election 2020
January 24, 2021

Former President Donald Trump, citing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud, pushed the Justice Department to ask the Supreme Court to invalidate President Biden's electoral victory, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. "He wanted us, the United States, to sue one or more states directly in the Supreme Court," a former administration official told the Journal. "The pressure got really intense."

Ultimately, several Justice Department officials, including former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and former Attorney General William Barr, reportedly refused to file a case with the high court because there was no legal basis to challenge the election outcome and the federal government "had no legal interest" in whether Trump or Biden won the presidency. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone also reportedly opposed the idea.

The strategy appears to have preceded Trump considering ousting Rosen and replacing him with Jeffrey Clark, an ally within the Justice Department, as reported by The New York Times. The Times later revealed it was Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) who made Trump aware of Clark's apparent willingness to back his conspiracy theories. Clark has denied being involved with a plan to get rid of Rosen. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

January 9, 2021

It turns out there was another call.

President Trump in December spoke with the investigations chief for the Georgia Secretary of State's office — days before he had a similar conversation with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger himself — about finding votes in Georgia that would swing the state's presidential electors toward him, The Washington Post and CBS News report. The Raffensberger call, which was recorded by the secretary of state, quickly gained notoriety, with Trump garnering criticism for his fruitless attempts to convince Raffensperger to overturn Georgia's presidential election results.

The earlier call with the election official, whose name is being withheld by the Post because of safety considerations, appears to have a lot of overlap with its successor. Trump reportedly telling the official they would be a "national hero" if they found evidence of fraud, for instance, echoed his pleas to Raffensperger. Still, the context was slightly different since the official was leading an ongoing inquiry into allegations of voter fraud in Cobb County (no evidence was found). Therefore, some legal experts believe the conversation could carry criminal implications for Trump. "Oh my god, of course that's obstruction — any way you cut it," Nick Akerman, a former federal prosecutor in New York and member of the Watergate prosecution team, told the Post.

Akerman said he'd be "shocked" if Trump didn't commit a crime, noting that he took the time to identify the investigator, obtain a phone number, and call.

Others weren't so sure, including Robert James, a former prosecutor in Georgia's DeKalb County, who told the Post that without audio of the call it's too difficult to tell what tone Trump used or whether his intentions were clear. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

January 5, 2021

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) became the latest to add his name to a growing list of GOP lawmakers who have come out against their colleagues' plan to object to the Electoral College certification on Wednesday.

In a statement, Scott echoed some of his fellow Republicans like Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) who, despite being allies of President Trump, are concerned about the precedent such an action would set, Axios notes.

Scott said he has seen no evidence suggesting any state should have their results flipped based on allegations of widespread voter fraud and "there is no constitutionally viable means for Congress to overturn an election wherein the states have certified and sent their Electors." But it wasn't just his legal viewpoint holding him back. He added that he disagrees with the objectors "both in principle and in practice," pointing out that "for their theory to work, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] and House Democrats would have to elect Donald Trump president rather than [President-elect] Joe Biden. That is not going to happen today, not today, or any other day." Read more at Axios and check out Scott's full statement here. Tim O'Donnell

January 3, 2021

President Trump has been going at it with Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for weeks now over the latter's refusal to give credence to unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud in the state. And on Saturday, the pair aired it out over the phone.

The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump continues to push conspiracy theories and repeatedly calls on Raffensperger to find some way to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the state. Raffensperger meanwhile held firm.

At one point during the call, Trump, who claims he won Georgia "by hundreds of thousands of votes," told Raffensperger he just wants "to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have." He also suggested to Raffensperger that "there's nothing wrong with saying ... that you've recalculated." He then warned that unless "this can be straightened out before" Georgia's upcoming Senate runoffs, a lot of Republicans won't go to the polls "because they hate what you did to the president."

But there was no sign Trump's pleas or talk of criminal charges swayed Raffensperger even slightly — he told Trump the data he was arguing was incorrect and primarily based off social media posts, while his office's legal counsel, Ryan Germany, shot down Trump's conspiracies about voting machine tampering and ballot shredding.

Legal experts told the Post the phone call puts Trump in "legally questionable territory" since it could be construed as an attempt to get Raffensperger to doctor Georgia's election results. But ultimately they believe the "clearer transgression is a moral one," they said. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

January 3, 2021

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was one of the more notable names, along with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who were absent from the list of GOP senators planning to object to the Electoral College certification next week. On Sunday, Graham addressed his colleagues' decision and didn't seem convinced it was the right move.

While not as forceful in his criticism as Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Graham said it appears the call for an investigation into unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud is "more of a political dodge than an effective remedy" to the situation, especially at such a late stage.

The senator said he looks forward to hearing the arguments from his colleagues, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), among others, adding that he'll "listen closely," but "they have a high bar to clear." For Graham to be convinced it's worth challenging President-elect Joe Biden's victory, Republican lawmakers will need to provide evidence of their charges of voter fraud, as well as proof that state and federal courts should have acted on election fraud claims and that those actions could have changed the outcome of the presidential election in certain states. Tim O'Donnell

January 2, 2021

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) led a group of senators and senators-elect who issued a joint statement Saturday declaring they intend to reject presidential electors from battleground states during the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6 "unless and until" an emergency 10-day audit of election returns is completed.

In all, 11 senators signed the statements, joining Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who announced his plans to object last week.

President Trump and his allies have hurled allegations of widespread voter fraud since his November defeat. There's no evidence to back up the claims, and Trump's legal team, as well as other Republican groups, have had dozens of lawsuits rejected by courts at every level, including the Supreme Court.

Still, Trump now has members of both the House and Senate willing to object to the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Per Axios, if both a representative and a senator object to an individual state's results next week, the House and Senate will head to their chambers and vote on whether to uphold a challenge.

Although there's support for doing so in the Republican Party, the movement seems unlikely to garner enough in either chamber of Congress. The House has a Democratic majority and even if the GOP still holds the Senate by Jan. 6, several Republican senators have expressed opposition to attempts to overturn the Electoral College results, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

January 2, 2021

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle on Friday night tossed out a lawsuit filed against Vice President Mike Pence by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and other Republicans that sought to broaden the vice president's authority to reject electoral votes cast for President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 6 when he oversees the Electoral College certification.

Pence's role in the process, as laid out in an 1887 law governing presidential election certification, is considered ceremonial; he has the responsibility of opening, announcing, and tallying the results. The plaintiffs, however, are hoping he takes on an expanded role to invalidate them as part of a longshot, last-ditch effort to overturn the presidential election.

Kernodle, who was appointed by President Trump, dismissed the case because he found that Gohmert and his fellow plaintiffs lacked a sufficient legal stake to justify the lawsuit. Kernodle's ruling comes a day after a Justice Department attorney representing Pence requested the lawsuit be rejected. Gohmert has said his lawyers will appeal. Read more at The New York Times and The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

December 30, 2020

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Wednesday announced he'll object during the Electoral College certification process, which is expected to seal President-elect Joe Biden's victory on Jan. 6.

Hawley said he plans to do so because he's concerned about allegations that "some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws" and because of what he described as "the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of" Biden. "At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections," he wrote, boosting President Trump's unfounded claims that the election was stolen from him. State election officials and Attorney General William Barr previously affirmed there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Hawley added that he will be following "the same practice" as congressional Democrats in 2004 and 2016. A handful of House Democrats did indeed try to object to Trump's victory in the 2016 election, but only informally as their written complaints did not include the required accompanying signature of a senator. Biden, who was presiding over the certification as then-vice president, wasn't having much of it and grew increasingly impatient with his fellow Democrats.

Several House Republicans are preparing to object this time around, and Hawley is the first senator to join them, though some members of his own party have criticized him for trying to curry favor with Trump because of his own presidential ambitions. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested his caucus refrain from joining the House effort. Tim O'Donnell

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