One of the Trump campaign’s star witnesses alleging election fraud has suddenly shot to fame after her testimony at a hearing in Michigan yesterday.
US President Donald Trump’s legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, appeared before the state’s House Oversight Committee to delve into their claims that widespread voter fraud tainted last month’s election.
The hearing lasted four hours and included testimony from several people who claimed to have witnessed misconduct on election night. One of them was Melissa Carone.
Carone said she was contracted by Dominion, the company behind the electronic voting systems used by some American counties, to do IT work at the TCF Centre in Detroit.
Dominion has confirmed this, and said Carone was indeed “one of several thousand technicians we hired for a day or two”. Her job at the vote counting centre was to “troubleshoot level one problems for staff”.
She faced questions from a number of Michigan state politicians, representing both major parties, but one testy exchange with Representative Steven Johnson, a Republican, is getting the most attention.
It concerned discrepancies in Detroit’s poll book, in which the number of voters recorded as having cast ballots did not match up with the number of ballots actually counted.
This is not an unusual phenomenon. It has happened repeatedly in previous elections, including Trump’s victory in 2016.
The discrepancy is usually just a handful of votes, and can be caused by human error, a jammed tabulator, or someone signing in to vote and then leaving without waiting around to cast their ballot.
Carone had another explanation. Her testimony was that she witnessed election workers counting the same ballots “nine to ten times”, and that this happened with thousands of ballots.
If true, that would mean Detroit reported tens of thousands more votes for Joe Biden than had actually been cast.
Johnson queried how Carone’s testimony could possibly be accurate, as it would have caused a much larger discrepancy between the poll book and the number of votes counted.
“Are we saying that the poll book is either wildly off, or that they are filling in names?” Johnson asked.
Carone replied: “Wildly off. It’s wildly off, and dead people voted, and illegals voted. So that’s my answer.”
Carone asserted that the turnout rate in Detroit was 120 per cent, which is false. The actual rate was about 51 per cent, with 251,138 of the city’s 504,714 registered voters casting ballots.
That has not stopped the President and his lawyers from repeatedly claiming there were “far more voters than people” in Detroit.
A Michigan judge had already addressed Carone’s claims in her affidavit before the hearings and ruled that they were not credible.
“Ms Carone, a Republican, indicated that she ‘witnessed nothing but fraudulent actions take place’ during her time at the TCF Centre,” Judge Kennedy wrote.
“Offering generalised statements, Ms Carone described illegal activity that included counter tabulating machines that would get jammed four to five times per hour, as well as alleged cover-up of loss of vast amounts of data. Ms Carone indicated she reported her observations to the FBI.
“Ms Carone’s description of the events at the TCF Centre does not square with any of the other affidavits. There are no other reports of lost data, or tabulating machines that jammed repeatedly every hour during the count.
“Neither Republican nor Democratic challengers nor city officials substantiate her version of events. The allegations simply are not credible.”
The hearing ended with a closing argument from Giuliani.
“You are the final arbiter of how honest or not your election is in your state,” Giuliani told the panel of Michigan politicians.
“It’s your responsibility to stand up to that. All I can tell you is, if we let them get away with this, I don’t know what happens after this.”
Representative Beau LaFave, a Republican, asked Giuliani to explain what, exactly, he was asking the state legislature to do.
“I ask that you take back your power,” Giuliani said.
“Don’t let it just get taken from us.”
He denied that he wanted the legislature to defy Michigan’s certified results and give the state’s electoral votes to Trump, though in effect, that does appear to be the Trump campaign’s goal.
There is no active lawsuit in Michigan with the potential to overturn Biden’s 154,000-vote margin of victory.
Officials in each of the state’s 83 counties have certified their final results, as have the Board of State Canvassers and Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Representative Aaron Miller, a Republican, was particularly unimpressed by the arguments he had witnessed from Giuliani.
“I’m happy to thoughtfully listen to evidence and claims, and that was what today was supposed to be about. But Mr Giuliani’s final statement waded into the realm of insanity,” Miller said, according to The Detroit News.
“He made wild and broad partisan insults for several minutes that had nothing to do with the election, and it was frankly unacceptable, shameful and pathetic, and distracts from any evidence that we might hear.
“I am utterly embarrassed.”
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