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

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) – Green Party candidate Jill Stein late Saturday vowed to bring her fight for a recount of votes cast in Pennsylvania in the U.S. presidential election to federal court, after a state judge ordered her campaign to post a $1 million bond.

“The Stein campaign will continue to fight for a statewide recount in Pennsylvania,” Jonathan Abady, lead counsel to Stein’s recount efforts, said in a statement.

Saying it has become clear that “the state court system is so ill-equipped to address this problem,” the statement said “we must seek federal court intervention.”

The Stein campaign said it will file for emergency relief in the Pennsylvania effort in federal court on Monday, “demanding a statewide recount on constitutional grounds.”

The bond was set by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania a day after representatives of President-elect Donald Trump requested a $10 million bond, according to court papers.

The court gave the petitioners until 5 p.m. local time (2200 GMT) on Monday to post the bond, but said it could modify the amount if shown good cause. Instead, Stein’s campaign withdrew.

“Petitioners are regular citizens of ordinary means. They cannot afford to post the $1,000,000 bond required by the court,” wrote attorney Lawrence Otter, informing the court of the decision to withdraw.

Stein, who garnered about 1 percent of the presidential vote on Nov. 8, has also sought recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump won narrow victories over Democrat Hillary Clinton in all three states, part of the industrial heartland of the country until manufacturers started leaving for Mexico and other low-wage countries.

Trump and his allies have attempted to stop the initiatives in the states, calling the recount effort a “scam.” Clinton’s campaign has said it would take part in the recounts.

“The judge’s outrageous demand that voters pay such an exorbitant figure is a shameful, unacceptable barrier to democratic participation,” Stein said in a statement. “No voter in America should be forced to pay thousands of dollars to know if her or his vote was counted.”

Stein said she planned to announce “the next step” in the recount effort on Monday at a previously scheduled news conference at Trump Tower in New York City.

She said recounts already under way in some Pennsylvania counties would continue. The state’s election commission had approved recounts in 75 precincts where voters requested one, but refused to allow a full forensic audit of voting machines.

Even if all the recounts were to take place, the overall election outcome would not likely change. The race is decided by the Electoral College, or a tally of wins from the state-by-state contests, rather than by the popular national vote.

Trump surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win, with 306. Recounts would have to flip the result to Clinton in all three states to change the result.

In the popular vote, Clinton had more than 2.5 million votes over Trump, the independent Cook Political Report said.

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Chris Michaud in New York; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Bill Rigby, Tom Brown and Nick Macfie)

IMAGE: Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks at a campaign rally in Chicago, September 8, 2016.   REUTERS/Jim Young

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.