Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Mike Pompeo says there will be a 'smooth transition to a second Trump administration' despite world leaders now lining up to talk to Biden

 Following President Donald Trump's lead, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to concede that the winner of the presidential election was Democratic President-elect Joe Biden. 

When asked by a reporter Tuesday at the State Department if he would cooperate with the transition between the Trump and Biden administrations, Pompeo made a quip.  

'There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,' Pompeo said.   

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed Presidnet Donald Trump's lead telling reporters Tuesday when asked about the Trump-to-Biden transition, 'There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed Presidnet Donald Trump's lead telling reporters Tuesday when asked about the Trump-to-Biden transition, 'There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration' 

President Donald Trump told the country Tuesday morning, 'WE WILL WIN!' as he pursues legal avenues to overturn the results of the presidential election, which his Democratic rival, President-elect Joe Biden, won

President Donald Trump told the country Tuesday morning, 'WE WILL WIN!' as he pursues legal avenues to overturn the results of the presidential election, which his Democratic rival, President-elect Joe Biden, won

In a later tweet Tuesday, Trump railed against 'BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE!' He had no events Tuesday on his public schedule

In a later tweet Tuesday, Trump railed against 'BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE!' He had no events Tuesday on his public schedule 

Trump tweeted 'WE WILL WIN!' Tuesday morning. Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr gave federal prosecutors the go-ahead to investigate 'specific allegations' of voter fraud, as Trump has claimed, baselessly, that widespread voter fraud robbed him of a second term

Trump tweeted 'WE WILL WIN!' Tuesday morning. Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr gave federal prosecutors the go-ahead to investigate 'specific allegations' of voter fraud, as Trump has claimed, baselessly, that widespread voter fraud robbed him of a second term 

Later, onstage at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden name-dropped Pompeo - indicating that he had seen the secretary of State's remark - and simply laughed.    

Since the race was called in his favor Saturday, Biden has talked to at least five world leaders, starting Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

On Tuesday, his transition office sent out readouts for calls he had with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom. 

During Biden's Tuesday afternoon speech, which focused on the Supreme Court case about the Affordable Care Act and healthcare more generally, the president-elect acted unbothered by Trump and his allies refusal to give it up. 

Democratic lawmakers, however, weren't happy. 

'Secretary Pompeo shouldn't play along with baseless and dangerous attacks on the legitimacy of last week’s election,' said the outgoing House Foreign Relations Committee Chair Eliot Engel. 'The State Department should now begin preparing for President-elect Biden's transition.' 

Trump started his Tuesday morning by tweeting in all-caps, 'WE WILL WIN!' as he continues to refuse to concede to President-elect Joe Biden and instead pursues lawsuits to overturn the election's result. 

Trump admitted in a second tweet that while 'WE ARE MAKING BIG PROGRESS,' the 'RESULTS START TO COME IN NEXT WEEK.' He signed that one off with, 'MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!' his original campaign slogan.    

Trump said results will start to come next week, as he drags out the election by refusing to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, who won the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada. And will likely win Arizona and Georgia

Trump said results will start to come next week, as he drags out the election by refusing to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, who won the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada. And will likely win Arizona and Georgia 

Later Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted, 'BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE!' 

So far he and his campaign have presented no substantial evidence of abuse. 

They have filed cases in Pennsylvania and Michigan which claim poll watchers could not get close enough to see counting fully, after initially complaining they were not allowed in at all then admitting they were.

But neither allege abuse on a scale which would lead to overturning the almost 50,000 lead Joe Biden has in Pennsylvania and the 150,000 he has in Michigan. Ballot counting abuse has not been alleged in court anywhere else.

Trump has no events on his public schedule. Biden is in Wilmington, Delaware receiving briefings and will give a speech later on the Affordable Care Act, as the Supreme Court held its hearing on Obamacare's fate. 

In a series of developments Tuesday:

  • Trump supporters revealed plans for a 'March for Trump' in Washington D.C. on Saturday apparently organized by the people behind a 'stop the steal' Facebook page which was shut down by the platform for spreading misinformation;
  • UK prime minister Boris Johnson became the second major world leader to speak to Biden by phone, his office in London revealed. Canada's Justin Trudeau was the first;
  • Turkey's strongman leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent a message of congratulations to Biden, leaving Vladimir Putin, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, China's Xi Jinping and Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador the only major world leaders not to acknowledge Trump's defeat;
  • Trump was revealed to be planning a 'leadership political action committee' to be launched as early as the end of the week, giving him a vehicle to be a Republican kingmaker - and representing an acknowledgment that his options to stay in the White House are in reality waning;
  • Biden's campaign were reported to be considering suing over the refusal of the Trump administration's General Services Administration to begin the transition process, denying it access to security briefings, email services and internal government data;
  • And Biden's closest ally in the Senate, Delaware Democrat Chris Coons, said his Republican colleagues are quietly telling him that Biden has won and saying they 'just can't say it in public.'   

Trump's upper-case tweets came as the Department of Justice was roiled by Attorney General Bill Barr giving federal prosecutors the go-ahead to investigate 'specific allegations' of voter fraud - causing the top career official in charge of election fraud to resign.  

Trump has claimed widespread voter fraud - without presenting any evidence - as the reason why he was beaten by Biden in a group of key swing states including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada. Both Arizona and Georgia also look like they'll tilt Biden once full results are in.  

Barr's authorization led to the resignation of the DOJ official who oversees investigations into voter fraud, Richard Pilger.  

Pilger, director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Department of Justice since 2010, stepped down within hours of Barr's announcement, in an email he sent to colleagues that was obtained by The New York Times

Donald Trump Jr., the president's son, was quick to criticize Pilger, calling him a member of the so-called 'deep state.'     

'Wait. Seriously? Isn’t this the guy who was involved with the IRS and Lois Lerner in targeting conservatives and the Tea Party? Maybe that’s why he hasn’t done s**t at DOJ. #deepstate'.

Donald Trump Jr. railed against the DOJ official who quit once Attorney General Bill Barr opened the door to federal prosecutors probing election results, calling Richard Pilger a member of the 'deep state'

Donald Trump Jr. railed against the DOJ official who quit once Attorney General Bill Barr opened the door to federal prosecutors probing election results, calling Richard Pilger a member of the 'deep state' 

Donald Trump Jr. is photographed Monday returning to his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle's New York City apartment as his father, President Donald Trump, refuses to concede the election

Donald Trump Jr. is photographed Monday returning to his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle's New York City apartment as his father, President Donald Trump, refuses to concede the election 

Donald Trump Jr. walks through New York with his bags. He and other members of the Trump family are publicly standing behind the president's decision to not concede to Democrat Joe Biden

Donald Trump Jr. walks through New York with his bags. He and other members of the Trump family are publicly standing behind the president's decision to not concede to Democrat Joe Biden 

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he had discussed the coronavirus pandemic and climate change with winner Joe Biden by telephone after calling to 'congratulate him on his election' over Donald Trump

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced he had discussed the coronavirus pandemic and climate change with winner Joe Biden by telephone after calling to 'congratulate him on his election' over Donald Trump

William Barr leaves the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday
Richard Pilger (pictured in 2017) quit as head of the Election Crimes Branch of the Department of Justice after Bill Barr broke protocol to back an investigation into the election

Richard Pilger (pictured in 2017) quit as head of the Election Crimes Branch of the Department of Justice after Bill Barr broke protocol to back an investigation into the election

The president was delighted by Barr's move, tweeting news of his memo to his followers

The president was delighted by Barr's move, tweeting news of his memo to his followers


Pilger submitted his resignation Monday evening shortly after his boss, Barr, announced the unprecedented federal support for the election investigations - a move which would delight Trump. 

In his resignation email, Pilger said Barr's memo was 'an important new policy abrogating the forty-year-old Non-Interference-Policy for ballot fraud investigations in the period prior to elections becoming certified and uncontested.' 

He said his resignation was 'in accord with the best tradition of the John C. Keeney Award for Exceptional Integrity and Professionalism (my most cherished Departmental recognition).'  

Barr's memo angered legal experts, who pointed out that any issues around voting are handled at the state level and should not be considered a federal matter. 

Several analysts said that Barr was at serious risk of dragging the Department of Justice into a highly partisan electoral war, waged through the courts. 

Pilger, whose 25-year career has been devoted to election crimes and public corruption, told his colleagues in the email on Monday evening that he was quitting, in a sign of how worried many within the legal community are at Barr's unprecedented behavior. 

Barr's action comes days after Biden defeated Trump and raises the prospect that Trump will use the Justice Department to try to challenge the outcome. 

It gives prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election is formally certified.

In his memo, Barr argues that the existing 'passive and delayed enforcement approach' could undermine the vote.

He says that the precedent should be ignored, and investigations conducted rigorously before the certification of votes on December 8. 

'In instances where they are consulted, the ECB's (Election Crimes Branch) general practice has been to counsel that overt investigative steps ordinarily should not be taken until the election in question has been concluded, its results certified and all recounts and election contests concluded,' he wrote.

'Such a passive and delayed enforcement approach can result in situations in which election misconduct cannot realistically be rectified.'

A Justice Department official told the New York Times that Barr had authorized scrutiny of allegations about ineligible voters in Nevada and backdated mail-in ballots Pennsylvania. 

Trump has not conceded the election and is instead claiming without evidence that there has been a widespread, multi-state conspiracy by Democrats to skew the vote tally in Biden's favor.

Biden holds a sizable lead in multiple battleground states and there has been no indication of enough improperly counted or illegally cast votes that would shift the outcome. 

Election officials from both political parties have publicly stated the election went well, though there have been minor issues that are typical in elections, including voting machines breaking and ballots that were miscast and lost. 

In the memo to U.S. attorneys, obtained by The Associated Press, Barr wrote that investigations 'may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.'

States have until December 8 to resolve election disputes, including recounts and court contests over the results. 

Members of the Electoral College meet on December 14 to finalize the outcome.

Pilger's resignation was taken as a very worrying sign from people who had worked alongside him.

Steve Dettelback, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said he had first crossed paths with Pilger 30 years ago and described him as 'a great prosecutor'.

'Shame on the political "leadership" at DOJ,' he said.

Noah Bookbinder, a former federal prosecutor who is now the Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), said: 'Richard Pilger is a respected apolitical attorney who has been a federal corruption prosecutor for decades (including when I was one years ago). 

'His resigning in protest makes clear to me that something very wrong indeed is happening here.'

Another former colleague, former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg, added: 'I also worked with Richard Pilger at Public Integrity. He is someone with an outstanding reputation.; 

'If he feels the need to step down, something bad is happening,' Zeidenberg said. 

Their concern was echoed by political figures.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Barr was 'the president's puppet' and was deliberately undermining the election.

Meanwhile, Republicans have allowed Trump to cast a cloud over the election's results.

'What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time? No one seriously thinks the results will change,' a senior Republican official told The Washington Post in a report published Monday night. 'He went golfing this weekend. It's not like he's plotting how to prevent Joe Biden from taking power on Jan. 20.' 

Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat from Biden's home state of Delaware, said Republicans in Congress are back-channeling congratulations to him - because they can't yet acknowledge the winner publicly because of Trump's behavior.

'They call me to say congratulations please convey my well wishes to the president-elect but I can't say that publicly yet. These are conversations best kept private,' Coons said on CNN Tuesday morning.  

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said it was 'sad' how many public servants have been forced out during the Trump era.

Preet Bharara, the former US attorney for the Southern District of New York - until he was fired by Trump - said he expected the resignation of Pilger would lead to a Senate inquiry.

'Who will be the first senator to call for an Inspector General investigation over the AG Barr memo that just prompted the head of the Election Crimes Branch at DOJ to step down?' he wondered. 

Electoral workers in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, examine votes on November 5

Electoral workers in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, examine votes on November 5

Poll workers continue counting Pennsylvania ballots
Loaded: 0%
Progress: 0%
0:00
Previous
Play
Skip
Mute
Current Time0:00
/
Duration Time1:03
Fullscreen
Need Text

Gene Rossi, a former federal prosecutor, told Law&Crime Network that the 'Justice Department is not Trump's toy - and Barr should not act like the president's binky.'

He added: 'Just when we thought that the most politically compliant Attorney General in modern times would go quietly into the night, Bill Barr rises from his bunker and shocks us again.'

National security lawyer Bradley P. Moss told Law&Crime: 'This is getting rather dangerously close to the line of unlawful political interference by the Justice Department.'

He pointed out the voting irregularities were usually resolved at the state level.

'The federal government has very little role in the conduct of our elections, and there is no indication that the various quixotic lawsuits being filed in the states can't resolve this issue just fine without intervention by DOJ,' Moss said. 

'Hopefully this is simply more 'election theater' by AG Barr to assuage the president's fragile ego than anything else.' 

Biden is ahead by 43,000 votes in Pennsylvania, 148,000 votes in Michigan, 34,000 votes in Nevada and 13,000 votes in Arizona, with ballots still being counted. 

Even if all of Trump's current challenges are successful, experts believe they are unlikely to overcome those margins. 

The campaign has promised more challenges to come.

The Trump campaign has said it will order a recount in Wisconsin, where Biden is up by 20,000 votes, and is likely in Georgia, where he is currently up by 10,000, but they are unlikely to overturn those results. The Trump camp is furiously raising money it says will go to the effort. 

The Trump campaign has yet to produce any evidence to back its claims of widespread fraud.  

Post a comment

Start typing and press Enter to search