ATLANTA (ETN) — Prosecutor investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others tried to illegally interfere in Georgia’s 2020 election is seeking information about the alleged involvement of a Trump ally in breaking into voting equipment in a county about 200 miles south of its Atlanta office.
The expansion of the investigation points to the latest instance where unauthorized persons appear to have gained access to voting devices since the 2020 election, primarily in battlefield states lost to Trump. Election experts have expressed concern that sensitive information shared online about the equipment may have revealed vulnerabilities that could be exploited by those seeking to disrupt future elections.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants attorney Sidney Powell, who has persistently sought to undo Trump’s loss, testify before a special grand jury that sat on the investigation into possible illegal interference in the election.
In her petition filed Thursday, Willis said Powell is “known for being affiliated with” Trump and the Trump campaign and has unique knowledge of her communications with them and others “involved in the coordinated efforts of multiple states to support the results of the November 2020 Elections in Georgia and elsewhere.”
The scope of Willis’s criminal investigation has expanded significantly since it began, following a Jan. 2, 2021 phone call in which Trump suggested that Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger could “find” the votes needed to make up for the small election loss. of Trump in the state. Willis wrote, among other things, that she wants to ask Powell about rural Coffee County, where Trump defeated President Joe Biden by almost 40 percentage points.
Emails and other data first reported this month by The Washington Post and also obtained by The Europe Times News show that Powell was involved in arranging a team from data solutions company SullivanStrickler to go to the county’s election office. to travel.
The data was produced in response to subpoenas from plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit alleging that Georgia’s voting machines, manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems, are vulnerable to attack. The plaintiffs want the machines replaced with a system that uses hand-marked paper ballots.
The lawsuit filed by the Coalition for Good Governance and individual voters dates back a long time and is unrelated to false allegations of widespread election fraud pushed by Trump and his allies.
Dominion has filed defamation lawsuits against high-profile Trump supporters, including Powell, who made false claims about using Dominion voting machines to steal the 2020 election.
In an email sent to Powell on Jan. 7, 2021, Paul Maggio, COO of SullivanStrickler, said he and his team were “on their way to Coffee County Georgia to gather what we can from the election/vote machines and — systems”. He attached an invoice for an “initial advance” of $26,000 to pay a team of four people for one day. The subject of the bill is “Voting Machines Analysis”.
“Everything went smoothly with the Coffee County collection yesterday. Everyone involved was extremely helpful,” Maggio wrote in an email the following day. “We are consolidating all collected data and will upload it to our secure site for access by your team.”
A document containing the contents of Maggio’s hard drive shows that it contains forensic images of an election management system server, a district tabulator, compact flash cards and USB sticks used to program touchscreen tabulators and voting machines, a computer used to check in voters and a laptop computer supplied by Dominion. It also contains scanned images of paper ballots from the second round of the US Senate election in January 2021.
The company defended its actions in a statement from its attorney, Amanda Clark Palmer.
“SullivanStrickler was detained and directed by licensed, practicing attorneys to preserve and forensically copy the Dominion voting machines used in the 2020 election,” the statement said. “The office had no reason to believe that these attorneys, as officers of the court, would ask or instruct SullivanStrickler to do anything inappropriate or illegal.”
The lawyers told the company to contact provincial election officials to access certain data and then distribute it to certain other people, the statement said. The company maintains that “at the time of doing that work, they were acting in good faith that their client was authorized to access the voting machines and servers.”
“In hindsight, and knowing everything they know now, they would not undertake any further work of this kind,” the statement said, adding that the company plans to cooperate fully with any investigation.
Willis noted that there is also “evidence on the public record” that Powell was involved in similar efforts in Michigan and Nevada around the same time. An attorney representing Powell did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Ryan Germany, general counsel to the office of the Secretary of State for Georgia, said in a statement filed in court on Aug. 2 that the office opened an investigation in mid-March and called in an expert to conduct a forensic inspection of Coffee’s election server. County to execute. . The next steps, he said, are to complete the forensic investigation and hear witnesses.
The secretary of state’s office earlier this month requested assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which “opened an investigation into computer violations on a Coffee County election server on Aug. 15,” spokesman Nelly Miles said in an email.
The Coffee County case resembles voting equipment infringements elsewhere. In addition to Georgia, these are local election offices in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Colorado.
At an event last summer held by Trump ally Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow who has attempted to prove voting machines are being manipulated, copies of voting systems from Mesa County, Colorado and Antrim County, Michigan were distributed and made available online.
A month earlier, Pennsylvania election officials decertified the voting equipment used in one county — also known as Fulton — after officials there allowed an outside firm access to “certain key components of the certified system, including the county’s election database, results files and Windows System Logs.” The company was also allowed to make copies of the voting system’s hard drives.
In Mesa County, Colorado, Clerk Tina Peters and her deputy were charged in connection with a May 2021 security breach at the polling station. Prosecutors allege the pair were part of a “deceptive scheme” to allow unauthorized individuals to access their voting system technology.
This week, the Deputy Registrar, Belinda Knisley, pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Peters, who has denied wrongdoing and claimed she had an investigative duty.
Also in Colorado, state election officials are investigating a possible violation in Elbert County, where they say the clerk made two copies of the county’s voting system and provided it to two attorneys who are not authorized to have them.
In Antrim County, Michigan, a judge had allowed a forensic examination of voting equipment after a brief mix-up of the 2020 election results led to a lawsuit for alleged fraud. The lawsuit was dismissed, but somehow, according to those in attendance, a copy of the voting system was publicly distributed during the Lindell event.
Michigan authorities are also investigating security breaches at four local election offices that reportedly occurred between March and the end of June 2021.