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December 14, 2022 57 mins

Stop the Steal: It’s the rallying cry of Trump supporters and election deniers who believe the 2020 election was stolen from them. In the final episode of Jordan Klepper Fingers the Conspiracy, Jordan dives into a theory about Italian satellites that led to a Biden win and the crack team that is working to set the record straight: an unidentified lawyer, a real estate agent, and Donald Trump’s second wife, Marla Maples.

Jordan breaks down the details with investigative journalist Eric Levai, Pennsylvania Attorney General and Governor-Elect Josh Shapiro, and Supreme Court expert Dahlia Lithwick, who explains the Supreme Court cases that are currently being heard about voting rights, and what’s at stake. 

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
In the days after the presidential election, CIA director Gina
Hasspell flies to Frankfort, Germany on a secret mission to
secure a computer servers that contain evidence that the election
has been manipulated. These servers, owned by a bankrupt Spanish
company called skital, could prove that the election was rigged
for Joe Biden. Hasspell and a team of Special Forces

troops to send on Freightfurt to destroy the evidence, but
in the reign five troops and the CIA official are killed.
Hasspell herself is injured, flown to Guantanamo Bay and given
a tribunal for treason. In two thousand nine, Venezuelan leader
Hugo Chavez creates a voting system that could change votes
in elections in any country using this advanced technology. One

of the technology companies that uses it is called smart Mannock,
which supplies voting equipment to a single U. S county
in the election. The scheme between smart Mannick and Hugo
Chavez is a secret and successful effort to ring the
election for Joe Biden, even though Chavez has been dead
for seven years. Patscara Italy, a rogue employee at the

Defense and Aerospace company, Leonardo Spa, hacks into military satellites
to change the margin of victory in US states where
Trump has beaten Biden. It's a variable coup data and
it would go down as the most extraordinary effort in
history to overturn a presidential election. Oh you know what,
that one actually sounds pretty fun. Italian military satellites, Mamma Mia,

These sound great. Oh I'm forgetting one. How could I
not mention the Hungarian vector? There's been so many bizarre
stories going on through the media. You can have some
pretty far fetched ideas on both sides, and what we're
doing is simply proving or disproving as many of those

as we can. Speaking at somebody on the outside, this
feels like it's just feeding into conspiratorial thinking. We're MythBusters. Great, okay,
we're doing things we think are foolish, but people believe
it's real. If we validate that something they think might
have happened didn't happen, then we're not throwing fuel on
the fire. Are you looking into the Hungarian vector? I

didn't know about that one, or it's a bullshit thing
I just made up. That sounds cool and a little
bit spooky. This is Jordan Clapper figures the conspiracy. And yes,
those election conspiracy theories do sound a lot more exciting
when we put public domain suspenseful music underneath them. You
may have heard a few of those theories, partly because
the White House and Republicans in Congress were publicizing them

in the weeks after the election to convince Americans that
the election was stolen, and it worked to an extent.
Republicans still believe the election was stolen, according to a
Monmouth University poll from September of this very year. Today,
we're gonna talk to someone who has had the most
legal success against Trump's efforts in court to overturn the election,

and we're also going to talk to Supreme Court expert
about the cases in front of the court now that
could determine how few elections here are conducted. But before
we get there, I really want to go back to
the Italian military satellites. This is what became known as
Italy Gate, and it's filled with more juicy content than
a piping hot cal zone. And the craziest part of
this conspiracy theory is that Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows,

was emailing details of it to the Attorney General Jeffrey
Rosen to try to get him to do something or
anything about it. I can't unpack Italy Gate alone. So
let's introduce Eric Lavay. He's a digital research analyst at
the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and a former investigative journalist
who wrote extensively about the Italy Gate conspiracy theory, or

as I like to call it, lasagna gazi. There's good,
There's just there's gonna be a lot of these, Eric,
So I hope you're ready. Thank you for being here.
Let's start at the very beginning of this conspiracy theory,
which comes from an organization called Nations in Action, The
group apparently based in Sarasota, Florida, which published a press
release titled Senior I t expert at Global Defense country

actor that testifies an Italian federal court. He had other
switched votes throughout America in the US presidential race. Can
you explain some of this for US? Yeah, definitely. So
it emerged, it's sort of in late and it's still
a little bit murky about where it came from. The
Washington posted a really good article on it, but it

possibly was It had sort of origins in an article
in Italian media and then a um an x C
I A station chief named Bradley Johnson UH put out
a video. But the ones who really pushed it forward.
To answer your question were Maria's Zack from Nations in
Action and a woman named Michelle Roosevelt Edwards, let's start with,

let's let's break down. Talk to me a little bit
about Maria Strolo ZAC. You've talked to her, correct, I
talked to UH. I called her number and an identical
voice answered the phone, UM who said it wasn't her. Uh,
So theoretically talked to somebody who a bit herself pretending
to be somebody else. That's why I'm reporting, like, that's

why I hate phone calls and I like emails. The
air of zoom works for you because you did what
that person looks like as opposed to distrusting. But but
who is this person? Who is Maria Strolo's at So
she's um a conservative activists and an ex Georgia lobbyists
who I guess was pretty successful. And um, I think
she ran for office a few times herself, just on

the local level, just at some point got very involved
in this Italy Gate. Conspiracy and pushed it very far.
I feel like, if you're in this world you're talking
about Italian satellites, those things flipping, you're probably a character.
Is she a character? I'm guessing it's interesting because when
I watched the videos, like, she's clearly like a very
intelligent person. That's what's also like, so there's a little

bit of, uh, you know, you have this conspiracy theory obviously,
which is which is false, but then you have a
person who's like, you know, she's laying it out with confidence.
Tell us a little bit about Michelle Roosevelt Edwards. So
she um runs another organization called the Institute of Good
Vernance and uh, she sort of worked closely with Maria
zack On on Italy Gate. So the Washington Post had

a big article that at some point in icelandic film
crew went to interview Michelle Roosevelt Edwards. I don't know
what that was for. But in the house, um, I
guess there was remember that movie The Game where there's
like there was something weird and like the house and
she really like in Michael Douglas is like, no, like
this isn't a real house. That the film crew was

in there and They're like, is this your house because
it's something and she's like, yeah, it's my house. Anyway,
it turns out that it wasn't her house. It was
some other woman's mansion and she's just a realtor, like
in the area and it's not her house. And the
poor woman her husband died. She didn't even know. She's like,
why is this woman in my house? Um? Wait? Was
that woman in the house at the time. She's like,

dear lord, dear lord, who was interviewed in my living room?
She was somewhere else or something. But it was like
I felt I felt bad for her. No, it's like
she was just using this house for like, uh, I
don't know business. You're telling me this person who put
up an entire false front to show that she's more
successful than she has she's somehow connected to this whole

Trump world. I don't buy it. I don't buy it.
It just doesn't It doesn't sit well with me. Yeah,
it's it's tough to believe that was like that was
that just that killed me? Okay? And I want to
I want to dig into sort of their roles within this.
But this this initial thought was sort of revolving around
an employee. Are turo Delia? Correct? Yeah, there's um. I

was thinking about this last night. This is the hardest
thing about Italy Gate, is I mean, to stay at
the obvious is like explaining it. The short version is
Italian satellites based in Piscara, Italy. Uh altered the votes,
giving Joe Biden enough votes from Donald Trump to win.
That's the short version of Italian satellites. And they're the
bad guys. Well, there's a lot of players in this. Uh,

the c I, a former president Barack Obama, A the
hacker that you just referenced, and a lawyer who put
out an affidavit. There's like those four. Those are the
four and so the hackered. He worked for something called
Leonardo Spa. Yeah, he worked there. Um they said he
left in two thousand seventeen, which is another problem because
he when he was indicted for a separate Uh. I

think it was like data theft. He didn't even work
at Leonardo. What is Leonardo Spa? I mean it sounds
like a massage parlor and like a cheap one just
outside Rome that like you you splurge because you're on vacation,
but you don't have enough money, So you're something like,
what's the cheaper one, like, come to Leonardo Spa. It's
right next to Michelangelo nails. That was a very specific Uh,

not that this is a hypothetical. I've not had that experience.
I imagine if you're pouring in Italy and just had
had a hard time on a long plane because those
seats there's not a lot of space, and you're a
tall person, hypothetically you're gonna be looking for Leonardo Spa.
This is not that kind of Spa exactly. No, it's
a uh someone more boring military, you know, like a

military they make military equipment and satellites stuff like that,
like a like a Boeing so a bow. And then
this is this Arturo Delia. Delia does he actually work
for Leonardo Spa. Uh My understanding is at some point
he did work there, but he was gone by two
thousand seventeen. And is there any information that says that

he had access to these Italian satellites in a way
that could alter election zero zero? Okay, okay, okay, but
so walk us through this. So the head of uh
Nations in action this group to personate Maria Strolo Zach
who you've spoken with in your reporting. What she what's
she like? Well? And to be clear, I was telling

your producer that was that was a funny story because
when I called Maria Zack for comment um obviously being
a phone, I can't I don't know for a fact
that I can say that. The person answered sounded exactly
like her, but told me very quickly it was not
her um and actually said it was her secretary and
could she the phrases could she return? And I was

I was telling that. I was like, it's this is
a cell phone. But anyway, I was like, you know,
sure of course, but so did you ever did that
person then pretend to hang up, put on a gruff
voice and then attempt to then answer the phone. It
was the same voice, but they were just like, you know,
can she return? And I was like, you know, when
you're a reporter, like it's things like that happened. So yeah, sure,

of course, no comment. Just to be where if if
you're also like a public figure and somebody calls you
and you pretend to be your own assistant just because
you think it gives you status, that doesn't make you weird.
That's just a savvy media person thing to do. And
if my parents or my friends think that's a desperate
attempt or that I'm not in a good place, well

that's more on them. Can you verify that? Yeah? What
what jumped out of me? I always remember about that
was how quick it was. It was very I mean,
you know your comedian, you're an improviser. It was real quick.
There was no plause like like that had happened before.
Maybe that's you know, that's I mean, that's an interesting
way of looking at it as opposed to just somebody
who's quick on the on the go. Um. All right,

so you had a quick interaction with this Maria strolo Zac.
But again to what what what? What? What is our
understanding of this story? So she is head of Nations
and Action. What is Nations in Action? If you go
on their web page, there's a lot of sort of
conspiracy theories, and I think they say that their statement is,
you know, good government bringing transparency. Obviously whether that's true

is up to to be determined. And so, but she
was able to get this conspiracy and this idea in
front of important people. Can you walk us through some
of that? Yes, So she she used to be a
lobbyist in Georgia's So she's got like close relationships with UM,
as I reported on UM Congress from Barry Loudermilk, one

of the one of the top five names in all
of Congress. Like, if if you're going to you know,
if you're going to articulate what it feels like to
hear a Southern Republican droll on louder Milk feels right,
it feels feels obnoxious and white, which d Yeah, he's uh,

he's an interesting guy. I think I think they were,
he and his staff. Uh, I think we're getting pretty
tired of my emails. After a while they stopped, they
didn't ever respond to me, but then they added me
to their mailing list. So that's how you shut somebody up.
But just give him the spam. Um, she got it
to him. She got it to Devin Noon as his staff.
I mean she you know this thing about last night,

Like the ordinary person has so much trouble reaching their
elected officials, and yet this person pushing a complete you know,
a conspiracy theory that's not true, is able to reach
very high up people. She claims she gave documents to
louder Milk do we know what was in those documents? Yeah,
I don't know. Did you I know you guys are
probably always working. Did you get a chance to see

the affidavit that this is all based around, No tell
us tell us about it. So the whole thing is
that she delivered an affid David. Um. Basically, what it
is is it's a photograph of an actual document, which
right away is a little you know, unusual. It's not
the document, um, it's it's a lawyer stating that this

hacker that you mentioned in the beginning, uh, sat in
front of him and told his story. That's what it is.
No one's been able there is a lawyer that matches
this name, but no one's been able to actually show that,
like really that he uh, that it was that lawyer.
So it's not clear if this thing is even real.
You can't even verify that that conversation took place. No,

and the document, you know, I'm I can't say I'm
an expert on court documents in Italy, but there's no
numbers on it, like it's just it looks like someone
like wrote it on Microsoft Word. And she's also Uh.
Maria Zack was doing an interview about Italy Gate from
the back of a car in Washington, d C. On
January six. What's going on there? This happened. It's very real.

The president and his right foreign interference did occur and
people need to be prosecuted in our country who actually participated.
That was the show called America Can We Talk? And
that's a very strange interview, just because, as you said,
it's taking place while our capital is being attacked. But
there's no mention of it till the end. They're like,

I think Marie has actually something like, well, if they're
able to, you know, get this under control, we can
you know, get this affidavit to more people. It's like
whoa like, you know, it's very strange. Um. So there's
there's a lot of interesting red flags and characters within this.
But after all these conversations, meetings, talking to Congress has

been louder Milk, how high did this go? Like, who
in government was actually taking this theory seriously? That's a
great question. Seriously, I mean in terms of as you
said yourself, Meadows, I guess would be the highest ranking
person to get it. But taking it seriously, you know
a lot of work with conspiracy theorist you wonder who's
an opportunist who's not? Well, I mean, it's interesting question,

you say, like taking it seriously. We we we don't
exactly know what people actually thought, but I I would
argue that part of the whole game plan here was
just so doubt so the fact that there were different
threads for people to hold on to to grasp. Clearly,
Donald Trump is somebody who was just flooding the marketplace

with any thought out there, so that it's getting in
people's heads, like who had awareness of it? We're talking Meadows,
Meadows knew about this, which means trumb had awareness on this.
How did this thing get into more mainstream culture? Yeah?
And Zach too. Um, she says she delivered or she
told Trump about this at maral Lago in twenty I

can't confirm that, but she said that a number of times. Um. So,
I guess to answer your question, if if that's true,
then that reached Donald Trump. Now what all this is happening?
Is it fair to say that we didn't know how
much of the or fraud conspiracy theory would stick. Uh,
These stories were so autlantish that it didn't seem possible

that millions of people would believe them, And yet even
today the majority of Republicans say they don't think the
election was legitimate. Does that encourage Republican lawmakers to push
more conspiracy theories? No, either probably won't be consequences, and
that doing so probably will at least help them in
some way. Consequences are like obviously incredibly important. Like when

there are no consequences, we're giving a wide latitude to
speak and that's a good thing. But as you know,
some of these conspiracies are incredibly harmful. So I don't know.
In cases like I don't know, let's saying, Alex Jones,
when people are actually held accountable makes a huge difference.
Some of them stop tomorrow and you never hear from
them again. What do you think it was about Italy

Gate that made it so sticky and interesting to people?
So there's a conference call I think it was on
January four. It's between Maria Zack and supporters. Uh so,
it's right before the attack on the Capitol. It's like
forty five minutes long, and it's just she lays out
Italy Gate, and then it's weird, like all these random

people are popping in, Like like I said, like Marlon
Maples pops in and just like it's just she's the
only everyone else is just a first name, so you
don't even know really who they are. What's one of
the Maple's doing there? I I don't know, like, uh,
a supporter, I guess, uh, very strange. And all of

this was sort of to just hip everybody to the
Italy gate theory so that they had it in their
back pocket. I mean, I don't want to say that
she comes right at and but there's some hints of
to continue this work. I we will need funding. Um
like a private plane has talked about at one point,
so no, she's she's she's asking for a private plane.

I don't know. It might have been um one of
the other people, but there's definitely more than one hint
there about like we need, you know, money, This sounds
like a timeshare situation. She it's everybody on a conference call.
Let me tell you about this fascinating Italy situation. If
you give me your attention and enough money for a
private plan, I have something that is going to take
your breadth away. In pops, Marlon Maples was like, oh,

tell me more. It's like thanks, Marla, Marla has been
on this for quite some time. Herder family are big
Italy Gate supporters, and you too could be an Italy
Gate supporter. For just a mirror two thousand dollars, we
can give you the correct mindset to keep you happy
from this day forward. Listen to the last seven years
kind of feel like a time shared. Like do you

ever feel like that, like you're just trapped? Yes, I
do feel like I've given over a portion of my
life to live in a different reality every year. And
you look at it, you like, I think this is
a bad investment. I think the time share is giving
in to all of this bullshit that we're talking about.
It just it sucks away so much time that I
could be using for something else. It's not a time share.

Maybe that's maybe what we're describing as a time suck.
We've all invested in a time suck that we will
never get back. We can all agree is a really
bad investment. It's wild. I mean, this is the conspiracy
theory that like I think I was telling your producer,
Like even other conspiracy theorists are like like, like, that's
how far this one is is out there? Like, yeah,

what does this Italy Gate conspiracy rake in terms of
all the conspiracies related to the election, I would say,
in terms of the ones that are like the wildest,
this has to be at the top. I can't think
of I know you guys have been doing this for
a while and on your podcast. If there's another one,
I can't think of one. You've got Hugo Chaves so dead.

Hugo Chavas is a fun one. It's definitely takes a
stretch of imagination, but there's intrigue their sexiness to this. Uh,
I'd have to put it up there as well. It's
also like the little details that kill me, Like the data.
It wasn't enough that it was the Italian satellites. They
routed it through Germany. It's like like why, Like that's

what don't understand, Like, but it's just fascinating there's somebody
on the ground or in the air in Germany that
was getting this information or or or working through the
satellites through Germany. Yeah, they're saying like at some point
they never got into the sort of like how the
stuff was transmitted, but it was from the satellites and
went through I think some servers in Germany. And then

I guess back to the US, so they're theoretically, if
this were real, not only are there folks in Italy
who are culpable, but there are are folks in Germany
as well, which is what always kind of blows my
mind with a lot of these conspiracy theories because they
they hype the idea behind it involves so many people

that even afterwards, you'd expect. One thing we're really bad
at is keeping secrets, especially if it's multinational effort to
overturn results in very specific states, and then it just
disappears into the void, which is sort of uh. I
think people should consider a major I don't know red
flag is the right word. But if if you believe

so strongly in something you believe has happened, and then
thirty seconds later when it doesn't, you know, when it's gone,
you're just onto the next thing. It kind of questions
like credibility, you know, I think we lost that a
long time ago. Well, Eric Leavey, thank you for unfolding
this conspiracy theory. Like carefully needing a perfect pizza pie.
Thanks so much for having me. We're gonna take a

short break when we come back. We would talk to
Pennsylvania attorney General and Governor elect Josh Shapiro. We'll be
right back. In the days after the election, Pennsylvania became
the focus of Republican efforts to overturn the results. They
ramped up their attacks on the legitimacy of mail in
ballots and claim that ballots would arrive after election day

and be mixed with ballots that arrived before election day.
Anticipating a possible Supreme Court showdown, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh
Shapiro began separating those post election day ballots and became
a high profile example of a deaf Aocrat fighting back
against the voter fraud conspiracy theater, and as the Trump
team became litigious before and after election day, Shapiro beat

Trump more than forty times in court. In last month's
mid term Shaparro won the race for governor of Pennsylvania,
defeating one of the country's most prominent voter fraud conspiracy theorists,
Doug Mastriano and Josh Shaparro is with us today to
talk about the exciting world of voter fraud. Welcome to
the show. Good to be with you, Jordan, Thanks for
having me, of course, and we were debating a current

governor elect soon to be governor, Josh Shapiro. That's that's
most of it, right, Yeah, And then look, I only
require our four children to use all of the titles
when they address me. You can call me whatever you want,
and well, not whatever you want, but you can call
me one of those titles. I was gonna say, do
you also throw in the beat Trump forty times in court,

Monika or there's probably a lot of people who also
have that in their their name as well. The guy
has been to court many, many times. I don't know
about that, but listen, we went to court forty three
times against the former president and his enablers, and we
beat him every time. We protected the right to vote.
We had a free and fair, safe and secure election
here in Pennsylvania back in again and most recently in

two the will the people was respected each time. When
you've been at the center of these claims over voter
fraud for over two years now, even though you did
win the race for governor, uh, it appears as if
the state is moving forward. Does it still alarm you
how many voters, obviously many of them Republicans, appeared to

have bought into these conspiracy theories it does. But you
know Jordan's I don't blame the voters, and hear me
on this. I blame the leaders who've been lying to
them for the better part of the last two and
a half years about voting by mail, about this phony
election fraud. Um. When you have leaders who you trust,

who you put into positions of authority, and then lie
to you over and over and over again, it's hard
to blame the public. I blame the leaders. And the
good news is we're defeating those leaders who pushed the
big life from the former president to his chief enabler
here in Pennsylvania, who I just beat in the governor's race,
And hopefully now what we can do is continue to

speak truth to the good people of Pennsylvania, to the
American people, and help them understand reality from the fiction
that the former president pushed and get us back to
having a healthier democracy. Well, I went to one of
the rallies your opponent held right there at the state
Capitol and talk to some of the tens of people
who showed up. I think about twelve people showed up

that day, and after a minimal amount of fanfare, Mastriano
appeared and he was freaking hilarious going after the pillow guy,
are you serious? Give me a break? Beat Scotty, beat
me up? No side of intelligent life anywhere? Boom. But
even with the governant Trump endorsement, the crowd was tiny.

Was it small because of Masstriano's far right policies and
election denialism? Nope, this is Facebook speech. The reason that
aren't people here because Facebook is SI. It was a
low turnout. I felt like it. It seemed as if
you had a good shot of winning that race. Uh.

I want to talk a little bit about Mastriano though,
because he may have spread more election related conspiracy theories
than any other uh candidate. Let's go through a couple
of these. He uh. He was claiming the voting machines
glitched in Michigan and switched six thousand Biden votes, so
we're also responsible for a hundred thousand vote dumps that

were all for Biden in the middle of the night,
sharing a Gateway pundit post of suspected fraud issues that
included away for people to search for dead people who
voted using something called the Social Security death master file.
Pretty catchy. He was claiming dominion voting machines were built
intentionally to rig the election for Democrats, and claiming that
Acts seventy seven, Pennsylvania law that allows no excuse voting

by mail, was illegally passed and was responsible for Biden's win.
Can you walk us through some of these and tell
us how how you push back against them? Well by
calling them what they were, complete and utter bullshit, that's
what they were. He was lying to the good people
in Pennsylvania, um and his conduct to try to overthrow

the last election. Remember, he was part of the violent
mob that stormed up to the capitol on January six,
and he went there that day. And it's real important, Jordan.
He went there that day not just to hear a
speech from the former president or be part of some
peaceful protest. He went there that day with a singular purpose.
That's why they were all there, and that was to
deny people's votes from county. Because remember, when you vote

here in Pennsylvania. It's true in other stage, but let
me focus on Pennsylvania. You vote for the presidential race
in Pennsylvania, your vote gets tallied by your local county
Board of Elections, gets certified by the governor. In the
Secretary of State in Pennsylvania. But then in order for
your vote to finally count, it has to be read
across the desk in the U. S. House of Representatives.

That's what they were there to do on January six,
and he was there as part of the violent mob
to stop them from doing. Then he comes back home
to Pennsylvania, launches a campaign for governor, and Jordan's He
says in his campaign that he was going to use
his power as governor to be able to review all
the voting machines, make corrections as he calls them, and

then he would pick the winner. That's not how our
democracy works. That is not how our republic has survived
over the last two and forty six years. And so
it was important for us to beat him, to just
obviously win the election, but also to protect our democracy,
to protect the will of the people, and to make

it clear to folks that spewing conspiracy theories, being part
of a violent mob playing to overturn the next election
is not the way things work in the Commonal from
Pennsylvania were in this country, well. I was surprised many
of the people I talked to that day were also
there at January six. It was almost a mini reunion. Uh,

you have been aggressive at pushing back and it made
headlines for that. Do you think that your victory is
a sign that voters are energized by candidates who pushed
back aggressively against election desiers. You gotta fight back against it.
And and look, we've done it in big ways and small.
I mean I've I've been to the hunt clubs in
rural communities in Pennsylvania and confronted folks directly, and they'll

say to me, um, where they were saying to me, uh,
you know, the election stolen. So so what what evidence
do you have that let's just have a conversation. Well,
there was massive voter fraud. And I say, you know,
I'm I'm the attorney general. It's my job to prosecute
election fraud, along with some district attorneys as well. And
we had about a handful of cases of election fraud

in by the way, where each of those individuals who
were prosecuted, we're trying to cast one extra single vote
for their candidate for president, by the way, for Donald Trump,
not for Joe Biden. But even if they were trying
to do that for Joe Biden, it wasn't going to
affect the outcome of the election. It was not this

widespread voter fraud, and they were prosecuted for it. And
so I confront folks with truth and try to force
them to think about the reality of what they are saying.
In addition to that, it was critically important for us
here in Pennsylvania, in Arizona, in Michigan and other places
to defeat those people who continue to spread the lies. Now,

I said on election night when I won Jordan's that
this is the beginning of our work. Just because we
beat these election deniers doesn't mean that it's ridd from
our system. We have to now do the hard work
that folks have been doing for the six years in
this nation, right our ancestors and their ancestors, to perfect
our union, to speak truth, to make sure that the

will of the people is respected. So I think we've
done step one defeating those extremists. But now we've got
to do the hard work of perfecting our union. And
that test now falls to me, is the next governor
of Pennsylvania, how complete do you think step one truly is?
Because I do look looking at those the major election deniers,
the races in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania. Here's swing states where

the people in control of verifying uh, those ballots, uh
could have very well gone to election deniers. Those big places.
They were defeated. But but there's still a lot of
people who are election deniers who are in position of
power in America. UM, A lot of very close races
where perhaps election deniers were defeated, but it didn't. When

I looked at this, I didn't exactly see the idea
of election denialism expunging from the American narrative. But have
stepping back for a little bit, is there is there
a fear that Democrats are a little too confident in
the pushback of election denialism after this election? Well, well,
let me say, I'm not confident that it's over at all.
So don't you know, certainly don't put me in that category.

I'm in the category where we had a good day
on Tuesday, November eighth in defeating those extremists, those election deniers.
But we have so much more work to do now.
I believe that these election deniers are Mastriano in particularly
just profoundly and pathetically weak people. And let me explain

what I mean by that. They know it's bullshit, but
yet they say it over and over again because they're
willing to sell out our democracy and our country for
some short term political gain, for some short term attention,
maybe some love from the former president. That's why they
do it. That's the definition of weak if you're willing

to sell out your nation and our values on behalf
of your own short term goals. Well, now we've denied
many of them that short term goal, and hopefully in
defeating them the way we have it forces that next
batch of candidates to go along and say Jesus, that
really the path I want to take to be successful.
It doesn't make them any stronger. It just speaks to

how again, how kind of spineless so many of these
folks are letting them know they're not going to be
rewarded for the lie. And so I think hopefully this
will have an effect on the politics as we go forward.
But we all so need to work on ridding our
system of these weak folks and getting some people with
backbones back in it. And and by the way, Jordan's
even folks who might disagree with me on some policy,

that's okay, but we got to get back to the
point where we have strong, capable people in positions of
public trust who argue about tax policy and health care
policy and educational policy and all the things that we
should be arguing about, the healthy fights we're supposed to have.
But we've got to continue, you the battle against these
weak people in defeating them in their elections and defeating

them in their in their political age. Did you have
any Democrats from other states reach out to you to
ask advice on confronting this selection denialism. I did a
lot of them, folks running uh for governor and other offices,
and you know, I suppose, obviously I'll keep those conversations private,
but I did speak to them about the need to
take the fight on directly, to not give an inch

on this. You know, when they say that something was stolen,
challenge them on it. Put the facts out there. Make
sure that you're going directly to the good people in
my case of Pennsylvania, with the facts. Do not let
any of that nonsense stand. Okay, Looking forward, well, where
we are right now, Trump is running again, Elon Musk
is green lighting misinformation all over Twitter. We know that

voter fraud conspiracies, they're gonna get worse. What are tangible
steps the Democratic Party can take to fight and to
push back? Knowing the world are in right now, you know,
try to meet people where they are. That's why I'm
talking to you today. I mean, you've been out front
on the importance of combating election denialism. You have exposed

a lot of these folks and the lies they tell
by you know, mocking them and and and showing not
the humor in it, because obviously this is incredibly serious,
but but showing people this in a way that they
can comprehend it if they don't read, you know, from
page of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times.
Not to say that your listeners don't read the New

York Times, but the point at least read the headlines,
the headlins. But like, you know, you've got to meet
people where they are. You got to communicate to them.
You got to show them the difference between fiction and reality.
And then I have responsibility now as a governor U
to hold myself up to that high standard and to
continue to speak truth and continue, uh, you know, to

communicate meet people where they are, whether we're talking to
them on TikTok, on your podcast, anywhere We've got to
meet people where they are and continue to share the truth.
You say you you you went to hunt clubs, You
went to places where people had questions about the election.
I get the question all the time. Do you ever
change people's minds? Boy? That is that's a unicorn. I
can't say I'm watching people change their minds about information

when you were at those places, being confronted with outside
facts doesn't always is often met with resistance and the
doubling down of the things they think, they believe. They
feel challenged away that I have not found conducive to
reaching a new understanding. Did you actually see that in
those moments, in those those those those hunt clubs with
people who were confronting you and you're pushing back? Sometimes

I did directly. But what I was really going after
was was not to embarrass anyone in front of their peers.
Were forced someone to have to look at me in
front of their peers and say, you're right, I'm wrong.
What I've thought for the last year, you know, is incorrect.
What I really wanted was when they left there to

be thinking about it and the process it, and to
maybe make a change in their thinking or their politics
or the way they might vote, and Jordan, I got
some pretty good evidence that we we made a whole
lot of people think because I won this governor's race
by a big margin, and we wanted by about fifteen points.
But I got more votes than anyone in the history
of Pennsylvania running for governor. And the reason I'm telling

you that is not to pat myself on the back,
but because it would be impossible to win with the
number of votes we did in the margin we did
with only Democrats. We got a whole lot of Republicans
and independence cross party lines to support us, a whole
lot of people who clearly rethought their politics after and
even and said, you know what, we're gonna go with
this guy. We're gonna we're gonna go against the election denier.

We're gonna believe this truth and and hopefully we're gonna
all be able to continue to come together to repair
our politics. Well after such a clear hubble brag such
as that, I thought it was chill about that. Now
did you did a pretty good job. That's that's where
I can You're a savvy politician. Even even the bragging
does come across somehow as as humble and informative. That's

that's well played. Uh. Well, your high profile and your
success here has up to some of the speculation where
people have have seen you in the light of somebody
who could be a Democratic nominee for president. Do you
want to use the Jordan Clapper Fingers the Conspiracy podcast
as a platform that you confirm loving hearing that speculation. Yeah. Now, man, Look,

I'm just so excited to be governor. I haven't even
been scorning yet. I got a lot of work to do.
That's all I want to do. That's all my wife
and kids want me to do, and that's all I
am gonna do. Awesome, Well, well, thank you for talking
to me. Governor Elect. Josh Shapiro. We'll be right back.
We're back and we're talking election fraud. It's obviously something

I hear over and over or on the campaign trail.
But unlike some of the other conspiracy theories we've covered
on this podcast, this one has some serious implications on
the future of our democracy. This about the Supreme Court
is hearing arguments in a case called More versus Harper,
and it could fundamentally change how elections are conducted. To
write this down with me, I have Supreme Court expert,

author of Lady Justice, Women, The Law and the Battle
to Save America and host of the Slate podcast, Amicus
Dalia Lithwick. Welcome to the podcast. Hi, Jordan's Dahlia. I
have to call it the fact, and you're well aware
that you are wearing not one, but two headphones today.
Is there a conspiracy in this? Do you want me
to do a secondary podcast on your hyper attention or

you're just a super big Jordan clapper fingers a conspiracy fan.
I mean, I can repurpose the joke I made the
first time you tease me where I said that if
Rudy Giuliani can wear two watches, I can wear two headphones.
But I know I'm a Belton suspenders guy. I went
to law school and we learned to be very, very

very compulsive. So that's my story. I'm sticking to it.
You're a belt and suspenders guy. What does that mean?
That means it's it's it's is that an overabundance of
caution or fear that your pants could at any moment fall? Like?
What is? This? Is what we do on this podcast.
We really get into the nitty gritty. But this this,
This is a move out of fear respect. True story.

I heard the expression at one point very early in
my career covering oral arguments at the court, and I
was like, what the hell does this mean? And all
these lawyers were like, it just means being careful, idiot.
So I think not to suggest that you're not knowing
this term implies anything, but it was. I I learned
the hard way that apparently everyone but me knew that

Belton suspenders is just kind of shorthand for lawyer Lee
over cautiousness, maybe so fear that your pencilful do. I
was going to say, it's interesting, isn't like you. It's
it's all about spin. It's either caution or it's fear.
But but I see how the attorneys do it. It's
a it's a deductive sound, and I appreciate you taking

that certain suspenders action. To listen to this. I want
to talk about, you know, the potential collapse of democracy.
It's a it's a hobby of mine and I want
to discuss this more v heartbreak. Can we talk about
that case itself and what that might mean for elections? Sure,

it is it's hard to say this crisply Jordan's. But
it's both the most serious and least serious case of
my career. It's serious because the implications are vast, which
we're going to talk about. It's also rooted in so
much nothing that it's almost painful. Like when they call

it the independent state legislature doctrine or the endo pendent
state legislature theory. Almost everybody puts doctrine in theory in
air quotes because there's no there there. It's not something
that is rooted in constitutional history. It's not something that's
rooted in tradition. It's something that was almost entirely plucked

from a chunk of a Ranquist opinion, uh in Bush
Vigore that only got three votes. It's not a majority
opinion where he was kind of spitballing. You may recall
Bush vigor also not a serious decision. So this is
like a Rank Weest Fever dream that we're in the
midstup right now. It's a Rank was Fever dream where
he's sort of spitballing. Hey, maybe state legislatures have you know,

kind of plenary unreviewable power and state courts can't come
in and bigfoot on them. It gets two votes. That
should be the end of the story, but instead it's
being lifted up as this important piece of doctrine. And
not to get too in the weeds, but the really
the reason, and it's serious, is because if the claim
in this case, and this case comes from a North

Carolina gerrymander, the North Carolina Supreme Court says, oh, hell no,
do do your maps again. And the North Carolina Republican
Legislature takes this to the Supreme Court and says, we're
here profering this completely assinine, rootless theory that when a

legislature does election stuff, no court can review it. End
of story? Is that in a nutshell? If you're to
explain it to our audience or even our host, pretend
there's somebody who read the headline of a box article
but maybe didn't get all the way through because they're busy.
Is that basically it? It's it's something that's looking at
the power of state legislatures over federal elections and question

whether or not they have ultimate power. Is that is
that ish? But there's there's one clarification. There's one section
of this that has to do with the electors clause
in the Constitution. That's the federal elections, there's one that
is the elections clause that has to do with state elections.
So this particular case actually doesn't implicate some of the

stuff we talked about Brad Rafinsburger and you know, state
electors and sending over fake state electors. This is not
scooping up that this is about state processes. But it
does mean that if red state and let's remember thirty
of the fifty states have read state legislatures, if they
decide they want to make up new rules about ballot initiatives,

they want to do new vote suppression, they want to
um uh close polling plate, whatever they want to do.
They are saying, nobody can take this to a state
supreme court, not even a federal court, a state supreme
court and complain because basically nobody is the boss of me.
So this, this particular one, is about the state, how

state election procedures are handled. But one tiny ring well there, Jordan,
this worth saying. One consequence of that is that if
they win on that claim, you're going to have on
the same ballot they used to have state and federal
elections complete chaos because one set of them can't be
reviewed and one presumably can. So one of the things
that this is going to inject into the system is

totally different lanes for state and federal office. Okay, so
you're looking perplexed. I'm worried that I've I mean, it
sounds it sounds like there maybe should be a checker
of balance in there that these state legislatures shouldn't be
able to be the final Say where do the justices
stand on this? Like, what is the actual likelihood that

state legislatures will gain control of federal election procedures? I mean,
here's the tricky part. We already have four justices on
the current Supreme Court who have evinced real enthusiasm for
this theory. So we have Justices Alito Gorsten Thomas that
are kind of like pedal to the metal, this is cool. Uh,

And in some of the pre election cases we saw
them sort of effusing about how cool this was. And
then we have a fourth Justice, Kavanaugh, who's done some
like chin stroking e like, oh, this is kind of
I think this is pretty compelling, but isn't necessarily all in.
Let's remember it takes four votes to grant a case,
so that might be it. We don't know where Amy

coney Berry's Barrett sits on this. We do know that
Chief Justice John Roberts doesn't think this is necessarily a
fantastic idea. We also know he's irrelevant, so there might
be five votes already going in. It's probably coming down
to Amy Coney Barrett is going to uh decide this case.
That's that's your best guess right now. My guess is

that John Roberts thinks this is too extreme, and he's
written lots of prior cases of famously uh an Arizona
case where he has said time and time again, no, no, no, no,
we're not taking state just judges powers away over eight legislatures.
So I think he's pretty much going to adhere to
some version of that This is whacky do right We

have We made that point enough. This is insane, and
John Roberts has many things insane. He is not. So yes,
I think it comes down to what Justice Barrett thinks,
and we have no idea on this doctrine what she thinks. Well,
this issue has popped up over the last hundred years.
Supreme Court has batted it down over and over again.
Why is it cropping back up? Now? It's cropping back

up as part of this kind of larger, larger and
I think this goes to your sort of vote suppression frame.
What do you do when you can't win majorities anymore
in America? Right? What you do is you capture state
houses and then you jerrymander the heck out of your
state voting systems to make sure that tiny minorities stay

in charge. And so I think this is of a
piece with a whole subset of things, whether it's voter supper,
Russian bills like you know, the stuff that Stacy Abrams
has been fighting, or whether it is ridiculous you know,
malapportionment that means that you know the Alabama case that
that the Court heard earlier this year, Meryl, where you

have a third of Alabama of Alabama is African American,
almost a third. They're all smashed into one of seven districts,
so they can't um elect the candidate of their choice.
So I think there's all sorts of ways that you
suppress majorities. And I put this in the bucket of
why do its small if you can do it huge, right,

if you can just do whatever you want is a
state legislature and it's unreviewable by any court. And by
the way, just one other parenthetical, there's a maximalist, crazy
version of this not at issue in mor v. Harper
that would also say that governors like you talked about
checks and balances, also have no power to do anything

they can't veto this. So I think one way to
sort of lock in minority rule for time and memorial
is to just make it impossible for majority will to
be represented at the ballot box. Go big or go home,
and while you're at home, just stay there because there's
no reason to go out to vote, or that you

can have an entire orderly election. And this is where
folks should think about what happened in Georgia in where
you have a completely orderly, non chaotic election and then
you have the legislature be like, hm, no, we don't
like those electors. Let's go for this slate of it,
which is what John Eastman and Donald Trump were asking
Brad Raffinsburger to do. So I want to be super

clear that issue is not I think in the four
corners of what this appeal is. But I think it's
of like you have to draw a straight line between
this and the kind of election denialism we're seeing in
twenty where you had states and state legislatures being lobbied
by Donald Trump, by Jenny to Miss, by John Eastman,
to be like, never mind what the voters say, let's

do it this way. Well, let's let's let's draw that line.
So we do have conspiracy theorists and election deniers and
pretty prominent positions. Granted, quite a few of them did
lose in the mid terms, including Kerry Lake in Arizona,
who is now contesting her loss for governor even though
the results have already been certified. Is it crazy to
think that whole states that have election deniers and their

legislatures could just choose to throw out the results in
federal elections. I don't think it's crazy, and I think,
in fact, one of the things this doctrine is setting
up is the stepping stone toward that right. I mean,
the reason it didn't happen in when Donald Trump called
Georgia and said, you know, give me a fresh ballot

of fake electors is that there was no architecture in
place to support that right. This case would be part
of building the architecture that says state legislatures can do
whatever they want. It is unreviewed, wable, nothing can go
to a state Supreme court. And one other point again
on this is in there's an easy way to solve

this particular North Carolina case, which is the actual legislature
in North Carolina has already said that the state judiciary
can review these questions. So this is an easy case.
It shouldn't even be a question because the legislature has
taken this power away from itself. But I do think
you're exactly right to say this is really a building

block toward a future where state legislature's power are so
utterly unreviewable or even creepily reviewable only by the U. S.
Supreme Court, that you should just stay home. Well, you
say this shouldn't even be a question, and I guess
I'm curious what that says about our country's political ideology

and also the ideology of the justices. There are a
number of conservative legal figures who are coming out against
the Supreme Court even hearing this case. The fact that
they are, what does that say about the ideology of
the justices. So this is, without a doubt for me,
the most interesting part. Right, You've got Mike Ludig, the
guy who almost got Chief Justice John Roberts seat at

the Court, right, he was on the shortlist. This is
a stalwart conservative legal movement giant. He's also the guy,
by the way, who you may recall Mike Pants was like, dude,
can I do this thing that Donald Trump is asking
me to do and not certify the election? It was
Mike Ludig, you know, conservative legal giant, who was like, no, Mike,
you can't do that. So he's wildly come out opposed

to this, and in fact, I think he's one of
the people, at least he said on my podcast like
this would signal the demise of orderly elections and checks
and bounces. So he's come out against it. Ben Ginsburg,
famous Republican election lawyers against it. Every chief justice of
every state Supreme Court is on a brief in this
case saying like this is insane. Stephen Calibrasi, co founder

of the Federalist Society, has come out again like there's
very few sane conservative figures who are for this. So
then your operative question is why the hell is the
court flirting with this? Like why are they playing foot
see with a theory advanced principally by John Eastman, the
guy who was the architect of the January six legal coup.

And I think the reason is because there's no breaks
at the U. S. Supreme Court, because they have a
six justice supermajority. Everything in the world they wanted last term,
abortion guns, you know, kneecapping, the e p A, kneecapping,
the CDC. Everything they wanted, they got. Everything they didn't
get last year, they're getting this year. So this is

just a my friendly. A litment at Michigan calls it
the hashtag Yolo Court. You know, they used to have
some solicitude and sensitivity for what the public could tolerate,
and I think now they're like directly in opposition to
what the public can tolerate. There, like, oh, Americans hate this,
let's do it great? This is what what? What an

uplifting conversation. It's so good to hear about the people
who are pulling the levers here. Okay, So let's if
states choose to do this. If this is a situation
that does come into fruition, what happens next is that
it for democracy? Is there anything people in these states
could do to prevent that? Well, I think that you're
going to see very much what you're sort of seeing

post dobs, which is Blue states will rush to bolster
Blue states supermajorities and will create, you know, supermajority districts
and will do all the things that New York tried
to do and failed to do in the midterms. But
you'll see Red states rushing to bolster uh, you know,

the power of Republican uh supermajorities in all the ways
that they do that. And so I think, in a
weird way, maybe it's a sort of second iteration of
the red state blue state patchwork we're seeing around guns,
around environmental protection, and around abortions. We're just going to
see both sides further, you know, push whatever it is

that they can do to make sure they have unlosable power.
And that's pretty scary. The important question I think we're
all thinking about what does this mean for me in
the short term? Am I going to go out into
the world and just here stop the steel forever or

at least until rogue red states decide to reinstall President
Trump again. That is what we call Stephen Bryer four
part hypothetical question. Can we start with There's so many
pieces of that. I mean, I think, uh, what it
really means is that first of all, this is an

incredibly abstract case. Nobody understands this case. This should be
bigger than Bush Figre. The implications, as I said, are vast,
and yet I think folks are just like flummocks right
on the Stop the steel Folks, I have to say,
just looping back to where you started Jordan's I'm pretty

happy about the fact that the Stop the Steelers got
absolutely shellacked in the mid terms, because it tells me
it was not as salient as they thought it was,
and more urgently, and I think the polling really showed
this people kind of like democracy. I mean, it was
one of the issues that people showed up, you know,
in addition to reproductive rights. People were really anxious that

the machinery of crushing democracy had kind of gotten a
toe hold. And so I actually think it's not to
say this isn't a worry. It's a huge worry because
the Supreme Court, as we have both stipulated, does not
care what you and I think. But I do think
that the appetite for crazy lawless vote suppression democracy uh

shattering initiatives is not what I think Donald Trump and
carry Lake thought it was. And so I'm like I
was like eight Bourbons in this time before the you know,
before the mid terms. I think maybe this isn't terrible
because I think, as much as it sucks that the U. S.

Supreme Court is an unchecked yourristocracy that is going around
doing whatever the hell it wants with life tenured people,
one of whom has a wife who was involved in
January six. That's bad, let's agree. I think that folks
recognize that after Dobbs in a way they didn't. And
I think that the ability to just sit there and

like take it on the chin because the Supreme Court
says so is much. I think the taste for that
is in decline right now. I think people are sort
of angry and so I'm not as hopeless as you sound. Well,
I will drink to that. That looks like a a
good place to end. Daria Lithwick, thank you for coming

out of the podcast. Who is a Pleasure? Thank you. Well,
that's it. The end of our sixth episode limited edition
mini series something like that. It's a limited series, it's
a podcast, whatever it is. We did six episodes. It's
what we said we're gonna do, and now we've wrapped
it up and there's a chance we'll come back because
there's always a world in which Americans believe dumb shit

and we want to talk about all of that. Thanks
for listening. This has been a blast. Listen to Jordan
clapper Fingers The Conspiracy from The Daily Show on Apple podcast,
the I Heart Radio app, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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