On December 2 2020, video of “a drunk woman” acting as a witness for purported and nonexistent election fraud went viral, due in part to the following tweet:
a drunk woman is trump team’s star witness in michigan pic.twitter.com/qGxEI3hp2G
— marisa kabas (@MarisaKabas) December 3, 2020
In that tweet, writer @MarisaKabas stated that “a drunk woman is trump team’s star witness in michigan,” accompanied by just under two minutes of footage. Shortly thereafter, “Melissa Carone” became a Twitter trending topic (along with actress “Kate McKinnon” in anticipation of the upcoming Saturday Night Live.)
Commenters honed in on one particular moment during which Carone bit her lip and raised her eyebrows, making GIFs:
— Chris Wright-Garcia🖖 (@ChrisWrightActs) December 3, 2020
We decided to unpack the whole thing.
Who is Mellissa Carone?
Mellissa Carone, whose name has been misspelled as “Melissa Carone,” appeared on a December 2 2020 livestream at a meeting of Michigan lawmakers alongside Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who is part of an effort to overturn the results of the November 3 2020 election, in which Trump decisively lost to Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden.
Google Trends indicated interest in both spellings of her name, alongside the following search terms:
- “Michigan Hearing”;
- “Alcohol intoxication”;
- “Victoria Jackson” (former Saturday Night Live castmember), and;
- “Melissa Carone drunk.”
Data from Google Trends regularly and inadvertently reflects social media discourse, through which Carone’s demeanor in the viral videos was often framed as visibly intoxicated. Carone was compared to cast members and characters on Saturday Night Live, such as Cecily Strong’s “Drunk Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party” — indeed, one reply to Kabas’ tweet included a video of Strong’s character:
SNL literally had a skit about this lady https://t.co/vIZqhz3Ed8
— Anthony Duncan (@FatTonysMacbook) December 3, 2020
Have We Seen Mellissa Carone Before?
Indeed we have.
Yet another person commenting on Kabas’ thread linked to a November 17 2020 clip from the David Pakman Show, in which Pakman dissected Carone’s November 2020 appearance on Lou Dobbs’ Fox News show:
I think she’s still mad about not getting a sandwich on Election Day.https://t.co/s3dCwcpPdI
— Ashlee Explains It All (@ash_says_what) December 3, 2020
Carone’s name also appeared in a broad November 19 2020 Washington Post fact-check (with the straightforward but optimistic headline of “Fact-checking the craziest news conference of the Trump presidency”), in a section specifically devoted to the claims that Carone was peddling in the December 2 2020 video. In the prior fact-check, the news organization explained:
“They swear to you that at 4:30 in the morning, a truck pulled up to the Detroit center where they were kept counting ballots. The people thought it was food, so they all ran to the truck. Wasn’t food. It was thousands and thousands of ballots.”
— [Rudy] Giuliani
This claim largely stems from a single affidavit that was filed by an alleged witness, Melissa Carone, a contract IT worker for Dominion. But Carone, who made a number of voter-fraud claims, does not even leap to the conclusions that Giuliani drew.
In her affidavit, Carone simply says that food was brought in on two vans, but “I never saw any food coming out of the vans, coincidentally it was announced on the news that Michigan had found over 100,000 more ballots — not even two hours after the last van left.” [Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy] Kenny also concluded that Carone’s “allegations are simply not credible.”
On November 13 2020, legal news site Law and Crime provided a longer snippet regarding Carone’s initial claims and Kenny’s finding that they were “simply not credible”:
The judge [Kenny] also laid waste to the internet rumor that the company Dominion Voting Services tried to rig the election for President-elect Joe Biden electronically, a baseless theory that entered into the court record via its contractor, Republican Melissa Carone.
“Ms. Carone’s description of the events at the TCF Center does not square with any of the other affidavits,” Judge Kenny found. “There are no other reports of lost data, or tabulating machines that jammed repeatedly every hour during the count. Neither Republican nor Democratic challengers nor city officials substantiate her version of events. The allegations simply are not credible.”
How Did Mellissa Carone Re-Enter the News Cycle?
On December 3 2020, the Washington Post published another article on Carone, this one bearing the headline, “Trump campaign’s star witness in Michigan was deemed ‘not credible.’ Then, her loud testimony went viral,” concerning Carone and her appearance at the meeting in Michigan:
Yet, there she was in front of a Michigan House panel on Wednesday [December 2 2020], dressing down a Republican lawmaker as she loudly insisted, without proof, that tens of thousands of votes had been counted twice. At one point, she was audibly shushed by Trump campaign attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani.
The article went on to explain that Carone had addressed a Michigan House panel on December 1 and 2 2020, primarily reiterating those same claims already deemed “simply not credible”:
A contractor for Dominion Voting Systems, which supplies voting technology for election jurisdictions nationwide, Carone stumbled into the national spotlight last month [in November 2020] as one of a handful of “extraordinary witnesses” cited by Giuliani to support the Trump campaign’s unverified claims of a “stolen election.”
On Election Day, Carone said, she worked a nonstop, 24-hour shift at Detroit’s vote-counting operation at TCF Center, tasked with IT support for Dominion’s machines. In an affidavit filed Nov. 10 , she claimed seeing some ballots being illegally scanned multiple times and suggested that vans meant to bring in meals for elections workers were hiding tens of thousands of ballots instead.
Carone’s affidavit was included in a lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign seeking to halt the certification of election results in Wayne County, a liberal, vote-rich area where Biden racked up much of his support. Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny denied that request Nov. 13 , saying Carone’s and other witnesses’ “interpretation of events is incorrect and not credible.”
Nearly a month later [in December 2020], she continued making the same allegations in separate testimonies this week before the Michigan House and Michigan Senate Oversight Committees.
“Everything that happened at that TCF Center was fraud,” she declared [on December 1 2020]. “Every single thing.”
What Did She Actually Say in the Videos?
An impressive number of claims and comments made by Carone on December 2 2020 were quoted in news articles and on social media. Among them were:
- In response to State Rep. Steven Johnson’s assertion that her claims about records (in particular a book) not supporting her claims, Carone said: “What did you guys do, take it and, uh, do something crazy to it?”
- Addressing Johnson again, Carone maintained: “I know what I saw, and I signed something saying if I’m wrong, I can go to prison. Did you?”
- “The poll book is completely off … completely off … I’d say that [poll book] is off by 100,000 [voters].”
- When corrected about numbers: “Look again … look again.”
- Asked again about whether the book was “wildly off” or “they are filling in names”: “Wildly off, and dead people voted, and illegals voted …”
In a less-popular circulating clip shared to TheDonald.win, Carone answered a question about why other witnesses had not “come forward” to make the same claims Carone made. A tweet was attached to that post, with video of Carone’s response:
A commenter on TheDonald.win clarified that the statement was made by a Republican, reiterating a Democrat:
Just to be precise: the guy who is speaking and vocally asking the question in the video is Matt Hall, who is with the republican party, but he’s relaying what the nut job democrat before him, which is Darrin Camilleri, was trying to insinuate.
In her response, Carone claimed she had received death threats, that her children were threatened, that she had “lost” friendships and family relationships, that she was unemployable, and that she had had to delete her social media accounts. Despite that last claim, she appeared to maintain a possible Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, and two possible Twitter profiles (which were largely inactive):
I hate when guys lie about stupid shit
— Mellissa Carone (@MellissaCarone) June 6, 2012
“I can’t even get an actual job anymore,” says Mellissa Carone. She says she was laid off from Ford before she was hired by a staffing agency to do temp IT work, now claims that Democrats are the reason she hasn’t been hired in the past four weeks. pic.twitter.com/M1j9ecldIM
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) December 3, 2020
Mellissa Carone: “I’ve had to get rid of social media.”
Also Mellissa Carone: pic.twitter.com/5Ea4iNwv9f
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) December 3, 2020
Mellissa Carone appeared in a viral video showing her “dressing down” of Johnson — a Republican lawmaker in Michigan — on December 2 2020. Social media users compared her combative demeanor to a Saturday Night Live character and frequently described her as sounding “drunk.” Carone’s comments were well received by supporters of Donald Trump, but her claims had been reviewed by Judge Kenny in November 2020 and found to be “simply not credible.” However, the video of Carone was real and unaltered, much like the outcome of the presidential election — which in Michigan, has already been certified.