Despite screaming and threats from the Democratic Party, the search for the full truth of the 2020 election is still ongoing. Just days ago in Wisconsin, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling recommended criminal charges against five election commissioners for abetting fraudulent voting on behalf of dementia-addled patients in local nursing homes. In Arizona, the audit of Maricopa County exposed tens of thousands of ballot issues, while also revealing that election officials had deleted data they were required by law to preserve. The state DOJ has, belatedly, announced an investigation into last year’s voting.
These investigations matter. Not because the 2020 election will be overturned (legal Haily Marys aside, that won’t happen), but because conservatives must be acting right now to make sure 2020 doesn’t become the blueprint for rigging every American election for the rest of time. If 2020 was fraudulent, then the fraud must not be repeated to secure Kamala Harris and her appointed successors permanent control of the United States.
It’s possible that no man better understands what happened in 2020, and what must be done to prevent a repeat, than former Trump Administration staffer Patrick Witt.
Witt spent 2020 serving as deputy chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management, where he played a central role in dramatically improving the the Trump Administration’s efficacy in its final year. Witt helped oversee a purge of disloyal appointees within the Trump administration and politically-motivated obstructionists in the federal bureaucracy. He helped craft and implement the executive order barring critical race theory from any entity receiving government funds.
But in November 2020, Witt’s focus was on the battle over election integrity. He was the Trump campaign’s chief data analyst for its challenge to the results in Georgia, where Trump (per the official narrative) lost by less than 12,000 votes out of five million cast.
Of all the states supposedly carried in Joe Biden’s column, Georgia may have been the most shocking, and the most suspicious at first glance. In Fulton County, officials blamed slow counting on a burst water main, yet as time passed the problem shrank to a “burst pipe” and finally to an overflowing toilet. Also on election night, officials in Fulton County announced that counting would stop at 10 p.m., only to resume counting deep into the night after observers had left. Democratic officials blocked Republicans observers from watching the counting up close, and refused to supply basic information like the number of ballots left to be counted.
The infamous result: A massive Trump lead on election night was slowly whittled away until Biden finally took a “lead” three days later.
Witt was there for all of it. His researched formed the bedrock of what Andrew McCarthy called “the best legal challenge mustered” by the Trump campaign after November 3.
Sadly, Witt’s efforts faltered, in no small part because Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger decided to simply declare Georgia’s election entirely aboveboard rather than investigate the rampant evidence of shoddy, shady, and outright illegal behavior.
Now, Witt is shifting from legal maneuvering to electoral politics. Rep. Jody Hice is leaving Georgia’s 10th Congressional District to challenge Raffensperger, and Witt is running in the primary to replace him. While Witt fully supports the Trump platform of securing the border, ending CRT, stopping forever wars, and checking Big Tech, he says restoring U.S. election integrity is the single most important issue of all.
Witt recently joined Revolver for an interview. [Editor’s Note: You can sign up to volunteer, and donate to Patrick Witt’s campaign here.]
Most conservatives, I think, saw something very suspicious about how the entire 2020 election went down, but they may not know a lot of details. You marshaled the evidence that backed up President Trump’s claims of possible voter fraud. Can you tell us more specifics about what you saw?
After November 3rd, I took a leave of absence from my job in the Trump Administration to return home to Georgia and serve as a volunteer to help with the campaign in whatever way I could (voter review panels, collecting affidavits, etc.).
Like most Americans, I assumed there would be a crack team in place with a clear strategy on how to fight back against the steal. I was wrong. What I found was an RNC-run campaign that was completely unprepared and in disarray. They had no plan in place, and, worse, they had no interest in putting one together. Behind closed doors, it was clear that their only interest in the election integrity fight was to use it as a way to fundraise for the Senate runoffs taking place two months later.
Along with Cleta Mitchell, another colleague from the Trump Administration, and several other Georgia lawyers also there as volunteers, we made clear to the Georgia Establishment figures in the room that there was no victory in the Senate runoffs unless they actually fought for Trump. There was a heated confrontation, which led to a call directly to the White House. The President communicated in no uncertain terms that he expected us to continue the fight.
Once we hung up, however, it was clear that the message had not been received by the RNC staffers and the Georgia Establishment figures in the room. They returned to fundraising and offered little to no support on the election challenge. Seeing this, we determined that we had no choice but to separate from them and form the President’s legal team on our own (“Team Deplorables,” as Cleta referred to us).
My role on the legal team was to conduct the analysis of the millions of voter records cast in Georgia in the November 3rd election. With a law degree and a background in advanced analytics from my private sector career prior to joining the Trump Administration, I served as the conduit between the lawyers drafting the complaint and the data scientists crunching the numbers. What we found from relatively straightforward data analysis was shocking, and our findings ultimately underpinned the President’s official lawsuit in Georgia. Some of the more notable findings included:
Combined with nearly a hundred sworn affidavits and over 20 other categories of illegal votes, the list goes on.
What our analysis uncovered were the direct consequences of a series of negligent and reckless decisions by elected Republicans in Georgia. It was Georgia Republicans who approved no-excuse absentee balloting; who passed automatic voter registration; who installed unsupervised ballot drop boxes; who failed to properly maintain our state’s voter rolls; and who sent out absentee ballot applications to every single person on the state’s voter registration file — a list which Brad Raffensperger readily admits is full of tens of thousands of inaccurate voter records.
But when we attempted to communicate our findings to our state’s Republican leaders — Raffensperger, Kemp, et cetera — our efforts fell on deaf ears. They not only refused to investigate, they didn’t even bother to listen. Instead, we were forced to file a lawsuit against them.
But despite the hundreds of hours that we put into drafting the lawsuit and the massive amount of evidence and data that we compiled, President Trump never got his day in court in the State of Georgia. We filed our lawsuit in the first week of December, but we didn’t get a judge appointed for over a month until the first week of January.
The sheriffs and clerks responsible for serving process simply sat on the case and ran out the clock on us. Our repeated efforts to contact the court were ignored. By the time a judge was appointed, we weren’t given a hearing date until after January 6th, at which point in time the lawsuit became moot.
Unfortunately, the warning we delivered to the Georgia Establishment figures about the Senate runoffs shortly after November 3rd proved to be prescient. Georgia’s MAGA voters didn’t show back up for David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on January 5th. Contrary to what the Establishment figures say, though, I don’t believe this was because people felt that their votes didn’t count. Just the opposite. By not showing up, I believe the base sent a clear message to the GOP that they are tired of being taken for granted. They are no longer willing to show up on cue when Conservatism Inc. comes calling demanding that they send another ho-hum Republican to Washington.
The base wants Trump-like fighters, and if you’re not that kind of candidate, they’ll just as soon stay home.
Despite your discoveries, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp took no action over the election results, while Secretary of State Raffensperger’s office focused on secretly recording President Trump and then leaking the conversation to the press. Besides those big two names, were there other establishment Republicans who abandoned the president in that period? How complete was the betrayal?
In the first several days after November 3rd, there was a standing morning meeting for all the stakeholders to come together and discuss what needed to be done. Various members of the Georgia Establishment led these meetings, and they focused almost exclusively on how to raise and direct money for the Senate runoffs. When we demanded answers on what the plan was for the recount, we were rebuffed and told that we should let Raffensperger’s recount/audit process play out. After a couple days of needling, the Georgia Establishment figures present and the RNC staffers started to move the meetings to different times and locations to avoid us.
Seemingly the only prominent Georgia official who was interested in getting to the bottom of what happened on November 3rd was David Shafer, Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. He helped facilitate connections to individuals around the state to help marshal evidence, and he eventually joined President Trump as a co-plaintiff on the pleadings.
As the RNC played hide-and-seek, Team Deplorables continued to do our work independently. We recruited volunteers to help collect affidavits; I began to conduct preliminary analysis of the state’s voter data; we drafted letters to Secretary of State Raffensperger and Governor Kemp requesting their help in investigating our initial findings; we spoke with experts who understood the ins and outs of the voting machines; and we pored over the state election code and began to document all of the violations.
Meanwhile, the RNC staffers on the campaign — i.e., the people who were being paid to do the work that we volunteers were doing instead — were unhelpful at best, obstructive at worst. For example, for the first few days after November 3rd, the campaign’s lead counsel was present at Trump campaign headquarters. He sat silently and offered little to no guidance on what should be done to challenge the election results. It was like talking to a fortune-teller machine. One had to ask extremely precise questions to get him to answer with anything of value. Eventually, he stopped showing up altogether. We found out later that it was this same individual who had advised the Secretary of State to settle all of the lawsuits with Stacey Abrams leading up to the 2020 election. Days later, a member of the RNC mysteriously sent home all of the volunteers that had been recruited to answer the phones and collect affidavits from eyewitnesses around the state. She too started avoiding us.
The confrontation I describe above is when things finally came to a head. It occurred after we had tracked down the location of the secret morning meeting and sat in on it. A prominent Georgia fundraiser was there holding court, running through the mechanics of how money would be raised and flow through different entities to run ads for the Senate runoffs. Other Georgia Establishment figures chimed in here and there. My colleague from the Trump Administration interrupted the fundraiser who was leading the meeting and demanded answers as to why a “Team Runoff” and “Team Recount” had formed.
The fundraiser exploded at him, saying that there were no separate teams and that we could “walk and chew gum at the same time.” My colleague was 100% right, though. Either the Georgia Establishment wasn’t walking, or it wasn’t chewing — but a clear divide had formed, and the Georgia Establishment, as well as the RNC, were focused exclusively on the runoffs. Their priorities were made quite clear when they gave everyone a day off to watch the Georgia-Florida football game on November 7th.
Last April, Georgia Republicans passed a new elections law. Did that law fix the problems you saw in 2020, or was it only a partial success or even just a fig leaf?
SB202 was a baby step for election integrity; Georgia needs a giant leap. While the law did eliminate Georgia’s ludicrous reliance on signature verification for absentee mail-in ballots and provided a mechanism for holding county election officials accountable, it did little else of consequence. For example, it did not get rid of no-excuse absentee voting; it provided no protections for citizens to challenge illegal voters; it did nothing to improve the state’s data security protocols; and it allowed machines which millions of Georgians do not trust to remain in use. The list goes on.
Further, SB202 actually exacerbated other problems by writing them into our state Election Code. For example, it enshrined into law Brad Raffensperger’s illegal use of unsupervised ballot dropboxes, and it extended the early voting period, giving Stacey Abrams even more time to ballot harvest.
In my view, Georgia state officials were more interested in using the cute rhetorical phrase of “easier to vote, harder to cheat” than in actually taking meaningful action to secure our state’s elections. And I’ve been told that our state’s elected officials have no appetite to do anything else on election integrity. They will not call for an audit, and they will pass no further legislation. They are washing their hands of the 2020 election.
The above notwithstanding, the fight over SB202 did have one overwhelmingly positive outcome. It laid bare the Democrats’ flimsy arguments around election integrity and their wolf cries over “Jim Crow 2.0.” The more people learned about the law, the less they had an issue with it. Democrats and woke corporations like Major League Baseball and Delta Air Lines beclowned themselves on the issue of requiring voter ID, which is not only overwhelmingly popular as a policy measure, but is also required to pick up tickets at will call or to board a plane. The All-Star Game saga was yet another reminder that Republicans need to stop blindly supporting big business and start standing with patriotic working class Americans.
Republican election law has been entirely at the state level, while it’s Democrats who push for sweeping national laws to entrench ballot harvesting or vote-by-mail. What measures could a more assertive, confident Republican majority pass at the national level to guarantee secure elections nationwide?
First of all, Republicans must take action to reform the NVRA to stop making it so difficult for Secretaries of State to clean their voter rolls and instead make it mandatory. A 2012 Pew Study revealed that over 24 million voter registrations are inaccurate, out of date, or duplicates, with millions of people either registered in two or more states or verifiably dead. The problem has likely gotten much worse since then with Democrats efforts to flood the rolls with automatic and same-day voter registrations. The 24 million figure also doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who are currently registered to vote and do vote in our elections.
A robust Republican majority must take action to put an end to this insanity.
Second, I would support or introduce federal legislation that (a) requires states to demand that all voters in federal elections present a photo ID when voting in person or by mail; (b) requires state election officials to verify a voter’s citizenship; and (c) steps up prosecution of illegal voters (e.g., by revoking visas and citizenship applications for noncitizens who register and/or vote in our elections).
We must also consider ways to limit Big Tech oligarchs’ ability to influence our elections.
Finally, I would support establishing Election Day as a federal holiday on the condition that such legislation also eliminate early voting entirely and restricted absentee mail-in voting to the provably infirm and those military members serving on active duty away from their place of voter registration.
At the state level, what’s the single biggest change Republican legislatures should make to ensure 2020 doesn’t happen again?
First, Republican state legislatures must eliminate no-excuse absentee voting and restrict/eliminate early voting. As just about every Democrat pre-2020 admits, absentee mail-in voting is the most susceptible to fraud. Coupled with long early voting periods and automatic voter registration, states with no-excuse absentee balloting are inviting a Stacey Abrams-style ballot harvesting into their backyard. Any state that has both no-excuse absentee voting and weeks of early voting is not serious about defending election integrity, in my opinion.
Aside from restricting no-excuse absentee and early voting, states should also consider adjusting their election dates to allow themselves to maintain their voter rolls to the maximum extent currently possible under the NVRA.
They must issue PSAs and send out warnings about the penalties for illegal voting and back up their rhetoric with aggressive prosecutions when they uncover abuses. They should ban drop boxes entirely. They should provide legal protection for election integrity advocates to bring challenges against illegal voters. They should set up courts dedicated to handling election challenges with judges who have expertise in the field, and they should mandate that such cases get expedited hearings. They should make clear what groups have standing to bring election cases and also who the right parties are to sue in such cases. They should mandate that their secretaries of state enroll in interstate voter registration cross-check programs. They should ensure that tight data security protocols are in place for their voter registration records and dramatically limit access to who can alter such records. They should demand transparency regarding what money, if any, is flowing to election officials from ostensibly apolitical NGOs (e.g., Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Tech and Civic Life) and how it’s being spent. And they should conduct robust due diligence on what vendors they use for election-related work (e.g., staffing, printing, IT).
Lastly, red states should allocate sufficient funds to fight against the inevitable lawsuits that groups like Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight will bring. Rather than settle these cases, states must have aggressive lawyers who are well-prepared and properly resourced to defeat these frivolous claims instead of settling and weakening election integrity safeguards.
Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist has a new book, Rigged, which argues that Lin Wood, Sidney Powell, and Rudy Giuliani derailed the efforts to contest the election by doing too much self-promotion and embracing conspiracy theories that were too out-there to be believable. Do you agree? How would you change the GOP’s legal strategy if you could start over from November 3?
The legal team that I was a part of in Georgia was the only one that had President Trump officially on the pleadings. We did not have any interaction with Lin Wood or Sidney Powell, and our interaction with Rudy Giuliani was minimal (i.e., one or two brief phone calls).
Our lawsuit was focused on low-tech, easily provable, and easily understood claims. We did not mention Dominion or the machines a single time in our lawsuit. The reason for this was twofold. First, you simply didn’t need to. There was ample evidence that the number of illegal votes in Georgia far exceeded the margin of victory for Biden using only the state Election Code and the state’s own voter data that it relied upon to certify our election. Second, the claims regarding machines or foreign interference would have been extremely difficult to prove and would have required a judge to permit discovery on a massive scale and on highly technical topics that he or she knows little to nothing about. Given the time constraints, the national political environment, and the judge’s predisposition to not want to hear the case, there was no way that was going to happen.
Unfortunately, in news coverage, it is true that several meritorious lawsuits around the country were lumped in with others that lacked the same kind of evidentiary rigor underpinning them. This no doubt influenced the judges, themselves avid consumers of political news.
In retrospect, I believe the campaign was woefully — and, to an extent, willfully — unprepared for the 2020 election with respect to its legal strategy. President Trump made very clear on the stump what Democrats were going to do, and he was proven right. I believe the campaign operatives deceived him regarding their level of preparedness.
For example, my friend and expert election lawyer, Cleta Mitchell, tells the story of how she was initially asked by the campaign in the summer to stand up an election integrity legal team to stop the Democrat steal. She agreed and was ready to mobilize her large law firm behind the effort. But she never heard back from the campaign, and it wasn’t until the day after the election that she got a call asking her to get down to Georgia ASAP to help out with the recount effort. That’s where we met, in the midst of the chaos and the backstabbing by the RNC and the Georgia Establishment.
Going forward, every major Republican political campaign must engage an expert election lawyer and do so early. By the time the election has happened, it is too late.
The individuals running Trump’s campaign should have been fighting back against the assault on election integrity laws that Democrats launched during the pandemic, not waiting until after November 3rd to try and clean up the mess that these changes to the law created.
Direct election fraud is a big issue, of course, but the other way the 2020 election was rigged was through the collusion of Big Tech and Big Media: They worked together to suppress the Hunter Biden story, most notably, but also shaped other stories to such a degree that Revolver described the situation as a forthcoming “color revolution.” What do you think Congress or state governments can do to prevent future color revolution tactics in the future?
There is no doubt that Big Tech, the corporate media, and the Deep State colluded to rig the election in Joe Biden’s favor. By suppressing news that was damaging to Biden, fabricating stories about Trump insulting our military members and Russia putting bounties on US soldiers, promoting riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death and threatening further violence if Trump was reelected, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars through leftwing NGOs to fund election operations in Democrat strongholds, and changing election laws in key swing states to weaken safeguards on election integrity, this elite cabal manipulated the American people to ensure only one outcome.
They even bragged about it in Time Magazine, calling it an effort not to steal but to “fortify” the election.
Now, to an extent, every election involves some element of uneven institutional influence. We have always had media outlets, and they have always helped their preferred political candidates. Political spending has never been in perfect equilibrium. But 2020 was different for a few reasons.
First, the concentration of power and influence over our election system is at an all-time high. Tech oligarchs and corporate media syndicates are controlled by a handful of people, and their political persuasions are not only near-uniform, they are also increasingly radical and progressive and out of step with the American public.
Second, the level of sophistication when it comes to influencing voters today is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Big Tech’s algorithms go beyond mere persuasion; they are used to manipulate people’s emotions and shape their political views. This is especially effective when it comes to young voters who get their political news almost exclusively via social media platforms.
Third, 2020 was really the first time that institutions colluded not only to influence an election, but to change the manner in which it was conducted. By pushing COVID hysteria and terrifying the American people, these institutions, along with leftwing NGOs like Zuckerberg’s CTCL and Abrams’s Fair Fight, exerted pressure and waged lawfare in the key swing states to weaken election laws and open the door to a flood of mail-in ballots.
The problem posed by this concentrated web of institutional power brokers is extremely complex and difficult to solve. I believe one of the first steps we must take is to improve our grasp of the magnitude of the problem. Through federal investigation (e.g., a November 3 Committee), we must gather facts and data and attempt to quantify the overall value that these institutions provided to Democrats. This would essentially value the in-kind contribution that the “system” provides to Democrat campaigns. And, if it is found during the investigation that these institutions violated the law, those responsible should be prosecuted.
Beyond a specific investigation into the November 3rd election, I believe there are other policy proposals that would have a prophylactic effect on reducing election meddling by highly concentrated institutional power.
For one, I support taking action against Big Tech to end their censorship regime and monopolistic practices.
Second, I believe that we must begin the work of reforming and defanging the Deep State, beginning with our federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and DOJ. As evidenced by the Russian collusion hoax, J6, and other politically motivated prosecutions, it is clear that these institutions have been overtaken and corrupted by progressive political activists.
Third, we must ramp up scrutiny of and remove tax shields for NGOs that mask their efforts to influence our elections under the guise of “nonpartisan” political action.
A lot of MAGA insiders will say that the Trump administration improved a lot in 2020, when you, John McEntee, and others were installed at the Office of Personnel Management, because saboteurs were rooted out and real America-First believers were put in instead. Why was there so much internal resistance in the GOP to fulfilling the president’s mission, and why did it take so long to correct something so important?
This question is especially timely given Jonathan Karl’s recent hit-piece on Johnny in The Atlantic. First, let me start off by saying that I’m incredibly proud to have been hired into the Trump Administration by John McEntee. I can’t speak to how things were run at PPO prior to him being put in that role, but I can tell you that under his leadership, that office ran exactly as it should: they identified and brought in top talent, they vetted them to make sure they were aligned with the America First agenda; they streamlined the hiring process to onboard new additions quickly; they promoted effective leaders and had their backs against Deep State bureaucrats, and, where necessary, they dismissed insubordinate or ineffective personnel.
As the saying goes, “personnel is policy.” Nowhere was that more important than in the Trump Administration because (a) the America First policy agenda itself was bold; and (b) it was a direct threat to the DC Swamp. Progress, therefore, required not only bringing on effective leaders who were committed to championing America First policies, but also rooting out Deep State bureaucrats and invertebrate RINOs who sought to thwart or slow-walk the agenda.
Entire books could probably be written on what drove the resistance to Trump and the America First agenda, but I’ll offer just a few thoughts on why I believe that was the case, some psychological and others structural. Before I go there, though, I should say that the vast majority of my colleagues in the Administration were true patriots, and it was a privilege to be in the foxhole with them fighting against the Deep State.
For those that didn’t belong, I would start by noting that there were some who outright disagreed with Trump’s policies. They infiltrated the Administration and saw it as their mission to stymie the America First agenda in order to “save America from Trump.” These are the Miles Taylors of the world. They are the lowest of the low.
Second, you have the swampy social climbers. They flock from the Hill to the executive branch for no other reason than to get a pay increase and a fancy title. They have no real ideological reasons for being in politics, and, aside from networking and self-promotion, many of them lack any sort of marketable skills whatsoever. So, not only are they not with you ideologically, they also can’t help you tactically. Finally, you have those who are with you ideologically but lack confidence in the mission. Concerned about bad press, a lack of career opportunities post-federal service, or just uncomfortable with direct conflict, they’re not willing to go all the way in order to achieve decisive victories.
For this last group of individuals, and for all political appointees really, some sympathy is in order. The Deep State is real. There are landmines everywhere, and the bureaucrats are savvy — if they want to blow you up, they can make you step on one. There is also a structural element to it in the sense that there are just so many more of them (bureaucrats) than there are of you (political appointees).
When you elect a president, you affect between three and four thousand jobs in the federal government. That’s on top of a denominator of over two million — not even including members of the intelligence community, the military, and the USPS! So, when President Trump got elected in 2016, the American people changed less than half of one percent of the federal workforce.
Given that the majority of bureaucrats are Democrats, then, it’s no surprise that even the staunchest supporters of the America First agenda struggled to implement it in the face of such odds. The bottom line is that we must begin to deconstruct the permanent political class in Washington, DC: the administrative Deep State and the federal contracting apparatus that surrounds it. These people are unaccountable to the American people, and, in the case of the Trump Administration, they undermined the will of the voters by thwarting the America First agenda at every turn. I can’t say why it took so long to get PPO sorted out, but what I can say is, we would have had one hell of a second term. It may just have to wait until 2025.
Suppose President Trump had a helpful OPM from day one of his presidency. What extra things might have been accomplished?
If President Trump had installed McEntee at the helm on day one, I believe you would have seen a much stronger push to drain the bureaucratic swamp across all of our federal agencies. Executive orders that I was tasked with implementing like Schedule F (converting policy-making bureaucrats from un-fireable lifers to at-will employees) and eliminating CRT trainings from our federal agencies would have been passed much earlier on in the term. We would have cleaned house at the Department of Defense beginning with Mark Milley, and we would have installed someone who would have executed a smooth, on-time withdrawal from Afghanistan.
America First fighters would also have been put in place to reform our federal law enforcement agencies and prosecute those who abused their power, especially at the FBI.
At DHS, I think you would have seen a much more competent rollout of Trump’s immigration policies, which would have avoided blunders like the botched DACA repeal and allowed for more decisive action on border security. Similarly, at State, I think American interests abroad would have been better served with a stronger leader than Rex Tillerson. Better personnel choices may have even led to some unexpected surprise wins for the Administration. Heck, we may have even been able to buy Greenland.
You have thrived despite a vicious smear attack from The New York Times during your time at Yale almost a decade ago. Did that experience shape your political trajectory in the years sense? What advice would you give to people facing “cancellation” today, and what do you think should be the right’s response to “cancel culture” more generally?
What I went through as a college student was a complete sham, but it was really just a precursor of things that were to come with the #MeToo movement (false accusations with sensational media coverage, denial of due process rights to the accused, etc.). Kavanaugh hadn’t happened yet; the Rolling Stone UVA hoax hadn’t happened yet. And so, at the time, there was little sympathy for someone like me — a white male football player — when the New York Times ran their hit piece using all anonymous sources.
The accusation against me is and always has been unequivocally false. There was never any fact-finding conducted by the university; there were no disciplinary proceedings taken by Yale; and there was no police involvement ever. I disputed the claim from the moment it was made and demanded that Yale launch a formal investigation so that I could clear my name. They refused. School administrators assured me “there is nothing to clear your name of,” a phrase that is seared into my memory.
Ironically, the kangaroo court process that I got ensnared in at Yale was put in place in response to then-Vice President Joe Biden’s push for new Title IX regulations through the Department of Education. Under those regulations, Yale denied me any right to due process and demanded I stay silent or face disciplinary action. To this day, I do not know the substance of the accusation. I was never told.
All I know is that an “informal” complaint was made against me by a fellow student on the same day that our school newspaper reported that I had been selected as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. I do not believe that timing was a coincidence.
In the decade since then, I have been open and forthcoming with everyone about what happened to me at Yale. I addressed the false accusation in my admission interview with Harvard Law School (who accepted me), in my job interviews with employer McKinsey & Company (who hired me), and in my FBI background check for a Top Secret security clearance (which was granted to me).
[For a full account of the ordeal, I always encourage people to read my Boston Globe op-ed, which I published in concert with 19 Harvard Law School professors who were protesting Harvard’s move to adopt Yale’s same policies. And for The New York Times‘s public editor’s take on the original story and why it shouldn’t have been published, see here.]
There is no doubt that going through a public humiliation like the one I suffered changes a person. Being canceled hardens you. It reveals to you the depths and the lengths to which the liberal mob will go to destroy you if it fits their political agenda. Your life is collateral damage to them. To say that I have thrived since then would be an overstatement. It’s been a struggle every step of the way. I have to relive the experience of what I went through and defend my character just about every time I meet someone new and they inevitably google me.
With respect to my political trajectory, however, I do believe the experience has had some positive effects. I no longer have any illusions about the corporate media or the elites. Before Donald Trump ever came along and removed their mask, I knew that these people were not my friends. They tried to destroy me.
Since the New York Times-led character assassination attempt, I have been contacted by dozens of other young men who were dealing with similar denials of due process on their college campuses. The most important thing that I or anyone else can do for someone being canceled is to let them know they’re not alone. The experience is incredibly isolating. But there is life after cancellation. You can either give in and give up, or you can fight back. The woke mob wields fear as a weapon, and they want you to give in to that fear. When we do that, though, the Left wins. Donald Trump showed that the only way to fight back against these people is to never apologize and never surrender. Your defiance and your success post-cancellation is your revenge.
As a candidate for Congress, I am making the defense of due process rights, equal treatment under the law, and the fight against Cancel Culture central themes in my campaign. These are especially critical and timely ideas in light of the sham trial we’re watching of Kyle Rittenhouse.
We on the Right need to get creative about how we attack the problem of Cancel Culture, and I see two ways to do it. First, we can attack the attacker by raising the stakes for someone trying to unjustly smear and harm another (e.g., by strengthening legal rights for the accused against the corporate media). Second, we should explore ways to soften the blow of cancelation itself, whether that’s by rallying to someone’s defense publicly, providing them pro bono legal services, or offering them a job if they do get fired. People will be far more bold about speaking their minds if we can lessen the sting of being canceled. And when the serpent sees that it’s venom no longer has effect, I believe it will stop biting.
Editor’s Note: You can sign up to volunteer, and donate to Patrick Witt’s campaign here.
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