The election audit spearheaded by Republicans in the Arizona Senate and performed by “Cyber Ninjas,” a self-proclaimed cybersecurity company with no prior experience in election auditing, has concluded. The results show—drumroll, please—
Joe Biden won the state of Arizona!
This shouldn’t have been news to anyone, as Arizona already conducted audits of the 2020 election and found nothing awry. But Senate Republicans in Arizona, eager to publicly please the Republican God-Emperor, indulged the completely meritless conspiracy theory that Biden only won because of massive, unspecified, or disproven election fraud. The audit itself cost millions of taxpayer dollars and will continue to cost the citizens of Maricopa County, as the Cyber Ninjas—who, again, have no experience auditing elections—engaged in the opposite of best practices to the degree that Maricopa County can no longer ensure the security of its election machines, and will have to purchase new ones. (Cyber Ninjas also demanded access to County networking equipment so it could indulge in another Republican fantasy that voting machines were tampered with via an Internet connection.)
This is all of a piece: finding alleged wrongdoing was never the goal. Announcing an audit was the goal. The mere fact that an audit existed allowed bad actors to point to the audit itself as evidence that something was amiss; why else would there be an audit? The ultimate result of the audit wasn’t important, just the hints and accusations that there was something meriting an audit.
You’ll recall that this was Trump’s M.O. back in 2019, when he pressured Ukranian president Volodymyr Zelensky to simply announce an investigation into Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine. Trump couldn’t have cared less whether an investigation actually happened; the important thing was an investigation was announced, which would permit Trump World to levy accusations against Hunter Biden—and by extension, Joe Biden—based on innuendo and rumor. As with the Arizona audit, the question for the credulous is, why would they announce an investigation unless there was something to investigate?
Trump tried this again after losing the 2020 election, when he tried to pressure Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen not to actually investigate the election, but simply to announce that the election was “corrupt”:
“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” and to congressional allies, Mr. Donoghue wrote in summarizing Mr. Trump’s response.
“Leave the rest to me” simply means, “Create a framework on which I can build a pile of lies about the election, based on the cachet of the Justice Department saying the election was ‘corrupt.’”
Actually finding the truth isn’t the point of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. The point is to call something into question, based on speculation or the possibility of a problem. That’s the lasting value of the Big Lie to Republicans—not to actually restore Trump to power, but to use the talking points to further restrict voting access or take the decision away from the voters completely.