It’s a near certainty that Donald Trump will bring up the latest work from conservative activist and serial fabricator James O’Keefe at tonight’s debate. That’s because Trump is increasingly broadcasting his fear that the coming presidential election will be rigged, and O’Keefe purports to demonstrate vote-rigging in his videos, which were released this week. (Late Wednesday, news broke that O’Keefe would be one of Trump’s guests at the debate).
The O’Keefe productions, under the imprint of “Project Veritas,” comically try to convey an ominous aura. O’Keefe, doing an unconvincing impression of Robert Stack on the old Unsolved Mysteries show, tells viewers “what you’re about to see will make you uncomfortable, and angry. It’s graphic, uncensored, and disturbing.”
And there are some untoward things in the videos. Scott Foval, formerly a contractor for Americans United for Change, boasts on an undercover video that “it doesn’t matter what legal and ethics people say, we need to win this motherfucker.” He says that “we have mentally ill people that we pay to do shit, make no mistake. Over the past 20 years I have paid off a few homeless to guys to do some crazy stuff.” And he also claims credit for sending in protesters to Trump rallies to induce “crazies” to attack them, and asserts that a Trump rally in Chicago that was canceled because of protests and threats of violence was actually the work of his group.
Contemporaneous reporting credited those disruptions to students, not Foval’s agitators, so it’s possible he was just being overly boastful. And there are already some questions about the timing, since Foval wasn’t contracted to do any work until long after the Chicago rally.
But the darker set of allegations involve a supposed voting-fraud scheme—and there’s just no meat to that charge.
In the second Project Veritas video released this week, titled “Mass Voter Fraud,” an undercover mole talks with Bob Creamer, then the president of Democracy Partners. The unnamed mole sketches out a hard-to-follow scheme in which he would hire day laborers, pay them at local addresses, and use the pay stubs to somehow “find my way around the voter ID, the voter registration laws for Hispanics.”
Creamer seems slightly confused, and diplomatically offers to “write down these options” and continues, “Let me see if I can chat with the people who are most involved in Hispanic voter registration.”
At a different meeting, another Veritas mole posing as a possible donor outlines a similar scheme to Creamer, who responds: “Here’s my fear. I’m going to run this by our lawyers. My fear is that someone would decide this was a big voter-fraud scheme.”