Yes, DOJ Is Reportedly Investigating the 2018 Election that Trump Just Invoked with Ron DeSantis

In the wake of Tuesday’s shellacking of Democrats in Florida and the losses of winnable seats by Trump endorsees, Republicans are explicitly discussing Ron DeSantis as if he is the head of the party, in lieu of Trump. That set off a temper tantrum on the second shittiest social media site run by a narcissistic billionaire [sic] in which Trump:

  • Accused Fox of fighting him and likened the focus on DeSantis to the 2016 election
  • Claimed his endorsement of DeSantis in 2018 was a “nuclear weapon” that took out Adam Putnam
  • Took credit for DeSantis’s victory over Andrew Gillum
  • Claimed he “sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win”

This last bullet, which seems to claim that Trump deployed DOJ resources to help DeSantis win, has attracted a great of attention.

It would be utterly corrupt to imagine that Trump used DOJ resources to help in an election — though there is evidence he did in 2020: when Bill Barr’s efforts to undermine the Mike Flynn prosecution released altered Peter Strzok notes that Trump used in an attack on Joe Biden. He of course tried to do far more, going so far as attempting to replace Jay Rosen with Jeffrey Clark to give DOJ sanction to frivolous lawsuits.

Plus, people are far too quickly suggesting this claim is made up entirely, and that there’s no evidence of misconduct in 2018. That’s true not just because Trump’s lies generally have some basis, albeit really tenuous, in reality.

Just ten days ago, after all, the NYT reported that prosecutors on at least two investigative teams (which might actually be prosecutors bringing together networked conspiracies as seemed likely for 14 months), implicitly boosted by cooperation from Joel Greenberg, are investigating the 2018 Stop the Steal effort in Broward County.

The NYT article focused on efforts by Trump’s rat-fucker and friends to shut down challenges to the vote count: a Jacob Engels/Proud Boy mob in Broward County.

President Donald J. Trump and other top Republicans were stoking claims that the election had been stolen, and their supporters were protesting in the streets. Members of the far-right group the Proud Boys and people close to Roger J. Stone Jr., including Representative Matt Gaetz, took part in the action as the crowd was chanting “Stop the Steal.”

The time was 2018, the setting was southern Florida, and the election in question was for governor and a hotly contested race that would help determine who controlled the United States Senate.

Now, four years later, the Justice Department is examining whether the tactics used then served as a model for the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In recent months, prosecutors overseeing the seditious conspiracy case of five members of the Proud Boys have expanded their investigation to examine the role that Jacob Engels — a Florida Proud Boy who accompanied Mr. Stone to Washington for Jan. 6 — played in the 2018 protests, according to a person briefed on the matter.


The 2018 protests were triggered by the tight outcome of the races for United States Senate and Florida governor. On election night, the Republican Senate candidate, Rick Scott, declared victory over the Democrat, Bill Nelson, but the race was close enough that local officials were set to hold recounts in key locations like Broward County.

Prominent Republicans, including Mr. Trump and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, suggested on social media that the Democrats were trying to steal the election. Mr. Engels promoted an event in Broward County, writing on Twitter that he was headed there “to handle this situation” and was going to “STOP THE STEAL.”

On Nov. 9, a group of about 100 angry protesters, including members of the Proud Boys, descended on the Broward County elections office, carrying pro-Scott and pro-Trump signs and protesting the recount.

The event drew support from several far-right activists in Florida linked to Mr. Stone — among them, Ali Alexander, who later organized Stop the Steal events around the 2020 election, and Joseph Biggs, a leader of the Proud Boys who has since been charged alongside Mr. Tarrio in the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case.

Undoubtedly, the Proud Boys are not the FBI (though the FBI in this phase was far too credulous of the Proud Boys). But given the NYT report, it is nevertheless the case that Trump-related Broward County rat-fuckery in 2018 not only happened but is already under investigation.

It may even be the case that DOJ collected information about such things in near real time. DOJ obtained renewed warrants on three Roger Stone accounts on August 3, 2018. It continued to investigate Stone and associates at least through October 2018. And an investigation into the rat-fucker remained ongoing through his November 2019 trial and into at least April 2020.

Again, that doesn’t mean that Trump’s specific claim — that DOJ was involved in all this — is specifically true. It means that before you dismiss it out of hand, you should ask what bread crumbs of reality this probable lie is based on.

When Trump started threatening DeSantis, I immediately thought of Roger Stone, because collecting dirt with which to exert political pressure is what Trump’s rat-fucker does and because Stone was always active in these same circles. And the Broward County Stop the Steal effort may be the least of it.

87 replies
  1. Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

    If Trump successfully used the DOJ to “stop the steal” in 2018, what prevented him from doing that in 2020?

    Then again, if Trump knew for a fact that there was no fraud on any scale that could affect the outcome, it would be downright embarrassing if DOJ came up empty handed.

    On the third hand, Trump grifted an awful lot of cabbage off the “steal”.

    • trnc2022 says:

      “If Trump successfully used the DOJ to “stop the steal” in 2018, what prevented him from doing that in 2020?”

      Rosen and Donoghue, among others. It’s no surprise that Whitaker would have been fully on board right after he became acting AG, plus it probably would have been easier to fly under the radar for a midterm election.

  2. Peterr says:

    Reading this and thinking about the “is it time to dump Trump?” stuff to which you allude in the opening made me wonder about DeSantis and his approach to 2024. Thus far, it is clear he is positioning himself for a fight with Trump, but has he prepared for a fight with Roger Stone? All the ratfkery in the world is nice (to GOP politicians) when it is aimed at Dems, but how will DeSantis react when Stone comes for him?

    Or . . .

    Back in the day, I played a lot of the tabletop game “Diplomacy” where the winner was often the person who chose *exactly* the right moment to knife an ally in the back to seize control of the game. I could easily see Stone contemplating his options here, and coming to the conclusion that it’s time to shift his support from Trump to DeSantis.

    • Silly but True says:

      I don’t disagree with any of that, and this may be assessing too much, hmmmm… “honor” among thieves that Stone does not value, but Manafort and Stone go back close to 50 years.

      The fact that Trump pardoned both Stone himself, as well as Manafort has to carry some manner of weight above simple comparison of the two available right-wing candidates.

      But it’s Stone, so maybe not.

    • emptywheel says:


      But that’s also why I keep going back to legal exposure. What if DOJ charges Stone before he can take out DeSantis? Will DeSantis waste any political capital for Stone? Nope.

      • obsessed says:

        There’s a decent chance (is there?) that Stone will be in prison by the next election, with his only hope of freedom being the election of a grateful Trump or DeSantis, so what’s the smartest play for an old RF’r backed into a corner? (Aside from flipping on Trump and easing his legal liabilities that way.)

        • Troutwaxer says:

          “Flip on Trump” and “Go to work for DeSantis” are like peanut butter and chocolate – the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup of ratfuckery.

        • Lady4real says:

          I remember Stone threatening DeSantis with some scandal yet to be named, a few months back, if he tries to throw his hat in the ring for higher office. It seemed he had something very specific in mind, but then he backed off the threats.

        • says:

          I assumed Stone had dirt that DeSantis was a “customer” of the same ring Matt Gaetz was being investigated for, due to their chuminess with Joel Greenberg….that would have to be investigated by the feds (or FDLE) after DeSantis was no longer a sitting Governor (or not leaked out until his term completed.) Just assumed based on the circle he travelled in, I guess.

          FDLE already investigated the Broward County vote problem — the actions of the DEMOCRATS who ran the election board in Broward, to be clear — not the actions of the 2nd generation Brooks Brothers Rioters.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I don’t see Stone jumping to DeSantis. Trump still has a greater chance of winning in 2024 (both the nomination and the general) than DeSantis, who has already turned off a majority of the country without winning over many outside Florida beyond Rupert Murdoch and Laura Ingraham.

        Say what you will about Stone (whom I consider repulsive in any context), but he has always demonstrated loyalty to those he’s bolstered. It’s a perverse and corrupt loyalty, but loyalty nonetheless. His best bet now remains with Trump regaining the ability to pardon him.

    • Zirc says:

      It is possible that Stone could see DeSantis as the horse to ride though. In which case, Trump wouldn’t get the help he needs. He even could get the precise opposite, though given what the whole world knows about Trump, I can’t imagine anything that Stone could use on him that would drive the Magamaniacs away.


      • Yargelsnogger says:

        I suspect that Stone doesn’t need to do anything beyond testify truthfully to a grand jury to put an end to Trump’s career.

  3. 90’s Country says:

    This line is worth the price of admission:
    “That set off a temper tantrum on the second shittiest social media site run by a narcissistic billionaire”

      • obsessed says:

        >You left off the “[sic]” at the end, which was the cherry on top.

        Sorry to be thick, but I didn’t get that part. I thought “[sic]” was used when you’re precisely quoting someone and the quote contains a misspelling or spoken grammatical error. EW’s line is hilarious but to what does the “sic” refer?

        • Balifar the Lost says:

          My favorite quote about this is attributed to Mark Cuban, though I have not seen hard proof it is really him
          “Trump is a billionaire if I give him 700 million dollars to wipe my ass!”

        • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

          Yep. I’m waiting for the reaading of the Will when everyone finds out just how much the Donald DOESN’T have!

        • GeeSizzle says:

          And lest we forget, we also have the other illustrious non-billionaire, the newly-minted Peter Bankman’s Fried (sic), so, we’ve got that going for us as well.

    • __Jawn__ says:

      They were Fred Perry shirts, and the company stopped selling that colorway in North America because of it.

      From their linked statement:

      Despite its lineage, we have seen that the Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt is taking on a new and very different meaning in North America as a result of its association with the Proud Boys. That association is something we must do our best to end. We therefore made the decision to stop selling the Black/Yellow/Yellow twin tipped shirt in the US from September 2019, and we will not sell it there or in Canada again until we’re satisfied that its association with the Proud Boys has ended.

      To be absolutely clear, if you see any Proud Boys materials or products featuring our Laurel Wreath or any Black/Yellow/Yellow related items, they have absolutely nothing to do with us, and we are working with our lawyers to pursue any unlawful use of our brand.

      Frankly we can’t put our disapproval in better words than our Chairman did when questioned in 2017:

      “Fred was the son of a working class socialist MP who became a world tennis champion at a time when tennis was an elitist sport. He started a business with a Jewish businessman from Eastern Europe. It’s a shame we even have to answer questions like this. No, we don’t support the ideals or the group that you speak of. It is counter to our beliefs and the people we work with,” John Flynn, Fred Perry Chairman 2017

  4. Klaatu Something says:

    tiny typo, missing word:

    a great “deal” of attention …

    Love your work and happy to help :-)

  5. brucefan says:

    Off topic, sorry, but did Trump file a brief with the 11th Circuit on DOJ’s appeal of the Cannon case?

      • AgainBrain says:

        Is there a point where regurgitating the same already-tossed-by-same-court claims over and over crosses the line into sanction-worthy misconduct?

        • brucefan says:

          I have been intrigued by Team Trump’s “we’ve got a great argument, but we’re not gonna tell you what it is” technique. I suppose if your litigation philosophy is that the case should never end, getting straight to the point is not what you do.

          They finally lay out their full PRA argument. 82 pages and they couldn’t even state, let alone support, their theory that PRA supplants all other laws regarding sensitive government information.

          With respect to construing PRA itself, they claim a Congress which was unhappy with unfettered Presidential discretion enacted a law which codified unfettered Presidential discretion. For example, why have definitions of “personal record” and “Presidential record” which bristle with principles and criteria if the President can designate willy nilly. Surplusage.

  6. Jenny says:

    “If Governor Ron DeSantis challenges @realDonaldTrump who has made it clear that he will be a candidate in 2024 it would be the most stunning act of ingratitude and treachery in the history of American politics.” Roger Stone wrote in a Telegram post.


    Trump Invokes Ron DeSantis’ Wife to Threaten Him Over 2024 Run
    “I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering,” the former president told The Wall Street Journal of the Florida governor challenging him

    • viget says:

      Not going to lie…. there is a remarkable dearth of information on who exactly Jill Casey Black DeSantis is.

      All that is known is she is from Troy, OH, was a local TV host in Jacksonville for a while, and went to College of Charleston where she participated in equestrian sports.

      That’s it. No early childhood info, no parents’ names, no info on siblings.

      A remarkably thin legend as they say…..

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Yeah, it’s so crazy here between politics and hurricanes, I daydream about moving to Michigan.

        Seems more likely that Susie Wiles saved the DeSantis campaign:

        “But Trump’s eventual victory in Florida earned Wiles a reputation as a talented fixer and Sunshine State savant. So in 2018, when Trump’s hand-picked choice for Florida governor — DeSantis, then a former congressman — was struggling in the campaign home stretch, Wiles was once again asked to take charge. With her in command, DeSantis eked out a 32,000 vote victory, the closest election for governor in state history.”

        “Not long after, the problems started.”

        • Savage Librarian says:

          Ha! I’ve thought about it from time to time. Politically it seems much more promising than FL. But I worry about having enough water.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          I forgot to tell you that there is a giant prickly pear and a not so big saguaro in a yard in my neighborhood. Every time I pass it, I give a shout out to you silently in my mind.

        • P J Evans says:

          Tunas (aka cactus pears) show up in the produce section, with the exotic fruits (including dragonfruit, which is also a cactus fruit). Nopales (the paddles) are available also, fresh in spring and in jars, shredded and cooked, all year round. (They need processing because they’re alkaline.)

        • Peterr says:

          MO, on the other hand, is apparently at least as stupid as we look. Josh Hawley is now our senior senator, and the new state auditor has pledged to investigate schools for pushing CRT, under the pretense that “it’s wasting tax payer money.”

          I struggle not to bang my head against my desk almost every day.

        • rattlemullet says:

          Seems to me based on what I read the election workers are following their laws for the vote counting process. They are also hyper aware they have a microscope up their ass watching every move they make. I have seen them bow up at criticism of the process and defend themselves, which is good thing.

        • bmaz says:

          There is nothing new here, the counting is going as it always does. They are actually pretty meticulous about it, especially in Maricopa County. They do a good job.

        • FLwolverine says:

          As of Tuesday, Michigan has a lot more going for it than just all that unsalted, oil-free, shark-free water. Democrats as Governor, lt gov, AG, and SOS, plus Democratic majorities in both Houses. Plus constitutional amendments to protect abortion rights and voting rights. Hurray! (I’m so relieved. Now maybe we can finally fix the damn roads, among other things.)

          And house prices are not nearly as wacky as Florida.

          Come on up!

  7. Molly Pitcher says:

    MSNBC has just called the AZ senate race for Kelly !! tied 49-49 !

    Let’s go Nevada. Vote result dump for Washoe County expected in less than an hour.

  8. David F. Snyder says:

    “People call, say, beware, doll; you’re bound to fall; you thought they were all kidding you …
    How does it feel? How does it feel? To be on your own? To be a felonious Stone?”

    I hope this rat trap separates the rat-fucker from his cajones.

  9. Stew says:

    Ron DeSatanist would be a more appropriate nomenclature?
    The cream of the scumbag crop
    How these yahoos are considered charismatic absolutely eludes me

  10. Bay State Librul says:

    I heard footsteps echoing at Main Justice that Garland is considering a Special Counsel approach to the Con Artist.
    If true, Garland must resign.
    Crazy talk or reality?

    • Yorkville Kangaroo says:

      Why exactly would that be?

      A special prosecutor is often appointed when the DoJ wants to ensure an investigation is not derailed by partisan politics.

      In this case it’s MORE than necessary. It’s not exactly similar to the GOP fishing expeditions that were set up by Sessions and Barr.

      • Bay State Librul says:

        The track record for Special Counsels is shall we say “strange, bizarre, and somewhat quirky”
        Plus, who would he nominate for the position Rudy G?

  11. Bay State Librul says:

    Memo to Merrick.

    “All of us are laboring under the same conditions. It’s like we’re all flying in the same broken airplane. Sure, some of us are luckier than others. Some are tough and some are weak. Some are rich and some are weak. If we own things, we’re terrified we will lose them; if we got nothing we worry it’ll be that way forever. We’re all the same.” Haruki Murakami in Wind/Pinball

    You said “no one is above the law.” Indict him now the election has ended

        • Rayne says:

          Look, your comments have degraded to spamming. This site has zero control over the DOJ or any other states’ law enforcement agency. It has no control over Congress.

          If you want specific action taken, direct your ire and demands where it belongs. Write a letter to the AG. Write one to your representatives. If you continue to spam threads with demands about which we can do nothing, you’re going to do it in the moderation bin so other community members can continue discussion.

  12. Bay State Librul says:

    Thanks. FYI, the state of Massachusetts and it’s Congressional
    Reps, along with a majority of the citizens want a quick resolution to the question of indictments.
    We also voted in a millionaire tax to help out the poor.

    • bmaz says:

      Then said people in MA ought to STFU and simply hope that DOJ does its job professionally without demand from the public for forced and false timelines. Please take heed of what Rayne said a few comments back, this constant barking about forced timeframes is getting seriously tiring.

  13. Bay State Librul says:

    Oh fuck.
    I made an error – the money generated from the Millionaire’s Tax will go to education and transportation.
    This article explains how it passed
    Also, i forgot the cardinal rule in debating: “None of us go into an argument thinking someone will change our mind. Yet, since time began, all of us are convinced we can change the minds of someone else.” Elissa Ely
    My regrets.

  14. harpie says: []
    11/8/18 TRUMP [tweet]: Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!

    11/9/18 TRUMP [tweet]: As soon as Democrats sent their best Election stealing lawyer, Marc Elias, to Broward County they miraculously started finding Democrat votes. Don’t worry, Florida – I am sending much better lawyers to expose the FRAUD!

    11/11/19 And now Florida Attorney General @PamBondi, a Republican, gets in on the recount action, including telling the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that she is “troubled” he refused to investigate Broward and Palm Beach elections officials. [Screenshot] [THREAD]

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Thank you, harpie! I have dug into the timing of Trump’s contribution to Bondi. It’s not completely clear, but it seems possible she made the decision not to go after Trump University *after* the 25K donation. Nobody seemed to care at the time, one of those media oversights that got lost in the tide of 2016.

        Bondi remains an under-scrutinized figure in the making of the Trump presidency and its current Florida-focused aftermath.

  15. Tim L. says:

    What they should be investigating is the obvious infiltration of the FBI by fascist sympathizers. Chris Wray sat there in Congress and lied through his teeth about Jan 6. Why is he still there?

  16. Tim L. says:

    This thread feels like it time-transported from a 1998 discussion board. I would like to submit that people can have an opinion about whether the DOJ should prosecute a known life-long criminal, and perhaps ask, “why in his long lawless life has he escaped criminal prosecution again and again? Is it the “system,” or is it something specific to said criminal?” And then we have people on here, many (most?) of whom are legal professionals, acting as if DOJ is following normal procedure when quite obviously they are not. But keep up the good work compiling painstakingly researched, chronological lists of legal procedures, and don’t dare have an opinion about anything, because we all know the hard-working men and women of the DOJ will not let us down!

    • Rayne says:

      acting as if DOJ is following normal procedure when quite obviously they are not.

      No, they’re not. This is the largest investigation the DOJ has ever undertaken, with +900 perps already charged; the complexity is heightened by the use of encrypted phones and communications applications, as well as subjects and targets who have frequently manipulated the justice system.

      No, they’re not following “normal procedure” because this is NOT a normal investigation. They are, however, following the law because a former president who manages to be found not guilty because of sloppy process sets an example for the next seditionist authoritarian fascist elected to POTUS.

      This is your second whine in this same thread that prosecution isn’t happening the way you personal want it to. It’s time for you to find something more constructive to do.

      • Tim L. says:

        Sorry – I thought this was about the 2018 election shenanigans?
        Also, remember there may still be missing classified docs at his other properties? Oh well – we had to halt everything in the justice-media complex because of the big election! You see, it’s our sacred policy, because someone wrote a memo in 1974.

        Also, it’s not whining. The government are not our parents.

        • Tim L. says:

          You know who doesn’t have a policy not to prosecute or “comment on investigations of” former presidents or other high officials before, during or after an election? Every other democracy in the world.

        • bmaz says:

          Hi there “Tim L”. Let’s be clear, it was YOU who started off by wondering why Trump was not being prosecuted and blurting out “acting as if DOJ is following normal procedure when quite obviously they are not.” So you now trying to backtrack and say you were only talking about 2018 is rich. Marcy’s main post was about 2018 as it intersects with 2020. But you quite clearly went straight to 2020…until you didn’t.

          Secondly, Rayne is correct that there are aspects of the investigation of Trump that are indeed unique, but they are following normal procedure. If you were familiar with the US Attys Manual and DIOG guidance, or experienced in complex conspiracy prosecutions, you would know that. Clearly you are not.

          Complex conspiracies take time to prosecute and you work from the bottom up. And, no, DOJ should not be out gabbing and “commenting on investigations” as to former Presidents, high government officials or, for that matter, any other person being investigated. But, hey, you would like to see the US stoop to lower standards. Good job “Tim L”. Let’s just abandon norms because you have a prurient demand for prosecution porn. Lastly, no, nothing was “halted” as to the investigation because of the mid term elections. That is complete bullshit and a false meme by media people. The investigation kept plugging along.

          Oh, and one other thing, yes the government are kind of our “parents”, and we elect them to be so. That is what occurs in a democratic republic. Our elected representatives, for better or worse, speak and act for us.

  17. says:

    In an interview last month on NPR, Rusty Bowers said his customers (of his private business???) in Europe are watching the state of Arizona closely during the midterms. “As goes Arizona, so goes America,” is what Bowers said Europeans are telling him. They believe your state is the bellweather that will indicate if American democracy will survive. When the NPR host asked what Bowers would look for that would suggest “the right track,” he didn’t hesitate: “for Mark Finchim to be roundly defeated” in his quest to be Secretary of State. “Democracy could fall if he got anywhere near that office.”

    BMAZ, we owe a huge debt to the courageous voters in your state. Thank God for Arizona.

    * I’ll retract that last part if Kari Lake somehow jumps ahead of Hobbs! But the former statistician in me, based on 12n Sunday numbers, calculated that Lake needs 55.29% of the statewide remaining vote to catch Hobbs. Or if Lake gets a reachable-for-her 65% of all the non-Maricopa (MC) vote, she needs 53.49% of MC’s remaining mail ballots — a number I don’t think she’s hit since same-day-vote tabulations were completed.

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