Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign will participate in an effort led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein to recount ballots in Wisconsin and perhaps two other battleground states that were crucial to Donald Trump’s victory, a Clinton campaign lawyer said Saturday.
In response, Trump called the recount request “ridiculous” and a “scam” designed to raise money for Stein’s political party.
In a blog post, Clinton lawyer Marc Elias said her team had not planned to participate in a recount, noting that inquiries over the last two weeks had not “uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology” that affected the final tally in Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania.
Elias downplayed any notion that a recount would change the results, noting that the number of votes separating Trump and Clinton in Michigan — the closest of the three states — vastly exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a statewide recount.
Preelection polls had shown Clinton leading in all three states. Trump won them by a combined margin of 107,000 votes.
“But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself,” he wrote.
“This count 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.
“This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing,” he added.
Elias said that the Clinton campaign had “quietly taken a number of steps in the last two weeks to rule in or out any possibility of outside interference” and that others have “expended time and effort to investigate various claims of abnormalities and irregularities.”
“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,” Elias said.
Stein filed for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday. The filing deadline for a recount has passed in Pennsylvania, so she will have to challenge the results in court to proceed. In Michigan, Stein has to wait until Monday for the certification of the results.
“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,” Elias said in the blog post.
Although the administration warned in early October that Russian hackers were seeking to interfere with the campaign by leaking emails stolen from Democratic Party leaders and Clinton’s aides, the White House said Friday that “we believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”
During the campaign, Clinton sharply criticized Trump for refusing to say he would accept the election results if she won. She conceded her loss to Trump hours after polls had closed on election day and congratulated him.
Stein, a Massachusetts physician, who ran as a third-party candidate with running mate Ajamu Baraka, a human rights activist, launched the drive to verify machine-counted vote totals, saying that they were “highly vulnerable to hacking and malicious programming.”
As of Saturday afternoon, Stein’s drive has brought in about $5.8 million to support the cost of the recounts, with a goal of raising $7 million, according to her website.
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