Clinton campaign will participate in Wisconsin recount, with an eye on ‘outside interference,’ lawyer says – Washington Post

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Hillary Clinton addresses the Children’s Defense Fund’s Beat the Odds celebration at the Newseum. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has been quietly exploring whether there was any “outside interference” in the election results and will participate in the election recount in Wisconsin initiated by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, a Clinton campaign lawyer revealed Saturday.

In a Medium post, Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias said that the campaign had received “hundreds of messages, emails, and calls urging us to do something, anything, to investigate claims that the election results were hacked and altered in a way to disadvantage Secretary Clinton,” especially in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where the “combined margin of victory for Donald Trump was merely 107,000 votes.”

Leaders of the Green Party in Wisconsin said on Nov. 25 that they are filing a request for a reconciliation of paper records in Wisconsin, to ensure the accuracy of the tally in the U.S. presidential election. Hillary Clinton’s campaign said on Nov. 26 that it will participate in the recount, exploring whether there was any “outside interference” in the election results. (Reuters)

Elias said the campaign had “not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology.” But because of the margin of victory — and because of the degree of apparent foreign interference during the campaign — Elias said that Clinton officials had “quietly taken a number of steps in the last two weeks to rule in or out any possibility of outside interference in the vote tally in these critical battleground states.” He said that they would also participate in the Stein-initiated recount in Wisconsin, and if Stein made good on efforts to prompt similar processes in Pennsylvania and Michigan, they would do so there, as well.

“The campaign is grateful to all those who have expended time and effort to investigate various claims of abnormalities and irregularities,” Elias said. “While that effort has not, in our view, resulted in evidence of manipulation of results, now that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported.”

The recount effort is somewhat unusual in that it comes weeks after Clinton conceded — at the urging and with the financial backing of a third-party candidate, Stein, who has no chance of winning, said election law expert Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine. Clinton, too, has virtually no chance of altering the result, given that she would have to move not just Wisconsin, but also Michigan and Pennsylvania, to become president, Hasen said.

Recounts can change outcomes. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D) famously defeated Norm Coleman for the seat he now holds after a months-long recount and legal battle, even though Coleman seemed initially to have a lead. But the margins are usually in the hundreds, not thousands, and typically, recounts are initiated by candidates in close races refusing to accept defeat, as is the case in the current North Carolina gubernatorial race, Hasen said.

“I don’t think there’s any realistic chance whatsoever that even if recounts are done in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, that’s going to change the outcome in the states, or in the presidential election generally,” Hasen said.

The presidential campaign was marked by fears that Russian hacking might affect the outcome, especially after Russian hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and were found to have attempted intrusions on voter registration databases. The Washington Post also recently reported, citing researchers who tracked the phenomenon, that Russians created and spread fake news about the election with the apparent goal of helping Donald Trump.

During the campaign, Clinton criticized Trump for refusing to say that he would accept the election results if she won. Asked during an October debate whether he would do so, Trump responded that he would “keep you in suspense.” Clinton called that answer “horrifying” and said Trump was “talking down our democracy.”

“Donald Trump refused to say that he’d respect the results of this election,” her campaign later posted on Twitter. “By doing that, he’s threatening our democracy.”

In recent days, though, it is Clinton’s supporters who have raised questions about the outcome of the election. A viral post spread by some Clinton backers, including actress Debra Messing, suggested — falsely — that the Justice Department was “tallying calls” from people who wanted an audit of the 2016 election and urged people to make their displeasure known.

“Even if it’s busy, keep calling,” one version said. “We should not back down from this.”

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