Trump has seen D’Souza’s film 2000 Mules. He held a screening of the film at his Mar-a-Lago venue. He’s regularly campaigned for it, and for good reason: “2000 Mules” aims to show that Trump didn’t lose his reelection bid, but that it was stolen by a network of people who shuttle ballots through swing states. The film is completely unconvincing in both its specific claims about the number of ballots sent (a number D’Souza admitted to the Washington Post was essentially an estimate) and its overall methodology. But no one on this planet is less troubled by patently false allegations of voter fraud than Trump.
After declaring that he won by “millions of votes,” Trump hailed “2000 mules” as particularly useful in his efforts to undermine his loss. The film, he said, shows fraud in “a very conclusive way because you used government tapes” as evidence. That said, the film’s claim that a group called True the Vote had compiled geolocation data to show people visiting multiple voting boxes was augmented by video from those dropboxes — and who could disagree?
One who could is Mark Andrews.
Sign up for How To Read This Chart, a weekly data newsletter from Philip Bump
Here are two stills from 2000 Mules showing Andrews dropping ballots in a Georgia mailbox ahead of the election that year. As the footage airs, D’Souza will speak in a voiceover.
“What you see is a crime,” says D’Souza. “These are fraudulent voices.”
But it wasn’t a crime. And that’s not just our deliberation; That was the finding of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which investigated Andrews’ conduct and found that the multiple ballots Andrews submitted were solely his and his family’s ballots – in full compliance with state law.
D’Souza insists that everyone shown on screen was a “mule,” someone whom True the Vote’s crack sleuthing had identified as attending multiple ballot boxes as well as unidentified left-wing organizations. (These organizations are unnamed in the film, however was named in the first publication of D’Souza’s companion book to the film. This publication was pulled from the shelves and the organizations’ names removed.) But no evidence is shown in the film that this applies to Andrews, no evidence that he visited more than one dropbox of video footage, or even a map of his activities . (There was one such card in the film, which True the Vote’s Gregg Phillips admitted to me as fake.)
Nevertheless acc a lawsuit Filed by Andrews’ attorneys against D’Souza and True the Vote on Wednesday, footage of Andrews was shown as part of 11 programs in which D’Souza and True the Vote have promoted the film – including at least three times after Andrews was acquitted had been. (The lawsuit indicates that D’Souza knew Andrews was acquitted, in part because of his conversation with The Post.) A True the Vote representative told The Post that the organization is “confident that the allegations regarding True the Vote contained therein, the litigation is found to be without merit.” D’Souza did not respond to a request for comment.
“The combination of pseudoscience junk and cropped surveillance video of innocent voters,” the lawsuit says at the outset, “that the defendants produced, distributed and widely marketed 2000 muleswhich they call a “documentary” proving their “mule” theory.”
This is an important point. There is no evidence whatsoever that the video footage used in the film was linked to the alleged geolocation analysis.
“Accused never had the means to link this video footage of voters like Andrews to their individualized cellphone geolocation data,” it later adds. “…Furthermore, the defendants appear to be missing any Surveillance footage that actually shows individuals depositing ballots in multiple locations.”
Among examples of media appearances citing Andrews as an example of someone casting illegal votes is one with True the Vote’s Phillips. Appearing on a show hosted by the right-wing Epoch Times, Phillips introduced Andrews’ footage, saying: “The data itself is immutable. Even if you don’t believe your lying eyes, just watch the video. … I can show you that [cellphone geolocation] pings, and then we can show you where he’s been doing it over and over and over again. It really takes an extraordinary person with an agenda that’s probably not America’s agenda to say, ‘I don’t think so.’”
But of course he didn’t show any of that, so saying “I don’t think so” is perfectly justified. Last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R)’s office sent a letter to federal authorities suggesting that True the Vote’s activities related to “2000 mules” should be investigated. At an event this summer, Phillips and the head of the organization attempted to explicitly shut down the book on the subject.
However, Andrew’s lawsuit isn’t just about correcting the records. He describes the way this false accusation destroyed his life. The lawsuit certainly aims to paint the most sympathetic portrait of him possible, but it describes the importance of the vote for him and his family given that he was raised south of Jim Crow. A technology manager at a Fortune 500 company, he only found out about his role in the film when a reporter approached him about it.
This snippet of his handing in his family’s ballots was clipped and posted on social media. The lawsuit describes some of the responses it generated:
“Comments on these posts have included threats that the ‘mules’ will be ‘forcibly amputated out of the country and sent elsewhere en masse’ and proclamations that the ‘mules’ should be arrested, ‘face a firing squad’ or ‘bullet’ should receive mule heads.’ Supporters of the accused have also reassured the “mules” through comments on social media that “we are after you”.
It is further alleged that Andrews installed surveillance cameras at his home and tried to camouflage his vehicle as it is easily identifiable in the footage. At least in the film, his license plate and face are blurred. When the clip was shown in some media appearances, neither was the case.
He’s not the only one affected. The film’s claim that people stuff ballot boxes – a claim for which again no evidence is presented – has led to a number of ballot box encounters in Arizona. Voters casting ballots have been challenged by self-proclaimed observers. A group linked to far-right group Oath Keepers has been sued and forced to end its drop box surveillance efforts.
“The defendants knew at all times that their accounts of Mr. Andrews were lies,” states the complaint, “as did the entire narrative of 2000 mules. But they continued to peddle those lies to enrich themselves.”
The trailer for the film remains online. In it, you can see Andrews depositing the ballots for himself and his family.