Posts tagged with "The Washington Post"

Biden to unveil commission to study possible expansion of Supreme Court

April 12, 2021

President Biden was scheduled to unveil a bipartisan commission to study structural changes to the Supreme Court on Friday, April 9, according to three people knowledgeable sources, The Washington Post reports.

The move follows the appointments of three conservatives to the court during the Trump Administration: Neil Gorsuch in 2017, Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and Amy Coney Barrett in 2020—and comes amid liberal calls for expansion to blunt the court’s conservative majority.

The commission—envisioned to include as many as three dozen people—will fulfill Biden’s campaign promise create a group to study changes to the court.

According to the Post, Biden has said he is “not a fan of court-packing,” but he faced pressure during the campaign from liberals to back changes, including court expansion, after Republicans pushed to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett shortly before the 2020 election.

The commission, however, is likely to disappoint liberals who are looking for quick action. Most of the commission’s members are academics, and they will come from a range of political backgrounds. Bob Bauer, a top lawyer on Biden’s campaign, and Cristina Rodriguez, a professor at Yale Law School, will chair the commission, which will be run out of the White House Counsel’s Office.

Other members include Caroline Fredrickson, the former president of the American Constitution Society, and Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor.

The three people familiar with the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. The White House declined to comment.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Study: Fears of ‘White people losing out’ permeate Capitol rioters’ towns

January 7, 2021

Most Americans take the Capitol rioters at their word—accepting that their motive for breaching the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was to stop the Congress from verifying the election of Democratic President Joe Biden.

However, The New York Times reports, when the political scientist Robert Pape of The University of Chicago began studying the issues that motivated the 380 or so people arrested in connection with the attack against the Capitol, he found something very different: Most of the people who took part in the assault came from places, his polling and demographic data showed, that—goaded by then-President Trump– were awash in fears that the rights of minorities and immigrants were crowding out the rights of white people in American politics and culture.

Indeed, if Pape’s initial conclusions— published on Tuesday in The Washington Post—hold true, they would appear to connect the January 6 insurrrection  to the once-fringe right-wing theory called the Great Replacement— that an indigenous European (e.g., White) population is being replaced by non-European immigrants.

What’s more Pape’s conclusions appear to link the January 6 riot to events like the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 where crowds of white men marched with torches chanting, “Jews will not replace us!”

“If you look back in history, there has always been a series of far-right extremist movements responding to new waves of immigration to the United States or to movements for civil rights by minority groups,” Pape told the Post, adding,  “You see a common pattern in the Capitol insurrectionists. They are mainly middle-class to upper-middle-class whites who are worried that, as social changes occur around them, they will see a decline in their status in the future.”

One fact stood out in Pape’s study, conducted with the help of researchers at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats—a think tank he runs at the University of Chicago. Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic white population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists. This finding held true, Pape determined, even when controlling for population size, distance to Washington, unemployment rate, and urban or rural location.

Law enforcement officials have said that between 800 and 1,000 people entered the Capitol on January 6—and prosecutors have spent the past three months tracking down many of them in what they have described as one of the largest criminal investigations in U.S. history. In recent court filings, the government has hinted that more than 400 people may ultimately face charges, including illegal entry, assault of police officers and the obstruction of the official business of Congress.

According to the report by the Times. Pape determined that only about 10% percent of those charged were members of established far-right organizations like the Oath Keepers militia or the nationalist extremist group the Proud Boys. But unlike other analysts who have made similar findings,

In an effort to determine why the mob that formed on January 6 turned violent, Pape compared events that day with two previous pro-Trump rallies in Washington, on November 14 and December 12. While police records show some indications of street fighting after the first two gatherings, Pape said, the number of arrests were fewer and the charges less serious than on January 6. The records also show that those arrested in November and December largely lived within an hour of Washington while most of those arrested in January came from considerably farther away.

The difference at the rallies was former President Donald Trump, Pape said—noting that Trump promoted the January 6 rally in advance, saying it would be “wild” and driving up attendance. He then encouraged the mob to march on the Capitol in an effort to “show strength

Pape said he worried that a similar mob could be summoned again by a leader like Trump. After all, he suggested, as the country continues moving toward becoming a majority-minority nation and right-wing media outlets continue to stoke fear about the Great Replacement, the racial and cultural anxieties that lay beneath the riot at the Capitol are not going away.

“If all of this is really rooted in the politics of social change, then we have to realize that it’s not going to be solved—or solved alone—by law enforcement agencies,” Pape said. “This is political violence, not just ordinary criminal violence, and it is going to require both additional information and a strategic approach.”

 “We really still are at the beginning stages,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden Administration works with industry to develop COVID-19 vaccination ‘passports’

March 30, 2021

Along with private technology and travel companies, the Biden Administration is working to develop credentials—referred to as passports, health certificates or travel passes—showing proof of vaccination as individuals and businesses emerge from lockdown, The Washington Post reports.

The effort has gained momentum amid President Joe Biden’s pledge that the nation will start to regain normalcy this summer; and with a growing number of companies—from cruise lines to sports teams—saying they will require proof of vaccination before opening their doors again.

The Administration’s initiative has been driven largely by efforts of the Department of Health and Human Services, including an office devoted to health information technology, said five officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the effort. The White House this month took on a bigger role managing government agencies involved in the work, led by Coronavirus Coordinator Jeff Zients, with a goal of announcing updates in coming days, said one official.

 “Our role is to help ensure that any solutions in this area should be simple, free, open source, accessible to people both digitally and on paper, and designed from the start to protect people’s privacy,” Zients said at a March 12 briefing.

According to the Post, the passports offer a glimpse of a future after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Officials say getting vaccinated and having proper documentation will smooth the way to travel, entertainment and other social gatherings in a post-pandemic world. But it also raises concerns about dividing the world along the lines of wealth and vaccine access—creating ethical and logistical issues for decision-makers around the world.

“A chaotic and ineffective vaccine credential approach could hamper our pandemic response by undercutting health safety measures, slowing economic recovery, and undermining public trust and confidence,” reads one slide at a March 2  conference prepared by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

There are several private-sector initiatives creating passports. Among them is the trade group for global airlines, the International Air Transport Association, which is testing a version it calls Travel Pass.

It is not clear, however, whether any of the passports under development will be accepted broadly around the world, and the result could be confusion among travelers and disappointment for the travel industry.

Vaccine passports will be most common on international flights. Some countries already require proof of vaccination for diseases such as yellow fever, and the United States now requires a negative test for COVID-19 to enter the country.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends against travel even as the agency has relaxed other guidelines for people who have been vaccinated.

The Vaccination Credential Initiative is a coalition trying to standardize tracking data of vaccination records in an attempt to speed up a return to normal, Fox News reports.

“The busboy, the janitor, the waiter that works at a restaurant, [want] to be surrounded by employees that are going back to work safely—and [want] to have the patrons ideally be safe as well,” said Brian Anderson, a physician at Mitre, a company helping lead the initiative. “Creating an environment for those vulnerable populations to get back to work safely—and to know that the people coming back to their business are ‘safe,’ and vaccinated— would be a great scenario.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

White House promises AAPI liaison following ultimatum from Sens. Duckworth and Hirono

March25, 2021

The White House agreed late Tuesday, March 23, to add a senior-level Asian American Pacific Islander liaison after two Democratic senators threatened to vote no on nominees because of what they said characterized as a lack of sufficient Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in President Joe Biden’s Cabinet, The Washington Post reports.

“The President has made it clear that his Administration will reflect the diversity of the country. That has always been, and remains our goal,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “The White House will add a senior level Asian American Pacific Islander liaison, who will ensure the community’s voice is further represented and heard.”

The decision came after Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) vowed on Tuesday afternoon to vote no on Biden’s “non-diversity” Cabinet nominees until the White House addressed the issue.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about who might fill the role or whether it was a new position. The White House has for several years had a liaison to the AAPI community, the Post notes.

All 15 of Biden’s Cabinet secretary slots have been filled, and there are no Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders among them, the first time in more than 20 years that a president’s Cabinet has not included at least one AAPI secretary. (However, Vice President Kamala Harris, born in California, is half-Jamaican and half-Indian.)

Duckworth said that during the past six months she has repeatedly offered the White House the names of “many well-qualified AAPIs” for Cabinet positions, but those individuals “never even got a phone call,” she said.

“At this point … they can call me and tell me what the proposal is,” Duckworth said of the White House. “But until then, I am a no vote on the floor on all non-diversity nominees. You know, I will vote for racial minorities and I will vote for LGBTQ. But anybody else, I’m not voting for.”

Hirono later told reporters she spoke with the White House on Monday night and was joining Duckworth in her push for AAPI representation in Biden’s Cabinet.

“I talked with Tammy about her clarified position, and I’m joining her in there, which means that we would like to have a commitment from the White House that there’ll be more diversity representation in the Cabinet, and in senior White House positions,” Hirono told reporters Tuesday. “And until that happens, I will be able to join her in voting no on non-diversity nominees. I think that is a reasonable position.”

Biden had nominated Neera Tanden, whose parents immigrated from India, to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget, but Tanden later withdrew her nomination after it became clear she would not have the votes to be confirmed. Katherine Tai, who was sworn in last week as the U.S. trade representative, is of Asian descent, but her position is not a secretary-level one in the Cabinet.

Late Tuesday, Hirono said she had had a “productive conversation” with Biden officials “to make clear my perspective about the importance of diversity in the President’s Cabinet,” according to the Post.

Both she and Duckworth announced they were backing down from their ultimatums after the White House agreed to appoint an AAPI liaison.

“Senator Duckworth appreciates the Biden Administration’s assurances that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices and perspectives at the highest levels of government—including appointing an AAPI senior White House official to represent the community, secure the confirmation of AAPI appointments, and advance policy proposals that are relevant and important to the community,” Duckworth spokesperson Ben Garmisa said in a statement.

Before the White House’s decision, Biden was asked about Duckworth’s and Hirono’s comments in a brief exchange with reporters before he left Ohio to return to Washington on Tuesday night. The president was in Ohio as part of a push to highlight his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, and he marked the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.

“We have the most diverse Cabinet in history,” Biden said. “We have a lot of Asian Americans that are in the Cabinet and in sub-Cabinet levels.”

However, in her remarks to reporters Tuesday, Duckworth said that when she has raised the issue with the White House, she has been told multiple times that Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris, who is Black and Asian American, as vice president is sufficient.

“To be told that, ‘Well, you have Kamala Harris. We’re very proud of her. You don’t need anybody else,’ is insulting,” Duckworth said. “Last night, that was the trigger for me. But multiple times I’ve heard that.”

“And that is not something you would say to the Black Caucus: ‘Well, you have Kamala. We’re not going to put any more African Americans in the Cabinet, because you have Kamala,’” Duckworth added. “Why would you say it to AAPI?”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump’s legal team exits after he insists they use election fraud as impeachment defense

February 2, 2021

The former president continues to be his own worst enemy: Last weekend, Trump was dumped by the legal team for his second impeachment trial, as he continued to fixate on arguing that the 2020 election was stolen from him—a defense that they had warned him is ill-conceived and that GOP strategists fear will fuel the growing divide in their party, The Washington Post reports.

South Carolina lawyer Karl S. “Butch” Bowers Jr. and four other attorneys who recently signed on to represent the former president abruptly parted ways with him days before his February 9 Senate trial for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol. On Sunday evening, Trump’s office announced two new lawyers were taking over his defense.

Two people familiar with the discussions preceding the departure of the original legal team said that Trump wanted them to make the case during the trial that he actually won the election. To do so would require citing his false claims of election fraud—even as his allies and attorneys have said that he should instead focus on arguing that impeaching a president who has already left office is unconstitutional, the Post said.

Trump’s lawyers initially had planned to center their strategy on the question of whether the proceedings were constitutional and on the definition of incitement, according to one of the sources—who, like others interviewed by The Washington Post for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal conversations.

But the former president repeatedly said he wanted to litigate the voter fraud allegations and the 2020 race—and was seeking a more public defense of his actions. Bowers told Trump he couldn’t mount the defense that Trump wanted, the person said.

“It truly was mutual,” the person said. “The president wanted a different defense. The president wanted a different approach and a different team.”

45 senators have already voted in agreement,” Miller wrote in a text message.

Bowers and the other lawyers who quit Trump’s defense team did not respond to requests for comment. CNN first reported that Trump wanted his attorneys to center his defense on his claims of election fraud.

On Sunday evening, Trump’s office announced in a statement that Atlanta-based trial attorney David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr., a former district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, would lead his defense team. The two lawyers will bring “national profiles and significant trial experience in high-profile cases to the effort,” the statement said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

In hourlong phone call, Trump entreats, bullies Georgia secretary of state to overturn election results

January 5, 2021

He lost the general election last November 3, but he refuses to accept the well-documented results. Indeed, on Sunday, January 3, President Donald Trump begged Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the election results during an astounding hourlong phone call.

NBC News reports that the network has obtained a tape of the unprecedented phone conversation, during which the president offered a smorgasbord of false claims about voter fraud and repeatedly berated state officials.

“So look,” Trump told Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, “All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”

Excerpts of the call, which took place Saturday, were first published Sunday by The Washington Post.

The conversation is revealing in that it not only documents Trump’s threats against Raffensperger, but hints at what may have been said in talks between the president and other state and political officials nationwide since the POTUS lost the election to President-elect Biden by a decisive 7 million votes.

The phone call featured Trump, days before he is set to leave office, pleading with Raffensperger to alter the vote total and launching into a barrage of discredited conspiracy theories about the election. Trump even suggested that Raffensperger might face criminal consequences should he refuse to intervene in accordance with Trump’s wishes.

Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel, Ryan Germany, pushed back against Trump’s claims and said President-elect Joe Biden’s victory of about 12,000 votes in the State of Georgia was accurate.

“The people of Georgia are angry. The people in the country are angry,” Trump said in the call. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.

“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Raffensperger responded, “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.”

“We now have irrefutable proof of a president pressuring and threatening an official of his own party to get him to rescind a state’s lawful, certified vote count and fabricate another in its place,” Biden Senior Adviser Bob Bauer said in a statement. “It captures the whole, disgraceful story about Donald Trump’s assault on American democracy.

At an event in Savannah, Georgia, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris referred to the call as “a bald, bald face, bold abuse of power by the president of the United States.”

Georgia has conducted multiple recounts and audits of the vote since November. Recently, an audit of signature matches in Cobb County found “no fraudulent absentee ballots,” Raffensperger’s office announced.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses stuck in warehouses until federal orders, Pfizer says

December 21, 2020

Millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are languishing in warehouses awaiting shipment instructions from the Trump administration—even as states and first responders are clamoring for them—vaccine manufacturer Pzifer said in a statement on Thursday, December 17.

The startling bottleneck is occurring as America is breaking daily COVID-19 death tolls, The Huffington Post reports. The nation lost more people on Decemeber 16, alone (3,611), than the number of people who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Officials in several states said they were told Wednesday that their second shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine next week has been mysteriously reduced, CNN reported. That triggered fears by states that the Trump Administration may be incapable of hitting the target of delivering enough vaccine doses for 20 million injections by the end of the year.

Indeed, Illinois Governjor J.B. Pritzker (D) said Wednesday that federal officials informed states that the expected total shipments of doses nationally over the next two weeks have been cut in half to about 4.3 million doses for each week.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee (D) tweeted Thursday that the state’s vaccine allocation will be cut by 40% next week and that “no explanation was given.” He called it “disruptive and frustrating.”

States are reportedly already scrambling to cut back and reorganize planned vaccinations.

A source told The Washington Post that Pfizer executives were “baffled” that the Trump administration wasn’t immediately shipping out all of the vaccine.

Pfizer defended itself amid the rising fears about vaccine delivery, noting that it has no production problems—and has doses ready to go.

“This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. government to the locations specified by them,” Pzifer said in its statement. “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses,” the company added.

A unidentified federal official blamed the delivery change on states’ requests for expedited delivery, leaving less time for inspection and clearing of supplies, the Post reported. “We are sending doses that have been produced, verified and released,” the official said. But that would appear to be contradicted by Pfizer’s statement that millions of doses have been ready for inspection, the newspaper

Pfizer said it has continually kept President Donald Trump’s Operation Warp Speed program, as well as his administration’s Department of Health and Human Services up to date on “every aspect of our production and distribution capabilities,” and officials have “walked the production lines” at company facilities.

Pfizer has a successful and long track record of producing and distributing large volumes of complex vaccines that the world can trust―and we are continuing to extend this track record with our COVID-19 vaccine,” it said.

On top of Pfizer’s 2.9 million doses already shipped, millions of more doses of Moderna’s vaccine are ready to go out next week if they’re approved, which is likely. Pfizer will provide an additional 2 million doses next week, according to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

The Post characterized the upcoming number as a sharp dropoff from what states were expecting.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Mar-a-Lago neighbors to Trump: Spend your post-presidency elsewhere

December 17, 2020

Outgoing President Donald Trump will not receive a warm welcome to the neighborhood, if he chooses to spend his post-POTUS days at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, The Washington Post reports.

After hearing about his plans to retreat to the property he now uses as his Winter White House, area residents have a message for the Trump: We don’t want you  here.

According to the Post, that message was formally delivered Tuesday morning in a demand letter delivered to the town of Palm Beach and also addressed to the U.S. Secret Service asserting that Trump lost his legal right to live at Mar-a-Lago because of an agreement he signed in the early 1990s when he converted the storied estate from his private residence to a private club.

The legal maneuver could, at long last, force Palm Beach to publicly address whether Trump can make Mar-a-Lago his legal residence and home, as he has been expected to do, when he becomes an ex-president after the swearing-in of Joe Biden on January 20.

The contretemps sets up a potentially awkward scenario, unique in recent history, in which a former Oval Office occupant would find himself having to officially defend his choice of a place to live during his post-presidency. It also could create a legal headache for Trump because he changed his official domicile to Mar-a-Lago, leaving behind Manhattan, where he lived before being elected president and came to fame as a brash, self-promoting developer. (Trump originally tried to register to vote in Florida using the White House in Washington as his address, which is not allowed under Florida law. He later changed the registration to the Mar-a-Lago address.)

In the demand letter, obtained by The Washington Post, an attorney for the Mar-a-Lago neighbors says the town should notify Trump that he cannot use Mar-a-Lago as his residence. Making that move would “avoid an embarrassing situation” if the outgoing president moves to the club and later has to be ordered to leave, according to the letter sent on behalf of the neighbors, the DeMoss family, which runs an international missionary foundation.

For years, various neighbors have raised concerns about disruptions, such as clogged traffic and blocked streets, caused by the president’s frequent trips to the club. Even before he was president, Trump created ill will in the town by refusing to comply with even basic local requirements, such as adhering to height limits for a massive flagpole he installed—and frequently attempting to get out of the promises he had made when he converted Mar-a-Lago into a private club.

“There’s absolutely no legal theory under which he can use that property as both a residence and a club,” said Glenn Zeitz, another nearby Palm Beach homeowner who has joined the fight against Trump and had previously tangled with him over Trump’s attempt to seize a private home to expand his Atlantic City casino. “Basically he’s playing a dead hand. He’s not going to intimidate or bluff people because we’re going to be there.”

A White House spokesperson and Palm Beach’s mayor did not respond to requests for comment. To date, Palm Beach has made no public attempt to prevent Trump from living at Mar-a-Lago or from using it as his legal residence.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Rocking the pandemic: Texas nature path becomes a wonderland of tiny stone paintings

November  18, 2020

Chris Penny figures that his mail carrier must have spectacular biceps by now. Most every day for the past seven months, when the carrier arrives at Penny’s home in Grapevine, Texas, he unloads a few heavy bins and hauls them, one by one, up the driveway to Penny’s front porch.

The boxes are filled with packages containing painted rocks—most of them intricate works of art, handmade and mailed from people all over the country, The Washington Post reports.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, people have been sending them to Penny so that he and his family can place them along the Parr Park Rock Art Traila mile-long public walking path that has become a wonderland of more than 4,000 art rocks.

“These aren’t just any rocks;

Above, a wagon loaded with new rocks to be displayed along the rock trail. (Photo source Chris Penny)

they’re works of art,” said Penny, 44. “The other day, I had 11 big boxes to unpack in my living room. It’s incredible to see that people from all over are now painting rocks to turn my community into a trail of happiness.”

The rocks—painted to resemble everything from the Beatles to Mickey Mouse to a face mask—started arriving at Penny’s house ever since he bought a bunch on eBay after noticing a dozen painted rocks scattered along a nature trail in Parr Park. Penny said he knew right away that he wanted to flood the trail with them and make it a destination.

Penny learned that the colorful rocks he’d stumbled upon were painted by Ron Olsen and his three grown children in March, after Olsen returned from a trip to Iceland and discovered that Grapevine, a city of around 46,000 people, had practically become a ghost town due to the nationwide coronavirus shutdown.

Olsen said he wanted to do something for the community, so he gathered his family together on March 28 to paint a few rocks—including one covered with blue bonnet flowers and another decorated with balloons—and scatter them along his favorite trail in Parr Park.

Soon, he and Penny decided to join forces to transform the trail into an artsy attraction for anyone in Grapevine and beyond who wanted to escape the stress of COVID-19 for a while.

“We wanted to make it a getaway for people and give parents something safe to do outdoors with their children,” Olsen, 62, who works in Grapevine as a photographer and RV dealer, told the Post.

“Anyone can paint a rock,” he said. “And if you put hundreds and hundreds of them together, it really adds up to something amazing.”

Penny, who runs the nonprofit Broken Crayon, focused on helping women and children living in poverty in the United States and Ghana, said the project has provided his family with something fun and positive to do close to home during the pandemic.

In the early days in March, after he’d painted several dozen rocks with his daughters and bought dozens more online, Penny posted on Facebook, asking anyone who would like to contribute to the project to mail him their rocks and he’d pay for the shipping.

“I thought that a few people might want to pitch in, but I was stunned when I went to get my mail one day and found tons of rocks on the porch,” he said. “Pretty soon, we were the talk of the post office.”

For Lissa Critz, who visits the park regularly with her two children, told the post that the rock trail has provided some much-needed diversion from home schooling in Grapevine.

“It’s become like a game when we go to the park to locate all of the new rocks,” said Critz, 41. “The rocks are so well done and so much time and care has been put into the project. We love it.”

There are sections devoted to wildlife, teachers, health-care heroes, firefighters, Disney princesses, patriotism, movie stars, video games and travel, said Olsen, who visits the trail several days a week to photograph all of the new rocks and post them on the park’s Facebook page.

“Of course, we have a rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame, and we also have a dog park,” said Olsen, adding that they have cat rocks but they haven’t yet made a “cat park.”

“I guess we’d better get busy on that,” he added.

 

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Georgia elections official says Lindsey Graham pressured him to toss out legal ballots

November 18, 2020

Georgia’s top elections official said on November 16 that Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—who has served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee since 2019—pressured him during a November 13 phone call to toss out legally mailed ballots, as the recount of the presidential election continues in that state.

Indeed, Politico reports, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that he has heard from a number of Republicans, who are seeking to sway election results in President Donald Trump’s favor.

Speaking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday evening, Raffensperger said that Graham asked whether he could check signatures on mail-in ballots during Georgia’s recount and use a high frequency of mismatches to justify throwing away mail-in ballots in certain counties.

Raffensperger said he took Graham’s comments as “an implication of look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.”

When contacted by Politico, Graham denied pressuring Raffensperger to throw away legal ballots,saying that he had a “very pleasant” conversation about the state’s signature verification process.

The Washington Post first reported the conversation, which reportedly took place last Friday—on the same day a Georgia lawyer sympathetic to Trump filed a lawsuit to prevent the state from certifying the election until all signatures could be verified. When presented with Graham’s denial on CNN, Raffensperger pointed out that the lawsuit sought to use a tactic similar to the one Graham proposed to stop the inclusion of absentee ballots in the state.

Georgia wound up being one of the key battlegrounds of the 2020 presidential election, with a razor-thin margin that eventually tipped in Democrat Joe Biden’s favor. But Trump has refused to concede and has gone after election officials in critical states — including Georgia — with conspiracy theories that the race was stolen from him.

During his CNN interview, Raffensperger balked at the idea of tossing legally cast ballots, and rejected the notion that election workers were not thoroughly verifying votes.

“We feel confident the election officials did their job,” Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger also said he was surprised by the vitriol from his fellow Republicans toward his performance verifying the election. His wife has received menacing messages on her cellphone relating to the election, he told Blitzer. Raffensperger and his wife have been isolating after she was diagnosed with coronavirus.

“You always think, I’m on this side of the aisle, obviously, and you always think your side wears the white hats,” Raffensperger said. “But people are really upset about this.”

He added: “I’m going to probably be disappointed because I was rooting for the Republicans to win,

Research contact: @politico