Recently Browsing 0 members
No registered users viewing this page.
'The moment of truth': The Electoral College prepares to hand Trump the loss he refuses to accept
Joey Garrison, USA TODAY Fri, December 11, 2020, 5:00 AM EST WASHINGTON — After all the failed lawsuits, the recounts, the falsehoods and conspiracy theories, President Donald Trump will finally meet his electoral fate Monday.
Across all statehouses amid a global pandemic, 538 electors are set to convene to cast their votes for either President-elect Joe Biden or Trump, reflecting the popular votes in their states.
Although protests are likely at some capitol buildings, the outcome should offer little suspense. Biden is set to end the day with 306 electoral votes, topping Trump's 232.
Historically, the Electoral College meeting is a formality given little attention. But Trump's unprecedented efforts to overturn the election have magnified every turn in the election calendar and shined the spotlight on electors who are usually overlooked.
Raising the stakes, some Senate Republicans circled the date as the moment they would finally recognize Biden as the president-elect. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last month said "the Electoral College will determine the winner."
President-elect Joe Biden speaks about jobs at The Queen theater, Friday, Dec. 4, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware. "This is the moment of truth, and something that is already inexorable becomes fully locked in," said Ben Wikler, a Wisconsin elector pledged for Biden and chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "This year, more than ever, it's almost a sacred act to cast the official votes that have been determined by voters to choose the most powerful person in the word."
No competing slates; 'faithless electors' curbed
The Electoral College meeting comes after Trump, who has leveled baseless claims of widespread voter fraud to argue the election was stolen, has lost a barrage of lawsuits seeking to overturn the election.
He also failed to convince state lawmakers in states he lost like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia to certify their own separate slates of Trump electors. It means Monday will lack the drama of competing slates of electors casting votes, spoiling a dubious legal strategy pursued by the Trump team.
"We've seen pretty clear signals from state legislators that's not going to happen," said Rebecca Green, director of William and Mary School of Law's election law program. She said such a scenario presented the biggest opportunity for "mischief on Dec. 14," adding the ingredients aren't there to "push forward any kind of fireworks."
More: Experts held 'war games' on the Trump vs. Biden election. Their finding? Brace for a mess
Eliminating more suspense, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in July states can insist members of the Electoral College support the winner of the popular vote on Election Day, prohibiting rogue electors in most states. Thirty-two states don't allow these so-called "faithless" electors.
"You can expect, as a result of that ruling, a lot fewer shenanigans," Green said.
Focus of Trump, allies shifts to Jan. 6
With Trump facing a loss in the Electoral College, the president and his allies have shifted their focus to Jan. 6, when a joint session of Congress meets to count the electoral votes and certify a winner.
But expected efforts by Republican House members to contest individual state's electors were dealt a blow Tuesday when most states – with their election disputes resolved –appeared to meet the safe harbor deadline constitutionally guaranteeing their electors are counted.
Matthew Weil, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Elections Project, said the Electoral College vote marks a “turning point” for Trump and his election challenge. Its action sets in motion the effective final act when Congress weighs certification prior to the Jan. 20 inauguration.
President Donald Trump speaks during an "Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit" on the White House complex, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020, in Washington. “I can’t imagine anything that could change the outcome once Congress acts,” Weil said.
Who are the electors?
Americans who voted in last month's presidential election voted to appoint electors pledged for either Biden, Trump or nominees of third parties to formally vote for president. A state's population determines its number of electors.
These electors are mostly party activists – in some cases state lawmakers, Congress members or even governors – appointed by state parties earlier this year.
Most aren't household names. Some are more well-known such as former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is an elector in Georgia; Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, an elector in his state; and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, former President Bill Clinton and Hillarious Clinton, each electors in New York.
Electoral College members pledged for Trump will convene in states the president won, while Biden electors will meet in states the former vice president carried, based on the certified election results in each state. Biden electors received notification to appear from governors or secretaries of states in the six states Trump has contested: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.
Biden electors feel the weight of their votes
The meetings – many begin at noon or 2 p.m. – are open to the public and typically streamed live online. Most begin with the national anthem. Some states kicked off past meetings with colonial-style military bands marching in or other forms of pageantry. That's less likely to be the case during the pandemic.
Meetings usually last under an hour, sometimes no longer than 20 minutes. Secretaries of states or other state election officials typically preside over the gatherings. With a room full of electors from the same party, there's no debate, but some electors use the time to give speeches on democracy and the historic moment.
"We're gathering at the state capitol at noon. That's what I know," said Wendy Davis, a city commissioner from Rome, Georgia, who is a first-time elector for Biden. A longtime party activist in a state that hadn't voted Democrat since 1992, Davis said the state's 16 electors reflect the diverse coalition that turned the state blue.
"It's enormous. It's such an honor. I still don't think the enormity has sunk in because we've been so busy working hard on the election."
Members of the Mississippi Electoral College sign certificates of vote in the process of formally casting their electoral votes in the 2016 General Election for President and Vice President of the United States at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. ( Electors cast their votes for president and vice president on separate ballots. They then sign six vote certificates, one to be delivered to Vice President Mike Pence as president of the U.S. Senate, two to the state's secretary of state, two the U.S. archivists and one to a federal judge in the district of the meeting.
It wouldn't be unprecedented to see protests. Trump critics gathered outside several capitol buildings in 2016 to voice their opposition to his Electoral College victory.
Amid the uproar as Trump fights the election results, some Democratic electors said they've heard from Trump supporters ahead of the vote.
Marseille Allen, one of Michigan's 16 Democratic electors, said the electors each received an email from elderly man urging her not to vote for Biden but said it didn't come off as threatening. Allen, a state probation agent from Flint, Michigan, said as an African American woman, voting in the Electoral College holds added significance.
"To be able to actually cast my vote for president when at one point this same institution didn't even consider me a full human being," Allen said, "it's an honor I will never, ever be able to put into words."
GOP electors in states Trump lost left with no options
As for electors pledged to Trump in disputed states, several contacted by USA TODAY said they have no current plans to show up at their statehouses in protest or stage their own meetings.
LANSING, MI - DECEMBER 19: Kate Holmes of Ann Arbor protests during a rally against President-elect Donald Trump at the Michigan State Capitol before the state electoral college met to cast their votes on December 19, 2016 in Lansing, Michigan, United States. The electoral college met in the afternoon and voted unanimously for Trump. Electors from all 50 states cast votes today in their respective state capitols. More "I have no directions whatsoever," said Stanley Grot, a Trump Michigan elector from Shelby Township, where he's the town's clerk. "Of course anything can change between now and the 14th. At this point, I have no other plans."
Ken Carroll, a Trump elector from Georgia and plaintiff in a lawsuit that sought to halt the state from certifying Georgia's election, said Georgia Republican electors don't plan to meet Monday. He worries about "where our country's going," but said it's "never even crossed our minds" to try to intervene with the Electoral College vote.
"You may have some groups that may show up on their own and protest it," said Carroll, a party activist form Easton, Georgia, who works in insurance. "But I think they would be more likely to protest the election itself, not the electors."
An observer, center, is removed by state Capitol police officers after shouting at Republican Electoral College voters who had just cast votes for President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. Mary Buestrin, a Trump elector from Wisconsin, said state Republican leaders told her to "keep the date open" but heard nothing more. "Nothing has been going on that I know of." A GOP elector during past elections, Buestrin said she can't envision a chaotic scene.
"It never has been, and someone's always lost and someone's alway won. It's been a very civil, very short meeting that is held."
Experts say objections unlikely to work in Congress
During the Jan. 6 meeting of Congress, Pence – as president of the Senate – will open the electoral certificates from each state alphabetically to count the votes. Any objections require support from one House member and one senator to be considered. The two chambers would meet separately to vote on any disputes.
More than 60 state Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania have called on the state's congressional delegation to reject Biden's victory in the state. Attracting applause from Trump, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said he hopes to "reject the count of particular states" like Georgia and Pennsylvania.
But legal experts said such threats will likely amount to little more than theater.
Ned Foley, director of the election law program at Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law, said even "if the off-chance, by surprise, there are rival submission of electoral votes," it would lack the votes to move forward. The House, controlled by Democrats, would quickly shoot down the effort, he said, and enough Republican senators would likely oppose the move as well.
"It may require a vote, there may be a little theater or drama on Jan. 6, but as a practical matter it's not going to affect who gets inaugurated on Jan, 20," Foley said.
In 2016, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wa., rose to object to the certification of electoral votes in Georgia, but Biden – then president of the Senate – quickly killed debate with his gavel because she lacked the signature of a senator.
"It is over," Biden said as Republicans applauded.
Vice President Joe Biden, with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., right, watching, delcares that Congress certifies Donald Trump's presidential victory during a joint session of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. In 2004, then-Sen. Barbara Boxer signed on to a House objection on the election results in Ohio, the decisive state in President Georgia W. Bush's victory over Democrat John Kerry. The House and Senate each defeated the objection.
"I don't believe that Congress will defy the will of the people," Green said. "You can have empty rhetoric in front of a microphone at a press conference. But so far, we've seen in court that doesn't fly. And I also believe that's not going to fly in Congress for the same reason."
Multiple Senate Republicans this week suggested they'll be ready to recognize Biden as the president-elect after the Electoral College meets Monday.
Outgoing Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., set to vacate from his seat next month, said it appears Biden will "very likely to be the president-elect" following the Electoral College vote.
"And if he is, I would hope the president would put the country first, congratulate Joe Biden, take pride in his considerable accomplishments, and help him off to a good start," he said.
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said he would "probably not" be willing to challenge results come Jan. 6. "I don't know that I don't think any one senator would probably feel comfortable doing that."
Braun said he supported efforts to vet concerns about election, but nothing "coalesced" to overturn the election. He said he's waiting until Monday's Electoral College vote to call Biden president-elect.
"I think at that point, the process has played itself out."
GO RV, then BV
Today marks an important Electoral College deadline. Here's why that's bad news for Trump
Joey Garrison, USA TODAY Tue, December 8, 2020, 4:00 AM EST WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's long-shot bid to overturn the election could become more far-fetched after Tuesday, when states with legal fights and recounts behind them can receive assurance that Congress must accept their electors.
Tuesday marks the so-called safe harbor deadline. Federal law requires that Congress recognize the slates of electors chosen by states that have resolved election disputes by this date.
The deadline comes as the Trump campaign has lost a barrage of court challenges in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada – each battleground states President-elect Joe Biden won – seeking to overturn the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Federal judges in Michigan and Georgia on Monday dismissed separate lawsuits from former Trump attorney Sidney Powell, an ally of the president, who tried to overturn results in those states with unfounded allegations of voter fraud.
"With each day that passes, particularly once the safe harbor deadline has passed, the possibility of changing the result becomes more and more remote," said Rebecca Green, director of William and Mary School of Law's election law program. "Without credible evidence to support the idea that there's a problem, it just becomes less and less likely that anyone is going to disrupt the schedule as it unfolds in state statutes and federal law."
President Donald Trump on Dec. 5, 2020, in Valdosta, Georgia.
The safe harbor deadline, outlined in the Electoral Count Act of 1887, falls six days before the Electoral College meets Dec. 14 to formally cast votes for president based on the popular votes in each state.
Congress then meets Jan. 6 to count the electoral votes and certify a presidential and vice presidential winner. Biden is set to defeat Trump 306-232 in the Electoral College based on the certification of election results by states.
Trump has refused to concede the election, falsely claiming the election was stolen by reciting conspiracy theories and baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
It's unclear how many states will meet the safe harbor deadline. Governors are required to communicate if they reached safe harbor status to the U.S. archivist.
The safe harbor protection applies to states that have settled "any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of all or any of the electors." States don't have to meet the safe harbor deadline to have their electors counted. But for the states that do, their determination "shall be conclusive, and shall govern in the counting of the electoral votes," the act reads.
"Meaning that Congress will not second-guess or question the state's own final determination," said Ned Foley, director of the election law program at Ohio State University School Law. "It gives the states the opportunity to chart its own destiny, if you will, with the respect to its electoral votes. Because if they make that final determination by that deadline, that's the answer and Congress promises not to question it."
The U.S. Supreme Court gave significance to the safe harbor deadline in 2000 when justices halted recount efforts in Florida so the state could meet the deadline in the race between President George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.
When electors from all 50 states and the District of Columbia meet Monday, they are obligated to vote for the candidate they pledged to support. Biden electors will convene in states Biden won, and Trump electors will convene in states Trump won.
When Congress counts the electoral votes on Jan. 6, it is historically a formality that reaffirms the Electoral College's action.
But in Pennsylvania, more than 60 Republican lawmakers have called on the state's congressional delegation to reject Biden's victory in the state.
And U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said last week he hopes to "reject the count of particular states" like Georgia and Pennsylvania that had "flawed election systems." Trump applauded the congressman.
Any effort to defy the votes from the Electoral College has virtually no shot of succeeding. It would be further guaranteed no success in states that meet the safe harbor deadline.
GO RV, then BV
Jim Michaels, USA TODAY 3:51 p.m. EST January 4, 2014
The fighting is the worst violence since U.S. forces left Iraq at the end of 2011.
It could take a week for government forces to push al-Qaeda out, source says Fighting in Anbar province comes amid growing sectarian tensions Al-Qaeda has been strengthened by the civil war in neighboring Syria Al-Qaeda militants have seized Fallujah, a key city in western Iraq, engaging Iraqi army forces in pitched battles there in a brazen challenge to Iraq's central government.
"The whole of Fallujah is taken," said Qasim Abed, a member of the provincial council in the region and the former governor of Anbar. "The situation is very bad."
Abed was reached Saturday by phone from his home in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, a mostly Sunni region west of Baghdad. He said militants have occupied police stations and government buildings throughout Fallujah and are also controlling limited parts of Ramadi.
Later Saturday, police had positioned themselves on the edge of Fallujah, head of the Anbar province police force Hadi Razeij said while speaking on Arabic language satellite broadcaster al-Arabiya.
"The walls of the city are in the hands of the police force, but the people of Fallujah are the prisoners of ISIL," he said, referring to the al-Qaeda linked Islamic State in Iraq and Levant.
Reports from the region are sketchy, and it is unlikely militants can hold any ground they have seized, analysts say.
However, the battlefield successes do provide al-Qaeda with an important propaganda victory; the militants depend on an image of invincibility for recruitment and fundraising. During the Iraq War, al-Qaeda frequently disseminated video of militants waving flags in public places.
Abed said it could take a week for government forces — and tribes who are fighting with the government — to push al-Qaeda out of the two cities. Abed said most Anbar tribes are fighting alongside government forces, but a handful have sided with the militants.
Al-Qaeda militants, emboldened by their powerful role in attempting to topple the government in neighboring Syria, have been exploiting the sense of alienation among Sunnis.
"It's a perfect storm that's been brewing for a long time," said Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
The fighting in Anbar province comes amid growing sectarian tensions between the minority Sunnis and the Shiite-dominated government.
Sunnis have accused the Shiite-led government of Nouri al-Maliki of being heavy-handed in his treatment of political rivals and have responded with spasms of violence.
"Maliki has taken a very serious and unfortunate step toward pushing a large percentage of the Sunni population to feel disenfranchised," said James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Recently, government forces arrested a prominent Sunni, touching off a firefight that killed the lawmaker's brother and some of his bodyguards. Security forces then dismantled a Sunni protest camp in Ramadi.
Responding to Sunni concerns, the central government agreed to withdraw its forces from Anbar cities this week. But once the forces left, al-Qaeda militants surfaced in Ramadi and Fallujah.
The fighting, the worst violence since U.S. forces left Iraq at the end of 2011, erupted just as a number of tribal leaders in recent weeks have been trying to work out a political compromise with al-Maliki's government.
"They were about to get a negotiated settlement," said Sterling Jensen, an analyst at the National Defense University's Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. "For some reason, Maliki chose this time to go against the protesters."
Anbar has played an influential role in shaping Iraq's history.
After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the region became a hotbed of the Sunni insurgency that fought American forces. In 2004, Fallujah had become a symbol of resistance to the U.S. presence until an American-led offensive drove militants from the city in bloody street fighting.
In 2006 and 2007, a network of tribal leaders in Ramadi who were backed by American forces led an effective revolt against al-Qaeda, helping to turn the tide of war in Iraq.
Today, tribal leaders in Anbar remain wary of al-Qaeda and have urged local police to fight the militants, analysts say.
However, they point out that it was the presence of Americans who gave tribal leaders the confidence to turn on al-Qaeda in 2006 and 2007. Sunni tribal leaders saw Americans as an ally that could protect them from al-Qaeda and the excesses of a Shiite-dominated government.
Analysts fear that Sunnis now may be driven into the arms of al-Qaeda if they feel it is the only bulwark against a government hostile to their interests.
"It's possible they are now opening their communities to an al-Qaeda they didn't like," said Stephen Biddle, a national security analyst and professor at George Washington University.
Al-Qaeda has also been strengthened by the civil war in neighboring Syria. The war there has attracted foreigners who came to fight under the al-Qaeda banner. Some of those fighters may be spilling into western Iraq, analysts say.
The fighting in Syria has given al-Qaeda in Syria "a new lease on life," Jeffrey said.
"There are no peacekeepers here to stabilize this," Biddle said. "As a result you get a very dangerous tinderbox."
Such a waste of time with Maliki. Wonder if this is why the CBI hasn't updated since 12/31. I really hate to see more loss of lives of our servicemen while our president basks in the sun of Hawaii.
I'm just angry anymore.
Testing the Rocker Badge!
Live Exchange Rate