The Lincoln Project has announced plans to launch an advertising campaign against two law firms over their role representing President Trump and the Republican Party in their voter fraud-related lawsuits.
On Twitter on Tuesday, the anti-Trump political action committee run by former Republican insiders also urged people to find employees of Jones Day and Porter Wright Morris & Arthur through their social media accounts and “ask them how they can work for an organization trying to overturn the will of the American people.”
The group suggested it would also pressure clients to drop the firms. By the end of the day, Porter Wright had deleted its Twitter account, which was being inundated with attacks. A message seeking comment was left with Porter Wright.
Jones Day responded that it is not representing the president, his campaign “or any affiliated party in any litigation alleging voter fraud,” but the Pennsylvania Republican Party, in litigation brought by private parties and the state’s Democratic Party. That litigation resulted in the order that extended the deadline for returning mail-in ballots that was set by Pennsylvania state lawmakers.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Postal worker admits fabricating allegations of ballot tampering, officials say
A Pennsylvania postal worker whose claims have been cited by top Republicans as potential evidence of widespread voting irregularities admitted to U.S. Postal Service investigators that he fabricated the allegations, according to three people briefed on the investigation and a statement from a House congressional committee.
Richard Hopkins’ claim that a postmaster in Erie, Pa., instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day was cited by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in a letter to the Department of Justice calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to open probes into credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud, a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy.
But on Sunday, Hopkins, 32, told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General that the allegations were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims, according to the sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Democrats on the House oversight committee tweeted late Tuesday that the “whistleblower completely RECANTED.”
Hopkins did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The reversal comes as Trump has refused to concede to President-Elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, citing unproven allegations about widespread voter fraud in an attempt to swing the results in his favor. Republicans held up Hopkins’ claims as among the most credible because he signed an affidavit swearing that he overheard a supervisor instructing colleagues to backdate ballots mailed after Nov. 3.
The Trump campaign provided that affidavit to Graham, who in turn asked the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to launch an investigation.
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International observers see no fraud in U.S. election
International observers from the Organization of American States say they saw no instances of fraud or voting irregularities in the U.S. presidential election.
The delegation included 28 experts and observers from 13 countries who observed the election process in in Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan and the District of Columbia. COVID-19 prevented a broader coalition of experts.
The OAS says the Election Day was peaceful, although there were efforts to intimate poll workers as the votes were counted, and says the country’s mail-in ballots were a secure system.
The report says the OAS supports “the right of all contesting parties in an election, to seek redress before the competent legal authorities when they believe they have been wronged.”
“It is critical however, that candidates act responsibly by presenting and arguing legitimate claims before the courts, not unsubstantiated or harmful speculation in the public media,” the OAS says.
Agencies told to plan Trump’s next budget in another sign of election defiance
WASHINGTON – The White House budget office has instructed federal agencies to continue preparing the administration’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year, according to multiple administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of private conversations.
The White House budget proposal is typically issued in February, which would be at least two weeks after Trump is scheduled to depart the White House. He lost the Nov. 3 election to Joe Biden and Biden is set to be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021, though Trump has refused to accept the results.
The decision to proceed with President Donald Trump’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year has rankled and surprised several career staffers given Biden’s victory in the presidential election, as well as the fact that the incoming Biden administration is expected to submit its budget plan to Congress early next year.
The insistence on budget planning, even though Trump won’t be in office to offer a budget in February, is part of a recent pattern of behavior from White House officials and senior political appointees that have shown a rejection of the election results.
On Monday, the Trump White House also instructed senior government officials to not cooperate with Biden’s transition team, igniting a potential legal battle.
Asked if the fiscal year 2022 budget process was proceeding as planned, a spokesperson for the White House budget office said: “Of course.”
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Secretary of State Pompeo brushes aside vote results showing Biden won
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is brushing aside results of last week’s presidential election showing that President Trump lost his bid for a second term.
Pompeo told reporters Tuesday with a grin that the “transition” to a second Trump term would be “smooth,” but later said the State Department was prepared for any eventuality. Trump has refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden.
Pompeo ignored results showing that Biden had won the election, and he also dismissed as “ridiculous” questions about whether the U.S. had lost credibility as a judge of other countries’ elections because of Trump’s unproven claims of fraud at the polls.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration, “ Pompeo said with a chuckle, before reverting to a more nuanced response. “We’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place here. We’re going to count all the votes.”
He said the “world should have every confidence” that the State Department is “successful today” and that it will be “successful with the president who’s in office on Jan. 20 a minute after noon.”
Turkey’s President Erdogan congratulates Biden on his win
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday, expressing Turkey’s determination to work closely with the new administration.
“I believe that the strong cooperation and alliance between our countries will continue to contribute to world peace in the future, as it has done so far,” Erdogan said in his congratulatory message, made available by his office.
Turkey was one of a handful of countries, along with Russia, that had not commented on Biden’s victory, which was announced Saturday. A senior Turkish official said Monday that Ankara would wait until legal challenges to the U.S. election results were resolved and for the outcome to be finalized. It was not clear what made Erdogan change his mind.
NATO allies Turkey and the United States have been at odds over the past years over a number of issues, including on policy over Syria and Turkey’s decision to purchase Russia’s advanced anti-aircraft missile systems, which prompted Washington to expel Turkey from its F-35 stealth fighter program.
U.S. legislators have pressured U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to sanction Turkey.
Earlier Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey expects steps that would resolve issues that are “poisoning” ties with the United States. Addressing Turkish ambassadors in Ankara, Cavusoglu added there were a number of opportunities that would help improve ties between the allies, including cooperation to end the conflicts in Syria and Libya.
Harris’ husband to quit law firm for White House
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, will leave his job as a partner with a high-profile law firm to focus on his role in the new Biden administration.
A campaign spokeswoman said Tuesday that Emhoff will sever ties with DLA Piper by Inauguration Day. Emhoff took a leave of absence from the firm in August, when Harris was named Joe Biden’s running mate. Biden and Harris will be inaugurated Jan. 20.
While Emhoff is not a lobbyist, the firm has lobbied the federal government on behalf of a range of corporate clients. Ethics experts say that connection could have presented an appearance of conflicts of interest as the Biden administration tries to restore trust and ethics in government following President Donald Trump’s norm-shattering presidency.
Emhoff is working with the transition team to determine the issues he will take on as the vice presidential spouse. He is the first man to hold that role, as Harris is the nation’s first female vice president.
Republican election officials reject Trump fraud claims as ‘hoaxes and nonsense’
ATLANTA — Georgia’s too-close-to-call presidential contest devolved into a fight Monday among Republicans as the state’s top election official rejected calls from its two U.S. senators that he resign for challenging President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
Monday morning, Gabriel Sterling, a lifelong Republican who manages Georgia’s voting system, took to a lectern at the Capitol to plainly and matter-of-factly dismiss criticism of election illegalities in the Southern battleground state as “fake news” and “disinformation.”
“Hoaxes and nonsense,” Sterling said. “Don’t buy into these things. Find trusted sources.”
Hours later, GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — who are each in a Jan. 5 run-off that will determine control of the chamber — called on Sterling’s boss, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to resign for allegedly mismanaging the state’s elections.
“That is not going to happen,” Raffensperger said.
Georgia’s 16 electoral votes are no longer key to deciding the election. Democrat Joe Biden has already secured 290 electoral votes — 20 more than needed to win the White House.
With Biden leading Trump in Georgia by more than 12,000 votes — 0.25% of the total — Republicans in the state are nevertheless locked in a civil war as the presidential race heads for a recount. The upheaval shows how Trump’s persistent and unfounded claims of fraud and refusal to concede the election to Biden are dividing not just the country but his own party.
The back and forth began Monday morning when the secretary of state’s office held one of its regular news conferences, with Sterling updating reporters on the status of the vote count and debunking false information.
But this time, he went to greater lengths to push back on claims of election fraud.
“The facts are the facts, regardless of outcomes,” Sterling said.
“Our job is to get it right for the voters and the people of Georgia and for the people of the United States to make sure the outcomes of these elections are correct and trustworthy,” he added. “At the end of the day — no matter which side of the aisle you’re on, no matter which candidate you supported — you can have trust and believe the outcome of these things.”
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Republicans unveil $1.4 trillion spending bill amid post-election turmoil
WASHINGTON — Republicans controlling the Senate unveiled a government-wide, $1.4 trillion spending bill on Tuesday, a mostly bipartisan measure that faces uncertain odds during this period of post-election tumult in Washington.
The GOP-drafted measure contains funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall and other provisions opposed by Democrats, but top leaders in both parties want to try to mount a drive to enact the unfinished spending bills — which, along with a separate COVID-19 relief effort and annual defense policy bill, represent the bulk of Capitol Hill’s unfinished business for the year.
Success depends on getting the signature of Trump, however, whose unpredictability and toxic relationships with Democrats threaten to doom the effort. The recent history of lame-duck sessions conducted as the White House is turning over has been that unfinished spending bills get kicked into the next year, with existing funding simply left on auto-pilot.
“I’ve had this argument before and so far I’ve lost. I argued 12 years ago, the Obama transition, that the best thing you could do to help the new president was to get this year’s work done, and we didn’t get it done,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. “Four years ago I argued that … and we didn’t get it done.”
At issue is the roughly one-third of the federal budget that is written annually by Congress under a time-tested bipartisan process. The overall spending amount has been set in law by last year’s bipartisan budget mini-deal, so any delay into next year won’t likely result in more money for the Biden administration. Current funding expires Dec. 12.
The 12 spending measures, released by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., have been stalled for months, trapped by fights over COVID relief and potential battles over police reform issues. But he has the backing of top panel Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York to at least pursue the effort. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., herself a long-ago veteran of the Appropriations Committee, also would like to wrap up the unfinished business.
“By and large, these bills are the product of bipartisan cooperation among members of the committee,” Shelby said in a statement. “Time after time, we have demonstrated our willingness to work together and get the job done. We have before us the opportunity to deliver for the American people once again.”
But Leahy carefully avoided endorsing the measure outright and instead criticized the legislation for ignoring COVID-19 relief, shortchanging safety net programs and the environment, and wasting money on unused detention beds for immigrants entering the country illegally.
If the catchall bill is to advance it would have to contain COVID relief such as funding to help schools reopen, vaccinate the country, help the jobless, and boost the economy.
“This country is headed for a deadly winter and it is long past time for us to provide the resources the country needs to get this virus under control and our economy back open,” Leahy said in a statement. “These bills do not provide any such relief. It is imperative that we do what is necessary to stop this pandemic from spreading.”
Barr clears Justice Department to investigate alleged voting irregularities
Attorney General William Barr on Monday gave federal prosecutors approval to pursue allegations of “vote tabulation irregularities” in certain cases before results are certified and indicated he had already done so “in specific instances” – a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy that quickly drew criticism for fueling unfounded claims of massive election fraud pushed by President Trump and other conservatives.
The two-page memo comes as the Trump campaign and its allies have urged the department to investigate their claims, despite little evidence that such fraud exists. Justice Department officials had previously confirmed they were looking into allegations in Nevada, and had referred other information out of Michigan to the FBI.
In his memo, circulated two days after results showed former vice president Joe Biden had defeated Trump, Barr seemed to take aim at previous guidance from the Justice Department’s Election Crimes Branch that said prosecutors should not – in most instances – take overt steps in voter fraud or related investigations until after election results are in and certified. The guidance was designed to ensure that voters and state and local election officials, rather than the federal government, decide the results.
But Barr wrote that the previous directive was never “a hard and fast rule,” and that a “passive and delayed enforcement approach can result in situations in which election misconduct cannot realistically be rectified.” He also noted that concern about the Justice Department influencing an election were reduced once voters had finished casting ballots.
“Given this, and given that voting in our current elections has now concluded, I authorize you to pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases, as I have already done in specific instances,” Barr wrote.
Vanita Gupta, the former head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration who is now president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the memo amounts to “scaremongering” that will allow officials to send letters or take other public steps that might suggest there is voter fraud in a particular state, when in fact there is none.
Read the full story here.
Trump campaign sues to try to stop Pennsylvania from certifying election results
HARRISBURG, Pa. — President Trump’s campaign launched a lawsuit to stop the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania, suing Monday as counties continued to sort through provisional ballots and mail-in ballots nearly a week after the election in the battleground state.
The Associated Press on Saturday called the presidential contest for former Vice President Joe Biden, after determining that the remaining ballots left to be counted in Pennsylvania would not allow Trump to catch up.
But Trump’s campaign filed litigation in federal court over Pennsylvania’s presidential election, saying registered Democratic voters were treated more favorably than Republican voters. Trump has refused to concede.
“The election is not over,” the Trump campaign’s general counsel, Matthew Morgan, said in a news conference in Washington, D.C.
The 85-page lawsuit itself contained no evidence of voter fraud, other than a smattering of allegations, such as an election worker in Chester County altering “over-voted” ballots by changing votes that had been marked for Trump to another candidate.
A spokesperson for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Trump’s campaign was trying to “disenfranchise the record number of people who voted against him” while Pennsylvania’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the Trump campaign’s latest lawsuit meritless.
The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the state, Philadelphia and six counties from certifying the results of the election. It also seeks to block them from counting mail-in ballots that weren’t witnessed by a Trump campaign representative when they were processed or counting ballots cast by voters who were given an opportunity to fix mail-in ballots that were going to be disqualified for a technicality.
It accuses Allegheny County and Philadelphia — where Trump was badly beaten in unofficial election returns — of receiving and processing 682,479 mail-in and absentee ballots without review by political parties and candidates.
White House orders agencies to fire political appointees looking for post-Trump jobs
The White House is instructing federal agencies to fire political appointees of President Trump who are looking for job opportunities after Trump’s election defeat to President-elect Joe Biden.
A senior administration official says presidential personnel director John McEntee, the president’s former personal aide, told White House liaisons at departments that they should terminate any political appointees seeking new work while Trump has refused to accept the electoral results.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Trump’s term ends at noon on Jan. 20. Several thousand political appointees across the government will see their jobs end by that date.
Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Saturday.
Trump faces calls to work with Biden team on transition
WILMINGTON, Del. — President Donald Trump is facing pressure to cooperate with President-elect Joe Biden’s team to ensure a smooth transfer of power when the new administration takes office in January.
The General Services Administration is tasked with formally recognizing Biden as president-elect, which begins the transition. But the agency’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process and has given no guidance on when she will do so.
That lack of clarity is fueling questions about whether Trump, who has not publicly recognized Biden’s victory and has falsely claimed the election was stolen, will impede Democrats as they try to establish a government.
There is little precedent in the modern era of a president erecting such hurdles for his successor. The stakes are especially high this year because Biden will take office amid a raging pandemic, which will require a comprehensive government response.
“America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” Jen Psaki, a Biden transition aide, tweeted Sunday.
The advisory board of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition also urged the Trump administration to “immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act.”
Biden, who was elected the 46th president on Saturday, is taking steps to build a government despite questions about whether Trump will offer the traditional assistance.
He is focusing first on the virus, which has already killed nearly 240,000 people in the United States. Biden on Monday announced details of a task force that will create a blueprint to attempt to bring the pandemic under control that he plans to begin implementing after assuming the presidency on Jan. 20.
Former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, ex-Food Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. David Kessler and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a Yale University associated professor and associate dean whose research focuses on promoting health care equality for marginalized populations, are its co-chairs.
“Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of the most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts,” Biden said in a statement. “The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective, and distributed efficiently, equitably, and free; and protecting at-risk populations.”
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