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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Green Party presidential nominee Howie Hawkins

Photo by Editor B/ CC BY 2.0

Third-party candidates played a major role in Donald Trump's election in 2016, siphoning off voters from Hillary Clinton and helping Trump eke out wins by the narrowest of margins in enough swing states to hand him a victory — even as he lost the popular vote by three million ballots.

Four years later, with Trump down in the polls and facing the possibility of defeat, Republican operatives are making a last-ditch effort to try to recreate that same third-party effect, and are playing a behind-the-scenes role in numerous states to get Kanye West and Green Party presidential nominee Howie Hawkins onto state ballots.


Report after report shows that Republicans are helping West and Hawkins navigate the process of getting on the ballot. And they're fighting legal battles to make sure they stay on the ballot.

A report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said a lawyer helping Hawkins fight to get on the ballot has done work for Republicans in the Wisconsin state legislature.

Republican activists in Wisconsin also helped West collect signatures for his petition to get on the ballot — an effort that failed after a GOP lawyer with ties to Trump turned the paperwork in past the deadline.

Ultimately, neither Hawkins nor West will appear on the Wisconsin ballot, after the state Supreme Court on Monday ruled that reprinting ballots this late in the game would cause chaos and problems with the election.

But that's not the only state Republicans have tried to help West get on the ballot.

Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, met with West — though he denied it was about West's presidential bid.

And NBC News reported that "people connected to Republican politics" have tried to help West get on the ballot in Missouri, Arkansas, and Illinois — though West was ultimately booted from the ballot in Illinois and failed to collect enough signatures to make the Missouri ballot.

But even if third-party candidates like West and Hawkins make the ballot in swing states, it's unclear their presence will help Trump this time around, like they did in 2016.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from August found that people who voted third party in 2016 overwhelmingly back Biden. According to the poll, 47 percent of third-party voters from 2016 back Biden, while 20 percent back Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)