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Wake Up To Politics - November 28, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

53 Days until Inauguration Day
708 Days Until Election Day 2018 I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!

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Weekend Preview

  • Clinton Joins Stein Recount Effort in Key States as Trump Contests Popular Vote It turns out the 2016 election may not be over after all. New York Magazine reported Tuesday that a group of computer scientists and election lawyers held a conference call last week with top Clinton campaign officials to press for recounts of the presidential results in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where they believe computer machines may have been hacked. "The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots. Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000," according to New York. "While it’s important to note the group has not found proof of hacking or manipulation, they are arguing to the campaign that the suspicious pattern merits an independent review — especially in light of the fact that the Obama White House has accused the Russian government of hacking the Democratic National Committee."
  • After Clinton's campaign made no movement on the claims, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein announced Wednesday that she planned to request recounts on those three states, insisting that she was not "working with" the Clinton campaign, but is going forward to ensure "election integrity." As of Sunday afternoon, the Stein recount effort had raised over $6 million, more than she raised in her entire presidential campaign.
  • As a result, recounts in Wisconsin ($1.1 million, deadline was last Friday) and Pennsylvania ($0.5 million, deadline is today) have already been funded, and it appears they will begin soon. A recount in Michigan, which will cost $0.6 million and is due Wednesday, is the next focus.
  • Clinton campaign general counsel Mark Elias penned a Medium post published Saturday announcing 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," particularly in the three states Stein was focusing on, noting that Trump's combined margin of victory in that trio was just 107,000 votes.
  • Elias revealed that the campaign has deployed lawyers and data scientists to review the results "to spot anomalies that would suggest a hacked result" and has spoken to and shared data with numerous groups of outside experts, as reported by New York. In addition, the campaign has "monitored and staffed the post-election canvasses — where voting machine tapes are compared to poll-books, provisional ballots are resolved, and all of the math is double checked from election night."
  • Elias also announced that Hillary for America will participate, but not join, Stein's recount efforts. "Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides," he wrote. "If Jill Stein follows through as she has promised and pursues recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, we will take the same approach in those states as well."
  • Although he had remained mostly silent when it was just Stein involved, after the Clinton campaign jumped in, President-elect Donald Trump responded to the potential recounts on Saturday. Trump labeled the recount a "scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded," and called for "the results of this election [to] be respected instead of being challenged and abused."
  • "This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than one percent of the vote overall and wasn’t even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount," Trump said in a statement. "All three states were won by large numbers of voters, especially Pennsylvania, which was won by more than 70,000 votes."
  • Trump then took to Twitter to go after Clinton as well, penning 13 tweets over the past two days on the recount. "The Democrats, when they incorrectly thought they were going to win, asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore!" he tweeted, going on to quote Clinton's debate answer criticizing him for raising the prospect of rejecting the election results.
  • Then, after issuing a statement calling for the results to be respected, Trump joined the fray on Sunday with claims of his own. "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he tweeted, later adding: "Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California - so why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias - big problem!" The most recent count has Clinton leading by 2.2 million votes in the national popular vote; she won the three states he mentioned by varying margins.
  • These claims seemed to come out of nowhere, with the President-elect failing to provide any evidence; it appears none even exists, besides a report from conspiracy theory website InfoWars. The Washington Post called the claim "bogus," with its Fact Checker giving the claim "Four Pinocchios," its highest label of falsity.
  • In a statement issued to a number of news outlets on Saturday, a senior Obama Administration official appeared confident that the election results were reliable, seeming to refute claims from Stein and Trump. "We stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people," the official said. "The Federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day. As we have noted before, we remained confident in the overall integrity of electoral infrastructure, a confidence that was borne out on election day. As a result, we believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective."
  • Recommended Reading ProPublica is a non-partisan investigative journalism outlet, which monitored the results on Election Day, and found "no evidence the election was 'rigged' no matter what Stein or Trump say." Read ProPublica's full tweetstorm refuting claims of incorrect results here.
  • Politicians Respond to Fidel Castro Death Longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro died at age 90, his brother President Raul Castro announced on state-run television on Friday. After leading the Cuban Revolution, overthrowing the government, Castro assumed the position of Prime Minister in 1959, serving until he created the position of President, which he held until 2008. Castro handed much of his power to his brother in 2006, and then fully left his formal role in government two years later, but still represents a controversial and tyrannical form of Communist government.
  • Castro's death sparked celebrations by Cuban-Americans in the streets of Miami, and a number of politicians issued statements on the man who bedeviled eleven U.S. presidents, and outlived many of them. One of those presidents, Jimmy Carter, issued a statement nearly praising Castro: "Rosalynn and I share our sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people...We remember fondly our visits with him in Cuba and his love of his country," he said.
  • Many Republican politicians were much more critical. "No one should rule anywhere is long as Fidel Castro did. His legacy is one of repression at home, and support for terrorism abroad," House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) said. "Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his won people for nearly six decades," a statement from President-elect Trump read. "Fidel Castro created hell on earth for the Cuban people. He will now become intimately familiar with what he wrought," Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) added.
  • In their own statements, Democratic politicians were largely more optimistic for Cuba's future. "At the time of Fidel Castro's passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people," President Obama said, issuing a measured response that mostly did not criticize Castro. "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,' Obama said.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry looked ahead to "a new and better future for our two peoples," a sentiment echoed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who said "after decades under Fidel's doctrine of oppression and antagonism, there is hope that a new path for Cuba is opening."
  • Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), whose parents emigrated from Cuba prior to Castro's rise, held a different view. "Sadly, Fidel Castro's death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people...The dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not," he said. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) used similar language, saying: "While Fidel Castro is gone, sadly the oppression that was the hallmark of his era is not." Rep. Royce added: "Sadly, Raul Castro is no better for Cubans who yearn for freedom."
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), whose father said he fled Cuba after being attacked and imprisoned for protesting the Castro regime, used the opportunity of Castro's death to call for the dialing back of U.S. relations with Cuba, which President Obama has opened. "What the Obama administration has done has strengthened Raul Castro," Cruz said on ABC's 'This Week'. "Raul is the dictator now. You know, I asked my dad at dinner last night, well, what do you think happens now that Fidel is dead? And he shrugged and said Raul’s been in charge for years...the system has gotten stronger."
  • Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus signaled on 'Fox News Sunday' that the President-elect will consider changes to Obama's policy. "There's going to have to be some movement from Cuba in order to have a relationship with the United States," he said.
  • Recommended Reading The Miami Herald's obituary for Fidel Castro was first written in 2001, and has since been updated at least once a year. Some of the reporters with bylines on the obituary have retired; one has even died. The result is a masterful look at Fidel Castro's life and legacy, which you should read here.

Transition Central

  • The President-elect's Schedule After spending Thanksgiving at his Mar-a-Largo estate in Palm Beach, President-elect Donald Trump has eight meetings scheduled for today at Trump Tower for "job interviews and advice," according to the transition team:
  • 1pm: Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of Chicago-based real estate investment trust General Growth Properties
  • 1:30pm: Paul Atkins, CEO of regulatory consulting business Patomak Global Partners LLC and a commisioner of the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) under George W. Bush; now the point man on financial regulation on Trump's transition team, and a potential SEC chairman or Federal Reserve vice chairman (Wall Street Journal)
  • 2pm: Kathleen Hartnett White, director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment at the Teas Public Policy Foundation, an Austin-based conservative think tank, and former chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; now advising the Trump transition team on energy
  • 2:30pm: Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA), who was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Trump; now seeking the post of Transportation Secretary (Daily Caller)
  • 3pm: David L. Steward, co-founder and chairman of World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based systems integrations company
  • 3:30pm: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is being considered for a top Justice Department post (Public Radio Tulsa)
  • 4pm: Milwaukee County sheriff David A. Clarke, who gained national attention for his opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement and his speech at the Republican National Convention this summer; frequently mentioned as a potential Homeland Security secretary
  • 4:30pm: John Allison, former CEO of financial services holding company BB&Tand former president of the libertarian think tank Cato Institute; a potential Treasury Secretary (Bloomberg)
  • According to multiple news reports, the President-elect is nearing announcements of two Cabinet posts: Commerce, where billionaire investor Wilbur Ross is likely to be named Secretary and Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts is the likely Deputy Secretary; and Housing and Urban Development, where retired neurosurgeon and 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson is the likely choice.
  • So far, Trump has filled four Cabinet-level positions: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as Attorney General; businesswoman, activist, and former Michigan GOP chair Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as White House Chief of Staff; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations.
  • Currently, the appointment that is looming largest is the highest-ranking Cabinet position, Secretary of State. According to multiple news outlets, the leading contenders are former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and 2012 GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. The fight over State has gone into public view, as top Trump allies have taken to television to hit Romney, who harshly criticized Trump during the campaign.
  • "I don't think a cost of admission for party unity has to be the secretary of state position," Trump campaign manger Kellyanne Conway said on ABC's 'This Week.' "There was the 'Never Trump' movement and then there was Governor Mitt Romney," she said later. "He went out of his way to hurt Donald Trump."
  • Conway insisted, on Twitter and appearances on CNN and other networks, that she was also privately advising Trump, and would respect whatever decision he makes. However, the public campaigning by one of a President or President-elect's top aides against a potential appointee is unprecedented.
  • Conway is joined by a number of Trump allies, including incoming White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, in advocating for Giuliani, a top Trump surrogate; Vice President-elect Mike Pence is reportedly urging Trump to tap Romney.

White House Watch

  • The President's Schedule Since Wake Up To Politics was last published on Tuesday, President Barack Obama had a mostly light schedule: he pardoned Tot the turkey and participated in a service event for veterans on Wednesday, called service members and had a large Thanksgiving dinner with the First Family on Thursday, golfed at Joint Base Andrews on Friday and Saturday, and stayed at home on Sunday.
  • The President has no public events today. According to the White House, he receives the Presidential Daily Briefing at 10am and spends the rest of the day "attend[ing] meetings at the White House."

Capitol Hill News

  • Congressional Schedule After spending the past week on recess, both houses of Congress will return to continue the lame-duck session today. No votes are expected in either chamber all day; the lame-duck is expected to be fairly calm, with the No. 1 priority being a government funding resolution.
  • Congress faces a Dec. 9 deadline to avoid a government shutdown; the most likely scenario is passage this week or next week of a continuing resolution to keep current spending levels through March 31 and punt the funding debate to the spring.
  • Congress will stay in session through December 16, before going on recess over the holidays.
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation", St. Louis Public Radio, the Political Junkie podcast, and on StoryCorps; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki"; and read about Gabe in Politico, the Washington Post, Independent Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salon, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light.