Anti-Trump movement set to rally defectors
Only one GOP elector pledges to be ‘faithless’
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.”
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.”