Trump allies try to freeze recount efforts – Politico
Allies of Donald Trump are trying to freeze recount efforts in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states in which the president-elect narrowly beat Hillary Clinton — as they seek to preserve the legitimacy of Trump’s win.
A team of Trump attorneys filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania late Thursday requesting a dismissal of Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s recount effort, arguing that she lacks a valid claim and merely “alleges speculative illegality.”
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On Friday morning, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a lawsuit to stop the recount there, a move that came hours after Trump attorneys had filed a complaint to block the proceedings.
And soon after, a pro-Trump super PAC filed suit in Wisconsin, insisting Stein’s recount push could “unjustifiably cast doubt upon the legitimacy of President-Elect Donald J. Trump’s victory.”
While there’s no indication of coordination among the pro-Trump entities and the Republican state attorney general, they all filed lawsuits against Stein’s recount efforts within 24 hours or so. Stein’s campaign has led the recount charge, but it wasn’t until the Clinton campaign joined the effort that it really gained traction nationwide.
It’s highly unlikely that Clinton could come out victorious after recounts in the three states, but the renewed focus on America’s election systems and Election Day results come as Clinton’s popular vote lead has soared beyond 2.5 million.
It also comes just hours after Trump and Clinton aides convened at Harvard University on Thursday, throwing fresh jabs at one another over who won and who lost and how.
Clinton’s running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, said Thursday that they don’t expect a new result and didn’t plan to pursue a recount, but since Stein chose to do so, “We have to be at the table to make sure it’s done right, that it’s done fairly.”
Trump all but ignored Stein — during the campaign and after the election — until Clinton’s campaign breathed life into the recount effort.
Trump and his transition team have trashed Stein’s push as a frivolous fundraising scheme, but the president-elect hasn’t devoted any attention to the recount publicly since he launched a series of tweets this week citing Clinton’s concession comments and declaring himself — without evidence — the winner of the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
In his lawsuit filed on Friday, Schuette, who served as chairman of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign before throwing his support behind Trump, said Stein’s recount effort is without merit. “Michigan voters rejected Stein’s candidacy by massive margins, but her refusal to accept that state-verified result poses an expensive and risky threat to hard-working taxpayers and abuses the intent of Michigan law,” he said.
The state attorney general called it “inexcusable for Stein to put Michigan voters at risk of paying millions and potentially losing their voice in the Electoral College in the process.”
In a statement released by her campaign, Stein cast Schuette’s move specifically as a “politically motivated attempt” to side with Trump, dismissing it as “party politics that needlessly delays what should be a routine verification of the democratic process.”
“Our democracy allows for recounts to ensure the accuracy and security of elections, and today’s move by the Attorney General is yet another frivolous attempt to obstruct this legal process,” she said. “In an election already tainted by suspicion, some coming from Donald Trump himself, verifying the vote is a common-sense procedure that would put all concerns around voter disenfranchisement to rest.”
Schuette’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of the state, asks the Michigan Board of State Canvassers to reject Stein’s recount request on the grounds that Stein has acknowledged she has no evidence that fraud or widespread errors were committed. He also filed an emergency motion with the state Supreme Court to skip the Court of Appeals for immediate consideration.
It states that Stein garnered fewer than 52,000 of the 4.7 million votes for president cast in Michigan, noting that a recount won’t change the end result.
“Although Stein had the ability to request a recount from the moment the polls closed on November 9, 2016, she waited an additional three weeks — until the last possible minute under Michigan law — to do so,” it says. “And she demanded a hand recount, a process that cannot possibly be completed in time for Michigan to guarantee that its votes will be counted in the Electoral College, and a process that will cost Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Indeed, Stein filed a petition with the Board of Canvassers on Wednesday, requesting a manual recount of every vote, an effort that was expected to begin on Friday. Her campaign paid the nearly $1 million filing fee in full.
Schuette’s suit refers to her request as “dilatory and frivolous,” and his office argues Stein’s campaign will pay less than $800,000 for the recount, leaving taxpayers to cover the remainder of a bottom line that could balloon to $5 million.
In another development in Michigan, the Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 on Friday on a separate objection from Trump’s lawyers to Stein’s recount effort. Because of the tied vote, a hand recount could theoretically begin in the state on late Tuesday or early Wednesday, but Schuette’s lawsuit throws that into question.
On Friday, Stein’s lead recount lawyer, Matthew Brinckerhoff, also pushed back against the pro-Trump super PAC lawsuit in Wisconsin, saying they would fight the effort to prevent a recount.
“The Jill Stein Campaign plans to intervene and join the Wisconsin Elections Commission in defending the recount. Citizens in Wisconsin and across the country have made it clear that they want a recount and deserve to see this process through to ensure integrity in the vote,” Brinckerhoff said in a statement.
Stein has raised more than $7 million in a matter of days to fund the recount endeavors and taken advantage of opportunities to get into the national spotlight with interviews with Vanity Fair and TV networks, in addition to shows like “The View” and Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect.”
In an op-ed published Thursday in USA Today, Stein argued, “in the age of computerized voting machines and unprecedented corporate influence in our elections, our electoral system is under increasing threat.”
Even so, she explained that her aim isn’t to change the election results but rather “ensure the integrity and accuracy of the vote.”
“All Americans, regardless of party, deserve to know that this and every election is fair and that the vote is verified,” she wrote.