RNC plan for 2020 denialist to head ‘election integrity’ unit raises alarms

<span>Christina Bobb used her perch at One America News Network to spread bogus claims of election fraud.</span><span>Photograph: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images</span>
Christina Bobb used her perch at One America News Network to spread bogus claims of election fraud.Photograph: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has cemented its hold on the Republican National Committee (RNC), alarms are being raised about the organisation’s tapping of the fervent election denialist Christina Bobb to run an “election integrity” unit.

Bobb is a former Trump lawyer and ex-reporter for the far-right One America News Network, who gained prominence after Trump’s 2020 loss for promoting bogus fraud charges in Arizona, Wisconsin and elsewhere, and was part of Trump-backed efforts to substitute fake electors for ones that Joe Biden won in some states.

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Bobb helped spread phoney voting fraud claims with Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the former campaign operative Mike Roman, both of whom along with Trump and others face charges in Fulton county, Georgia, of conspiring to overturn Biden’s win there; Bobb was not charged.

Last year Bobb wrote Stealing Your Vote: The Inside Story of the 2020 Election and What It Means for 2024, a book that was chock full of baseless charges about 2020 election fraud.

Former judges, ex-Republican congressmen and election watchdogs voice strong concerns about Bobb’s mission and the potential dangers posed by her flood of erroneous charges of voting fraud.

“By designating Bobb to the RNC post, they’re beginning to promulgate the same false narrative of widespread election fraud that we saw in 2020 and 2021 but way earlier,” said John Jones, a former federal judge in Pennsylvania and now president of Dickinson College.

“There’s a concept known as illusory truth,” he added. “If you keep saying these same falsehoods over and over, people begin to believe they’re true, and it has the potential to morph into violence. That puts judges, prosecutors and others at risk.”

The RNC has not only become an arm of the Trump campaign, but an outlet for the most extreme elements of the election denial movement

Charlie Dent

The RNC’s hiring of Bobb comes as Trump keeps falsely claiming that the 2020 election was rigged and talks up new efforts this year to “guard the vote” to ferret out potential fraud. Experts have conclusively said fraud was not a factor in Trump’s loss by over 7 million votes, and stressed that historically voting fraud has been minimal.

Bobb’s “election integrity” post at the RNC is expected to involve teams of poll workers, poll watchers and other efforts in swing states and she has begun talking with key Maga allies with similar missions. Bobb last month told the far-right reporter Breanna Morello that her top goal is “empowering the grassroots”.

Bobb was on at least one conference call in March with a half-dozen Trump-allied groups including ones that echo her false claims about 2020 election fraud, according to a person on the call, who said: “We’re all going to coordinate.”

Among the groups on the call, he added, was Arizona-based Turning Point Action, which has a track record of promoting falsehoods about 2020 election fraud.

Many experts raise red flags about Bobb’s new RNC post.

The former Republican congressman Charlie Dent said the RNC’s hiring of Bobb “is a further indication of how the RNC has not only become an arm of the Trump campaign, but an outlet for the most extreme elements of the election denial movement”.

Likewise, the ex-Republican congressman Dave Trott predicted: “Bobb will be leading the charge and saying the election was rigged if Trump loses.”

Some key Democrats are also alarmed by what Bobb’s RNC role may presage.

“Putting Christina Bobb in charge of election integrity is like putting Donald Trump in charge of integrity,” the Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin said. “They’re designing a platform for lies to wage the next insurrection.”

Although Bobb’s “election integrity” slot is new and a work in progress, the RNC’s new leadership seems to be banking on her.

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Lara Trump, the new RNC vice-chair and Trump’s daughter-in-law, told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on 12 March: “We have the first-ever election integrity division at the [RNC]. That means massive resources going to this one thing.”

Lara Trump added: “We will have trained poll watchers, poll observers, poll workers, people in tabulation centers all across this country,” and signaled that volunteers for these slots and lawyers are needed.

Bobb, whose official RNC title is senior counsel for election integrity, wrote on X: “I’m honored to be a part of the new team at the RNC.”

Besides Bobb, the RNC in March tapped Charlie Spies, who had previously served as its election law counsel, to be its chief counsel.

Further, the RNC also named William McGinley, a veteran election lawyer who worked in the Trump administration, as outside counsel for election integrity, a move that could presage more litigation.

But Bobb’s litany of baseless fraud claims as she worked with key Trump allies to overturn the 2020 election results, shadow her new RNC role.

For instance, Bobb used her perch at One America News Network (OAN) to spread bogus claims of fraud that led to a defamation lawsuit against her and OAN by the voting technology firm Dominion; Bobb and OAN have both denied any wrongdoing.

Separately Bobb signed a letter falsely certifying to the justice department on Trump’s behalf in 2022 that after a “diligent search” he had returned all the classified documents the special counsel Jack Smith later charged the former president with illegally taking to Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House.

A subsequent FBI raid found about 100 classified documents; Bobb, who reportedly was interviewed by the FBI, indicated that another lawyer drafted the letter she signed.

Given that Bobb was only tapped for her RNC post this month, it is unclear whether she has begun recruiting staff or taken other steps to develop the RNC’s election integrity program.

But a source close to the Trump campaign stressed that “the key to election observing is redundancy”, meaning that it would involve multiple coordinated efforts, which suggests that the RNC program will be done in tandem with similar poll-watching and poll worker drives by Trump allied groups.

The need for “redundancy” and Bobb’s early conference call with several outside groups are emerging as key strategies for Bobb, as she revealed in an interview on 15 March with Morello, a conservative journalist who used to be with Fox News.

A dangerous sign of how entrenched the election denial movement has become on the right

Chioma Chukwu

Bobb told Morello that her top goal at the RNC is “empowering the grassroots. This has to be a grassroots approach … We have to empower people in their communities.”

The RNC press office did not reply to a request for comment.

The RNC’s election integrity drive this year comes after a few decades when a moratorium was imposed on RNC poll-watching operations due to aggressive tactics it employed in 1981 that went beyond permissible programs.

At some polling places in New Jersey in 1981, the GOP used off-duty police officers and provided rewards to some people who claimed they had evidence of voting fraud. After those incidents, the party agreed to halt poll-watching efforts until 2018, when the moratorium terminated.

Still, some lawyers and election veterans are troubled by the RNC’s hiring of Bobb given her history of election denialism and Trump’s obsession with debunked claims of fraud in 2020.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing when a major party hires fringe characters who don’t understand how elections work,” said David Becker, the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

Other lawyers express similar worries about Bobb’s background.

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“It’s unclear whether the RNC wants those who are not already loyalists to take its commitment to ‘election integrity’ seriously,” said the former federal prosecutor and Columbia law professor Daniel Richman.

“But if it does, picking someone who, according to the Florida indictment against Trump, was the vehicle for certifying his false statements about returning all the classified documents in his possession, is an odd choice.”

Looking ahead, Chioma Chukwu, the deputy executive director of the watchdog group American Oversight, called Bobb’s hiring by the RNC “a dangerous sign of how entrenched the election denial movement has become on the right”.

“Elevating Bobb – who continues to push baseless lies about voter fraud – to a top post focused on ‘election integrity’ serves no purpose other than to sow chaos and confusion in November, allowing partisan actors to cry ‘foul’ if their preferred candidate loses.”