by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 18, 2021) — Two reports recently issued by the Justice Department/DHS and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), respectively, contradict claims made by The American Report‘s Mary Fanning and Alan Jones regarding foreign interference in the November 3, 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Beginning on October 31, Fanning and Jones claimed that former government subcontractor Dennis L. Montgomery was privy to information showing that a super-computer allegedly operated by the government dubbed “The Hammer” and software Montgomery allegedly invented, “Scorecard,” were activated to alter large numbers of votes from then-President Donald Trump to his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
Biden fueled the scheme, Fanning and Jones alleged. In addition to allegedly having been used in 2012 to secure a win for the Obama-Biden ticket, “SCORECARD is now being activated to steal the vote on behalf of Joe Biden once again,” Fanning and Jones wrote. “SCORECARD is stealing votes in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, and Arizona, according to Montgomery,” they continued.
As The Post & Email has detailed since then, “Hammer and Scorecard” became a widely-circulated theory espoused by Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (Ret), former NSA program developer J. Kirk Wiebe and others and publicized by various media outlets in the aftermath of what had appeared to be a clear victory for Trump on the evening of November 3, 2020. In fact, the narrative reached the level of then-Director of the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Chris Krebs.
On his Twitter timeline on November 8, Krebs tweeted, “Same as yesterday, Hammer and Scorecard is still a hoax.”
A division of DHS, CISA was tasked by Congress in 2018 with ensuring and monitoring the security of U.S. elections. Trump fired Krebs days after the election after CISA and other entities claimed November 3 to have been “the most secure election in American history.”
During a number of public addresses, Trump claimed the election was stolen from him in various ways, particularly by the greatly expanded use of mail-in ballots in a half-dozen “swing” states ostensibly initiated by voters’ fears of contracting the coronavirus if voting traditionally. A three-part report issued by former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro identified six different forms of “election irregularities” which he alleged changed the outcome from Trump to Biden. However, Navarro did not allege foreign interference as having contributed to that altered result.
In early January, Fanning and Jones shifted their “Hammer/Scorecard” narrative to say that a group of “cybersecurity analysts” determined that significant numbers of votes throughout the United States had been changed from Trump to Biden through intrusions by foreign bad actors. County elections systems were targeted, Fanning and Jones said, resulting in thousands of altered votes multiplied throughout the U.S., the “evidence” of which they proffered in the form of an electronic spreadsheet allegedly showing the IP addresses of the intrusions and identifying, in some cases, the alleged perpetrators. At that point, the narrative omitted references to Montgomery, instead referring to “a source” which remained unnamed.
Between November and February, WVW-TV host Brannon Howse conducted frequent interviews with Fanning, Jones, Wiebe and McInerney to discuss the outcome of the presidential election and Fanning and Jones’s claims that Montgomery’s data provided the proof that the election was “stolen” from Trump by China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and other hostile nations.
China played the main role, Fanning and Jones alleged.
On his February 7 show, Howse detailed how he arranged an introduction of Fanning to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who then co-produced with Fanning and Howse a two-hour video titled, “Absolute Proof” about the alleged stealing of the election from Trump. The video depicts several credible figures, including Michigan attorney Matthew DePerno, who filed suit against Antrim County for alleged ballot irregularities in the presidential election which were acknowledged to have produced an erroneous result in Biden’s favor, then reversed and attributed to a “clerk error.”
After “Absolute Proof”‘s release on February 5, Howse contended some of its critics were “making up lies” about its claims, which included Fanning’s allegations as to foreign “cyberwarfare” conducted against the election to change the outcome.
Fanning and Jones’s last article on the subject, dated February 19, preceded by three days a $1.3 billion lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems and its affiliates against Lindell alleging defamation for his allegations that the company’s voting equipment assisted in switching votes from Trump to Biden en masse. In the suit, Fanning and Jones are quoted extensively from The American Report as well as Howse’s broadcasts.
On Monday, Lindell said he plans to file two countersuits to Dominion’s claims.
Montgomery has a history of making unsubstantiated claims, The Post & Email has reported for a number of years and Dominion’s lawsuit recaps. Our reportage has been based on court transcripts, government case filings, an eyewitness who interacted with Montgomery for over a year in a supervisory law-enforcement capacity, and long-established public reporting.
Both recent government reports on the 2020 election were issued in accordance with a September 12, 2018 Executive Order signed by Trump titled, “Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election.” The five-page DOJ/DHS report dated “March 2021” begins:
This product provides a declassified overview of findings and recommendations from a classified joint report from the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security addressing the impact of activities by foreign governments and their agents targeting election infrastructure or infrastructure pertaining to political organizations, candidates, or campaigns used in the 2020 US federal elections on the security or integrity of such infrastructure. Pursuant to Executive Order (EO) 13848, the joint report relied on the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) addressing foreign threats to the 2020 US elections.
The report asserts on page 3 that “We—the Department of Justice, including the FBI, and Department of Homeland Security, including CISA—have no evidence that any foreign government-affiliated actor prevented voting, changed votes, or disrupted the ability to tally votes or to transmit election results in a timely manner; altered any technical aspect of the voting process; or otherwise compromised the integrity of voter registration information of any ballots cast during 2020 federal elections.”
The findings are laid out in a series of bullet points, one of which on page 3 states, “We are aware of multiple public claims that one or more foreign governments—including Venezuela, Cuba, or China—owned, directed, or controlled election infrastructure used in the 2020 federal elections; implemented a scheme to manipulate election infrastructure; or tallied, changed, or otherwise manipulated vote counts. Following the election, the Department of Justice, including the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security, including CISA, investigated the public claims and determined that they are not credible.”
The report offers four recommendations surrounding enhancing the cybersecurity of U.S. election systems; managing risk; coordination among local, state and federal-government counterparts, and educating the public. “… the resonance of baseless claims concerning foreign interference after the election demonstrates the need to bolster public confidence in reliable sources of information, such as state and local election officials,” the report concludes.
The second report, released by the ODNI on Monday, is a 15-page declassified “Intelligence Community Assessment” titled, “Foreign Threats to the 2020 US Federal Elections.” Its findings, presented in five “Key Judgments,” include the belief of the intelligence community that Russia, Iran, Venezuela and Cuba attempted to launch “influence” initiatives against the election. China, the report states, “did not deploy interference efforts and considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the US Presidential election…The NIO for Cyber assesses, however, that China did take some steps to try to undermine former President Trump’s reelection.”
According to Yahoo! News last July, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated, “China’s malign foreign influence campaign targets our policies, our positions, 24/7, 365 days a year. So it’s not an election-specific threat; it’s really more of an all-year, all-the-time threat. But certainly that has implications for elections and they certainly have preferences that go along with that.”
On July 30, Axios reported, citing two sources, that “Wray and other intelligence community officials warned about China’s increased capability to interfere in U.S. elections in separate classified hearings with the Senate Intelligence Committee.”
In early August, then-Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina reportedly “warned…of ongoing interference and influence efforts by China, Russia and Iran.” However, NPR further reported, “The statement did not refer to any specific cyberattack attempts on the part of any of the three countries in the style of Russia in 2016. And Evanina noted that it would be difficult, due to the disparate nature of America’s election infrastructure, to affect vote tallying at scale.”
On September 24, a Newsweek article reported:
Facebook is ramping up efforts to battle what it views as efforts to influence the upcoming U.S. elections from abroad, including from China, a company official told Newsweek.
Facebook announced Tuesday it took down 155 accounts, 11 pages, nine groups, and six Instagram accounts from China because they allegedly violated company policy “against foreign or government interference.”
The first “Key Judgment” in the ICA states, “We have no indications that any foreign actor attempted to alter any technical aspect of the voting process in the 2020 US elections, including voter registration, casting ballots, vote tabulation, or reporting results. We assess that it would be difficult for a foreign actor to manipulate election processes at scale without detection by intelligence collection on the actors themselves, through physical and cyber security monitoring around voting systems across the country, or in post-election audits…”
On October 30, CISA and the FBI reported that “an Iranian advanced persistent threat (APT) actor targeting U.S. state websites—to include election websites. CISA and the FBI assess this actor is responsible for the mass dissemination of voter intimidation emails to U.S. citizens and the dissemination of U.S. election-related disinformation in mid-October 2020. 1 ”
In a letter to Congress dated January 7, 2021, then-DNI John Ratcliffe wrote, “From my unique vantage point is the individual who consumes all of the U.S. Government’s most sensitive intelligence on the People’s Republic of China, I do not believe the majority view expressed by Intelligence Community (IC) analysts fully and accurately reflects scope of the Chinese government’s efforts to influence the 2020 U.S. federal elections.”
A “Minority View” on interference by China referenced above appears in an orange-shaded box on page 13 of the March 2021 ICA report states, “The National Intelligence Officer for Cyber assesses that China took at least some steps to undermine former President Trump’s reelection chances, primarily through social media and official public statements and media. The NIO agrees with the IC’s view that Beijing was primarily focused on countering anti-China policies, but assesses that some of Beijing’s influence efforts were intended to at least indirectly affect US candidates, political processes, and voter preferences, meeting the definition for election influence used in this report…”