The president of the Arizona Senate has defended a controversial audit of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County and clashed with a CNN journalist about the credibility of One America News Network.
Karen Fann, a Republican, was interviewed in the state Senate parking lot on Tuesday by CNN correspondent Kyung Lah and argued that the audit was necessary to guarantee that people had “100 percent confidence” in U.S. democracy.
The Republican-led Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County wrote to Fann on May 17, criticizing the audit and calling for it to be stopped. The five-person board, which is made up of four Republicans and one Democrat, said the process was a “spectacle that is harming all of us.”
Fann told the CNN correspondent: “I don’t know what’s legit, what isn’t legit. But why wouldn’t we want to answer those questions?”
Lah said: “Because you’re questioning democracy.”
Fann replied: “No, I’m questioning the integrity of the election system.”
The CNN correspondent said: “Which is the backbone of democracy.”
“That’s right,” Fann replied. “Which means we should have full, 100 percent confidence in our democracy and in our election system.”
Lah said: “But you’re talking about trying to disprove conspiracies.”
Fann replied: “If I have to, yes. Why wouldn’t we? If somebody says something is out there, I would love to be able to say, ‘That’s not true, guys.'”
The state Senate president asked: “Are you 100 percent confident that every vote that came in, in Arizona or any other state, can you say emphatically 100 percent that no dead people voted, that ballots weren’t filled out by other people, that the chain of custody from the minute people voted—their ballots—that the chain of custody was accurate and on target the entire time? Can you tell me that?”
Lah pointed out that the data showed there was no widespread voter fraud and that the 2020 election was the most secure in U.S. history.
The pair also clashed over One America News Network (OAN), a right-wing network that has been covering the audit and has been accused of spreading misinformation about the presidential election.
“From day one the entire process has been live-streaming, so anybody …” Fann began.
“On OAN,” Lah said. “With cameras controlled by OAN.”
“Are you saying that OAN is not a credible news source? Are you saying that?” Fann asked.
“Yes,” Lah replied.
“OK, I’ll remember that. CNN is saying that OAN is not a credible one,” Fann said.
“Yes,” Lah said again. Fann replied: “OK. Very good.”
The Maricopa County audit was ordered by the Republican-controlled state Senate and is being conducted by Florida firm Cyber Ninjas, which has no previous experience with election audits.
The process has been criticized and organizers have been accused of pursuing conspiracy theories, such as looking for bamboo fibers in ballots based on an unfounded claim that ballots were brought in from Asia. Two previous audits found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the county.
Newsweek has asked Karen Fann for comment.