President-elect Donald Trump unleashed a tweetstorm on Sunday morning about plans by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to join in the election recount in Wisconsin initiated by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
His sentiments were soon echoed by Kellyanne Conway, his senior adviser and former campaign manager, who went so far on Sunday as to criticize the Clinton campaign for making the decision after Trump had been “magnanimous” in backing off his promise to prosecute the former secretary of state — even though the two issues are unrelated.
Trump had already begun sounding off against the recount efforts late Saturday, when he called them a “scam” by the Green Party to “fill up their coffers.” He also criticized the Democrats for joining the effort.
Just after 7 a.m. Sunday, Trump resumed his criticism, saying that Clinton had conceded the election in her phone call to him before his victory speech Nov. 9 and that nothing would change.
Trump then spent five tweets quoting parts of Clinton’s responses at the third presidential debate, during which she blasted Trump for telling moderator Chris Wallace that he would “keep you in suspense” rather than outright promise to accept the election results.
At the debate, Clinton had called Trump’s answer “horrifying” and “a direct threat to our democracy.”
“Hillary’s debate answer on delay: ‘That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works. Been around for 240 years. We’ve had free —
“and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a –
“during a general election. I, for one, am appalled that somebody that is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind —
“of position.” Then, separately she stated, “He said something truly horrifying … he refused to say that he would respect the results of —
“this election. That is a direct threat to our democracy.’ She then said, ‘We have to accept the results and look to the future, Donald –”
(For the record, Trump’s tweets capture the essence of Clinton’s debate responses but do not quote the full exchange faithfully.)
Trump capped it all off by quoting Clinton’s concession speech and then his signature adjective: “So much time and money will be spent – same result! Sad”
On the Sunday political-show circuit, Conway also derided plans by Clinton’s campaign to participate in an election recount effort.
On “State of the Union,” Conway said Trump was not focused on prosecuting Clinton but wouldn’t rule it out – which she said indicated that Trump was being “incredibly gracious and magnanimous” to Clinton.
Though the two issues are neither related nor causal, Conway tried to link Trump’s latest public comments about not pursuing a prosecution of Clinton to the Clinton campaign’s decision to join the recount effort.
“But this is how the president-elect feels at this moment about Hillary Clinton,” Conway told Raddatz. “I would say, in response that, I guess her attitude toward that is to have her counsel, Mark Elias, go and join this ridiculously fantastical recount that Jill Stein is engaging in Wisconsin and perhaps elsewhere. So you’ve got the President-elect Donald Trump being quite magnanimous to Hillary Clinton and you’ve got her responding with joining into this recount.”
Conway told Raddatz that she was confident the recount would not change the election results in Wisconsin, where Stein received 33,000 votes.
“33,000 votes is like the number of people who tailgate at a Packers game,” Conway said. “It is not a serious effort to change the election results.”
On “Meet the Press” Sunday, Conway said Trump and President Barack Obama have had several conversations, including a recent one that lasted 45 minutes.
“There is a respect there. And there is a respect for the process,” Conway said. “Which is why this recount by Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton is ridiculous. They have to decide whether they’re going to interfere (in the last eight weeks of Obama’s presidency) or whether they’re going to be a bunch of crybabies.”
Clinton’s presidential campaign has been quietly exploring whether there was any “outside interference” in the election. A Clinton campaign attorney revealed Saturday that the campaign would participate in the election recount in Wisconsin initiated by Stein.
In a Medium post, lawyer Marc Elias said that the Clinton 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.”
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 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 the Clinton campaign would participate in the Stein-initiated recount in Wisconsin by having representatives on the ground monitoring the count and having lawyers represent them in court if needed. And if Stein made good on efforts to prompt similar processes in Pennsylvania and Michigan, Elias said, the Clinton campaign would participate there, as well.
On “Fox News Sunday,” the chairman of the Republican National Committee also criticized the recount effort in Wisconsin as “a total waste of everybody’s time.”
“This is a fundraising, notoriety-driven fraud by someone who won 33,000 votes in Wisconsin to President-elect Trump, who won 1.4 million,” Reince Priebus said. “So, here, we have a person perpetrating a fundraising scheme that has lost over 1.35 million votes in Wisconsin attempting to undo a 28,000-vote lead. It’s never going to happen. It’s a total waste of everybody’s time.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Amy B Wang, Matt Zapotosky