So is this the “evidence” the CIA has? That some electors who didn’t like the outcome were questioning Trump? If it is, oh no…
Democrats put on a united bid to question the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s election victory on Monday with the Clinton campaign returning from the dead to join in.
In a series of developments the White House, the Clinton campaign and Democrat members of the electoral college all pounced on reports that the CIA believe Russian wanted Trump to win the election.
A group of electoral college members – aided by an anti-Trump Republican – demanded a security briefing on the CIA’s findings – a clear attempt to influence other members of the college who are not bound to vote for Trump.
Then they were backed by John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, who launched a tirade against the media, claiming – in the teeth of overwhelming evidence – that claims of Russia interfering in the election had not been covered enough before voting day.
Next to the fray was the White House, which accused Trump of inviting Russia to hack Hillary Clinton, ending weeks of detente in the wake of the election result.
The attacks appear to be a concerted attempt by the Democrats to turn next week’s vote by members of the electoral college into a massive question over the legitimacy of the result.
The three attacks came in the wake of a report in the Washington Post that the CIA had concluded Russia hacked both parties’ systems but released only material which would embarrass the Democrats.
That was roundly rejected by Trump at the weekend and on Monday morning, as he said it was impossible to know who had hacked Clinton’s efforts, and his campaign compared the CIA conclusion to the intelligence consensus that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
The White House’s intervention came when spokesman Josh Earnest was asked to respond to Trump’s position.
‘He called on Russia to hack his opponent. He called on Russia to attack Secretary Clinton,’ Josh Earnest said. ‘So, he certainly had a pretty good sense of which side this activity was coming down on.’
But he spoke knowing that just hours earlier Clinton’s campaign chairman had given public support to a letter from 10 members of the electoral college who are demanding an intelligence briefing on claims Russia interfered in the election’s result before they cast their votes.
John Podesta, the aide whose leaked emails were a source of embarrassment as they revealed Clinton’s campaign secrets, said the electors should ‘have their questions addressed’.
The demand from the electors was made in a letter posted on Medium and led by Christine Pelosi, whose mother is the Democrats’ leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
They described themselves as a ‘bipartisan’ group although only one is a Republican, who had already stood down from the college so he would not have to vote for Donald Trump.
The Electoral College members will cast their ballots on December 19 for President of the United States.
Delegates from a majority of states are required to mark down the candidate who won the most votes in their statewide election.
But 20 states allow free votes – and the group of nine Democrats and one Republican are trying to influence them to vote against Trump.
Most of the 10 will be voting in line with their party loyalties. But the 10 include a leading advocate of the faithless elector strategy who was a ‘never Trump Republican’.
They want an intelligence briefing before they cast their ballots. The move would imply that they think Trump would be considered tainted by the college and not be voted into office.
The electoral college has never defied the will of voters. In two cases it was unable to reach a majority, and the election went to the House of Representatives – in 1800 and 1824.
In the letter they say: ‘The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations.
‘We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.’
Podesta responded with an accusation that the media had ignored their claims that Russia was hacking – a counter-factual claim which flies in the face of what actually happened in the campaign.
Podesta said in a statement: ‘Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed.’
‘Each day that month, our campaign decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump.