President-elect Donald Trump, in a series of early morning tweets, lamented the “sad” waste of time and money about to be directed to vote recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
If Green Party candidate Jill Stein initiates recounts in those states as she intends, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign “will participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides,” Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias said Saturday.
Elias, in a post on the blogging website Medium, added that he doesn’t expect the action to overturn Trump’s election. He detailed exhaustive efforts already undertaken by the Democrat’s team to assure the validity of the Nov. 8 election.
Trump, in a series of seven posts on Twitter on Sunday, recounted previous comments by Clinton on the need to accept the election results, culminating in her concession speech. “So much time and money will be spent – same result! Sad,” Trump concluded.
The president-elect is spending the weekend at his golf resort, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida, before returning to New York to resume interviewing potential hires for top administration posts.
“The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated and demoralized” Democrats, Trump said of the recount effort in a tweet on Saturday.
A separate statement by the president-elect focused mostly on Stein. “The people have spoken and the election is over, and as Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, ‘We must accept this result and then look to the future,’” he said.
Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump’s campaign manager and is now a senior adviser, was less conciliatory. “What a pack of sore losers,” she said in a statement on Saturday. “After asking Mr. Trump and his team a million times on the trail, ‘Will HE accept the election results?’ it turns out Team Hillary and their new BFF Jill Stein can’t accept reality.”
“Rather than adhere to the tradition of graciously conceding and wishing the winner well, they’ve opted to waste millions of dollars and dismiss the democratic process. The people have spoken. Time to listen up. #YesYourPresident,” Conway said.
‘Divide This Country’
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Conway said the recount effort was “confounding and disappointing.” And Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the planned recount would serve “only to divide this country when we need to come together.”
Trump noted he had won 306 electoral votes on Nov. 8, to Clinton’s 232, the best showing for a Republican since 1988, and the most counties since 1984.
“This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than one percent of the vote overall and wasn’t even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount,” he said. “All three states were won by large numbers of voters, especially Pennsylvania.”
The non-partisan Cook Political Report showed Trump won Pennsylvania by about 68,000 votes, Wisconsin by about 22,500, and Michigan by about 10,700.
Stein said on her website that she’s raised more than $6 million for her recount effort so far, with a $7 million goal. The funds already raised will cover costs in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, she said.
No ‘Actionable’ Evidence
Clinton’s campaign hadn’t planned to initiate the recounts on its own because it hasn’t found “any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology,” Elias wrote on Saturday.
A senior administration official, meanwhile, said in a statement that the government didn’t observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting the election on election day and believes the elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.
Elias said he isn’t expecting the recounts to erase the margin separating the candidates in the three battleground states and overturning the election of Trump, who is due to be sworn in as president in January.
Obligation to Voters
“We do so fully aware that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount,” Elias said. “But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.”
Elias said there is also an obligation to the voters now that a recount is planned in Wisconsin and potentially the other two states. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said Friday that it had received Stein’s petition.
“We believe we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported,” Elias said.
Donald McGahn, who on Friday was selected by Trump as White House counsel, will be the Republican point person on the Wisconsin recount. He joined senior staff officials in briefings on Saturday regarding the latest developments, according to a person familiar with the Trump transition process who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.
The 2016 election cycle “was unique in the degree of foreign interference witnessed throughout the campaign,” Elias said, noting that the U.S. government had concluded Russian state actors were behind hacks of the Democrat National Committee and the personal e-mails of some Clinton campaign officials.
Among the steps taken “quietly” in the last two weeks “to rule in or out any possibility of outside interference in the vote tally” were having data scientists and lawyers comb over the results, and monitoring and staffing post-election canvasses, he said.
The Cook Political Report shows Clinton ahead in the nationwide popular vote by about 2.2 million votes, 64.6 million to 62.4 million. In 13 swing states, Trump received almost 22.2 million votes to Clinton’s 21.3 million.