Two Republican senators are criticizing President Trump and his team for their efforts to pressure state and local election officials to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victories in several closely contested states.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, one of Trump’s most vocal Republican critics, tweeted Thursday, “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”

Romney accused Trump on resorting to “overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., went after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who held a press conference Thursday presenting a list of far-fetched, thoroughly debunked claims on the 2020 election.

Sasse tweeted: “Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.”

Biden wins Georgia, flipping the state for Democrats

Joe Biden has won Georgia and its 16 electoral votes, an extraordinary victory for Democrats who pushed to expand their electoral map through the Sun Belt.

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Officials sort ballots during an audit at the Georgia World Congress Center on Saturday in Atlanta. Election officials in Georgia’s 159 counties have completed a hand tally of the presidential race that stems from an audit required by state law. Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The win by Biden pads his Electoral College margin of victory over President Donald Trump. Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Nov. 7 after flipping Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to the Democrats’ column.

Biden now has 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.

Trump won Georgia by 5 percentage points in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In 2020, Democrats had focused heavily on the state, seeing it in play two years after Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the governor’s race. Both of Georgia’s Senate seats were on the ballot this year, further boosting the state’s political profile as well as spending by outside groups seeking to influence voters. Those two races are headed to a January runoff.

Georgia hadn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Wisconsin issues recount order, paid for by Trump, in 2 liberal counties

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Elections Commission issued an order Thursday to recount more than 800,000 ballots cast in two heavily liberal counties at President Trump’s request.

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President-elect Joe Biden won Wisconsin by 20,608 votes. Trump’s campaign has cited “irregularities” in two liberal counties, although no evidence of illegal activity has been presented. Morry Joe Gash/Associated Press

The order, required by law after Trump paid $3 million for the recount, was agreed to after rancorous debate for more than five hours Wednesday night that foreshadows the partisan battle ahead.

“It’s just remarkable the six of us in a civilized fashion can’t agree to this stuff,” Democratic commissioner Mark Thomsen said hours into the debate. The commission is split 3-3 between Democrats and Republicans.

The recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, where Joe Biden outpolled Trump by a more than 2-to-1 margin, will begin Friday and must be completed by Dec. 1. Milwaukee County officials said they plan to finish the recount by Wednesday. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell has not provided an estimated completion date.

Biden won statewide by 20,608 votes. Trump’s campaign has cited “irregularities” in the counties, although no evidence of illegal activity has been presented.

“We understand the eyes of the world will be on these Wisconsin counties over the next few weeks,” Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s top elections official, said Thursday. “We look forward to again demonstrating the strength, security, integrity and transparency of our election systems in Wisconsin.”

Read the full story here.

Trump invites Michigan Republican leaders to White House

DETROIT — President Trump summoned Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders to the White House for a meeting Friday amid a longshot GOP push to overturn the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state.

Two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press that Trump invited Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield. They agreed to go, according to a state official aware of the leaders’ plans. The two officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing private conversations.

It was not immediately clear what the meeting would be about. Neither Shirkey nor Chatfield commented.

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Wayne County Board of Canvassers Chair Monica Palmer, left, talks with Vice Chair Jonathan Kinloch before the board’s meeting Tuesday in Detroit. Michigan’s largest county has unanimously certified election results showing Democrat Joe Biden defeating President Trump, hours after Republicans first blocked formal approval of voters’ intentions. Robin Buckson/Detroit News via AP

The Legislature would be called to select electors if Trump succeeds in convincing the state’s board of canvassers not to certify Biden’s 153,000-vote victory in the state.

Both Shirkey and Chatfield have indicated they will not try to overturn Biden’s win.

“Michigan law does not include a provision for the Legislature to directly select electors or to award electors to anyone other than the person who received the most votes,” Shirkey’s spokeswoman said last week.

Also Thursday, state officials said Michigan’s largest county cannot revoke its certification of election results after two Republicans who approved Joe Biden’s local landslide wanted to revert to their initial stance of refusing to bless the vote tally.

The GOP effort to change position represented another complication in what is typically a routine task. Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, the two Republican canvassers in Wayne County, said they only voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure” and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated.

“We deserve better — but more importantly, the American people deserve better — than to be forced to accept an outcome achieved through intimidation, deception and threats of violence,” they said in a statement Wednesday night. “Wayne County voters need to have full confidence in this process.”

State officials said the certification of the Detroit-area vote will stand. Michigan’s chief election officer said a post-election audit will be performed, though not to check “mythical allegations” of fraud.

“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote. Their job is done, and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify,” said Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for the Michigan secretary of state.

Read the full story here.

Michigan says it’s too late for Republicans to take back election certification

DETROIT — Michigan’s largest county can’t revoke its certification of election results, officials said Thursday after two Republicans who approved Joe Biden’s local landslide wanted to revert to their initial stance of refusing to bless the vote tally.

The GOP effort to change position represented another complication in what is typically a routine task. Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, the two Republican canvassers in Wayne County, said they only voted to certify the results after “hours of sustained pressure” and after getting promises that their concerns about the election would be investigated.

“We deserve better — but more importantly, the American people deserve better — than to be forced to accept an outcome achieved through intimidation, deception and threats of violence,” they said in a statement Wednesday night. “Wayne County voters need to have full confidence in this process.”

State officials said the certification of the Detroit-area vote will stand. Michigan’s chief election officer said a post-election audit will be performed, though not to check “mythical allegations” of fraud.

Read the full story here.

Michigan Republican asks to ‘rescind’ vote certifying election results after Trump call

DETROIT — President Trump called a GOP canvassing board member in Wayne County who announced Wednesday she wanted to rescind her decision to certify the results of the presidential election, the member said in a message to The Washington Post Thursday.

“I did receive a call from President Trump, late Tuesday evening, after the meeting,” Monica Palmer, one of two Republican members of the four-member Wayne County canvassing board, told The Post. “He was checking in to make sure I was safe after hearing the threats and doxing that had occurred.”

The call came after an hours-long meeting on Tuesday in which the four-member canvassing board voted to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election, a key step toward finalizing President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

In affidavits signed Wednesday evening, the two GOP members of the board allege they were improperly pressured into certifying the election and accused Democrats of reneging on a promise to audit votes in Detroit.

In an interview, Palmer estimated that she talked with Trump for about two minutes Tuesday. She said she felt no pressure to change her vote. Palmer has said she received messages threatening her and her family during and after the Tuesday tense meeting.

“His concern was about my safety and that was really touching. He is a really busy guy and to have his concern about my safety was appreciated,” she told The Post.

Read the full story here.

As GOP heavyweights storm Georgia for Senate runoffs, Democrats hold back — for now

When Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Georgia on Friday, he’ll become the fourth national Republican figure to campaign for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in nine days.

During the same period, no outside Democrat has visited the state on behalf of challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — and that’s just fine with them.

The diverging approaches between the parties illustrate the initial strategic calculations they are making in the opening phase of Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections, following a cycle where a stable of well-funded, high-profile Democratic candidates severely underperformed.

While Republicans are embracing an all-hands-on-deck approach to rejuvenate a base still grappling with President Donald Trump’s defeat in Georgia and nationwide, Democrats are so far resisting the temptation to fully nationalize races that will determine the balance of power in a closely divided Senate, instead hoping to keep the focus on the records of the GOP incumbents.

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Raphael Warnock, left, Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Nov. 3, in Atlanta. The two are in a runoff election for the Senate seat.

“We’re not soliciting anything,” said a Warnock aide, who indicated that the campaign was still evaluating the use of well-known Democrats beyond their emails for fundraising assistance.

While former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are among those urging their lists of donors to send money to Georgia, neither has immediate plans to appear in-person.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton will be in Perry, Georgia, on Thursday to rally on behalf of Perdue and Loeffler; Ossoff and Warnock will be the sole headliners at their own joint event in Jonesboro about 90 minutes away.

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Jon Ossoff, left, on Nov. 10, and Sen. David Perdue on Nov. 2, in Atlanta. AP Photo/John Bazemore

Teresa Pike Tomlinson, the former mayor of Columbus who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate this year, said Ossoff and Warnock are best served by modeling themselves after the understated effectiveness of former GOP Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss.

“They weren’t grabbing national headlines and getting Beto O’Rourke-sized crowds, but people loved them,” Tomlinson said. “It’s ‘who’s going to bring in the riverwalk and the bike trail and take care of the local contract?’ Who is going to keep the local university afloat? So you bring in somebody famous? Big deal.”

Some outside groups like NextGen — which works to organize millennials and Generation Z behind liberal causes — are treading lightly and taking their cues from local Georgia groups. The organization will use 20,000 volunteers to call and text young progressives in the state about the mechanics of voting in the runoffs, but it has no plans to deploy in-person canvassers.

“We won’t do anything on the ground, partly because of COVID and partly because our allies with boots on the ground are saying, ‘We’ve got this,'” said Ben Wessel, NextGen’s executive director.

Facebook says it labeled 180 million debunked posts ahead of the election

Facebook on Thursday said it slapped warnings on more than 180 million pieces of content that were debunked by fact-checkers during the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Between March 1 and Election Day, it also removed more than 265,000 pieces of content in the U.S. for voter interference. The company did not reveal how effective its labels are, except to say that when a label obscures a post, 95 percent of people do not click to see what is behind the warning screen.

The company estimated it helped register 4.5 million voters in the U.S. this year across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, and helped 100,000 sign up to be poll workers. Since its launch, 140 million people have visited the company’s voting information center, and on Election Day, 33 million people visited its election center, which included results as they came in.

Facebook also said in its update its artificial intelligence systems are getting significantly better at rooting out posts with hate speech, even as the content continues to proliferate on its social media sites.

The technology now identifies 95 percent of hate speech posts that the company eventually removes before a user reports them. Nearly three years ago, the AI only proactively found about 24 percent of the violating posts.

But it’s not a perfect system, and Facebook also revealed a new way to measure hate speech on its site during its third quarter Community Standard Enforcement Report. About one in every 1,000 views of posts on the flagship site contains hate speech. It did not release a similar metric for its photo-sharing app Instagram.

Facebook has been more aggressive in recent years about expanding its policies that define hate speech and trying to quickly take down those posts. In October, the company reversed course on a long-held controversial policy and banned holocaust denial posts after years of CEO Mark Zuckerberg defending the hands-off approach.

In its quarterly standards report, Facebook said it took enforcement action on nearly 29 million posts on Facebook and Instagram that contained hate speech between July and September. It also took action on 23 million pieces of violent and graphic content.

Facebook’s ability to police content has been hampered by the pandemic. It has had to send much of its moderation workforce home, and says the majority of those workers are still working remotely. While they can handle many of their tasks remotely, Facebook can’t send them its most problematic content such as sexual exploitation content.


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