In between the assertions that 9/11 was an inside job, that Zionists aren’t real Jews and that satanic pedophilia fuels world commerce and politics, attendees at the “Arise USA!” tour in recent weeks have heard another pitch: We need to audit the 2020 election.
The tour is slowly coming to a halting close — the alleged result of a six-figure theft — but along the way it’s demonstrated the now near-universal insistence among prominent Trump supporters that the country has been captured by election criminals.
“I guarantee you that electronic voting machines were created with the purpose of designating the winner before the first vote was cast,” Arise USA’s chief organizer and speaker, former CIA officer Robert David Steele, said at a stop in Kentucky last month, shortly after discussing how Dick Cheney had made 9/11 possible through controlled demolitions.
What makes the Arise USA tour notable is that some rally speakers are trying to act on that Big Lie. A sheriff who spoke at Arise USA’s Hillsdale, Michigan stop has dispatched a deputy and a private investigator to question township clerks about their voting machines. A state representative in Maine who addressed the rally there is pushing for an audit of her own state’s results. In Pennsylvania, where a state senator has threatened to subpoena several counties for 2020 election materials, a prominent pro-audit activist threw out wild statistics about the last election.
Between “duplicate registrations,” “phantom votes” and other mysteries, the total sum of bogus ballots is well over Trump’s losing margin in the state, Audit The Vote PA co-founder Jamie Sheffield said at an Arise USA event in Beaver, PA. “I am convinced, whether we get him back into office or not, that this election needs fixed.”
“We are going to be loud, we are going to be bold, and we are not going to stop until we get what we want,” she added.
‘Deputizing Armed Engaged Citizens’
Arise USA, also known as “The Resurrection Tour,” combines Steele’s frantic diagnosis of America’s problems with an equally fraught proposed response: “Constitutional” counties, run by “constitutional” sheriffs who consider themselves above the federal government’s authority.
Alongside Steele, a key figure in the tour is Richard Mack, the former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, a former board member of the Oath Keepers and the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, the foremost group promoting that ideology.
“I’m the top dog on three topics: election fraud and reform, Wall Street treason and crime, and Satanic pedophilia with child trafficking,” Steele said in an early-July interview posted to the group’s website and highlighted by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, a group that examines far-right movements. “But those topics are not going to be understood by the American people unless they see the solutions that Sheriff Mack represents.”
“Sheriff Mack represents elected Sheriffs deputizing armed engaged citizens to push back against the abuse of power,” Steele continued.
The constitutional sheriff movement has traditionally been most concerned with resisting federal gun restrictions, and, as of last year, with COVID-19 health measures. The recent focus on election fraud is a “Trump-related phenomenon,” said Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow with the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
“Donald Trump injected paranoia about our electoral system into the right wing of American politics, and a conviction that elections are easily rigged — and are being rigged — against Republicans,” Pitcavage told TPM. “It just sucked faith in elections straight out of the right, from the mainstream right to the far right.
Arise USA Attendees At Work
In fact, a key Mack ally has followed through with action: a local investigation into the election results.
Dar Leaf, sheriff of Barry County, Michigan, has had a sheriff’s deputy and a private investigator interview the clerks of townships all across the rural, right-leaning county. He was tight-lipped about the investigation — until Arise USA made a stop in Hillsdale, Michigan.
Referring to the investigation as “my biggest task I’ve got going on” at the mid-July stop, Leaf shed some light on its origin: A retired sergeant, he said, “brought in some documentation from the MyPillow guy.” (Leaf told TPM that he does not know Steele, and that “I was contacted by Sheriff Mack to speak with less than 24 hours to prepare.”)
Over in Pennsylvania, just ahead of Jamie Sheffield’s speech, Beaver County Sheriff Tony Guy lauded Audit the Vote PA. “What a tremendous job they’re doing!” he said.
And in Maine, State Rep. Heidi Sampson (R) joined Arise USA to promote a “forensic audit” of the state’s election results.
“If people think we didn’t have a problem with our election, that’s fine. Let’s trust but verify. It’s as simple as that,” Sampson said at the event, the Bangor Daily News reported. “There are a lot of ways that all kinds of shenanigans can take place.”
In an email to TPM, Sampson confirmed her attendance at the event “to explain the Forensic Audit of the 2020 Election initiated by We The People of Maine” but distanced herself from Steele’s past antisemitic comments. “The far-left, Fake News media is attempting to tie this event to the beliefs of one person in the room who has apparently made holocaust denial statements,” she said.
Steele, the organizer of the tour, has said that Jews are “more like a secret society that believes itself to be exempt from all laws and customs of others.” He has also said that “all reasonable evidence” suggests that “The Jewish holocaust is a myth manufactured by the UK and the Zionists (never to be confused with Judaism or Jews loyal to their countries of citizenship).”
“These are not my beliefs, and never have been,” Sampson said.
(Steele wrote in a blog post responding to TPM’s questions, “How stupid do you have to be to single out a book review as evidence of me being anti-Semitic? Particularly since I am the most published person on the planet in relation to the sharp distinction between Zionism as a Red Mafia Satanic Pedophilia network, versus Judaism as a faith?”)
‘They Can Be Told Anything’
In recent days, the tour has fizzled out: Where once there were several custom-wrapped tour buses ferrying Steele, Mack and several others all around the country, there is now just Steele and his SUV. Where there were once packed fairgrounds, there are now sparsely attended get-togethers.
Wednesday’s event in Williamsburg, Virginia, according to Steele’s website, will be a low-key affair. “Robert will be at the purple couch at 4 pm and looks forward to a quiet conversation with whoever shows up, 7-10 expected,” the announcement reads.
What happened? Steele has spoken about the troubles on tour. In Kentucky last month, he said “we have expunged from this tour individuals who were Satanic, who were stealing from us.”
“We’ve overcome over $300,000 in theft through the diversion of donations,” he added.
In a post on his website a few days later, Steele said the tour had been “black-listed by the insurance industry that is controlled by the Deep State.” It was further hindered, he said, when a prediction that Trump would take a July 4 “victory lap” at Mount Rushmore failed to pan out. “Donations dropped catastrophically after that,” Steele said.
But the show must go on. And, even in its tattered state, it’s playing the hits: At Arise USA’s Philadelphia stop earlier this month — a small huddle of people standing outside Independence Hall — Daryl Brooks addressed the crowd. Brooks, you may remember, was the first person to speak at Rudy Giuliani’s Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference. He bemoaned the state of education in the United States, saying that many young people are functionally illiterate.
“They can be told anything,” Brooks said.