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Tag: vote counting

Forcing Trump’s Election Lawyers To Tell The Truth

There is no penalty for lying on television, as anyone who watches cable news already knows. It is considered normal today when Fox News personalities — to name one prominent group of habitual liars — repeat absurd falsehoods, even if the result is that people contract the coronavirus and die.

There is no penalty for lying on the radio, as everyone has known for decades. It is a highly lucrative daily routine for talk jocks such as Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage — among the most successful of their ilk — who are often exposed but never feel embarrassed.

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How Boss Trump Blew Up His Own Election Fraud Scheme

Displaying the same staggering incompetence that has led to the deaths of thousands in the Covid-19 pandemic, Boss Trump made two big tactical errors in his failed effort to keep the White House: First, he telegraphed his scheme to overturn the election, and then he waited too long to make his big move.

These blunders brought him to a classic, indelible Trumpian moment: simultaneously demanding that vote-counting stop in Pennsylvania and Georgia, but continue in Arizona and Nevada. The difference being that Trump was temporarily leading in the first two, but trailing out west.

At this writing he appears to have lost all four states.

Just as he lost the national popular vote, it bears emphasizing, by one of the largest popular vote margins in U.S. history—likely in excess of five million votes after they're all tabulated. Spontaneous celebrations broke out in the streets of almost every large American city when the result was announced. It felt awfully like the collapse of authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the world. You'd have to be actively delusional to believe that even this Supreme Court could find a way to overturn it.

Trump himself appears to be a True Believer. Never mind that he had no winning political strategy. Yes, his frantic series of Covid "super-spreader" rallies brought millions of enraptured supporters to the polls; but they also stimulated larger numbers of Americans to cast their votes against him. If MAGA believers risked their lives; Trump's opponents felt they were saving their own.

But disenfranchising millions of absentee voters amid the Covid pandemic was never going to work. A politician more firmly in touch with reality would have realized that.

Of all people, sycophantic Attorney General William Barr has implicitly acknowledged as much. His order instructing U.S. Attorneys to look into allegations of voter fraud has a caveat that gives the game away: "While serious allegations should be handled with great care, specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries."

Then there's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has predicted that "there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

In his dreams. Pompeo is not a stupid man, but he badly wants the 2024 Republican nomination.

GOP senators too appear to think they must judiciously humor the big crybaby until the hissy fit passes. Trump's angry toddler act—crying, screaming, throwing food on the floor, holding his breath until he turns blue, and breaking things—won't actually change anything. Eventually, he'll wear himself out.

Or not. I really don't care. Do you?

Even Fox News cut away from White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany when she alleged widespread voter fraud without a scintilla of proof. Then there was Rudy Giuliani, holding forth in the parking lot of a landscaping business appropriately located between a crematorium and an adult bookstore that his bookers had evidently mistaken for the Four Seasons Hotel. Trump's personal lawyer, as one British reporter put it, ended up "struggling to be heard over a man in his underpants shouting about George Soros."

The exact proportion of MAGA True Believers in the population isn't clear. Presumably the same fools who bought into the "birtherism" conspiracy theory Trump used to win notoriety in the first place are equally prepared to believe in the myth of a stolen election.

But not very strenuously over time, I suspect. For most people, politics is a secondary passion, like being a football fan. You think you'll never survive your team losing, but the sun comes up and there's another game. Clinging to a lost cause can get tiring, leaving a person mired in an ever more irrelevant past.

Here's how Charles Mackay, the 19th century Scottish author of the classic book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds put it: "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."

Freed from the spell of Trumpism and the daily necessity of rationalizing a malignant narcissist's follies and outrages, many will find themselves inwardly relieved. Over time, MAGA hats will become the equivalent of Confederate flags, a symbol signifying that you're a resentful loser.

Meanwhile, here's how an American president talks:

"Let's give each other a chance," Joe Biden said in his speech laying claim to having won the 2020 election. "It's time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans. The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America."

That's a message millions wanted to hear.

GOP Official In Philly Recounts Death Threats Over Vote Tally

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Following the victory of President-elect Joe Biden over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, Philadelphia might be the most hated city in the United States among Trump supporters. Biden had the 270 electoral votes he needed after winning Pennsylvania, and many Trumpists are making the baseless claim that the election was stolen from Trump in Philly — where the office of City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, has been receiving death threats.

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Convicted Sex Offender Was Giuliani’s Key Witness In Philly

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Just when you think you're done laughing at the totally humiliating ending of Rudy Giuliani's career as Donald Trump's personal attorney, it keeps getting more embarrassing for Giuliani and the Trump campaign.

Like most of Trump's unqualified appointees in government, apparently the Trump campaign didn't closely screen who they were putting in front of worldwide cameras in the parking of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping lot. Which I still can't even believe I'm typing, but that was a real thing that happened.

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Fox Propagandists And GOP Leaders Pushing Nation Toward The Abyss

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Key Republican leaders are collaborating with Fox News' propagandists to further inflame their party's base, standing behind President Donald Trump's lies that the election is being stolen from him through widespread voter fraud as the ballot count edges Democratic nominee Joe Biden closer to victory.

Fox's prime-time programming on Wednesday was a vile slurry of innuendo and conspiracy theories, as the network's hosts parroted viral social media lies to their audience of millions in an effort to delegitimize the election results. Thursday night's shows, which followed Trump's deranged and lie-filled performance before the White House press corps, were even more unhinged and reckless. The hosts promoted nonsensical and unverified claims of voter fraud and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the results, floating as remedies a "do-over" election in Pennsylvania and Republican state legislators ignoring the results in favor of Trump.

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Trump Lawsuits Are Too Little, Too Late, And Too Flawed To Affect Vote Counts

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

The flurry of lawsuits hastily filed by President Trump's campaign and its Republican allies to stop counting votes and to disqualify absentee ballots has so far failed to make much headway—in contrast to disinformation that they are spreading to discredit the 2020 election.

Trump's propaganda, predictably, has drawn wide attention. Whether tweets falsely claiming he won and Democrats are stealing the election (which Twitter labeled with content warning notices), or his son Eric's fabricated video of ballots being burned (they were sample ballots, not real ones), or false statements by White House officials, these antics have been noted and debunked.

In contrast to this bombast, Trump's lawsuits filed since Election Day in states where the presidential results are not yet known have had limited success, but, more importantly, they do not appear to be game changers. The lawsuits are targeting small facets of the absentee ballots process. While court rulings may delay announcing the results and certifying winners, the suits are not poised to disqualify enough ballots to alter the race's outcome—not where he lags by tens of thousands of votes. Instead, many of Trump's suits have been filed late, and some are error-ridden.

"None of Trump's small bore lawsuits have been able to stop the count, and of course there is no basis to do so," wrote ElectionLawBlog's Rick Hasen on Thursday. "He and his supporters have been promoting baseless and dangerous conspiracy theories that Democratic elected officials are somehow 'stealing' the vote when all they are doing is counting the ballots."

Consider two of Trump's lawsuits from Michigan. The first lawsuit, against Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, was filed late Wednesday afternoon and sought to stop the statewide counting of votes—just hours before the counting was done. The campaign's brief was filed by Mark "Thor" Hearne—a Missouri-based attorney who, in 2005, was one of the first Republicans to promote the false claim of widespread voter fraud. The suit claimed that Republicans did not have an observer "present at the absent voter counting place" in every jurisdiction, and these observers were not being allowed "to observe the video of the ballot boxes into which these [absentee] ballots are placed." On this basis, Trump wanted to stop Michigan's vote count.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens dismissed the lawsuit on Thursday, saying that it was filed as the last ballots were counted—too late—which made the procedural claims moot. The defendant, Benson, was the wrong person to sue, the judge said, because Benson doesn't directly supervise how the state's local election officials process absentee ballots.

This was a messy filing. Chris Sautter, an election attorney specializing in recounts who has worked for Democratic candidates for decades, said that a serious suit should have been filed on Tuesday, when the absentee ballot processing began. If there were issues with campaign representatives getting access to observe the process, the remedy was granting access, not stopping the count statewide, he said. And while the lawsuit said that Benson had a duty to instruct local officials, it never detailed that she had failed to do so, he noted. In other words, the Trump lawsuit was too general, too late, and had targeted the wrong defendant.

The Trump campaign filed a similar suit late Wednesday in Detroit seeking to stop the city's processing of a subset of absentee ballots—those that had to be duplicated because they were torn or stained—and seeking to halt certifying the city's presidential election results. Like the suit against Benson, this action came as the counting was ending and also named the wrong defendant. On Thursday morning, Trump's campaign filed papers to add Wayne County as a defendant, as it is the county—not the city of Detroit—that certifies election results.

On the specifics, the suit said that some absentee ballots were being duplicated by election officials without a Republican observer present. The duplication should stop, and all duplicated ballots should be "segregated" or set aside, it said, where presumably those ballots could be further examined and possibly challenged. Such a delay would slow down certifying Detroit's results.

What Trump's Detroit-centered lawsuit did not say was that the Michigan Republican Party had observers in the cavernous room where the city was processing and counting ballots. It did not say that the Republicans had raised issues surrounding the ballot processing that were being ignored. And it was filed after the counting was over, but still sought a restraining order to halt the process.

The Trump campaign's litigation in response to not winning in a landslide Tuesday appears to be messy and late. A similar lawsuit was filed in Nevada after Election Day seeking to stop that swing state's counting. The suit, too, claimed that Trump observers were being stymied. It was unanimously rejected by the state's supreme court. It didn't look like the Trump campaign planned on suing in Michigan or Nevada, Sautter said, despite Trump's threat to launch a wave of litigation.

But more importantly, the target of Trump's lawsuits—to disqualify a subset of absentee ballots, stop the counting process and delay certifying the results—was not going to add up to the tens of thousands of votes that Trump needs to win in key states. On Thursday, Trump trailed Joe Biden in Michigan by 147,000 votes, where his lawyers are seeking to challenge spoiled ballots that were duplicated.

That same assessment is likely in Pennsylvania, where Trump's lawyers were positioning themselves to challenge the absentee ballots that had been postmarked by Election Day, but can still arrive by mail through Friday, November 6. The Trump campaign on Wednesday filed a motionin the U.S. Supreme Court to join a suit over these late-returning absentee ballots in Pennsylvania. Late Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the Postal Service said that there were only 3,439 absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be delivered in Pennsylvania.

The big picture that emerges is that Trump's post-Election Day litigation strategy has not stopped the vote-counting process nor was it poised to implicate enough votes to overturn the results in swing states. Thus, if Trump cannot win a second term in the courts of legal opinion, he is seeking to discredit the process in the court of public opinion—where propaganda and disinformation make quicker impressions than real-life points of law.

Trump's rambling, grievance-filled statement late Thursday blaming the Democrats for trying to "steal" the election appeared to be the latest affirmation of this strategy.

"They are grasping at straws," Sautter said, speaking of Trump's litigation strategy before his speech. "They are trying to discredit the process by trying to say that the outcome cannot be trusted because there were too many flaws."

"They waited too long to complain," he continued. "If they didn't have enough people observing [in Detroit], they should have taken care of that beginning with Election Day. This lawsuit was filed late yesterday [Wednesday] afternoon. Now the counting is done. There's no evidence that any of this stuff adds up to anywhere near the margin."

There may be "a little bit of truth" in the Republicans' contention that they lacked sufficient numbers of election observers, Sautter said. But that lapse was their error, not the fault of the officials running the absentee ballot counting boards—a process that has been in place for years.

"A lot of this is too little too late," he said.

Eric Trump And Don Jr. Whining Constantly: ‘It Isn’t Fair’

Donald Trump's sons have spent the last two days since the election in apparent denial, sharing conspiracy theories and endorsing coups as their father's path to victory becomes more and more murky.

On Thursday, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted far-right radio host Mark Levin's call for Republican state legislators to simply ignore the 2020 election results and declare Trump the winner.

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What Will Happen If Trump Sues To Overturn Election Results

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

A hearing on Wednesday in an election case captured in miniature the challenge for the Trump campaign as it gears up for what could become an all-out legal assault on presidential election results in key swing states: It's easy enough to file a lawsuit claiming improprieties — in this case, that Pennsylvania had violated the law by allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were defective to correct them — but a lot harder to provide evidence of wrongdoing or a convincing legal argument. “I don't understand how the integrity of the election was affected," said U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage, something he repeated several times during the hearing. (However the judge rules, the case is unlikely to have a significant effect; only 93 ballots are at issue, a county election official said.)

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