Electors Seek Facts on Trump – Clinton – Russian Presidential Election Hacking

December 12, 2016

Open Letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper:

We are Electors who were selected by the voters of our states to represent them in the Electoral College on December 19, 2016. We intend to discharge our duties as Electors by ensuring that we select a candidate for president who, as our Founding Fathers envisioned, would be “endowed with the requisite qualifications.” As Electors, we also believe that deliberation is at the heart of democracy itself, not an empty or formalistic task. We do not understand our sole function to be to convene in mid-December, several weeks after Election Day, and summarily cast our votes. To the contrary, the Constitution envisions the Electoral College as a deliberative body that plays a critical role in our system of government — ensuring that the American people elect a president who is constitutionally qualified and fit to serve. Accordingly, to fulfill our role as Electors, we seek an informed and unrestrained opportunity to fulfill our constitutional role leading up to December 19th — that is, the ability to investigate, discuss, and deliberate with our colleagues about whom to vote for in the Electoral College.

We further emphasize Alexander Hamilton’s assertion in Federalist Paper #68 that a core purpose of the Electoral College was to prevent a “desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils.” The United States intelligence community has now concluded with “high confidence” that a foreign power, namely Russia, acted covertly to interfere in the presidential campaign with the intent of promoting Donald Trump’s candidacy. During the campaign Russia actively attempted to influence the election outcome through cyber attacks on our political institutions and a comprehensive propaganda campaign coordinated through Wikileaks and other outlets.

Allegations that Donald Trump was receiving assistance from a hostile foreign power to win the election began months before Election Day. When presented with information that the Russian government was interfering in the election through the course of the campaign, both in private briefings and public assessment, Donald Trump rejected it, refused to condemn it, and continued to accept their help. Donald Trump even made a direct plea to the Russian government to interfere further in the election in a press conference on July 27, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

According to reports in the Washington Post, New York Times, and other outlets, the United States intelligence community has now concluded definitively that the Russian interference was performed to help Donald Trump get elected, yet even today Mr. Trump is refusing to accept that finding. In response to the reports, the Trump transition office instead released a statement which called into question the validity of United States intelligence findings, and declared the election over despite the Electoral College not yet casting its votes. Trump’s willingness to disregard conclusions made by the intelligence community and his continuing defense of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin demand close scrutiny and deliberation from the Electoral College.

Separate from Mr. Trump’s own denials of Russian involvement in the election, the confirmed communication between Trump’s aides and those associated with the Russian election interference activity raise serious concerns that must be addressed before we cast our votes. Trump-confidant Roger Stone confirmed during the campaign that he was engaged in back-channel communications with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, responsible for releasing much of the Russian-hacked Democratic communications, and indicated that he was aware of the hacked content prior to its release. Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page reportedly visited Moscow in July of this year, just prior to the release of hacked DNC communications, during which it was believed he met with the Putin aide in charge of Russian intelligence on the U.S. election. Page returned to Moscow this week where he claimed to be meeting with Russian business and thought leaders.

In addition to Donald Trump and his aides’ conduct, revelations about their further involvement with the Russian government over the course of the campaign demand further investigation, as well as full disclosure of findings from any ongoing or closed investigative efforts:

  • Russian government officials revealed that they had maintained contact with the Trump campaign during the election, and stated that they were familiar with most of the individuals associated with Mr. Trump.
  • Media inquiries into whether the FBI was investigating Donald Trump’s July plea for Russian interference in the election resulted in a “Glomar response” neither confirming nor denying the existence of an investigation, rather than the more typical response of denying the request outright.
  • U.S. intelligence officials reportedly probed Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page in regard to travel to his Moscow during the campaign.
  • The FBI reportedly began an inquiry into Trump associates following reports of a multi-million dollar business relationship with pro-Putin figures in Ukraine and Russia, and reports of an effort to sway American public opinion in favor of Ukraine’s pro-Putin government.
  • Michael Flynn, Trump campaign aide and the announced incoming National Security Advisor, traveled to Russia in December of 2015 for a gala event celebrating RT, a state-controlled propaganda network, at which he was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Electors require to know from the intelligence community whether there are ongoing investigations into ties between Donald Trump, his campaign or associates, and Russian government interference in the election, the scope of those investigations, how far those investigations may have reached, and who was involved in those investigations. We further require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as President of the United States.

Additionally, the Electors will separately require from Donald Trump conclusive evidence that he and his staff and advisors did not accept Russian interference, or otherwise collaborate during the campaign, and conclusive disavowal and repudiation of such collaboration and interference going forward.

We hope that the information and actions described in this letter will be provided in an expeditious manner, so that we can fulfill our constitutional duty as Electors.

Signed,

Christine Pelosi (CA)
Micheal Baca (CO)
Anita Bonds (DC)
Courtney Watson (MD)
Dudley Dudley (NH)
Bev Hollingworth (NH)
Terie Norelli (NH)
Carol Shea-Porter (NH)
Clay Pell (RI)

According to reports in the Washington Post, New York Times, and other outlets, the United States intelligence community has now concluded definitively that the Russian interference was performed to help Donald Trump get elected, yet even today Mr. Trump is refusing to accept that finding. In response to the reports, the Trump transition office instead released a statement which called into question the validity of United States intelligence findings, and declared the election over despite the Electoral College not yet casting its votes. Trump’s willingness to disregard conclusions made by the intelligence community and his continuing defense of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin demand close scrutiny and deliberation from the Electoral College.

“The bipartisan electors’ letter raises very grave issues involving our national security. Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement Monday.

 

 

Electoral College Timeline

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators.

Summary of Key Dates for the 2016 Presidential Election
June through October 2016

The Office of the Federal Register, on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, prepares Electoral College instructional materials for the Archivist to send to the governors of the 50 States and the mayor of the District of Columbia.

The materials include:

Under the 23rd Amendment of the Constitution, the District of Columbia is allocated 3 electors and treated like a state for purposes of the Electoral College. For this reason, in the following discussion, the word “state” also refers to the District of Columbia and the word “governor” also refers to the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

November 8, 2016—Election Day

Registered voters cast their votes for President and Vice President. By doing so, they also help choose the electors who will represent their state in the Electoral College.

Mid-November through December 19, 2016

After the presidential election, the governor of your state prepares seven Certificates of Ascertainment. “As soon as practicable,” after the election results in your state are certified, the governor sends one of the Certificates of Ascertainment to the Archivist.

Certificates of Ascertainment should be sent to the Archivist no later than the meeting of the electors in December. However, federal law sets no penalty for missing the deadline.

The remaining six Certificates of Ascertainment are held for use at the meeting of the Electors in December.

December 13, 2016

States must make final decisions in any controversies over the appointment of their electors at least six days before the meeting of the Electors. This is so their electoral votes will be presumed valid when presented to Congress.

Decisions by states’ courts are conclusive, if decided under laws enacted before Election Day.

December 19, 2016

The Electors meet in their state and vote for President and Vice President on separate ballots. The electors record their votes on six “Certificates of Vote,” which are paired with the six remaining Certificates of Ascertainment.

The electors sign, seal, and certify six sets of electoral votes. A set of electoral votes consists of one Certificate of Ascertainment and one Certificate of Vote. These are distributed immediately as follows:

  • one set to the President of the Senate (the Vice President) for the official count of the electoral votes in January;
  • two packages to the Secretary of State in the state where the electors met—one is an archival set that becomes part of the public record of the Secretary of State’s office and the other is a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes;
  • two packages to the Archivist—one is an archival set that becomes part of the permanent collection at the National Archives and Records Administration and the other is a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes; and
  • one set to the presiding judge in the district where the Electors met—this is also a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes.

December 28, 2016

Electoral votes (the Certificates of Vote) must be received by the President of the Senate and the Archivist no later than nine days after the meeting of the electors. States face no legal penalty for failure to comply.

If votes are lost or delayed, the Archivist may take extraordinary measures to retrieve duplicate originals.

On or Before January 3, 2017

The Archivist and/or representatives from the Office of the Federal Register meet with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House in late December or early January. This is, in part, a ceremonial occasion. Informal meetings may take place earlier.

January 6, 2017

The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes. Congress may pass a law to change this date.

The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the Electoral College vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

If a State submits conflicting sets of electoral votes to Congress, the two Houses acting concurrently may accept or reject the votes. If they do not concur, the votes of the electors certified by the Governor of the State on the Certificate of Ascertainment would be counted in Congress.

If no Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the Presidential election. If necessary the House would elect the President by majority vote, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each state having one vote.

If no Vice Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment provides for the Senate to elect the Vice President. If necessary, the Senate would elect the Vice President by majority vote, choosing from the two candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each Senator having one vote.

If any objections to the Electoral College vote are made, they must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one Senator. If objections are presented, the House and Senate withdraw to their respective chambers to consider their merits under procedures set out in federal law.

January 20, 2017 at Noon—Inauguration Day

The President-elect takes the Oath of Office and becomes the President of the United States.

General Authority

The Archivist of the United States, as the head of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), is responsible for carrying out ministerial duties on behalf of the States and the Congress under 3 U.S.C. sections 6, 11, 12, and 13.

NARA is primarily responsible for coordinating the various stages of the electoral process by helping the States prepare and submit certificates that establish the appointment of electors and validate the electoral votes of each State.

The Archivist delegates operational duties to the Director of the Federal Register. The Federal Register Legal Staff ensures that electoral documents are transmitted to Congress, made available to the public, and preserved as part of our nation’s history.

The Office of the Federal Register Legal Staff reviews the electoral certificates for the required signatures, seals and other matters of form, as specified in federal law.

Only the Congress and the courts have the authority to rule on substantive legal issues.

Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration

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