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  1. #1666

    Re: The Run to the WH

    Trump exploring executive actions to curb voting by mail
    Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party have taken to the courts dozens to challenge voting rules. Trump's aides are pondering possible executive actions.

    08/08/2020 07:00 AM EDT

    This past spring, President Donald Trump began a full-fledged assault on voting by mail, tweeting, retweeting and railing about massive fraud and rigged elections with scant evidence.

    Then the Republican apparatus got to work backing up the president.

    In the weeks since, Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have taken to the courts dozens of times as part of a $20 million effort to challenge voting rules, including filing their own lawsuits in several battleground states, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nevada. And around the time Trump started musing about delaying the election last week, aides and outside advisers began scrambling to ponder possible executive actions he could take to curb mail-in voting — everything from directing the postal service to not deliver certain ballots to stopping local officials from counting them after Election Day.

    The actions can only make so much difference before November — elections are mostly run at the state and local level, and are subject to congressional authority. And some fellow Republicans are warning the president privately and publicly that attempts to restrict mail-in ballots could actually hurt the GOP in November, scaring Republicans from voting remotely even if they also refuse to vote in person during a pandemic. New polling has fueled these concerns.

    But the flurry of activity is buoying the president in other ways. Namely, it has allowed Trump to present himself as a fighter on an issue that many of his most fervent supporters have taken up in the last few months.

    Trump fans, said John Fredericks, a conservative radio host who serves on the Trump campaign’s advisory committee, “think Trump is going to win legitimately, but the Democrats are trying to steal the election by manipulating mail-out ballots. They want the president to jawbone enough so there’s a level of outrage to get rid of these ballots.”

    Just because Trump’s claims of rampant mail-in voting fraud aren’t supported by evidence doesn’t mean election experts aren’t concerned about problems holding a presidential election during a pandemic. It’s unknown whether the United States Postal Service can handle a surge of mail-in ballots in a timely fashion, and other officials have cautioned about long lines and a shortage of workers at in-person polling stations, which have been limited during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Some have predicted the crush of remote voting could mean a final winner in the presidential race between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden won’t be known for days or even weeks. Democrats are pushing for $25 billion for USPS in the next coronavirus recovery bill to help address those concerns, but it remains a source of disagreement with Republicans.

    There have already been some some notable delays in down-ballot elections during the pandemic, including one New York race this summer. Six weeks after a Democratic primary for a U.S. House seat, all of the ballots have yet to be counted.

    “This is a rare case where the president is not overstating the case,” argued Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative group that has sued in North Carolina and Pennsylvania over the accuracy of voting rolls. “Frankly he’s understating the problem that I think we are going to face on Election Day. The system is going to break.”

    Trump and his team are trumpeting these fears.

    The Trump campaign is holding events touting its legal actions on voting rules. And privately, the White House is debating possible further action, according to two people familiar with the situation. The White House declined to comment on whether Trump would be signing an executive order on the issue.

    “All Americans deserve an election system that is secure and President Trump is highlighting that Democrats’ plan for universal mail-in voting would lead to fraud,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews. “While Democrats continue to call for a radical overhaul of our nation’s voting system, President Trump will continue to work to ensure the security and integrity of our elections.”

    Trump has spent months railing against mail-in voting as the pandemic raged and his poll numbers dropped nationally and in battleground states. Yet on Tuesday, Trump appeared to change his mind for one battleground state: Florida. He claimed that because the state’s two back-to-back Republican governors — Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott — had managed elections professionally. Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, dubbed Trump’s action “hypocritical.”

    Voting specialists also note that five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — already conduct elections entirely by mail with few problems. This fall, three additional states — California, Vermont and Nevada — plan to send ballots to registered voters because of the pandemic.

    Voters in most other states can request an absentee ballot by mail without providing a reason. And numerous states are still reviewing their voting policies as coronavirus infections continue to rise.

    Already, Democrats and left-leaning groups are pushing to make voting by mail easier and to educate voters about how to properly cast remote ballots. Republicans are fighting voting rule changes in 17 states, going to court 40 times, drawing on a recently doubled legal budget of $20 million. At the RNC and Trump campaign, 12 staff attorneys and several dozen more outside lawyers are working on the issue across the country, according to an RNC official.

    Republicans have intervened to do just that in numerous states. In Iowa, they sued to prevent third parties from filling out personal information on absentee ballot requests. In Minnesota, they tried to prevent ballots from being sent to inactive voters. And in Nevada, the Trump campaign on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the state over a plan to send ballots to active registered voters this November.

    “This unconstitutional legislation implements the exact universal vote-by-mail system President Trump has been warning against for months,” said Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser for the Trump campaign.

    Republicans have already won some battles. A Democratic super-PAC and other left-leaning groups agreed to drop a lawsuit over voting rules in Florida after a judge refused to order changes immediately, including a request that the government cover postage costs for mail-in ballots. Another lawsuit seeking to extend the state’s absentee ballot deadline was dismissed in Pennsylvania

    “All politicians are paranoid about potential fraud in their campaigns. And sometimes rightfully so,” said Pat McCrory, the former Republican governor of North Carolina, who blamed fraud when he lost his 2016 reelection bid by 10,000 votes out of more than 4.6 million ballots cast. “He knows states like Michigan and North Carolina — like last time — could be close.”

    Republicans aren’t the only ones taking action on mail-in voting. Democrats and outside groups on both sides of the issue have similarly taken to the courts over voting rules — more than 160 lawsuits have been filed nationwide, according to election experts.

    The potential problems with mail-in voting are varied and numerous. Voting rolls that determine who receives a ballot could be inaccurate, ballots could be sent to the wrong address or lost in the mail, or voters may have their ballot tossed out for not following directions, for not having a proper signature or for having a name that doesn’t exactly match information on file with election officials.

    Democrats have argued these concerns can be addressed through funding, tweaks to the rules and voter education. Conversely, Republicans have cited them as reasons to limit mail-in voting.

    “They’re absolutely exaggerating and overstating the fraud. It is not a rampant problem,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, deputy director at the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, where he focuses on voting rights and elections. “It is not the existential threat that the president says it is.”

    But states that allow voting by mail have spent years building the infrastructure necessary to handle both the outgoing and incoming ballots, said Hans von Spakovsky, who manages the conservative Heritage Foundation's Election Law Reform Initiative.

    “We’re only three months from the election,” said von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission. “To think states could do this by November is impractical.”

    Trump, impatient with the slow nature of lawsuits, suggested last week that the November election be postponed, though he later claimed he was merely trying to highlight the possibility of fraud after he faced a backlash from even members of his own party. Only Congress can change the date of the election.

    Since then, Trump has mused to aides about what executive orders, if any, he could sign to curb voting by mail.

    “I have the right to do it,” Trump told reporters Monday. “We haven’t gotten there yet. We’ll see what happens.”

    Yet even conservatives allies, including von Spakovsky, are skeptical Trump has the authority to intervene in elections. John Yoo, a senior Justice Department attorney under former President George W. Bush, agreed. Yoo has been advising the White House recently on unilateral actions Trump could take on immigration, health care and taxes. But he said it didn’t appear Trump could take significant executive action on mail-in voting

    Some suggested Trump could try to stop local officials from counting remote ballots after Election Day and direct the Postal Service to not deliver certain ballots to voters using an emergency declaration, according to one of the people.

    Paul Steidler, who studies the Postal Service at the right-leaning Lexington Institute, said the president can’t directly order the postmaster general to do anything, noting the Postal Service chief actually reports to a board of governors.

    “He can’t order anything directly,” Steidler said. But others argued the postmaster general, a Trump ally and Republican fundraiser, might still be influenced by Trump’s statements.

    Trump said Monday the Postal Service isn’t prepared for the onslaught of ballots. “How can the post office be expected to handle?" he asked. But Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told the Postal Service Board of Governors on Friday the agency will do its job. “We will do everything we can to deliver election mail in a timely manner consistent with our operational standards,” he said.

    Election experts said a more likely option for Trump would be sending federal officials into states under the guise of ensuring every vote is counted, citing the 15th Amendment or the Voting Rights Act.

    Any of the moves would be immediately challenged in court.

    “It would certainly be unprecedented to attempt to control any aspect of the election process,” said Richard Pildes, a professor of constitutional law at the New York University School of Law and leading expert on election law. “The courts would scrutinize any action closely.”
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  2. #1667

    Re: The Run to the WH

    This happened about a week ago and I forgot to comment on it:

    Illinois sent out an application for a mail-in ballot to all registered voters. I got mine about a week ago and mailed it back in the next day. For those who mail in the applications before then, the ballots will be mailed out on September 24. So I hope to have my ballot on its way back before the end of September.


  3. #1668

    Re: The Run to the WH

    That will give you some time to make up your mind of who to vote for
    Face it. It's the apocalypse.

  4. #1669
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    Re: The Run to the WH

    Quote Originally Posted by GlennHarman View Post
    This happened about a week ago and I forgot to comment on it:

    Illinois sent out an application for a mail-in ballot to all registered voters. I got mine about a week ago and mailed it back in the next day. For those who mail in the applications before then, the ballots will be mailed out on September 24. So I hope to have my ballot on its way back before the end of September.

    Voter fraud!!! Voter fraud!!!
    Winston, a.k.a. Alvena Rae Risley Hiatt (1944-2019), RIP

  5. #1670

    Re: The Run to the WH

    NBC Politics @NBCPolitics

    In tweet, President Trump says the Gettysburg battlefield and the White House are being considered as the location to deliver his Republican presidential nomination speech.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  6. #1671

    Re: The Run to the WH

    Biden is really leaving his grand announcement to the last possible moment.
    Roger forever

  7. #1672

    Re: The Run to the WH

    Quote Originally Posted by suliso View Post
    Biden is really leaving his grand announcement to the last possible moment.
    My bet is on Thursday for the day he makes it. But earlier than that is more likely than later.
    Go Pack Go!

  8. #1673

    Re: The Run to the WH

    The Bernie supporters are still pushing Bass despite her obvious drawbacks. They mention her 1970 Cuban actions but they don't mention Scientology.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  9. #1674

    Re: The Run to the WH

    It won't be Bass... If Biden wants someone further on the left then why not take Elizabeth Warren? And even that would not be the smartest way forward in my opinion.
    Roger forever

  10. #1675

    Re: The Run to the WH

    Quote Originally Posted by suliso View Post
    It won't be Bass... If Biden wants someone further on the left then why not take Elizabeth Warren? And even that would not be the smartest way forward in my opinion.
    Don'tcha know Kamala is too ambitious?

    I agree suliso.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

  11. #1676

    Re: The Run to the WH

    Trump, Russia and an Intelligence Document: Key Moments
    Officials told The New York Times Magazine that the draft of a classified document reporting that Russia favored President Trump in the 2020 election was changed to soften its assessment.

    By Alan Yuhas
    Aug. 8, 2020

    A little more than a year ago, American intelligence agencies drafted a classified document reporting that the Russian government favored President Trump in the 2020 presidential election, a finding that fit with their consensus that the Kremlin tried to help him in 2016.

    The director of national intelligence was asked to modify the assessment — he did not — and not long afterward, Mr. Trump declared the director was out.

    Soon after the new acting director arrived, an intelligence official changed the document, softening the claim that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia wanted Mr. Trump to win, according to an article published on Saturday by The New York Times Magazine. The investigation includes details not previously reported about the fears of officials in U.S. intelligence agencies under the Trump administration, who described struggling to brief the president without provoking his anger or losing their jobs.

    Following are some key takeaways, based on the reporter Robert Draper’s conversations with 40 current and former intelligence officials, lawmakers and congressional staff.

    Russia favored Trump and helped Sanders, draft says

    The early draft of the classified document assembled last year, a National Intelligence Estimate, touched on a chronic sore point between intelligence officials and the White House.

    Among other things, the draft concerned Russia’s efforts to influence American elections in 2020 and 2024, according to multiple officials who saw it.

    A “key judgment” of the document was that in the 2020 election, Russia favored the current president. To allay any speculation that Mr. Putin’s interest in Mr. Trump had cooled, the judgment was supported by information from a highly sensitive foreign source described as “100 percent reliable” by someone who read the draft.

    The intelligence used by the analysts also indicated that Russia had worked in support of Senator Bernie Sanders, then running for the Democratic nomination for president. A veteran national intelligence officer explained to his colleagues, according to notes taken by one participant in the process, that this did not reflect a genuine preference for Mr. Sanders, but instead an effort “to weaken that party and ultimately help the current U.S. president.”

    An intelligence chief is out, and the draft is revised

    Later, a suggestion was made to the director of national intelligence at the time, Dan Coats, that the draft be modified. Coats, who recalled the request coming from a staff member, refused. On July 28, Mr. Trump announced that Mr. Coats’s last day in office would be Aug. 15, over a month before he had expected to resign.

    In September, a new version of the document was circulated with edits. It no longer clearly said that Russia favored the current president. Instead, in a summary, it said, “Russian leaders probably assess that chances to improve relations with the U.S. will diminish under a different U.S. president.”

    The changes reflected what Mr. Draper calls “a sobering development of the Trump era” that has alarmed some current and former officials, lawmakers and congressional staff members: “the intelligence community’s willingness to change what it would otherwise say straightforwardly so as not to upset the president.”

    By firing top officials and replacing them with loyalists, said Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, “it’s had the effect of wearing the intelligence community down, making them less willing to speak truth to power.”

    A second intelligence director is shown the door

    On Feb. 13, Shelby Pierson, an analyst for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, testified in a classified hearing to the House Intelligence Committee that Russia preferred the current president to win in the 2020 election.
    A number of Republicans objected, and Ms. Pierson’s testimony was relayed to Mr. Trump. The next day, on Feb. 14, he interrupted a routine briefing on election security, according to one of the meeting’s participants. He asked the director of national intelligence at the time, retired Vice Adm. Joseph Maguire: “Hey, Joe, I understand that you briefed Adam Schiff and that you told him that Russia prefers me. Why did you tell that to Schiff?”

    Although Mr. Maguire tried to explain that it was another official, Mr. Trump continued to question him and the meeting broke up. On Feb. 19, Mr. Maguire was informed that his likely replacement should be let into his office’s headquarters the following morning.

    Mr. Trump named his replacement as Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and a former United Nations ambassador’s spokesman, media consultant and Fox News commentator.

    Anger and anxiety from Day 1

    Mr. Trump’s speech on the first day of his presidency, in front of the C.I.A.’s Memorial Wall, a tribute to agency officers killed in service, drew intense anger for some in the agency. At the event, Mr. Trump repeated false claims about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, attacked the news media and asked why the lobby of C.I.A. headquarters had so many columns.

    One agency veteran called the speech “a near desecration of the wall.”

    The president’s penchant for bargaining and gossiping on his private cellphone, and for inviting billionaires into his circle, created anxiety in the intelligence agencies. Intelligence officials of at least one country, a NATO ally, were discouraged by their president from interacting with American counterparts for fear that Mr. Trump would blurt out information to Russians, one former senior intelligence official said.

    Mr. Trump also stocked the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board with wealthy businesspeople who, when briefed, “would sometimes make you uncomfortable,” because at times “their questions were related to their business dealings,” one intelligence official said.

    Under Mr. Grenell, fears grew that, under the pretext of downsizing, the services might be purged of people like the C.I.A. analyst who filed the Ukraine whistle-blower complaint last year.
    “It seems pretty clear to me that, in the wake of the whistle-blower complaint, he’d put a bunch of political hacks in charge, so that he’d never have to worry about the truth getting out from the intelligence community,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
    “No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up.” – Lily Tomlin.

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