Did a video featuring Lt. General Tom McInerney and Maria Zack show proof of election fraud? No, that's not true. The retired general and the Nations in Action website founder repeated previously debunked claims about election fraud in the 2020 presidential race, offering no new proof or evidence of their claims.
The claims appeared in a video (archived here) published on Facebook on May 5, 2021 under the title "Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney and Maria Zack talk about election fraud." It opened:
Hi everybody. Welcome to The Right Side with Doug Billings, today with breaking news with Maria Zack and General Tom McInerney.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Sat May 8 01:07:14 2021 UTC)
The 52-minute video is of Doug Billings' radio show "The Right Side" has guests McInerney and Zack claiming to have new proof of election fraud. They offer no proof for the claims, recycling previously debunked claims about the election, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other topics. This fact check will focus on the main topic: the 2020 presidential election.
At 17 minutes, 4 seconds in the video, McInerney begins talking about "Hammer & Scorecard," which he calls a "top secret special access program that the CIA had that they were using to listen to the Taliban, to Al Qaeda." Allies of McInerny, who launched this theory, have not described it as a listening system, but rather as a secret supercomputer and software U.S. spies purportedly used to meddle in other nations' elections and used in 2020 to steal votes from Donald Trump. But, the central premise of the Hammer & Scorecard narrative, that it hits vulnerable "transfer points" and "data vaults" falls apart in the face of the fact that those transfer points and data vaults aren't features of the systems that were said to have been hacked, as has been reported by Lead Stories here and here.
At 26 minutes, 50 seconds, McInerney makes the false claim that Vice President Mike Pence could have altered the outcome of the election:
As it turns out, it was Vice President Pence who had the opportunity on the 6th of January 2021 at the electoral college to send those votes back to the states because he had the information that we have talked about so far. He should have done more due diligence to do more."
This is not true. The vice president does not have the power to change reject the states' certified votes. He is only to preside over the certification in the Senate. As NBC News summarized:
The law governing the certification process, the Electoral Count Act of 1887, specifically limits the power of the president of the Senate precisely because a president of the Senate had intervened in the count previously. In 1857, after James Buchanan's win, the Senate president overruled an objection against Wisconsin electors who had been delayed in their certification process by a snowstorm in 1856.
"One of the points of the Electoral Count Act is to constrain the vice president given this earlier episode and make it clear that he's a presider, not a decider," said former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center.
The Electoral Count Act, Potter said, offers a detailed playbook for how Congress' counting is supposed to go, and it specifically limits the vice president to ceremonial duties.
"It says the vice president shall preside and he shall ensure that the certifications and votes from the states are opened and read out," Potter said.
At 30 minutes, 18 seconds, Zack talks about Trump actually winning a larger number of votes in 2020 than what state-certified tallies show, but for an Italy-based hack of the election. She claims:
General McInerney got the vote count from cyber security experts...here we are Nations in Actions and we got the same number roughly from Italy from Arturo D'Elia, the guy who actually changed the votes, and he said it was so difficult because there were so many to change that that's why the anomalies were picked up. So we are grateful that he won that big.
This conspiracy theory, dubbed #ItalyGate, is that an employee in an Italian security firm interfered in the U.S. election. Lead Stories debunked the ItalyGate conspiracy theory here. Both Trump Administration attorney general Bill Barr and the Cyberstructure and Infrastructure Security Agency have said they investigated election fraud claims and found no evidence of widespread hacking or fraud in the 2020 election.
Zack's #ItalyGate details have changed several times. She originally claimed a man named Stefan Serafini was responsible for the election fraud. She has also claimed Arturo D'Elia admitted he changed the votes in the U.S. election.
The claim that the election was hacked falls apart in the face of simple auditing measures. Almost all votes in the 2020 election were on paper ballots or cast on machines that produce a paper audit trail, making the possibility that software could switch votes without detection improbable if not impossible. Even if computerized ballot-readers had been programmed to switch votes, the audits of paper ballots filled out by voters would have shown major discrepancies. They have not.
The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has stated that a bad actor could not change election results without being caught and confirmed that there were no instances of malicious software or foreign hacking in the 2020 election, saying:
The vast majority of votes cast in this election will be cast on paper ballots or using machines that produce a paper audit trail, which allow for tabulation audits to be conducted from the paper record in the event any issues emerge with the voting system software, audit logs, or tabulation. These canvass and certification procedures are also generally conducted in the public eye, as political party representatives and other observers are typically allowed to be present, to add an additional layer of verification. This means voting system software is not a single point of failure and such systems are subject to multiple audits to ensure accuracy and reliability.
Independent, non-governmental election experts at the Open Source Election Technology Institute, several of whose staff have multiple decades' experience in election administration, have noted the same illogic in the computer hacking conspiracy theory.
Reuters debunked the claims about #ItalyGate here, noting that certain Italian arrests - covered by Reuters' staff- which conspiracy theorists point as proof had nothing to do with the 2020 election:
On Dec. 22, 2020, Reuters published an exclusive report here detailing an investigation into a data theft at Leonardo that took place between 2015 and 2017.
Italian police said on Dec. 5, 2020 that they had arrested Arturo D'Elia and Antonio Rossi, who had both worked at Leonardo, over their alleged role in hacking 94 computers, 33 of which were located at the group's plant in Pomigliano, a municipality in Naples. The hacking took place years prior to the 2020 U.S. election (between 2015 and 2017).
The article continued:
Reuters spoke via phone with D'Elia's lawyer Nicola Naponiello, who previously provided Reuters with comment for the Dec. 22 report on the Leonardo investigation. Naponiello said that when his client was questioned by Naples prosecutors on Jan. 12, he denied any involvement in an alleged plan to change the outcome of U.S elections. According to Naponiello, who was assisting his client during the questioning, D'Elia called any allegations of his involvement in a plan against Trump "pure fantasy."
Reuters reporters also spoke with a Naples police officer involved in the arrest of D'Elia who said that Naples prosecutors are now looking into the allegations of D'Elia's interference in the U.S. election, but have deemed the conspiracy theory likely baseless. The officer also told Reuters that during police questioning in December, D'Elia made no mention of a plot involving Trump.
At 31 minutes into the video, Zack claims the vote count and subsequent audit in Georgia was invalid because a Dominion Voter Systems employee was participating in the count:
The Mickey Mouse show in Georgia. I'm stunned when the Oscars has a better audit program than our government. They hire a Fortune 5 top five accounting firm at the Oscars but yet we had a Mickey Mouse firm that had a Dominion employee at the head of it.
Lead Stories debunked her claim here. A Dominion employee was not "at the head" of the recount but was a tech working for the company that provides election software. Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting system implementation manager strongly denied the implication that the worker did anything wrong or illegal and expressed concern that the false allegations against the tech could lead to violence.
Sterling addressed that claim during a press conference at the state Capitol on December 1, 2020. He said:
A 20-something tech in Gwinnett County today has death threats and a noose put out, saying he should be hung for treason because he was transferring a report on batches from an EMS [election management system] to a county computer so he could read it."
At 38 minutes, 50 seconds, the show's host, Billing, claims people are wearing masks as a "political statement" for a "virus that has a statistical 100% survival rate." That would mean no one dies of it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 was the 3rd-leading cause of death in the United States in 2020. As of May 5, 2021 there were over 580,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the CDC.