Woman Goes Viral for Bizarre Appearance at Trump Election Hearing in Michigan
Mellissa Carone, who described herself as a contract IT worker, spoke before state lawmakers
A self-described whistleblower — whose allegations of election wrongdoing a judge already found "not credible" — grabbed the spotlight of social media on Wednesday for an unusually chatty, even combative, appearance in front of Michigan lawmakers that went viral.
Republican Mellissa Carone made a series of unverified allegations of fraud at the hearing, which was part of Donald Trump's push to have already-certified votes overturned. While Trump's lawsuits have been unsuccessful in court, the president and his allies have turned to staging a series of showy, in ultimately ineffective, hearings for reporters and local lawmakers.
JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Mellissa Carone speaks in front of the Michigan House Oversight Committee in Lansing on Wednesday.
It was her blonde updo, Midwestern accent and flippantly theatrical manner — which even attorney Rudy Giuliani attempted to assuage — that got the most attention, with some Twitter users saying Saturday Night Live writers could "take this week off" after she appeared.
Footage of her speaking before the panel has been seen tens of millions of times.
Carone had reportedly worked as a contract IT worker for Dominion Voting Systems, a private company which describes itself as a nonpartisan operation that creates software to help local governments run their elections. Dominion is also widely used in battleground states, drawing Trump's ire.
President Trump, who lost his reelection bid to Democrat Joe Biden, has falsely claimed that Dominion machines are part of a national conspiracy to flip votes away from him.
Evidence has not backed him up; and a recent Washington Post review of 10 swing states found that counties that used the Dominion machines overwhelmingly voted for Trump.
Carone submitted an affidavit making allegations about what she described as a number of "fraudulent actions" at a large vote-counting center in Detroit.
A judge in the case previously said he found affidavits from others at the center, which contradicted Carone, more persuasive: "[Her] allegations simply are not credible," he ruled in November.
Still, the campaign has continued using Carone as a witness, bringing her to an oversight panel at the Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday, where she defended herself in part by saying there were other campaign witnesses who would corroborate her. She also said Democrats had ruined her life and livelihood for speaking out.
(Carone reportedly spoke before a similar oversight group for the state senate the day before.)
Among her many unfounded accusations, Carone said that Michigan ballots were counted multiple times, that "dead people" and "illegals" were found to have voted and that poll books used to maintain voter information were in fact wildly — astronomically — inaccurate, though one Republican lawmaker told her that wasn't what they saw.
Still not convinced this isn’t a SNL character. (A judge previously declared this Trump supporter /freelance contract IT worker’s testimony “simply not credible.”) pic.twitter.com/ptsN665A0T
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) December 1, 2020
Michigan witness for Trump’s legal team had a couple of Long Island Iced Teas before testifying.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 3, 2020
I thought Rudy Giuliani was crazy.
Then I thought that Trump's 46-minute tirade was insane.
But the #Trump Star witness Melissa Carone in #Michigan is on another level.#SNL and Kate McKinnon will have some serious fun with this!pic.twitter.com/wrgchmHBz6
— Colonel Hardstone (@Col_Hardstone) December 3, 2020
"That poll book is completely off," Carone alleged.
"By 30,000?" Republican Rep. Steven Johnson asked.
"I'd say that poll book is off by over 100,000," she shot back.
Carone expressed incredulity when Johnson told her that the panel didn't see evidence to back up those claims.
"You take a look again. Take a look again," she countered.
“I know what I saw,” Carone continued, as other lawmakers urged her to stop interrupting. “And I signed something saying if I’m wrong, I can go to prison. Did you?”
At one point, Carone seemingly grew so exasperated that Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani could be seen attempting to calm her.
Giuliani, with an uncomfortable look on his face, patted the table in between him and Carone in a conciliatory gesture.
Footage of her appearance drew widespread attention on social media, with many Trump critics using it as fodder to underline what they called the ridiculousness of his antidemocratic strategy.
(Efforts to reach Carone for comment were unsuccessful.)
Beyond Carone, the Trump's campaign's attempts to throw out Biden's victory over their fraud case have caused a stir before.
Perhaps the most notable of these was a press conference in which Giuliani, who is leading the campaign's legal efforts as the president's personal attorney, made his case to reporters and TV cameras while a hair dye-like substance dripped down his face.
Giuliani's own appearance in the Wednesday hearing (in which cameras picked up, at one point, what sounded like the attorney passing gas) was ridiculed as well.
This follows a previous press conference held in the parking lot of a Philadelphia landscaping company called Four Seasons — rather than the upscale hotel chain, leading many to believe there had been a scheduling snafu.