accused Breitbart—the bane of the pre-Trump GOP establishment's existence—of carrying water for the Republican establishment. Columnist Michelle Malkin, who’s now palling around with racist college students in the “groyper” movement, slammed Crenshaw for attacking Wood.
At his rally, Wood even raised the prospect of pulling support more broadly from Republicans.
“Maybe it’s time to look beyond the Democrats and the Republicans,” Wood said, to cheers. “Maybe it’s time for the party of the people.”
Wood’s ambitions to shake up the GOP—or at least pressure it into meeting his demands—could extend for years. At one point in the rally, Wood donned a “FLYNN” cap, a reference to former Trump national security adviser and central QAnon protagonist Michael Flynn.
“How about Sidney Powell and Mike Flynn in 2024?” Wood said, floating the QAnon dream ticket.
Speaking of Powell…
The one-time Trump legal team member has become the star of the Trump dead-ender movement, starring in memes that pose her with dual-wielded Desert Eagles or summoning her mythical “kraken.” Along the way, she’s attracted a wave of donations to fund her legal fight for Trump’s election— checks for which, her website tactfully points out, should be made out directly to Powell’s law firm.
Powell’s MAGA crusade has been plagued by amateur errors, from egregious typos to a decision to rely on expert witnesses who blame ex-Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez for election fraud seven years after he died.
To really get a sense of how Powell will throw out even the most obvious lies to muddy the waters for Trump, though, you can’t do better than her recent decision to boost a story about missing Trump ballots discovered in Lake Erie.
On Friday, Powell retweeted a claim that thousands of dumped Trump ballots had been discovered in a Great Lake. The tweet, from a previously little-known account called @tpgwlm, has racked up more than 19,000 retweets as of this writing.
Even a surface investigation into this claim, though, shows that it’s obviously fake. The source of the story is a set of fake news sites with names like “Patriot Hat” and “The New York Evening.” Notably, the picture used to illustrate the story is marked “SATIRE.”
If the satire notice wasn’t enough, the story itself claims that the votes were just discarded ballots from NBC singing competition The Voice.
“The bag is full of ballots, sure, but they’re ballots for last season’s finale of The Voice,” the article reads.
At best, Powell doesn’t appear to have noticed the story is a fake. Not great news for the ongoing pro-Trump legal effort!