Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
On Monday, Fulton County, Ga., prosecutors handed down a 41-count indictment, charging 19 co-conspirators for their plan to overturn the 2020 election. The failed plot to skim a measly 11,780 votes off the top of Georgia’s largest county was foiled, in part, because of District Attorney Fani Willis’ extensive experience in dealing with scammers like former President Donald Trump.
If “Scam Likely” was a person it would be Donald Trump.
According to the Washington Post, Trump made 30,573 false or misleading statements during his tenure as commander-in-chief. From the day he hosted the largest inauguration in the history of the universe (not true) to the moment he loaded classified documents into the presidential U-Haul, Trump earned his bona fides as one of the greatest white liars of all time.
To be fair, part of Trump’s success is due to white mediocrity. The “very stable genius” convinced his constituency of uneducated Caucasians that his specific brand of white boy magic could cure COVID with a combination of Clorox and sunlight and redirect hurricanes with a Sharpie. The bankrupt snake oil salesman bamboozled his white supremacist clientele into swallowing his antidote for economic anxiety, Mexican caravans and windmill-related cancer. It’s not hard to understand why people who were hoodwinked into taking horse medicine would believe that an election was stolen. While the failed burglary may rank as the second-most ambitious heist in American history (In 1776, a group of white strong-arm robbers stole an entire country away from the Native Americans), Trump’s caper may have ultimately failed because, when it comes to scamming, there’s no place like Atlanta.
Led by Gov. Brian Kemp, who Stacey Abram dubbed “a remarkable architect of voter suppression,” Georgia has always served as ground zero for flimflammers. The British government originally granted a charter to Georgia’s founders based on their promise to outlaw slavery and provide a home for poor whites who were imprisoned for owing money. However, the first settlers were wealthy aristocrats who almost immediately ripped up the colony’s anti-slavery clause and said “sike.” The state’s original borders extended all the way to Louisiana until land speculators scammed the state into “selling” Alabama and Mississippi. After discovering gold, the U.S. government used two scams (the Treaty of New Echota and Manifest Destiny) to fleece the Cherokee out of the land that became the state’s capital.
Atlanta is literally a scam.
But where do the Moronic Alt-Right Grifters Attempting to Secretly Convert Atlanta’s Minority-Majority Electorate to Republican by Subterfuge (MAGASCAMMERS) rank among Atlanta’s best fraudsters? Using our proprietary algorithm and the actual indictment, theGrio compared the flimflam artists to Atlanta’s best and brightest scammers. We graded them on ingenuity, ability and effort, as well as comparing them to their crooked-minded brethren.
Grading the leader
What they’re accused of: “Defendant Donald John Trump lost the United States presidential election held on November 3, 2020,” the indictment reads. “Trump and the other Defendants charged in this Indictment refused to accept that Trump lost, and they knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.”
Who did it better: When it comes to leading a gang, the most obvious choice is Jeffery Lamar Williams. Also known as Young Thug, Williams has outperformed Trump in every category despite being half Trump’s age. The alleged leader of Young Slime Life is facing 56 felony counts among 28 people. Then there’s Demetrius Edward “Big Meech” Flenory, whose Black Mafia Family was the No. 1 ranked Atlanta pharmaceutical sales team for years.
But the youthful thug and the large Meech still can’t compare to Todd and Julie Chrisley, the Barbie and Ken of Caucasian conmen who were convicted of defrauding community banks out of more than $30 million and somehow managed to get another reality show.
Not only did Trump’s plan ultimately fall apart, he made amateur mistakes. The police didn’t even have to tap his phone because he spilled the beans on the call to Georgia’s secretary of state. Everyone in Atlanta knows you’re supposed to have two phones. Plus, Trump has never been accused of being fresh as hell, despite knowing that the feds were watching.
The only reason he didn’t earn an F is because there are some dumb people in Georgia who still believe the election was stolen.
Grade: C minus.
Organizing the crime
What they’re accused of: The MAGA bamboozlers’ conspiracy allegedly “contained a common plan and purpose to commit two or more acts of racketeering activity in Fulton County, Georgia, elsewhere in the State of Georgia and in other states.”
Who did it better: Although the group is technically facing Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) charges, painting the cabal of MAGA buffoons as an organized crime syndicate is like referring to shirtless white boys who got their asses whipped in Montgomery as a “wrestling team.”
Instead of begging Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for 11,780 votes, a real influencer of a corrupt organization would’ve phoned Raffensperger’s boss, Brian Kemp, and asked him how he made at least 32,000 Black votes disappear in the 2018 midterms. If Trump were truly organized, he could’ve had Fulton County elections officials simply purge the voter rolls. Oh, wait … they already did that in 2020. And 2018. And 2017. And 2016.
In any case, every hustler knows you must diversify your scams. When authorities charged more than three dozen of Atlanta’s most cunning conmen with convincing suckers to hand over more than $30 million, they were smart enough to use “business email compromise schemes, romance fraud scams, and retirement account scams, among other frauds, to steal more than $30 million from numerous victims.”
At least Trump made a phone call.
Lying and cheating
What they’re accused of: The charging documents allege that “Members of the enterprise corruptly solicited Georgia legislators instead to unlawfully appoint their own presidential electors for the purpose of casting electoral votes for Donald Trump,” and several of the defendants also “made false statements in Fulton County and elsewhere in the State of Georgia to Georgia officials, including the Governor, the Secretary ofState, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
Who did it better: This is amateur stuff. Why didn’t Trump seek out some advice from former Sen. Kelly Loeffler? A few years after MAGA Barbie moved into “the most expensive private home purchase in the city’s history,” she somehow convinced tax appraisers to lower the price of the 15,000-square-foot mansion by $6 million.
I still don’t understand why Rudy Giuliani and the crew didn’t just bribe election officials. In Atlanta; bribing politicians is a time-honored tradition. Maybe the scheme was exposed because they didn’t wear the right clothes. Clothes are very important in the ATL. Depending on what you wear, people in Atlanta will believe you are a gangsta or a cop.
Ultimately, though, it’s hard to criticize Republicans for how they lied and cheated. Even though they lied to regular citizens, the press, and local, state and federal officials, it is obvious they gave it their all. Sometimes, your best just isn’t good enough.
Who am I to criticize some of the top-ranked liars in the world?
Trump, Giuliani and his lawyers are also accused of forging at least one document that “purports to have been made by the authority of the duly elected and qualified presidential electors from the State of Georgia.” I’m sure people who tried to change the outcome of a presidential election will get more time than the nine Atlanta teachers, principals and administrators who received prison sentences as long as seven years for inflating students’ test scores.
Why are you laughing?
Marketing and PR
What they’re accused of: While it is not a crime, the co-conspirators still refuse to admit that Donald Trump lost the 2020 election
Who did it better: Perhaps the most admirable part of this scheme to overturn the election is the marketing campaign. There are still people who believe that Biden won the presidency because of 2,000 mules, 5,000 registered zombies and Venezuelan voting machines.
I know it sounds crazy. But you know what else sounds crazy?
It was crazy when Killer Mike tried to excuse his plantation painting photo-op with the state’s No. 1 vote suppressor by suggesting that people who aren’t famous rappers could change the mind of virulent anti-Black politicians by scheduling sit-downs with their local representatives. He could’ve just said: “That was probably a bad idea,” but he’s an “activist” and a “leader.”
Remember when they scammed white people into voting for Herschel Walker because he was a crime-fighting business tycoon with a Ph.D. in Christian family values? By defeating actual Rev. Sen. Dr. Raphael Warnock, Walker would have proven that the Black community’s failures were due to our unwillingness to focus on Jesus, education and family values. And even when Walker dissed the entire vampire community, the white werewolves still voted for him.
It wasn’t just white people. Indicted co-conspirator Harrison Floyd actually convinced the MAGA campaign team that he could get Black people to vote for Trump while publicist Trevian Kutti allegedly harrassed election officials worse than an Atlanta water boy.
This is why Donald Trump is one of the greatest scammers of all time.
Even the home of Freaknik, Outkast and the Underground Strip Club Railroad is not immune to the whiteness. Atlanta is where white women dedicated to confederate monuments and the Lost Cause renamed themselves the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It’s where white supremacists massacred dozens of Black people in 1906 and called it a “race riot.” It’s where white segregationist legislators flew a confederate flag at the statehouse to celebrate the traitors who lost a war. It’s where bottled water and confederate holidays and living in a Black neighborhood and not being white can keep you from voting.
Atlanta is still America.
White people will still overwhelmingly vote for Trump. In Georgia, and in this country in general, democracy is only an idea that lives in the minds of white Americans. They love star-spangled banners and the troops and the idea of a colorblind society. But when it comes to politics, there are only two parties:
White people and everyone else.
If they were actually concerned with voting irregularities, widespread election fraud or voter suppression, they would have been trying to help Black people secure equal access to the ballot. But, they are not worried about their country or freedom or truth. They are only worried about winning. For them, “team white people” is all that matters.
The real scam is whiteness.
Overall grade: A-plus
Michael Harriot is a writer, cultural critic and championship-level Spades player. His book, Black AF History: The Unwhitewashed Story of America, will be released in September.
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