Anti-Trump move­ment set to rally de­fec­tors

Only one GOP elec­tor pledges to be ‘faith­less’

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARDSON

DEN­VER | State of­fi­cials braced for an any­thing can-hap­pen vote Monday of the Elec­toral Col­lege as Demo­cratic and pro­gres­sive op­er­a­tives took their his­toric cam­paign to up­end Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump down to the wire.

Hol­ly­wood stars have is­sued per­sonal pleas urg­ing Repub­li­can elec­tors to de­fect. The Hamil­ton Elec­tors move­ment called Sun­day for Repub­li­cans to back Ohio Gov. John Ka­sich. Pro­test­ers fi­nal­ized plans to con­verge Monday for ral­lies at all 50 state­houses.

“I think it’s go­ing to be a real scene down here on Monday,” said Lynn Bar­tels, a spokes­woman for the Colorado sec­re­tary of state.

And Colorado isn’t even a Trump state. The real ac­tion lies in the 30 states that backed Mr. Trump, where Repub­li­can elec­tors are un­der in­tense pres­sure to defy the pop­u­lar vote as part of a long-shot bid to deny him the pres­i­dency.

Or­ga­niz­ers have de­scribed the re­volt as “grass roots” and “mul­ti­par­ti­san,” but Reince Priebus,

in­com­ing Trump White House chief of staff, said the cam­paign is be­ing or­ches­trated by Democrats and MoveOn.org, founded by Demo­cratic mega fun­der Ge­orge Soros.

“It’s about MoveOn.org. It’s about Democrats that can’t ac­cept the out­come of the elec­tion. It’s about dele­git­imiz­ing the Amer­i­can sys­tem,” Mr. Priebus told “Fox News Sun­day.” “It’s not go­ing to work.”

Mr. Priebus, the out­go­ing Repub­li­can National Com­mit­tee chair­man, said the whip count shows just one faith­less Repub­li­can elec­tor, Chris Suprun of Texas, who has an­nounced he plans to vote against Mr. Trump.

“Other than that, we’re very con­fi­dent that ev­ery­thing is go­ing to be very smooth to­mor­row and this ha­rass­ment from groups like MoveOn.org and the Demo­cratic Party should stop,” Mr. Priebus said. “And it’s what the Amer­i­can peo­ple de­mand.”

John Podesta, the chair­man of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign, said the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee hasn’t tried to in­flu­ence Monday’s vote.

“I as­sume that our elec­tors are go­ing to vote for Hil­lary Clin­ton,” Mr. Podesta said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But the ques­tion is whether there are 37 Repub­li­can elec­tors who think that ei­ther there are open ques­tions or that Don­ald Trump, ev­ery­thing that we know about him, is re­ally un­fit to be pres­i­dent of the United States.”

Only Repub­li­can elec­tors have the power Monday to stop Mr. Trump. If 37 ab­stain or vote for some­one other than Mr. Trump, his 306 elec­toral votes would drop to 269, one short of the 270 re­quired to clinch the pres­i­dency.

In that event, the House would de­cide the out­come of the pres­i­den­tial race from the three can­di­dates with the most elec­toral votes. Only Mr. Trump and Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hil­lary Clin­ton earned any elec­toral votes on Elec­tion Day.

But Monday’s vote could change that. If even one elec­tor, Demo­crat or Repub­li­can, casts a bal­lot for a third party, such as Mr. Ka­sich, then that can­di­date would also be el­i­gi­ble for con­sid­er­a­tion by the Repub­li­can-con­trolled House.

Hence last week’s court bat­tle in Colorado and Wash­ing­ton, where Demo­cratic elec­tors have chal­lenged state laws re­quir­ing elec­tors to sup­port the win­ner of the pop­u­lar vote or face penal­ties, in­clud­ing fines and jail time.

Judges in both states ruled that the Demo­cratic elec­tors must sup­port Mrs. Clin­ton, who won both Colorado and Wash­ing­ton. Colorado Sec­re­tary of State Wayne Wil­liams has said he will re­place on the spot any elec­tor who tries to defy the pop­u­lar vote.

In Wash­ing­ton, how­ever, Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wy­man said any elec­tor who votes for some­one other than Mrs. Clin­ton will be re­ferred to the state at­tor­ney gen­eral for pos­si­ble charges — mean­ing that the rogue Elec­toral Col­lege vote would pre­sum­ably still count.

Two Wash­ing­ton elec­tors, P. Bret Chi­afalo and Levi Guerra, have vowed to vote for some­one other than Mrs. Clin­ton and risk the $1,000 fine.

Mr. Suprun said Sun­day that he knows “many Repub­li­can elec­tors” who say they are “open to send­ing the vote for pres­i­dent to the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

“This would al­low our demo­crat­i­cally elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, un­der the lead­er­ship of Speaker Paul Ryan, to judge the fit­ness of Don­ald Trump and as­sess CIA in­tel­li­gence about Rus­sian interference in our elec­tions or vote for an al­ter­na­tive Repub­li­can can­di­date like Gov­er­nor John Ka­sich,” Mr. Suprun said in a state­ment.

Such a strat­egy is def­i­nitely a long shot — so far only one Repub­li­can elec­tor has said pub­licly that he will op­pose Mr. Trump — but the cam­paign is no ama­teur ef­fort. Pro­vid­ing pub­lic re­la­tions sup­port for the ef­fort are Mega­phone Strate­gies and Melt­wa­ter Press, two high-pro­file left-of-cen­ter firms.

Founded by for­mer Obama White House ad­viser Van Jones, Mega­phone is a hot­house of for­mer Demo­cratic op­er­a­tives, in­clud­ing ex-Obama cam­paign hand Molly Haigh, Clin­ton and Obama cam­paign vet­eran Diane May, and Edil de los Reyes, pre­vi­ously of the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­cratic Party.

Among the groups lead­ing the would-be Elec­toral Col­lege re­volt are the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, founded by for­mer MoveOn. org or­ga­niz­ers, which has re­ceived con­tri­bu­tions from the bil­lion­aire Soros and his son Jonathan Soros.

An­other or­ga­ni­za­tion, Democ­racy Spring, has re­ceived fund­ing from pro­gres­sive groups backed by Mr. Soros and his Open So­ci­ety Foun­da­tions such as the En­ergy Ac­tion Coali­tion, ac­cord­ing to the con­ser­va­tive Me­dia Re­search Cen­ter.

A pe­ti­tion on Change.org by Cal­i­for­nia political ac­tivist Daniel Brezenoff has gath­ered more than 4.9 mil­lion sig­na­tures and raised more than $257,000 on GoFundMe.

Chris­tine Pelosi, daugh­ter of House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi, has spear­headed a move for elec­tors to re­ceive an in­tel­li­gence brief­ing on sus­pected Rus­sian med­dling in the elec­tion, which the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of National In­tel­li­gence has de­clined to pro­vide.

Hol­ly­wood celebri­ties joined the Elec­toral Col­lege cam­paign last week. About 20 stars, in­clud­ing Ja­son Alexan­der of “Se­in­feld” and Martin Sheen of “The West Wing,” have ap­peared in videos urg­ing Repub­li­can elec­tors to vote against Mr. Trump.

A “Satur­day Night Live” sketch showed Mrs. Clin­ton, played by cast mem­ber Kate McKin­non, ask­ing a Repub­li­can elec­tor to con­sider Mr. Ka­sich.

“You don’t even have to vote for me. I’m coo,” says Mrs. Clin­ton, us­ing signs in a take­off of the 2003 movie “Love Ac­tu­ally.” “Just vote for lit­er­ally any­one else. Like John Ka­sich, Tom Hanks, Zen­daya, the Rock. A Rock.”

Mr. Ka­sich, who lost his bid for the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, has urged Repub­li­can elec­tors not to vote for him. “I am not a can­di­date for pres­i­dent and ask that elec­tors not vote for me when they gather later this month. Our coun­try had an elec­tion, and Don­ald Trump won,” he said.

Mr. Trump won 306 elec­toral votes in the Nov. 8 race to 232 for Mrs. Clin­ton. She won the pop­u­lar vote by about 2.8 mil­lion votes, mark­ing the fourth time in U.S. his­tory that the can­di­date with the most votes lost the pres­i­dency.

“Re­ally the ques­tion is, ‘Are there 37 Repub­li­cans?’ It’s not what re­ally what the Democrats are go­ing to do,” Mr. Podesta said. “And I guess we’ll know that at noon to­mor­row.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Reince Priebus, out­go­ing Repub­li­can National Com­mit­tee chair­man and in­com­ing White House chief of staff, said he is con­fi­dent that the Elec­toral Col­lege vote will go as planned, “and it’s what the Amer­i­can peo­ple de­mand.”

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