"Wow. This is unhinged."
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer's tweet Saturday castigated former President Donald Trump for alleging "election crime" in an email he sent Saturday.
Trump's premature leap to unsubstantiated conclusionsdrew Richer's attention before a scheduled meeting Monday in which Maricopa County officials say they will respond to questions raised by Arizona Senate-hired private contractors auditing the county's general election.
Richer took office in January, after the election, the election count and county accuracy tests and a county-directed audit were conducted.
He and other Republican county officials are sounding alarms as claims about a deleted database such as the one made by Trump — and the audit's own Twitter account — burn across social media like wildfire.
"Wow. This is unhinged. I’m literally looking at our voter registration database on my other screen. Right now," Richer posted on Twitter in response to Trump's claims.
He added: "We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country."
Trump wrote in one of his Saturday emails, "The entire Database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED!" He called it "illegal" and an "election crime," despite the audit spokesperson walking back such claims two days earlier. Trump also alleged that "seals were broken on the boxes that hold the votes, ballots are missing, and worse."
On Wednesday, the auditors' Twitter account alleged Maricopa County deleted a directory full of election databases before the election equipment was delivered to the audit, claiming spoliation of evidence.
But Ken Bennett, the audit spokesperson, walked back a claim of wrongdoing.
"We didn’t say there was anything malicious," Bennett said Friday of the database in question. "Maybe it was deleted because it was a duplicate of something that was elsewhere."
Bennett said auditors seek an explanation from the county.
When House Republicans ousted Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her leadership post, it spoke to the direction of the Republican Party in at least one specific way: what should happen to those who publicly break with former President Donald Trump? So, we surveyed the nation's self-identified Republicans to learn what they thought of the week's events. They still very much want their party to show loyalty to Mr. Trump and adhere to the idea that President Biden didn't legitimately win.
Their views on Cheney, in turn, now reflect those wishes.
Eighty percent of Republicans who'd heard about the vote agree with Cheney's removal — they feel she was off-message, unsupportive of Mr. Trump, and that she's wrong about the 2020 presidential election. To a third of them, and most particularly for those who place the highest importance on loyalty, Cheney's removal also shows "disloyalty will be punished."
Those Republicans opposed to her removal — just a fifth of the party right now — say it's mainly because there's room for different views in the party, not all need support Mr. Trump and this was a distraction. But when we look down the line to any potential electoral impact, theirs might be even more limited: this group is also less likely to report voting in Republican primaries.
Republicans say that Mr. Trump himself represents their views just as well as they think the party does; it's a personal connection to him we've seen for years. Today, loyalty also means they specifically want the party to follow more of the former president's examples across a range of items, including economics, issues of race and immigration, how to treat the media, using power and leadership, generally.
There is no GOP anymore. There is only the Trump party now. And it will very soon go to war with America itself.
God help me, we're not prepared to win that war, either.