Electors demand intelligence briefing before Electoral College vote

Remember how I warned you that things were going to get exponentially more surreal as we approached the Electoral College vote on December 19? Well, it looks like I may have been right after all. Or at least things seem to be trending in that direction.

Not only have eight Electors come forward to say that they’re so concerned about Trump that they’re contemplating the possibility of turning “faithless” and voting in such a way as to keep him out of the White House, but, given the CIA’s recent comments about Russia’s role in getting Trump elected, ten members of the Electoral College are now asking Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for a special briefing on “Russian involvement in the election.” In an open letter to Clapper that was made public this afternoon, the ten Electors said that they needed to see the evidence of Putin’s involvement “before they could “fulfill (their) constitutional duty as Electors.”

Here’s a clip from the letter, which was signed by nine Democrats and one Republican.

screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-5-27-42-pm

As for Trump, he seems to have gone uncharacteristically quiet today, even going so far as to cancel his first press conference since winning the election… Speculation is, of course, that he doesn’t want to take questions about Russia and the extent to which he was aware of their work on his behalf. [Mi>Trump said in the past that his team had no interaction with the Russians during the campaign. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, however, has said otherwise since the election.] But don’t despair. I’m sure our favorite reality television personality turned President-elect will be back soon enough. In fact, I suspect, at this very minute, he’s either planning to start a Twitter war with a low level civil servant somewhere, or asking Mike Pence to accompany him to Broadway show in hopes of encountering the wrath of the theater-going public… anything to reset the news cycle and get people talking about something other than the fact that, in the option of the CIA, “(Russia) intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.”

Oh, and for what it’s worth, it looks as though some high level Democrats are now supporting this Electoral College revolt. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s daughter Christine Pelosi is one of the Electors to have signed this letter to James Clapper referenced above. And Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta just came out stating that he supports the idea that these Electors should receive an intelligence briefing. “We now know that the CIA has determined Russia’s interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump,” Podesta said. “This should distress every American. Never before in the history of our Republic have we seen such an effort to undermine the bedrock of our democracy.”

And, for what it’s worth, the Republicans seem to be taking the threat seriously. The following comes by way of Politico.

The Republican National Committee is overseeing an expansive whip operation designed to lock down Donald Trump’s Electoral College majority and ensure that the 306 Republican electors cast their votes for the president-elect.

Two RNC sources familiar with the effort said the committee — with the assistance of state Republican parties and the Trump campaign — has been in touch with most of the GOP electors multiple times, and has concluded that only one is a risk to cast a vote against Trump on Dec. 19, when the Electoral College meets…

But, remember, to keep Trump out of the White House, they only need to flip 37 Republican electors, thereby keeping Trump from the 270 Electoral votes he’d need to win.

update: OK, that was fast. In the time since I posted this yesterday, another 30 Electors have signed the letter requesting an intelligence briefing on Russia’s involvement during the election. Granted, there’s still only one Republican on the list, still, that’s almost 10% of the Electoral College… Meanwhile, at Trump Tower, our President-elect convinced Kanye West to come by for a visit, in hopes of distracting the American people from the matter at hand.

update: Not only are 40 Electors now requesting a security briefing on Russia’s role in the election, but Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig is claiming that 20 Republican Electors have contacted him to ask about voting to block Trump on December 19.

[For background on the Electoral College, why the founding fathers constructed it the way in which they did, and what it means to be a “faithless” Elector, click here.]

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11 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Can electors be compelled to participate in such a briefing?

  2. Jean Henry
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    “In a live Facebook session yesterday, a couple of the Hamilton Electors said that at this point what’s needed aren’t more letters and emails to the electors, but to:
    (1) Contact your representatives and governors to ask that they demand that the electors be debriefed on the CIA information on Russian interference prior to Dec. 19, and to delay the electoral vote if that’s not possible, given the time-frame;
    (2) Contact the U.S. Attorney General and ask that the Electoral College vote be postponed until a full investigation of Russian interference and the Trump campaign’s potential coordination with Russia is complete.
    You can reach the Attorney General’s office at 202-514-2000 (Comment line…press 4)…”

    via Rob McQuilkin FB post

  3. Kit
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), saying “To the extent that foreign interference in the United States presidential elections may have influenced the final result, I believe the electors have the right to consider that,” became the first member of Congress to suggest that the electors should weigh Russia’s involvement before casting their ballots. He also retweeted a Rhode Island-based national security expert who argued that the intelligence community “must brief electoral college about Russia before vote.”

  4. Lynne
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I still don’t think I have to worry but it is an interesting thought experiment to imagine the fallout if enough electors turn faithless. Would people take up arms and if they did, could they be effective?

  5. A.N.
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    You were right that Trump would attempt to distract. He got Kanye sprung from the mental hospital.

    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/12/13/13936270/trump-kanye-meeting-video

  6. Somebody
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I think Trump is going to appoint Kanye chair of the National Endowment for the Arts!

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    No Kanye is a media distraction and Trump has very few entertainers willing to perform at the inaugural balls. They were seriously considering Wayne Newton. He ain’t Obama.

    I’m holding out hope, Kanye will accept and then disrupt the whole event and steal the limelight, as is his will.

    But back to Russian government interference in our electoral process and increasing influence over ongoing governance….

  8. Lynne
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Kanye is often the recipient of some really bad racism because while many will tolerate (or elect as president) obnoxious behavior from a white man, they are not quite so willing when the person is black. Among those I know, there is a correlation with Trump love and Kanye hatred. I just wonder if this is going to make those people’s heads explode?

    Part of me wishes he makes Kanye the ambassador to Russia. LOL

  9. Somebody
    Posted December 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Trump is commissioning Kanye and Kid Rock to create a duet that they will perform at the inauguration and bridge the divisions in American society. It will be a truly transcendent moment. We will all realize the folly of our bickering. They are studying Ebony and Ivory at this very moment. Art has the power to heal.

  10. Anonymous
    Posted December 15, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    54 electors have now requested a security briefing prior to voting.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/electoral-college-democrats-intelligence-232612

  11. Meta
    Posted December 19, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    The Hill: “Electors won’t get intelligence briefing”

    Voters in the Electoral College will not receive an intelligence briefing about Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election, according to a new report.

    Sources told NPR the electors would not receive any national intelligence before they cast ballots this Monday.

    Fifty-four of the 232 Democratic electors had signed a letter asking for a briefing before the Electoral College’s vote, according to reports.

    The letter asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for information on what role, if any, Russia had in helping elect Donald Trump.

    Read more:
    http://thehill.com/homenews/news/310820-electors-wont-get-intelligence-briefing-report

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] the past 24 hours, since I last posted about the drama shaping up around the Electoral College, two significant things have happened. First, Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig went public […]

  2. […] Electors demand intelligence briefing before Electoral College vote […]

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