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By David Ingram and Susan Heavey

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Supporters of President-elect Donald Trump moved on Friday to halt the Green Party’s requests for long-shot recounts of the presidential votes in three states where Trump, a Republican, won with narrow victories.

Lawsuits were pending in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, three “Rust Belt” states which bucked their history of supporting Democrats and gave Trump thin wins in the Nov. 8 election.

The Green Party has said its requests for recounts in those states are focused on ensuring the integrity of the U.S. voting system and not on changing the result of the election.

Even if the recounts take place, they are extremely unlikely to change the overall outcome of the election, in which Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton. Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who garnered only about 1 percent of the vote, has said the recount campaign is not targeted at Trump or Clinton.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, filed a lawsuit on Friday to halt the requested recount in his state, where Trump won with a margin of roughly 10,700 votes over Clinton.

Recounting all of the state’s votes “threatens to silence all Michigan votes for president” because of an impending federal deadline to finalize results, Schuette said in a statement.

In Wisconsin, where the recount is already underway, a federal judge on Friday rejected a request for an emergency stay by the Trump-supporting political action committee Great America PAC. U.S. District Judge James Peterson scheduled a hearing for Dec. 9 to consider whether to halt the recount at that time.

The lawsuit filed by the PAC cited as legal precedent the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bush v. Gore decision that ended the 2000 election and Florida recount.

The presidential 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. Federal law requires states to resolve disputes over the appointment of electors by Dec. 13.

Trump surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win, with 306 electoral votes, and the recount would have to flip the result to Clinton in all three states to change the overall result. In the popular vote, Clinton had a margin of more than 2.5 million votes over Trump, the Cook Political Report said.

Schuette also criticized Stein for the potential expense of a recount, although Stein said last week that she had raised $3.5 million to cover some costs. A Schuette spokeswoman said on Friday that Stein had contributed $787,500, but the recount would cost some $5 million.

Stein has scheduled a news conference for Monday at Trump Tower in New York City.

“We won’t stand down as Donald Trump and his allies seek to frivolously obstruct the legal processes set up to ensure the accuracy, security and fairness of our elections,” Stein said in a statement on Friday.

Michigan’s recount is expected to begin on Wednesday, barring court action, after the state’s board of canvassers deadlocked 2-2 on Friday on a motion objecting to the recount, the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office said.

The board of canvassers is required to respond in writing to Schuette’s lawsuit by midday on Tuesday.

The Trump campaign’s own attorneys have also moved to block recount efforts in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

A Pennsylvania court has scheduled a hearing for Monday morning in Harrisburg, the state capital. In an order on Friday, the court told lawyers for both sides to be prepared to talk about whether enough evidence of wrongdoing exists to keep the case going.

According to Stein’s website on Friday, the Green Party had raised $6.8 million so far for the recount and has a goal of $9.5 million.

Lawyers for Clinton have said they would take part in the Wisconsin recount effort to ensure her campaign is legally represented, and that they would do the same if necessary in Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump won Wisconsin with a margin of roughly 22,000 votes over Clinton, and in Pennsylvania he won with a margin of about 49,500 votes.

(Reporting by David Ingram in New York and Susan Heavey in Washington; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry and Leslie Adler)

IMAGE: Michigan Attorney General William “Bill” Schuette speaks in Boston, Massachusetts, December 17, 2014. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter/File Photo

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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