Two top Democratic strategists have exited the presidential campaign after explosive undercover videos showed them discussing voter fraud and their roles in planting paid agitators at campaign events for Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Robert Creamer, founder of Democracy Advocates and the husband of Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky, Illinois Democrat, stepped down from the campaign Tuesday, a day after Scott Foval was fired from his post as national field director of Americans United for Change.
Mr. Trump, who has long complained of a “rigged” election system, said at a Tuesday rally in Colorado that the video released by the conservative group Project Veritas Action confirmed his suspicions of Democrat-sponsored political chicanery.
“The protesters are paid a lot of money by the [Democratic National Committee], and they kept saying, ‘I wonder why those people are here, because they never seem to have much on their mind other than stand up and protest,’” Mr. Trump told a crowd in Colorado Springs. “And yesterday it came out, but it was barely covered by the media. But it’s all over the internet. They were busted.”
Brad Woodhouse, Americans United for Change president, said in a late-Monday statement that Mr. Foval “is no longer associated with Americans United for Change.”
He insisted that the Democratic political consulting firm has “always operated according to the highest ethical and legal standards.”
Mr. Creamer, a four-decade Democratic strategist who pleaded guilty in 2005 to charges of bank fraud and tax violations, said in a statement that he was “unwilling to become a distraction to the important task of electing Hillary Clinton.”
“We regret the unprofessional and careless hypothetical conversations that were captured on hidden cameras of a temporary regional contractor for our firm, and he is no longer with us,” said Mr. Creamer, who is also featured in the videos.
The two 16-minute videos were released Monday and Tuesday after a yearlong undercover investigation headed by Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe, known for his hidden-camera probes into Planned Parenthood, ACORN and voter fraud.
Mr. O’Keefe said the investigation reveals “compelling evidence of a dark-money conspiracy” and that he would continue to release videos as part of a series titled “Rigging the Election” until voters go to the polls on Nov. 8.
The first video shows Democratic strategists discussing how they hire agitators — including union members, homeless people and the mentally ill — to incite violence by provoking Trump supporters on camera at campaign stops.
Project Veritas released a second video Tuesday showing Mr. Foval brainstorming over ways to commit voter fraud, such as by busing people from one state to another, while appearing to indicate that it had already been done in Iowa.
“It’s a pretty easy thing for Republicans to say, ‘Well, they’re busing people in,’” Mr. Foval said. “Well, you know what? We’ve been busing people in to deal with you f—-ing assholes for 50 years, and we’re not going to stop now. We’re just going to find a different way to do it. So, I mean I grew up with that idea. They used to bus people out to Iowa. If they needed people, there we’d bus people out to Iowa.”
The same video shows Mr. Creamer discussing a proposal by a Project Veritas investigator to register people to vote illegally by setting up a shell corporation.
“I’m going to write down these options,” Mr. Creamer said. “Let me see if I can chat with the people who are most involved in Hispanic voter registration.”
Mr. Foval, who has worked for the George Soros-funded People for the American Way, said his paid agitators fueled a Chicago protest in March that forced the Trump campaign to cancel its event.
“They’re starting confrontations in the line, right?” said Mr. Foval. “They’re not starting confrontations in the rally. Because once they’re inside the rally, they’re under Secret Service’s control. When they’re outside the rally, the media will cover it no matter where it happens. The key is initiating the conflict by having leading conversations with people who are naturally psychotic.”
Inciting Trump supporters was easy, he said.
“I mean, honestly, it’s not hard to get some of these assholes to pop off,” Mr. Foval said. “It’s a matter of showing up, to want to get into the rally, in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt. Or, ‘Trump is a Nazi,’ you know. You can message to draw them out and draw them to punch you.”
Another operative, Aaron Black, who identified himself as “deputy rapid response director for the DNC for all things Trump on the ground,” said he was with Mr. Creamer’s group Democracy Partners but that his work was supposed to be a secret.
“Nobody’s really supposed to know about me,” Mr. Black said. “So the Chicago protest, when they shut all that, that was us. It was more [Mr. Creamer] than me, but none of this is supposed to come back to us because we want it coming from people. We don’t want it to come from the party.”
He said the idea is for the protests to appear spontaneous, not orchestrated by the DNC.
“So if we do a protest and if it’s branded a DNC protest, right away the press is going to say, ‘partisan,’” said Mr. Black, also known as “Aaron Minter,” according to the video.
“But if I’m in there coordinating with all the groups on the ground and sort of playing field general but they are the ones talking to the cameras, then it’s actually people, but if we send out press advisories with DNC on them and Clinton campaign, it just doesn’t have the same effect,” he said.
The same day the video was released, Mr. Black posted a photo on Twitter showing protesters outside Trump Tower holding signs with messages such as, “Trump Demeans Women.”
Keeping the protesters’ connection to the DNC hidden from the press was a priority, Mr. Foval said.
“We have to be really careful because what we don’t need is for it to show up on CNN that the DNC paid for X people to — that’s not going to happen,” he said.
Mr. O’Keefe said the first video raises questions about whether the Clinton campaign is coordinating with super PACs and independent expenditure committees in violation of campaign finance rules.
The Clinton campaign, DNC, Americans United for Change and Democracy Partners did not return requests for comment Tuesday.
The only public criticism of the videos has come from foes of Mr. O’Keefe’s past work such as Salon’s Brendan Gauthier, who said Project Veritas has been criticized for “strategically editing footage to make false accusations.”
In the video, Mr. Foval made clear his connections to the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
“We are contracted directly with the DNC and the campaign both. I am contracted to [Mr. Creamer]. But I answer to the head of special events for the DNC and the head of special events and political for the campaign,” said Mr. Foval.
He goes on to say, “The campaign pays DNC, DNC pays Democracy Partners, Democracy Partners pays the Foval Group, the Foval Group goes and executes the sh— on the ground.”
Mr. Creamer indicated that he was in close contact with the Clinton campaign, saying, “We have a call with the campaign every day to go over the focuses that need to be undertaken.”
“Wherever Trump and Pence are going to be, we have events,” Mr. Creamer said. “And we have a whole team across the country that does that. Both consultants and people from the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party apparatus and people from the campaign, the Clinton campaign. And my role in the campaign is to manage all that.”
Another activist, Zulema Rodriguez, told the Project Veritas investigators, “I just had a call today with the campaign and the DNC. Every day at 1 o’clock.”
She also took credit for being involved with two anti-Trump events in March: the Chicago rally and another in Arizona in which anti-Trump protesters blocked a highway.
Federal Election Commission records unearthed by Project Veritas show that Ms. Rodriguez was paid nearly $2,000 on Feb. 29 by the Hillary for America campaign.
In conversations with Project Veritas reporters, Mr. Foval described his operation as “bird dogging,” meaning that he places hired protesters in key positions at Republican campaign events, often in front of rallies or lines.
He said he has training centers in New York, Washington, Las Vegas, Colorado and Minneapolis, and that trainees include the mentally ill and homeless people.
“I’m saying we have mentally ill people that we pay to do sh—, make no mistake,” Mr. Foval said. “Over the last 20 years. I’ve paid off a few homeless guys to do some crazy stuff, and I’ve also taken them for dinner and I’ve also made sure they had a hotel and a shower and I’ve put them in a program. I’ve done that.”
He also has contacts with unions such as the AFL-CIO. “But the reality is, a lot of people, especially our union guys, a lot of union guys, they’ll do whatever you want,” Mr. Foval said. “They’re rock ‘n’ roll.”
Mr. Foval also made it clear that he viewed Mr. Creamer as a mentor.
“I work for Bob Creamer one to one,” Mr. Foval said in the video. “I’m the white hat. Democracy Partners is kind of dark hat. Bob Creamer is diabolical, and I love him for it.”
(Note: Graphic language in the video.)