Discover more from PREVAIL by Greg Olear
The Multiverse of Crazy (with Denver Riggleman)
There is only one reality. MAGA refuses to acknowledge it. How do we combat that?
Cathy Latham, once the chair of the Republican Party in Coffee County, Georgia, surrendered to Fulton County authorities on Wednesday. She was indicted along with Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and 16 other traitors, and faces eleven counts, including conspiracy to commit election fraud and violation of the Georgia RICO Act. The likelihood is that she will serve significant jail time.
Latham was a false elector, fraudulently attesting that Trump won the election. She was also a key player in the 2021 breach of voting systems at the Coffee County election office. There is surveillance footage of her marching a phalanx of MAGA attorneys—forensics people with ties to Sidney Powell—into said election office, where they were given access to the Dominion voting equipment. She was glib and cocky about the whole thing. She even took a selfie with one of the interlopers. When Politico’s Kyle Cheney sent her an email in November 2020 asking about the fake elector gambit, she responded with a comic-book-villainy “Bahahaha you think I’m going to respond to you? You don’t know GA law.”
Why did Latham do this? Why did she throw her life away in the service of Donald John Trump? She was (and still is, for all I know) a True Believer. She fell for the Big Lie—hook, line, and sinker. Her brain was steeped in rightwing propaganda for so long that the poison entered her bloodstream. She occupies a different reality, one bound by what Kellyanne Conway once called “alternative facts”—a reality Denver Riggleman, the senior technical advisor to the January 6th Committee and my guest on today’s PREVAIL podcast, calls “the multiverse of crazy.”
Cathy Latham is, alas, hardly the only American to fall prey to pathogenic MAGA disinformation. There are tens of millions of these Trumpist zombies running amok. They live in all fifty states, even the bluest of blue ones. Some of them are members of my family. Some are members of yours. Most of them are—how did FPOTUS put it?—very fine people. But they insist that their version of reality is the right one, and will not concede that their Bizarro Earth is flat. That is the hill they will die on—or, in Latham’s case, go to jail for.
Even now, the morning after Donald Trump was arrested and processed in Fulton County, and the world got to guffaw at the practiced but false bravado in his ridiculous mugshot, there are people who insist, to the point of violence, that he is the good guy in the story, not the mastermind but rather the victim of some complex conspiracy.
“Our fellow Americans were being radicalized to believe in twisted fantasies and conspiracies,” Riggleman writes in his (excellent) book, The Breach: The Untold Story of the Investigation into January 6th. “We had to make the rest of the country understand that we were now engaged in a new war, whether the battles were immediately visible or not. Welcome to our new forever war: the Information War.”
As it stands, our side is losing this war.
Like, I mean, four grand juries, in four different jurisdictions—including in Florida and Georgia, which were once members of the Confederacy—have now determined that the criminal cases against Trump were strong enough for him to be indicted. This is after Congress impeached him—twice. And after a judge and jury in New York said that yes, he did sexually assault E. Jean Carroll. And after he paid to settle the Trump University case. And after he, oh yeah, led an attempt to overthrow the republic.
So it’s one of two things. Either 1) Trump is the victim of a vast conspiracy to sideline him—one that involves Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, the FBI, the mainstream media, four dozen women who have accused him of sexual violence, the DOJ, the mayor of D.C., the Capitol police, Liz Cheney, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, Bill Barr, Mark Meadows, Robert Mueller, Jack Smith, Alvin Bragg, Fani Willis, four separate grand juries comprising a random sampling of non-famous Americans, and his own vice president, among countless others—because he’s the best president ever, working tirelessly to Save The Children and expose a global pedophile ring, or, 2) We put a career criminal in the White House and he kept criming. With regards to FPOTUS, Occam’s Razor cuts through a lot of bullshit.
But as recently as [checks notes] two nights ago, every Republican in the first GOP primary debate save Asa Hutchinson and Chris Christie said they would support Trump if he were the nominee—including Mike Pence, who Trump tried to have killed. Again, Trump was arrested the very next day, and they all knew that was coming. Did these poltroons pledge fealty because they love Trump, want him to win, believe in his innocence? Of course not. They defend Trump because they think they can’t win the Republican base if they don’t.
The media, meanwhile, goes merrily along, pretending that this is a typical primary before a typical election, blithely ignoring the fact that one of our two political parties has been subverted by a seditious criminal demagogue—a wannabe strongman—who is running solely to raise money and avoid prison. This is not your grandfather’s Republican Party. If anything, this is your great-great-great-grandfather’s Democratic Party. But how many millions of Americans believe the MAGA/Kremlin talking point that Biden is a doddering old fool, just as corrupt if not more so than his criminal predecessor?
I have seen this up close, the “both sides suck, Biden is ruining this country, he’s so corrupt” argument, made with great passion and certainty by otherwise lovely humans. The president is not perfect, Lord knows. But to accuse him of staggering corruption simply doesn’t pass the eye test. What exactly about Joe Biden’s personality and lifestyle suggests bottomless greed? Not to state the obvious here, but 46 is not the one who shits on a gilded toilet.
“I get it that we feel like that we have some really stupid, unserious politicians,” Riggleman tells me, “but the issue that we have is that we have an unserious electorate.”
It is incumbent on every voter to figure out the truth. It is the media’s job to report that truth, and not to feed us MAGA horseshit in the name of “both sides.” And I get it—this ain’t easy. If someone well-placed to know the truth, like Cathy Latham, can still insist on an alternative reality, what hope is there for the average American, who tunes out politics entirely until the primaries kick off, who gets their information from Facebook?
Trump lost the 2020 election—bigly. He knows he lost the election. He did everything in his not-inconsiderable power to stave off certain defeat. The coup attempt of January 6th was his doing. That’s what actually happened. That’s reality. Even Republicans capable of objectivity—the O.G. Never Trumpers, and also recent members of Congress like Riggleman and Liz Cheney—recognize this. Give the likes of Nikki Haley and Elise Stefanik truth serum, they’ll tell you the same thing.
The Emperor has no clothes. He isn’t really six-three, he weighs a lot more than 215, his hair is not really strawberry. He’s a lifelong criminal, and at long last, the law has caught up to him. He’s under indictment in four different jurisdictions. He’s being sued. He’s a loser, and he’s going to spend the rest of his miserable life in court or in prison. And for this short-fingered schmuck, this garbage human, thousands of Americans besieged the Capitol, or otherwise broke the law to subvert our democracy and keep him in power. (Cut to Cathy Latham, nodding sadly.)
“The horror shouldn’t be alternate electors. The horror shouldn’t be all these awful things. The horror should be that the base supported these actions. It’s a horrific thing to try to get people’s arms around,” Riggleman tells me. “What people need to understand is that it is the electorate that needs to be manipulated for these type of actors to be as successful as they are. And if there’s that much money in the fantasy ecosystem, how do we combat that?”
In the Season Six Premiere of the PREVAIL podcast, Greg Olear talks to former Virginia Congressman Denver Riggleman, the senior technical advisor to the J6 Committee and the author of “The Breach: The Untold Story of the Investigation into January 6th,” about his role on the Committee, the White House blackout the day of the insurrection, the deal with Mark Meadows, Executive Order 13848 and Trump’s attempt to pervert it, Ginni Thomas, Clarence Thomas, Patrick Byrne, Rick Perry, secret comms, and the new forever war.
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Photo credit: Fulton County Sherriff’s Office. Cathy Latham’s mugshot.