Reaping the Whirlwind

That thing that happens when you sow the wind with conspiracy theories.

Rich Lowry at Politico: The Conspiracy Theory That Could Hand Joe Biden the Senate.

The two Trump-allied lawyers have made themselves into wrecking balls against the Republican Party of Georgia, whose top elected officials, they allege, are involved in the most dastardly and far-reaching conspiracy in American history.

This might be only a bizarre footnote to the 2020 election, if their charges weren’t being amplified by the president of the United States and didn’t come at a time when the GOP needs all of its voters to turn out in the two January runoff elections in Georgia that will determine control of the Senate.

The two attorneys, Sidney Powell and Lin Wood held an event yesterday wherein they encouraged Georgia Republicans not to vote in the run-off unless the Governor calls a special session of the legislature to address fraud.

Fox News reports: Pro-Trump attorneys Sidney Powell, Lin Wood urge Georgians not to vote in Senate runoffs without changes

Pro-Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood urged Georgians not to participate in a runoff vote that will determine control of the Senate in January until state officials address unsubstantiated claims that President-elect Joe Biden won the White House through voter fraud.

Powell and Wood are not working for the Trump campaign in an official capacity but have waged legal battles on his behalf. Speaking to the president’s supporters at a press conference in Atlanta, Powell said state residents should not vote until Georgia overhauls its procedures and ends the use of Dominion voting machines.

“I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all until your vote is secure – and I mean that regardless of party,” Powell said. “We can’t live in a republic, a free republic unless we know our votes are legal and secure. So we must have voter ID and we probably must go back to paper ballots that are signed and have your thumbprint on them. We certainly should be able to find a system that can count them, even if it has to be done by hand.”

These individuals, who have been empowered by Trump and his allies. Yes, Team Trump has sought to distance itself from their antics, but even so, they are filing lawsuits on Trump’s behalf and are selling the exact same narratives about the elections and Dominion voting machines that Trump himself is pushing on Twitter and elsewhere.

Back to Lowry:

According to Wood-Powell, Dominion voting machines were used to rob President Donald Trump of his rightful landslide in Georgia, with Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, in on the fix, aided and abetted by foreign enemies of the United States.

The rot runs so deep that, per the duo, Republicans should boycott the runoffs. Or, as Wood put it at their joint Wednesday rally in Georgia that was even more bonkers than Rudy Giuliani’s news conference at the Republican National Committee, the governor should resign and go to jail.

If this turmoil contributes to a Republican debacle, it would be the dumbest and most unnecessary loss since Steve Bannon decided in the 2017 Alabama Senate special election that it’d be a brilliant idea to run Roy Moore, the one Republican noxious and scandal-plagued enough to lose to a Democrat.


Perhaps Republican voters will ignore all of this come January. But there’s a reason parties seek unity before important elections. At best, Wood-Powell are distracting from the GOP message in the races, and at worst, they are convincing persuadable Georgians that it is the Republican Party that needs to be checked, not Joe Biden.

Certainly, the Wood-Powell logic supports sitting this one out. There is no reason to bother voting if Georgia no longer has a democratic system and instead is controlled by politicians on the take who use technology to predetermine the outcome of elections.

Under normal circumstances, the smart money would be on both Republicans to win the runoffs, especially Perdue given that he was less than half a percentage point away from 50% in the first round. Still, “smart” is not a word that should be used in proximity to what Wood, Powell, and Trump are doing at the moment, so all this nonsense could have a real impact on the run-off.

Certainly, Lowry is not the only pro-GOP actor noticing. Here’s Newt Gingrich this morning:

If the Republicans lose the Senate via these run-offs, the poetic justice will be profound given that they are the ones that unleashed the kind of crazy talk and behavior that is currently fueling Wood and Powell. It is all baseless talk sans evidence or logic. But that, of course, is the exact way that Trump himself has behaved as a candidate and in office. And it is the mode he is currently engaged in about the election. The contemporary GOP opened this Pandora’s Box and then propped open the lid. They own this mess, and Lowry, Gingrich, and the like are all responsible.

If you don’t call out conspiracy theories, untruths, and sloppy thinking, it will come back and bite you.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Campaign 2020, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Mikey says:

    You love to see it. As the saying goes, “stupid should hurt.”

  2. Sleeping Dog says:

    There’s a reason old time circuses had freak shows and Powell-Wood show why. Darn this is entertaining. If this boosts one or both the Dems to the senate, that would be great, but even if they lose, this special is a preview of what the R party will go through in the next few years.

  3. Paine says:

    Why is Newt still on Twitter? The tweet pinned to the top of his feed from 11/5 accuses Twitter of censoring his views and encourages his followers to find him on Parler. I guess some Twitter “censorship” isn’t all that bad after all.

  4. Scott says:

    I don’t know why Democratic campaign slogans such as “Aren’t you tired of the lunacy?” Or “Don’t you want normal again?” don’t work. It would for me. But I’m not nuts.

  5. Kathy says:

    The problem for the Republicans is they cannot attack the Lunatic Duo effectively, without also attacking El PITO’s claim of a stolen election.

    This should not be a real problem. After all, however he rants and screams and holds his breath, Trump will be gone by January 20th, while the Senate will remain with Democratic control for two years at least.

    But then trump might Twit something mean about Mitch, and these iron snowflakes can’t take that.

    But, don’t interrupt the enemy while he’s making a mistake.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Here’s hoping that Karma is a beach.

  7. CSK says:

    Apparently Trump is going to Georgia this coming Saturday to root for Loeffler and Perdue, so we’re getting a bit of a mixed message here. It must be quite confusing for the Trumpkins.

  8. Kathy says:


    That doesn’t sound like him. More likely he’s going to Georgia to whine about his YUGE loss at the polls.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: You mean the massive fraud at the polls.

  10. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @OzarkHillbilly:
    Well, the ostensible reason is to root for Loeffler and Perdue. He may mention them in passing, but of course it will be primarily a whinefest on his part.

  11. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Erickson today has a tweet that says Wood donated to the Democrat in the last senate election and hints that this is some kind of DEMOCRATIC PLOT!!!!!1!!!!

    Isn’t this the ending of a few Twilight-Zone episodes? “No, no don’t attack me! I created you to attack them! Augh!!!!”

    Rick Wilson, LP co-founder: “You bought the ticket. You take the ride.”

  12. Joe says:

    [Our scene opens in a dimly lit office with the glow of Fox television reporting on the Powell-Wood press conference. The lone witness is a figure sitting in a chair, back to the camera, laughing a slow, maniacal laugh]
    Figure: My minions are playing their roles perfectly! My plan is almost complete!
    [The chair now pivots toward the camera, to reveal an older man in aviator sunglasses, laughing continuously.]

  13. Jen says:

    I don’t understand how it’s possible, but they all seem to be getting crazier.

    Roger Stone Says North Korean Boats Delivered Ballots Through Maine Harbor As Trump Boosts Fraud Claims

  14. Scott F. says:


    Apparently Trump is going to Georgia this coming Saturday to root for Loeffler and Perdue, so we’re getting a bit of a mixed message here. It must be quite confusing for the Trumpkins.

    For those who’ve argued that Trump support is cultish, what’s happening in Georgia is supporting evidence. The denizens of Trumpland don’t scrutinize conflicting messages and a coherent worldview isn’t necessary in the fever swamps where alternative facts can be created on a whim.

    The Trumpkins won’t be confused at all. If Trump personally affirms that Loeffler and Perdue have been sufficiently loyal to him, then the Trumpkins will turn out to vote for them. If Trump says the Wood-Powell non-vote is righteous (because he doesn’t give a damn whether the Republicans hold the Senate beyond what that might say about him), then they will stay home. He’ll likely say both, so what will matter is what he says last.

  15. inhumans99 says:

    When it is all said and done I am sure the Senate will still end up in the GOP’s hands.

    The bigger problem the GOP has is that things have gotten to a point where the inmates are literally running the asylum (aka, the GOP party) and another shocker is that some of the crazies are people like Michael Flynn, and it just amazes me that this traitor was able to rise up in the ranks to become a General all so we can get to the point where he goes full on insane and wants the military and Trump to take over the country.

    In another thread (the Open thread, I believe), one of our regulars points to an article about Democrats and Covid hypocrisy and no matter how much of the article is true and makes a fair point it leads me to say that the GOP has spent decades fine-tuning their ability to point out the hypocrisy of their opponents and are beyond ridiculously good at seeing the mote in their brothers eye but they cannot see the crazy large beam sticking out of theirs.

    The GOP needs to clean house and I think Trump has shown himself to be less than valuable to the GOP the past couple weeks as all he brings to the table is the ability to animate all the conspiracy nuts that are out there (and the past couple weeks have shown me that there are a shocking number of people who are a bit more out there than I would have thought).

    It is telling that for the most part we are hearing nothing from the super rich about who they would like to see in the White House on 01/20 but they know better than to stick their hands in the tar baby that is election politics.

    The crazy is no longer funny to just mock the GOP and laugh at them, instead the crazy really needs to be purged.

  16. Admittedly I had a pretty gloomy outlook, on the future of our Republic, just before the election.
    On one hand I thought the election would be much closer than it turned out.
    And on the other hand, I truly couldn’t imagine Trump would stake his Presidency on such an abysmal legal team!!!

  17. Kathy says:


    Has he seen a map of the world? To get from North Korea to Maine, you either have to round the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, or go through the Straits of Magellan between South America and Antarctica, or cross the Suez Canal, or cross the Panama Canal.

    All to deliver ballots to help Susan Collins win? I find that hard to believe.

  18. CSK says:

    I’d enjoy seeing Stone’s “absolute, incontrovertible evidence” that this happened.

    It would be nice if he specified which harbor in Maine, given that there are dozens upon dozens. It’s a long coast.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen: That’s the Republican problem in a nutshell. There’s no limit to crazy. No matter how far you position yourself to the lunatic right, there’s still room for a primary challenger to go even further to the right.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: And boats? Wouldn’t you want to use ships for that long ocean voyage? Or maybe just UPS?

  21. CSK says:

    @Jen: @Kathy: @gVOR08:
    Stone also agrees with Michael Flynn that Trump should declare martial law. He is also busy promoting the notion that Bill Barr is a member of the Deep State and is furthering Deep State interests.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    @Jen: From the link,

    Stone said. “If this checks out, if law enforcement looked into that and it turned out to be true, it would be proof of foreign involvement in the election.”

    Can’t argue with that.

  23. Kathy says:


    Ah, well, “boats” can be Navy slang for submarines. And you know Diesel submarines can circle the globe seven times without coming up for air, right?

    And doesn’t he know about the Pinky Protocol?

  24. CSK says:

    Well, all Stone has to do is present law enforcement with his “absolute incontrovertible evidence.”

  25. Kathy says:


    I find it absolutely astonishing how many people claim to have witnessed wrongdoing, or to have evidence of wrongdoing, and not one has presented any of it to any law enforcement agency, not even to a beat cop.

  26. @Kathy:
    Actually, the shortest route, would be thru the Red Sea, take a left and head out the Mediterranean and almost due west to Portland, ME. Which would take you right past Saudi Arabia…hint, hint…

  27. KM says:

    Or filmed it. Unless they physically took away your cell phone (idk if all places did), then you should have been filming wrongdoing. Oh wait – we had webcams running so it should have caught some of this as well as security cameras from multiple sources. Yet no video evidence. I’ve heard people whining “well it’s a crime to record” but if you were witnessing the large-scale theft of an important election, wouldn’t you risk it to get the evidence? Don’t you trust Trump to have your back if the Deep State comes for you??

    What about old-school writing it down as it happened? Meticulous documentation like a stenographer in a court case. Actual details like names and specific times and actions and license plate numbers, not “that dude (idk what he looked like) in some kind of truck dropped off fake ballots”. Seriously, nobody thought to get the number of the truck or make/model at least?

    It’s all the worst kind of hersay they know a cop would ignore. These people won’t go to the courts to officially state it since it’s perjury and their ass on the line. The Thin Blue Line has this weird thing about facts and evidence that pop up at the most inconvenient times for them – why do they have to prove anything? What good is white privilege when the cops won’t act on your rants about NK boats and interstate trucks full of illegal Dem ballots?!

  28. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I forgot the Northwest Passage. Though looking at it you’d doubt it’s a popular transit way. And probably it’s not navigable by late fall due to ice.

  29. Kathy says:


    Yeah, this prejudice against imaginary evidence must stop!

  30. gVOR08 says:


    we had webcams running so it should have caught some of this as well as security cameras from multiple sources.

    Even Sidney Powell wouldn’t miss something that important. Her Kraken filing requests the security camera tapes from theDetroit counting center. To support her case in Georgia.

  31. Sleeping Dog says:


    As mentioned above, this is the GOP for the next several years. Unfortunately it won’t effect their ability to control the Senate and their advantage in EC, leaving the country to suffer. For the country, the only glimmer of hope is that states like AZ, GA and maybe TX become purplish, forcing the GOP in these states to the center. But the non-trumps for 24 that are most frequently mentioned are folks like Cotton, Rubio, Cruz and Hawley that have already bought into the crazy and who in no way look or sound like a Romney, McCain or Bush.

    I’ve got +/- 20 years before I’m dust in a baggy, so it is less my problem than you youngn’s.

  32. charon says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    Erickson today has a tweet that says Wood donated to the Democrat in the last senate election and hints that this is some kind of DEMOCRATIC PLOT!!!!!1!!!!

    Also here:

    Wood also has a long history of donating to top Democrats’ presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, and congressional campaigns. While he did shift a little bit during the Trump era and made some donations to Trump and some congressional Republicans and to the Republican National Committee, per Federal Election Commission (FEC) records, Wood has long backed Democrats for federal office and especially for Georgia offices. Donations to Democrat Party politicians from Wood over a decade plus total more than $40,000, and span from as far back as 2004 through as recently as 2018.

    A bit of debunking from NMMNB:

    If you click on the link provided in that excerpt, you can see how absurd this is. The link takes us to Open Secrets, where a list of Wood’s federal politcal contributions reveals a number of donations to Democrats — and much more than “a little bit” of giving to Republicans. There are twelve donations to Donald Trump totaling $20,850. There are eight donations to the Republican National Committee totaling $356,705. There are five- and six-figure donations to the Nevada Republican Central Committee, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Florida, the Republican Party of Iowa, the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania, the Republican Party of North Carolina, the Conservative Leadership Alliance PAC, and the Stop Socialism Now PAC. There are multiple donations to Doug Collins, Martha McSally, Jim Jordan, Lindsey Graham, and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

    So Wood’s donations to Democrats fall in the category of “I give to everybody” — which is what Donald Trump said when he was asked in a 2015 debate why he’d given money to Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.

  33. Scott says:

    @Kathy: You would be surprised.

    Northeast Passage to open in mid-August, Northwest Passage expected to open in mid-September

    Global Ice Center announced its forecast for Arctic Sea ice trends in 2020. Currently, the sea ice in the Arctic Sea is melting at an average pace, but with record breaking high temperatures such as the 38 degrees Celsius recorded on June 20th in the northern Siberian town of Verkhoyansk, the sea ice along the Northeast Passage (Russian side) is expected to melt rapidly going forward. This summer, the Northern Sea Route is projected to be open from mid-August along the Northeast Passage, and from mid-September along the Northwest Passage (Canadian side).

  34. Sleeping Dog says:


    You know, just before the election, I was in Kittery and there was a submarine tied at a remote dock on an island in the harbor. Maybe Roger is on to something. 🙂

  35. Erik says:

    Meanwhile, in competent non-clickbait journalism land, the headline reads:
    Architect of Republican Dirty Tricks Campaign makes Unsubstantiated Claims about Election Fraud

    Lead with the truth, fill in the story with the propaganda, not the other way around, if you don’t want to spread the propaganda.

  36. Kylopod says:

    @charon: The Koch Bros. have occasionally donated to Dem candidates, albeit very conservative ones in R-leaning districts.

  37. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I actually started to look at the Northwest Passage…but turns out the Red Sea is a surprisingly direct route.
    (I had to enter South Korea because, of course, you cannot ship from North Korea),united-states/port-of-chinae,south-korea/#/?a=0&b=0&c=Port%20of%20Portland%20Maine,%20United%20States&d=Port%20of%20Chinae,%20South%20Korea

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I truly couldn’t imagine Trump would stake his Presidency on such an abysmal legal team!!!

    He hires only the best people.

  39. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The WI Supreme Court refused to hear the latest Trump gambit.
    I think that makes this stellar team 1-41 in actual court cases?
    Also, the PA Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit, by two State Legislators, to attempt to invalidate mail-in ballots. So actually 1-42….

  40. CSK says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: @OzarkHillbilly:
    At this point, who would represent Trump but a total sleazy operator? Any sane, ethical lawyer would flee at the sight of him.

  41. JohnSF says:


    Here’s hoping that Karma is a beach.

    Since you mention it: Karma Beach.

  42. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Sadly funny but true. It can’t be fiction, because fiction has to make sense, right?

  43. dazedandconfused says:


    Trump “fired” these two a week or so ago. About the time Sidney started asking that donations be made to her directly instead of to one of the Trump-related funds or foundations. IIRC. She’s this administrations Col. Kurtz:

    “She’s out there…operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct.”

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: Yeah, and more than a few Outer Limits episodes, too.

  45. JohnSF says:

    Ah, but you’re forgetting the Illuminati’s undersea tunnels from Agharti.

    (Honestly, I would swear Robert Anton Wilson was writing this as satire.)

  46. JohnSF says:

    Submarines. Duh. 🙂
    Nemo Shipping Services, special rates for anti-imperialist conspiracies.

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: And the story was updated later to note that Stone had no evidence for the claim. For some reason, that statement has a “what’s wrong with this picture” quality to it, but I can’t put my finger on why.

  48. Mister Bluster says:

    @Joe:..[The chair now pivots toward the camera, to reveal an older man in aviator sunglasses, laughing continuously.]


  49. Raoul says:

    More poetic justice: the runoff was put in place as a means to prevent a black person or otherwise someone from the tribe from being elected-irony abounds if two people from the bad tribe get elected because of a vestige of Jim Crow laws.

  50. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: You were saying?

    Attorneys Linda A. Kerns, John Scott, and Douglas Bryan Hughes filed a motion to withdraw from the lawsuit, saying they “have reached a mutual agreement that [the Trump campaign] will be best served” if they left the case.

    The motion comes three days after the previous law firm representing the Trump campaign in the lawsuit, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, also withdrew from the case, and after a law firm in Arizona backed out of representing the Trump campaign in a separate lawsuit last week.

    The attorneys’ withdrawal also comes after the Pennsylvania lawsuit was amended Sunday to drop many of the campaign’s initial allegations concerning the vote counting process, after a federal appeals court struck down many of the campaign’s legal arguments in a court ruling for a separate case.

    In a subsequent court filing Monday, Judge Matthew W. Brann ordered Scott and Hughes withdrawn from the case, but did not comment on Kerns’ request to withdraw.

    The Trump campaign will now be represented by Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based attorney Marc A. Scaringi, who previously served as a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.

    “Our substitution of local counsel is consistent with routine managing of complex litigation,” Trump campaign legal advisor Jenna Ellis said in a statement Monday about the change of counsel.

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:
  52. CSK says:

    I must be prescient.

  53. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..I must be prescient.

    Considering that the Forbes item that OzarkHillbilly cites is over two weeks old I’m going to say you are as prescient as Peter Popoff!

  54. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Scott: Actually, both Ossoff and Warnock have been running ads that, in a low-key way, offer a striking contrast to the broadsides emanating from the Perdue and Loeffler camps. Sadly, that may not be enough to win.

  55. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Ah, I saw this coming months ago.

  56. Kathy says:


    Because when your offense advances the ball at least 12 yards one very down and scores on every drive, you’re better off substituting it with something else that will do better, right?

    I know. I know. their messaging is directed at people who can’t or won’t think things through.

  57. charon says:


    Maybe all the people doing lawyer stuff have more interest in working the rubes for donations than in actually winning cases.

  58. JohnSF says:

    Donations from below, pardons from above.
    Lord, how the wheel rolls on.

  59. Michael Cain says:

    @charon: State bars seldom sanction lawyers for filing frivolous lawsuits, but the Trump stuff may be getting close. No one wants to be the firm that they make an example of.

  60. charon says:

    Very interesting piece at LGM:

    But both the legally frivolous and factually unhinged sets of claims don’t actually assert what Donald Trump and the Republican party (a distinction now without a difference) actually believe, which is that the election was stolen because too many of the wrong people voted. Trump and the Republicans are forced to maintain minority rule only because a coalition of lower-caste Americans and race traitors steal elections from real Americans, by outvoting them (The Republican presidential candidate has won a plurality of the popular vote once since the 1980s).

    This is not hyperbole: this is what Trumpism — which again is now the same thing as the Republican party — is all about at its core.

    O’Toole’s assertion that “the logic is not that a permanently minority party may move toward authoritarianism but that it must. Holding power against the wishes of most citizens is an innately despotic act,” is, I believe, unassailable.

    Despotism in the face of democracy — or if you prefer “managed democracy,” “herrenvolk democracy” etc., in the face of real democracy — is the path that the Republican party has chosen, and nothing has made that clearer than what has happened in the 30 days since that party lost the presidential election by more than seven million votes. Either that party or American democracy must be destroyed.

    Lots more, there and ay NYRB re: the paragraph I bolded.

  61. Kathy says:


    Apropos of this, what if Biden were to introduce a purely nominal “Real American of the Week” award, to honor deserving people such as essential workers, healthcare workers, honor students, artists, athletes, astronauts, entrepreneurs, etc.

    Nothing much and no big deal. maybe a zoom call with the president for a few minutes, a photo and some info on a website, and such.

    Completely trivial, fluff, but would include people of all races, ages, genders, sexualities, etc. as official “Real Americans.”

  62. JohnSF says:
  63. dazedandconfused says:

    Quite so. The issues brought up in the fisking of Sidney’s filing in Georgia indicate it was deliberately made sloppy and tedious in order to slow a ruling from the court. Some poor person is going to have to spend days untangling the mess to write a coherent ruling on the thing, and every extra day is and extra “donation day”.

  64. JohnSF says:

    Understandably, people are mesmerised by the antic Lin Wood and the frankly psychedelic Sidney Powell.
    But it also appears Jenna Ellis may not be exactly a premier league attorney either:
    How Is Trump’s Lawyer Jenna Ellis ‘Elite Strike Force’ Material?

  65. Kathy says:


    She seems to be what Trump would have been as a lawyer: all talk and no substance, who will promise the Moon and deliver not even a speck of dust.

    Naturally he thinks she’s overqualified.

  66. CSK says:

    She’s blonde, she’s young, she’s on tv a lot, and she attacks his critics. What other qualifications does she need?