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Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

The Trump campaign filed a legal petition Thursday to stop Michigan’s presidential recount, saying Jill Stein has no chance of winning and no grievance, and there’s no way a hand count can be done before the Electoral College meets December 19.

“Despite being a blip on the electoral radar, [Green Party nominee] Stein has now commandeered Michigan’s electoral process,” said Trump’s petition to Michigan’s Board of State Canvasser. “Indeed, on the basis of nothing more than speculation, Stein asks that Michigan residents endure an expensive, time-consuming recount, and the scrutiny and hardship that comes with it.”

The Trump campaign called the recount an “electoral farce,” ignoring that it has been filed in a state where its candidate leads Hillary Clinton by almost 11,000 out of 4.8 million votes cast, the smallest margin of the final three states that gave Trump an Electoral College majority after election night. (The Green Party is also seeking recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Wisconsin began its recount Thursday, while challenges continue in Pennsylvania as the Green Party is filing local petitions at county election boards.)

“She does not allege, let alone explain, how a fourth-place finisher could be ‘aggrieved’ by the election canvass,” Trump’s petition said, saying candidates must be harmed to seek a recount under Michigan law. “And even if that could be overlooked, Stein’s request would have to be denied because no recount can be reliably competed in the time required by state and federal law” (to meet the Electoral College’s deadline).

Trump’s objection comes just one day after state officials said they would do a full, statewide hand recount of all votes cast in Michigan, beginning Friday, December 2. Because of the filing, the state canvassers’ board, an appointed body that has already pledged its support of the recount, will have to postpone counting until it holds a hearing and issues a ruling within five days. If the recount goes forward, Trump’s objections will have delayed the process up to a week and made it that much harder to complete before presidential electors convene.

“You wonder why they are fighting it so hard,” said Bob Fitrakis, an Ohio-based attorney who was involved in that state’s 2004 presidential recount and has been advising the Green Party in 2016. “Michigan, with its thousands of undervotes [no vote recorded for president] in Democratic strongholds—these people voted the whole ticket but left off Hillary Clinton?”

“They are trying to run out the clock,” he said, saying that same delaying tactic was used in Ohio in 2004 when the Green and Libertarian parties filed for a presidential recount in the state where George W. Bush unexpectedly beat John Kerry, despite media exit polls and other indices suggesting the incumbent president would be defeated.

Stein issued a statement blasting Trump’s petition to stop the recount, calling it a “shameful” and “outrageous” attempt to verify the accuracy, security and integrity of the election.

“The recount in Michigan, which has been driven by an outpouring of grassroots support in the state, will go forward,” Stein said. “The Michigan Board of State Canvassers and Director of Elections has been a model of professionalism in moving this recount forward in an efficient, transparent manner. Yet the Trump campaign’s cynical efforts to delay the recount and create unnecessary costs for taxpayers are shameful and outrageous.”

The Green Party filed its recount petition Wednesday, paying an initial filing fee of $973,250 for the state’s first presidential recount in more than a half-century. That sum may be adjusted upward once the recount is complete. Her campaign paid Wisconsin a $3.5 million fee for a recount in a state where Trump leads Clinton by 23,000 votes. Stein’s statements emphasized that the recount’s purpose is to verify the vote and showcase vote count problems, including the possibility the machinery malfunctioned or was hacked.

“The true costs of this recount are the result of elected leaders who have refused to invest in a 21st-century voting system and powerful politicians who are putting up obstacles in an effort to prolong, undermine and stop this recount,” Stein said. “But as the overwhelming grassroots demand shows—close to $7 million raised by nearly 150,000 people—Americans are hungry for a voting system they can trust, and they won’t let these obstacles get in their way.”

On Monday, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified that Trump won by 10,704 votes, or a margin of just 0.22 percent of the total vote. But computer scientists and election experts have raised serious concerns about election results in papers filed for the Wisconsin recount. These include the vulnerability of voting machines that can be breached without detection and have a tendency to misread ballot markings. In Michigan, there were 75,335 under-count tallies—votes that machines did not record as selecting anyone for president—nearly double the amount recorded in 2012.

“America’s voting machines and optical scanners are prone to errors and susceptible to outside manipulation,” said J. Alex Halderman, one of the nation’s leading cyber security experts and a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan who filed court papers supporting a recount.

“Paper ballots, like those used in Michigan’s elections, are the best defense we have against cyberattacks, but that defense is only effective if we actually look at the paper trail after the election,” he said. “That’s precisely why we need this recount—to examine the physical evidence, to look under the hood. A recount is the best way, and indeed the only way in 2016, to ensure public confidence that the results are accurate, authentic, and untainted by outside interference.”

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights, campaigns and elections, and many social justice issues. 

IMAGE: A sample ballot is seen in a photo illustration, as early voting for the 2016 general elections began in North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S. October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

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.