Republicans have recently pushed close to 400 new bills and laws aiming to restrict voting rights in various parts of America—and it’s being “fueled by lies about voter fraud in the last election despite those lies continually falling apart” explained John Oliver on Sunday night.
The Last Week Tonight host cited a Republican-led Senate investigation in Michigan that found “no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud” in the state’s handling of the 2020 presidential election.
Although that pales in comparison to the insanity that is “Italygate.” “Which isn’t actually referring to the many times the Cuomo brothers did news incest, but it is a spicy meat-a-ball of a conspiracy,” cracked Oliver.
As Oliver recounted, earlier this month emails surfaced from last December between Trump’s then-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and his acting attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, wherein Meadows pressed Rosen to look into “Italygate,” a kooky conspiracy theory alleging that Italians used a combination of cutting-edge military technology and satellites to somehow switch Trump votes to Biden. It’s an especially outlandish tale given that Italy’s leader at the time of the 2020 presidential election, Giuseppe Conte, was one of Trump’s closest allies and defenders.
“The theory is: military satellites apparently stole the election. And I know that that sounds stupid, and that’s because it is,” said Oliver. “But the key question still is: How did that theory get to the White House?”
Oliver pointed to a recent Washington Post article detailing exactly how this happened—owing to the work of Daniele Capezzone, a right-wing journalist prone to conspiracies who’s been labeled “the Sean Hannity of the Italian press,” and a woman by the name of Michele Roosevelt Edwards, who’s been involved in a number of failed business ventures, and whose firms pushed the “Italygate” conspiracy to team Trump.
One of the more head-scratching incidents involving Edwards came when she sat down for an interview with the Icelandic news show Kveikur (not to be confused with the Sigur Rós album of the same name). Edwards invited the host and his news crew into what she called her home—a lavish $30 million estate in Virginia. When they got there, however, they found almost no personal items of Edwards’ and coffee cups from Dunkin Donuts. Yes, it turns out that it wasn’t Edwards’ home at all.
“This story is funny because it’s about a cartoonishly-desperate attempt to undermine an election and somehow involves a squatter dressed as Orville Redenbacher’s first wife who got written out of the will, and I’m really glad that I got to tell you about it—but it’s also important to remember that there are far more effective methods undermining democracy as we speak, like allowing states to pass laws restricting ballot access,” argued Oliver.
He was nodding to how Senate Republicans blocked the Democrats’ For the People Act, a voting rights bill that would “touch on virtually every aspect of how elections are conducted, striking down hurdles to voting that advocates view as the Civil Rights fight of the era, while also curbing the influence of money in politics and limiting partisan influence over the drawing of congressional districts,” according to the AP.