Nov 1, 2022 - Politics

Arizona's attorney general comes back into the fold on 2020 election

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich speaks during an interview with Sixty Minutes

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich during on Sunday's "60 Minutes." Screenshot: CBS News

Attorney General Mark Brnovich took a strident position against fellow Republicans who deny the legitimacy of the 2020 election, but that hasn't been his position for much of the past year.

Context: During an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," which aired on Sunday, Brnovich was unequivocal in his denunciation of the false allegations that the 2020 election was rigged or affected by fraud.

  • "Most of it's horses---, and I've been trying to scrape it off my shoes for the past year," he said on the show.
  • He described election denialism as a "giant grift." He said there are a lot of "clowns" out there who "throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks" and see what they want to see.

Yes, and: Brnovich also urged the FBI and IRS to investigate the conservative nonprofit True the Vote over its fundraising off of bogus election fraud claims. The group is behind the debunked "2000 Mules" movie that made unfounded allegations of "ballot harvesting" rings in Arizona and other states.

Flashback: On Nov. 11, 2020, Brnovich became the first major Republican elected official in Arizona to publicly reject the baseless fraud allegations surrounding the 2020 election and defend President Biden's win in the state as legitimate.

Yes, but: His positions changed substantially during his unsuccessful run in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

  • Brnovich issued an "interim report" in April regarding his ongoing investigation into the purported findings of the state Senate's audit of the election in Maricopa County, which alleged that his office had found a number of improprieties..
  • The county accused him of issuing a report that was "full of false innuendo and misrepresentations" and accused him of omitting key details.
  • He also told Steve Bannon, a former Trump adviser and prolific spreader of false claims about the last presidential election, "We all know what happened in 2020."

Zoom out: Brnovich wouldn't definitively tell Jon Stewart during a recent interview that the 2020 election wasn't stolen.

  • Still, he told Stewart, "Donald Trump lost Arizona. Period."
  • He told Stewart that his comment to Bannon was a reference to accusations from the interim report there are questions about the chain of custody for some ballots in 2020.

What they're saying: "General Brnovich's comments speak for themselves," attorney general spokesperson Katie Conner tells Axios, adding that because of ongoing cases, she couldn't comment further.

The other side: "This is a step in the right direction, and we welcome a more collaborative future with the Attorney General’s Office," Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates tells Axios.

  • He added that more elected leaders, candidates and community leaders should acknowledge that the 2020 election Maricopa County was well-run, and that they should "help residents avoid falling prey to those who use false narratives to separate them from their money."
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