Arizona secretary of state demands probe of election interference by Trump and allies

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Evidence indicates Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the chair of the Arizona GOP tried to get election officials to stop counting ballots in the state.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs on Wednesday sent a letter to her state's attorney general, Republican Mark Brnovich, demanding that he investigate what she said were "clear efforts" from Donald Trump allies to interfere in vote-counting, in violation of state law.

"I urge you to take action not only to seek justice in this instance, but to prevent further attempts to interfere with the integrity of our elections," Hobbs, a Democrat, wrote in the letter, in which she also wrote that Brnovich said "just last week" that "fair elections are the cornerstone of our republic."

Hobbs' letter came after the Arizona Republic newspaper and the Associated Press reported last week that Trump, Trump campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward tried to pressure local officials to interfere with vote tabulation in the state.

President Joe Biden carried Arizona — which a Democratic presidential nominee had not done since 1996 — by roughly 10,500 votes. Biden's win enraged Trump, and the former president has spent months lying about how the election was rife with fraud and Arizona was stolen from him when all evidence has concluded these claims aren't true.

According to the AP, Trump tried to call Clint Hickman, who was at the time chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. But Hickman refused to take Trump's call, saying he did not want to be pressured in the same way Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" just the right amount of votes to declare Trump the winner.

Ward also texted Hickman, writing, "We need you to stop the counting."

Giuliani reached out to "several" Republicans on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, leaving a voicemail for one, saying, "It's a shame that Republicans sort of are both in this kind of situation. And I think there may be a nice way to resolve this for everybody."

The details of this pressure campaign are just the latest in the string of efforts Trump and his allies took to try to steal the election he rightfully lost.

Aside from trying to pressure officials in both Arizona and Georgia, Trump and his allies tried to use courts across the country to overturn the election.

The effort ultimately failed, and led state court judges in New York to suspend Giuliani's license to practice law in the state for making "demonstrably false and misleading statements" about the election.

It's also the latest election scandal for Republicans in Arizona.

Currently, the GOP state Senate is still conducting an election audit, which it tasked a company led by a Trump-supporting conspiracy theorist to run. The audit has been plagued with reports that it is not following proper election protocol, with experts saying it's a clear effort to gin up fake evidence for Trump's voter fraud lies.

While Republicans support the audit, the effort is unpopular with the majority of the electorate, and some GOP operatives warn that the audit could cause problems for Republicans in the 2022 midterm elections.

Now, Hobbs' request for a criminal investigation into Trump and his campaign's pressure campaign in the state puts Brnovich in a bind, too.

Brnovich is running for Senate as a Republican in Arizona, hoping to face off against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Investigating wrongdoing by Trump could hurt him among the GOP base, which polls show by and large believes voter fraud lies and thinks the election was stolen from Trump.

Trump has already publicly criticized Brnovich for not helping in his effort to overturn the election.

"As massive crime in the 2020 Election is becoming more and more evident and obvious, Brnovich is nowhere to be found," Trump said in a May statement, in which he lied about voter fraud in Arizona. "He is always on television promoting himself, but never mentions the Crime of the Century, that took place during the 2020 Presidential Election, which was Rigged and Stolen."

Meanwhile, Hobbs is running for governor and will have a platform to highlight Brnovich's refusal to launch an investigation into Trump's pressure campaign should he choose not to do so.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.