Find Me the Votes: A Hard-Charging Georgia Prosecutor, a Rogue President, and the Plot to Steal an American Election

Authors: Michael Isikoff & Daniel Klaidman
Publisher: Twelve Books, 2024.  352 pages.
Reviewer: Gregg Barak | April 2024

With original reporting and exclusive access to thousands of documents, emails, text messages, and a cast of more than 100 characters representing a myriad of entities and governmental agencies, award-winning and veteran investigative journalists Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman have written a larger-than-life insider account of the electoral corruption committed by the POTUS and his supporters to overturn the 2020 presidential election with flagrant disregard for the rule of law and American Democracy. The authors take the readers behind the scenes of the irreconcilable Donald Trump, his co-conspirators, and threats of intimidation or violence directed at a range of law-abiding people from ordinary vote counters to high-ranking officials and their families to the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her staff of deputy prosecutors.

Inside of Find Me the Votes there are stories behind the fake electors and the plot to steal the Georgian as well as other state elections. This fascinating retelling of the conspiracy to flip the election involves disinformation, misinformation, and a deliberate false narrative for the intentional swindling of the American people. What is revealed by this reconnaissance of the alleged crimes and this RICO investigation is the distinction between people who did and did not know the purported information was false. The former went along with the plot because they supported Trump, the GOP, or the position that was reinforced by the Big Lie. The latter were conned about Biden and the Democratic “stealing” of an election. These folks turned out to be little more than useful idiots spreading the lies that 35 percent of all American voters and two-thirds of Republicans believe.

What Isikoff and Klaidman have documented about the twice impeached president, failed insurrectionist, and criminally indicted four times ex-Commander-in-Chief, establishes that sometimes what transpires in the real world is more bizarre than anything we could have ever imagined. While the truth may indeed be stranger than fiction, this is because, as Mark Twain explained: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” In Find Me the Votes, the superb investigative reporting reveals exactly how one of the greatest fraudsters in U.S. history and his assembly of miserable co-conspirators went well beyond any of the promises of the American imagination.

The Prologue entitled The Body Double serves to foreshadow what is to come. It sets the tone and stage for a three-act play that unfolds over the chapters as the authors zero in on the security precautions and protections taken by Willis, her eighty-year-old father, and by providing bulletproof Kevlar flak jackets to senior staff. The opening scenario accentuates the fact that after all the 2020 voting was over, Georgia election officials at every level had been subjected to all kinds of psychological abuse and doxing on social media. As for the district attorney in this case, she was being bombarded by warnings of death and racial slurs alike.

Part I is named The Making of a DA and is composed of three chapters. Parts II and III are called A Conspiracy in Plain Sight and The State of Georgia v. Donald John Trump, respectively. Each part, or “book,” as the authors label them, or novellas as I prefer, comprises five chapters each.

The Epilogue, designated as The Mug Shot, summarizes where the indictment and pretrial matters stood by the end of 2023. That was two and one-half months before the Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee, on a motion to dismiss the case for lack of specificity, had quashed six of the 13 counts against Trump and his 18 co-conspirators, reduced the former president’s felony charges from 41 to 38, and left in place the rest of the racketeering indictments. Only two days later after the quashing, McAfee, one week after oral arguments from a disqualification hearing for an alleged “conflict of interest” brought by a motion from one of the co-defendants that because of the “appearance of impropriety,” the RICO case could proceed forward if either Fani Willis or her appointed lead prosecutor Nathan Wade steps aside which the latter did.

Chapter 1: Badass is about Fani as a young girl raised by her single father, attorney John Floyd. Tagging along for years with Daddy to his litigating office, she fantasizes of one day becoming a judge, which Willis accomplished after she had first been a star assistant prosecutor in Fulton County and before she would run in a polarized 2020 race against her former boss to become, should she win, the first African American woman Fulton County District Attorney. A position she was sworn into on January 2, 2021, just four days before the Capitol assault.

Chapter 2: The Law-and-Order Candidate is about Willis as a religious person and the decision to run as a Democrat against her mentor, Paul Howard. Also a Democrat, Howard had been the liberal district attorney of Fulton County for twenty-five years. At the time, Atlanta’s crime problem was spiraling out of control, and the incumbent was being dogged by sexual harassment complaints brought by his own office’s director of human resources. Otherwise, Willis would not have been willing to challenge her old boss and prosecutorial mentor.

Chapter 3: Chaos in Atlanta is about the period when the campaign for district attorney was heating up in the aftermath of the Minneapolis Police killing of George Floyd and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when tens of thousands of Black Lives Matters protesters were demonstrating in Atlanta and across the nation. The authors take the reader through Willis’ “law and order” candidacy to the right of the more liberal Howard and leading up to her victory with 73 percent of the vote in August of 2020. We then learn a great deal about Willis as a prosecutor of other high-profile racketeering cases that segues into her RICO conspiracy investigation that led up to the August 2023 criminal indictments of Trump and his 18 co-defendants.

Chapter 4: A Confederate in the Attic refers to Chester P. Doles, a Trump activist and onetime Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan who, on January 6, had come to visit the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. This was one of several overshadowed Trump stories on that day because of the events occurring in DC. In this example, the secretary of state was being briskly escorted away from the Georgia state capitol by state troopers while a militia group was standing outside armed with at least one AK-47. This episode occurred at the same time as Trump was finishing up his Ellipse speech, and his rioting supporters moments later were on their way to the US Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” where a gallows had been erected.

Chapter 5: The Targeting of Innocents tells the story of how, by the end of November 2020, Trump, his lawyers, and political allies were “aiming their fire” not just at Georgia public officials but were going after a couple of female African-American election workers in the Democratic stronghold of Fulton County. Subsequently, these two vote counters, a mother and adult daughter, would sue Rudy Giuliani for defamation of character. This jury of a former mayor of New York’s peers awarded these two women on December 15, 2023, a combined $148 million in damages.

Chapter 6: The QAnon Commission focuses on a December 2nd gathering attended by the likes of former general Michael Flynn, attorney Sydney Powell, and the flamboyant and crazy Georgia defense attorney L. Lin Wood escorted to the event by Don Trump, Jr.  The Trump faithful assembled that day were being called to participate in a “Jericho March.” They were to surround the governor’s mansion while blowing their horns, like in the Old Testament story where God commanded the Jewish priests to march around the ancient biblical city of Joshua to crush the corruption and injustice within its walls.

Chapter 7: The Republican Stone Wall is the story about election denial, disinformation, misinformation, a large number of conspiratorial players, and a fair number of useful idiots who were never indicted as the prosecutors viewed them as unwittingly involved in the attempts to steal the 2020 election.

Chapter 8: The “Perfect” Phone Call from Hell is the one everybody has heard: “Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.” On the one hand, this chapter is about the so-called domino theory that should Georgia flip the vote count in favor of Trump. Other swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin would follow suit, securing enough fake electors between them to overturn the election. On the other hand, this chapter juxtaposes the efforts of resistance towards the scheme to steal the election by Secretary of State Raffensperger and his two deputies, Governor Jack Kemp, the former Lt Governor Geoffrey Duncan, and Attorney General Christopher Carr.

Chapter 9: The DA Speaks is about several things. There is the public emergence of Willis as a no-nonsense, hard-ass prosecutor—the intimidation and dangerousness of Trump, conspiring lawyers, Republican party officials, and MAGA supporters. There is also the realization that by the time of the first day of the second impeachment hearings of Trump on February 13, 2021, for inciting an insurrection on January 6, Willis was already notifying the top Georgia officials to preserve all their documents and emails as these might become evidence for a RICO investigation. In effect, Willis was announcing to the world that Trump could very well become criminally indicted for his activities leading up to the assault on the Capitol building.

Chapter 10: A Raid in Rural Georgia is the story of Scott Hall, an Atlanta-based bail bondsman with Trump connections, some data wonks, and cyber forensics specialists who had all been hired to gain access to two Dominion voting machines in Coffee County.

Chapter 11: A Threat from Trump takes the reader into the first year of Willis’ life as a prosecutor handling an enormous backload of serious criminal matters in addition to the Trump probe, where the investigation was being stalled for lack of cooperation from critical witnesses without having yet been subpoenaed to testify and with no top-notch lawyer ready to lead the prosecution such as the former Governor Roy Barnes who has been quoted as saying, “would you want a bodyguard following you around for the rest of your life?” As most people know, Willis would eventually turn to Nathan Wade, a soft-spoken, part-time municipal judge and solid member of the defense bar.

Chapter 12: A Very Special Grand Juror refers to Emily Kohrs. A 29-year-old former candlestick maker and unemployed college dropout with a photographic memory. After the recommendation in favor of the indictments, she would become the jury foreperson who appeared on live television, teasing the news media about the particulars they would eventually learn about. Kohrs was much brighter than she appeared or portrayed in a Saturday Night Live sketch. For example, she was frustrated by Mark Meadows, who took the 5th on virtually every question asked of him. So she got Meadows to take the 5th about his statements on his Twitter account and Wikipedia page. There were also revelations about the testimony of South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump’s golfing buddy. After fighting his subpoena to testify to the SCOTUS, he would turn around and throw the former president under the proverbial bus. We also learn about how Wade had picked up on the questioning from Kohrs to pull one of those gotcha moments concerning the reluctant testimony from Brad Raffensperger based on his book Integrity Counts (2021). Finally, we learn about Willis and some of her decision-making. From her keen observations of the special grand jurors, for example, she had concluded that Trump’s “perfect” phone call to the secretary of state was not enough evidence for her and that the investigation would have to continue before she would be ready to sit another grand jury to formally indict anybody.

Chapter 13: A True Bill takes the reader much deeper into the methodology of Willis and her team’s investigation of all of the leads and persons involved, the extensive preparations for the announcing of the criminal indictments, the dissecting of the recommendations of the special grand juries and reducing their number of indictments to include only those whom the grand jurors had unanimously recommended. The chapter finishes with Willis stepping up to a podium at the Fulton County Government Center a little before midnight on August 4, 2023, to unveil her charges against Trump and his co-conspirators. Isikoff and Klaidman then revisit the book’s beginning with Willis’ bodydouble leaving through the front door and the district attorney leaving through the back door and driving away with her bodyguards.

As the author of Criminology on Trump (2022) and Indicting the 45th President: Boss Trump, the GOP, and What We Can Do About the Threat to American Democracy (2024), let me conclude this review by disclosing as I wrote back in an October 5, 2022, Salon commentary. Most books on Donald Trump and/or his many lives of crime are “clueless,” not so much about what makes Donald tick as how he actually operates. That stated, there are a few dozen journalistic books as well as a handful of worthwhile “tell-all” books by former Trump players from a variety of vantage points. At the same time, what distinguishes Find Me the Votes from all the other books is that it is the only one to date that provides a behind-the-scenes as well as an insider’s account of both Trump’s racketeering conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election and the state of Georgia’s criminal investigation that led to the racketeering indictments of 19 co-conspirators.  


Gregg Barak is an Emeritus Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice at Eastern Michigan University

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