(ATLANTA) Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday that the state will conduct a full, by-hand recount of the presidential election ballots.
“With the margin being so close, it will require a full, by-hand recount in each county,” Raffensperger said during a news conference. “This will help build confidence. It will be an audit, a recount, and a recanvass all at once. It will be a heavy lift.”
‘Help is on the way:’ Senate passes Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus plan in 50-49 party-line vote
The Senate narrowly voted Saturday to approve President Biden’s sprawling $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus plan, giving the new president a massive legislative victory.
The party-line 50-49 vote came after a late night compromise with conservative Democratic kingmaker Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, over unemployment benefits cleared the way.
An unusual round of applause erupted from Democrats in the normally staid Senate chamber as the vote total was announced just before 12:30 p.m.
“It has been a long day, a long night, a long year. But a new day has come,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “We tell the American people, help is on the way.”
The bill passed the evenly divided Senate by a one-vote margin because Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) had to return to his home state for his father-in-law’s funeral.
It now returns to the House of Representatives for final passage and then heads to the White House for Biden’s signature.
Biden’s top priority, the new stimulus bill aims to crush the killer coronavirus pandemic and jump start the still-struggling economy.
The bill provides direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans, money for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, along with billions in aid to hard-pressed state and local governments, help for schools and the airline industry and new subsidies for health insurance.
Republican lawmakers voted in lockstep against the bill.
The vote is a vindication for Biden’s strategy to push forward with the huge package even if it couldn’t win any GOP support in Congress.
Democrats believe their best hope to strengthen their control over both houses of Congress lies with delivering an economic recovery to America before the midterm elections in 2022.
The measure effectively doubles down on the bipartisan $2.2 trillion stimulus package that passed last spring with near universally support.
Democrats believe the new measure is desperately needed since economic recovery has effectively petered out. Republicans say such a massive package is no longer needed and the bill is packed with goodies for liberal special interests.
A group of Republican moderates put forward a much smaller package worth $800 billion. Biden held a cordial meeting with them at the White House, but brushed off the proposal in the end.
Schumer insisted he wanted to work with Republicans and noted that Democrats worked with Trump to pass previous measures. He called out as “a little hypocritical” claims by the GOP that it was acting out of principle to object to Biden’s stimulus.
Thousands of Trump supporters rally in DC to protest election before Electoral College formalizes Biden’s win
WASHINGTON – A growing crowd waving American flags and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats gathered Saturday morning in Freedom Plaza in support of President Donald Trump and his unfounded allegations of voter fraud in the presidential election .
As many as 15,000 people were expected to attend Saturday’s demonstration, according to the group’s permit. Trump tweeted Saturday morning that he was unaware of the event , “but I’ll be seeing them!”
Crowds gathered to listen to speakers before marching to the Supreme Court, which denied an effort Friday to overturn election results in battleground states and prevent them from casting their Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden on Monday.
Many in the crowd didn’t wear masks, despite a mask mandate set by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser. Organizer Cindy Chafian told the crowd to wash their hands, but mocked COVID-19 precautions like social distancing and mask-wearing.
Chants of “CNN sucks, Fox News sucks too!” “Four more years!” and “Fight for Trump!” broke out as massive speakers blared pro-Trump songs such as “Real Women Vote For Trump.”
Lisa Parry and her husband Richard drove 14 hours from Florida to show their support for Trump and demand transparency from the government. Parry, who wore a “Million MAGA March” sweatshirt, said she doesn’t believe Biden could’ve won the election.
The night of the election, “I went to bed at 1 o’clock and Trump was ahead. There’s no way,” Parry, a retired nurse said. “I don’t believe it. It’s fakes.”
No allegations of widespread voter fraud have been substantiated, and a few dozen lawsuits raising such allegations have failed. Even Attorney General William Barr has said there is no evidence of fraud that would have affected the outcome of the presidential race.
Cheers broke out and the crowd rushed to catch a glimpse as a group in black and yellow, the attire of the far-right nationalist group Proud Boys, marched down the street next to Freedom Plaza.
Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the Proud Boys, implied he had been invited to the White House on Saturday. But White House Deputy Assistant and Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere told USA TODAY Tarrio was merely on a Christmas tour open to the public.
For Trump supporters, the rally is a way to express their disillusionment and anger over the election, Amy Kremer, chair for Women for America First, previously told USA TODAY. She traveled to the nation’s capital as part of a two-week, cross-country bus tour.
“We want him to continue to stay strong and fight to expose this voter fraud and demand transparency and election integrity,” she said. “The second purpose is really to support each other.”
The rally comes just days before electors from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., meet in their respective capitals to cast votes for president based on the popular votes in each state. Biden won 306 electoral votes and Trump got 232; a presidential candidate needs 270 to win.
Robin Pressley, 53, of eastern Tennessee, came to the November rally and returned Saturday in pro-Trump attire. She said if the Electoral College formalizes the win for Biden on Monday, they’ll be back in the streets.
“We’ll be back out here. We’re not going to quit,” she said. “We, the people, are pissed.”
Pressley, who owns a cleaning business, and her husband Greg said they believe the election results still could be overturned although nearly every lawsuit alleging voter fraud has been struck down in court.
“I don’t know how he’s going to do it,” Pressley said. “But God’s gonna take care of things.”
“Trump will be inaugurated on January 20th,” Greg Pressley said. “The last word’s not been said yet.”
Stephanie Liu, a research assistant from New York, came to the rally with Chinese Americans for Trump to protest “election fraud.”
“It’s so obvious … the media was lying,” she said. “That makes America look so bad in front of the whole world.”
Cynthia Brokenshire, Elizabeth Mortimer and Anmarie Kaziamis met on Facebook and carpooled from New Jersey to Washington Saturday morning. They couldn’t attend the previous rally in November but made a point to come Saturday to support the “Stop the Steal” campaign.
“Our democracy is at risk,” Kaziamis said while holding a Trump flag. “I wouldn’t miss this one for the world.”
To avoid confrontation, organizers of Saturday’s rally told demonstrators to avoid certain hotels and designated parts of Washington as a “no-go zone.”
Skirmishes between protesters and counterprotesters broke out across the city at the November rally. At least 20 people were arrested on a variety of charges, including assault and weapons possession, The Associated Press reported.
Supreme Court rejects Texas bid to overturn election results in four states
Washington — The Supreme Court on Friday rebuffed a last-ditch attempt by Texas to block electors from four battleground states — all of which backed President-elect Joe Biden — from voting in the Electoral College, delivering a fatal blow to President Trump and his allies in their quest to overturn the results of the presidential election.
The high court refused to take up the lawsuit filed Monday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that took aim at the election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin.
“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot,” the court said in an unsigned order.
But Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, said the court does “not have discretion to deny the filing of a bill of complaint in a case that falls within our original jurisdiction. I would therefore grant the motion to file the bill of complaint but would not grant other relief, and I express no view on any other issue.”
In a statement, Paxton criticized the decision as “unfortunate” and vowed to keep fighting.
Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin said in a statement that “the Supreme Court has decisively and speedily rejected the latest of Donald Trump and his allies’ attacks on the democratic process. This is no surprise — dozens of judges, election officials from both parties, and Trump’s own Attorney General have dismissed his baseless attempts to deny that he lost the election. President-elect Biden’s clear and commanding victory will be ratified by the Electoral College on Monday, and he will be sworn in on January 20th.”
Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, one of the high-profile Republicans who has disavowed Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results, issued a statement Friday after the ruling saying the Supreme Court has “closed the book on the nonsense.”
The decision by the Supreme Court not to wade into the dispute marks the second loss for Mr. Trump and his GOP backers this week. On Tuesday, the justices rejected a bid from Pennsylvania Republicans to overturn the results of the election there.
The long-shot lawsuit from Paxton, which was supported by 17 state attorneys general and more than 100 House Republicans, joined a flurry of legal challenges brought by Mr. Trump and his attorneys that have unsuccessfully sought to reverse the outcome of the presidential election in battleground states won by Mr. Biden. Federal and state judges have largely tossed out their lawsuits because they lacked evidence to support claims the election was rife with fraud.
Still, Mr. Trump had asserted the Supreme Court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, would come to his rescue and help deliver him a second term in the White House.
“Now that the Biden Administration will be a scandal plagued mess for years to come, it is much easier for the Supreme Court of the United States to follow the Constitution and do what everybody knows has to be done. They must show great Courage & Wisdom. Save the USA!!!” he tweeted before the decision on Friday.
The high court, however, has declined to intervene in cases challenging the results of the election.
In his lawsuit filed directly with the Supreme Court against the states, Paxton claimed government officials used the coronavirus pandemic as justification to change their election rules, which led to a “weakening of ballot security.” The officials, he claimed, “flooded” their states with mail-in ballots and ballot applications, making “the 2020 election less secure.”
Officials in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia “usurped their legislatures’ authority and unconstitutionally revised their state’s election statutes,” Paxton alleged. “They accomplished these statutory revisions through executive fiat or friendly lawsuits.”
In his complaint, Paxton asked the Supreme Court to extend the December 14 deadline for the Electoral College to meet and block the states from certifying their presidential electors or having them cast their votes for president in the Electoral College. If the states have already appointed their presidential electors using the 2020 election results, he called on the high court to direct state legislatures to appoint a new set of electors.
But the top law enforcement officials from each of the four states urged the Supreme Court not to take up the dispute, separately noting the claims raised in Texas’s complaint have already been rejected by federal and state courts.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called the efforts to overturn the election results “legally indefensible” and “an affront to principles of constitutional democracy.”
“Texas’s effort to get this court to pick the next President has no basis in law or fact,” he wrote in a filing with the Supreme Court. “The court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated.”
Shapiro told the court Texas waited to request an injunction to invalidate Pennsylvania’s election results “because all of the other political and litigation machinations of petitioner’s preferred presidential candidate have failed.”
“The Trump campaign began with a series of meritless litigations. When that failed, it turned to state legislatures to overturn the clear election results. Upon that failure, Texas now turns to this Court to overturn the election results of more than 10% of the country,” he continued. “Texas literally seeks to decimate the electorate of the United States.”
Mr. Trump filed a motion with the Supreme Court on Wednesday asking to join Texas’ case, echoing its claim that elections officials “made a systematic effort to weaken measures to ensure fair and impartial elections by creating new rules for the conduct of the elections” under the guise of the pandemic.
“These new rules were aimed at weakening, ignoring, or overriding provisions of state law that are aimed at ensuring the integrity of the voting process,” Chapman University law professor John Eastman, the president’s lawyer, wrote in a filing with the court.
Mr. Trump alleged it “should come as no surprise” that many Americans believe the election was stolen — as he has been claiming near-daily — because no presidential candidate has ever lost the election after winning both Florida and Ohio, as he did. The president, however, is incorrect: Richard Nixon won both states in 1960 but lost the presidential election.
Republican attorneys general from 17 states filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in support of Texas’s lawsuit, and GOP Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana, joined by more than 100 House Republicans, are also backing Texas’s efforts before the high court.
A slew of other states have also jumped into the fray — 19 states and the District of Columbia joined the four battleground states in urging the Supreme Court to reject Texas’s attempt to toss out the election results, while Ohio said it does not support Paxton’s proposed relief.
Ordering state legislatures to appoint its own electors would violate the Constitution, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, and Solicitor General Benjamin Flowers told the court.
“Federal courts, just like state courts, lack authority to change the legislatively chosen method for appointing presidential electors. And so federal courts, just like state courts, lack authority to order legislatures to appoint electors without regard to the results of an already-completed election,” they argued. “What is more, the relief that Texas seeks would undermine a foundational premise of our federalist system: the idea that the states are sovereigns, free to govern themselves.”
Paxton’s effort to overturn the election results was derided by top officials from the states named in his suit, who called it a waste of taxpayer dollars. Several Republican lawmakers were also skeptical Paxton would succeed.
Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas told reporters Wednesday the lawsuit was “unprecedented” and noted states oversee their own election laws and voting, while GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah called the effort “simply madness.”
“The idea of supplanting the vote of the people with partisan legislators is so completely out of our national character that it’s simply mad,” he told reporters. “Of course the president has the right to challenge results in court, to have recounts. But this effort to subvert the vote of the people is dangerous and destructive of the cause of democracy.”
The four states named in Paxton’s legal challenge have already certified their election results, formalizing Mr. Biden’s victory over Mr. Trump, and the clock for any relief for the president is quickly running out.
December 8 was the “safe harbor” deadline for states to resolve election disputes and certify its election results before the Electoral College meets Monday.
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