Flashback: Dems sought to taint Trump 2016 win, change electors' pledged votes

While House Democrats' Jan. 6 panel tries to stigmatize scrutiny of disputed 2020 election, key party figures used bogus Russia collusion allegations contrived at behest of Hillary Clinton campaign in bid to block transfer of power to Trump.

Updated: July 3, 2022 - 12:24pm

While House Democrats' Jan. 6 committee continues to vilify Donald Trump for his efforts to pause certification of the disputed 2020 election, key figures in their own party urged electors to violate state law and change their pledged votes for the 2016 Electoral College while trying to delay the vote by demanding an update on bogus allegations of Trump-Russia collusion contrived at the behest of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Despite the ongoing revelation of countless irregularities in the 2020 presidential election, Democrats and government officials have refelexively claimed the election was "the most secure in American history" — or at least that fraud was too minor to affect the outcome. Election irregularity denialists have attempted to stigmatize those who have scrutinized the anomalies marring a presidential election dominated by novel mass mail-in voting procedures imposed late in the election cycle across a range of swing states indispensable in securing Joe Biden's victory.

But back in 2016, Hillary Clinton's campaign and leading Democrats sought to taint Donald Trump's win in a more conventional electoral process by promoting the since-debunked Trump-Russia collusion theory in a bid to persuade electors to change their votes from Trump to another candidate.

Phill Kline, director of The Amistad Project, told Just the News that "leftist groups tried to stop electors from voting for Trump" through protests, calls to change electoral votes, and requesting a Trump-Russia collusion update, in a "coordinated and concentrated effort to interfere with, delay, or alter the Electoral College vote, when that vote would be cast, and then Trump's inauguration."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's daughter, Christine Pelosi, who was an elector in 2016, was one of the 80 Hamilton Electors (all but one of whom were Democrats) who led an effort to receive a briefing on the Trump-Russia collusion investigation prior to the Electoral College vote.

They named themselves after founder Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Paper No. 68, which notes that the Electoral College is designed to prevent a "desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils."

The electors wrote a letter to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper requesting he provide information regarding investigations into Trump-Russia collusion.

"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," the letter reads. "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."

In the majority of states, electors are required to vote for the presidential candidate who wins the vote in their state. In about half of those states, failure to fulfill this role triggers a range of potential consequences, such as removing and replacing the elector, and/or penalizing them.

Two electors leading the Hamilton Electors, Bret Chiafalo of Washington and Micheal Baca of Colorado, were both supposed to vote for Clinton in the 2016 Electoral College, but instead voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell and then-Ohio Governor John Kasich to try to persuade Republican electors to vote for a moderate Republican over Trump.

Chiafalo was fined $1,000 by Washington state for being a "faithless elector," and Baca was replaced by another elector. Both of them were involved in cases decided unanimously by the Supreme Court in 2020 that states are allowed to punish faithless electors.

The day the Hamilton Electors' letter was sent, one week before the Electoral College was to meet on Dec. 19, Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta, announced the campaign's support of the initiative.

"The bipartisan electors' letter raises very grave issues involving our national security," Podesta said in a statement. "Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed."

Referring to the intelligence community's early October announcement about Russia's involvement in the DNC hack, Podesta added: "Each day that month, our campaign decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump. Despite our protestations, this matter did not receive the attention it deserved by the media in the campaign. We now know that the CIA has determined Russia's interference in our election was for the purpose of election of Donald Trump. This should distress every American.

"We believe that the Administration owes it to the American people to explain what it knows regarding the extent and manner of Russia's interference and this be done as soon as possible." 

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) called for electors to reconsider voting for Trump, telling WNPR that compared to Trump's Republican stances on "in-bounds" issues, "What is not in-bounds is trashing the American intelligence community, saying that they don't know what they're talking about, and standing up for the Kremlin."

Himes added that Trump saying there were "two to three million fraudulent votes in the presidential election" was also out of bounds and "not true."

"And it's certainly not in-bounds to be running a global business empire while you're President of the United States," Himes said, noting that those points "raise serious questions about the qualification of this individual, and the loyalties, and the preparation of this individual to be president. So I think the Electoral College should do what it is there to do, and reflect on whether this guy should be president or not."

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) said in a statement on Twitter that the Electoral College should be delayed in order for electors to receive an intelligence briefing.

"Recent, credible intelligence reports suggest a concerted effort by a foreign power to interfere in the outcome of our presidential election," Beyer wrote.

"I believe that Electors should be given all information relevant to this interference before they make their decisions and before they cast their votes.

"Congress must take whatever action is necessary to protect the integrity of our democracy. I call on the leaders of Congress to delay the date of the vote for the Electoral College until an intelligence briefing has been given to each Elector."

Between Election Day 2016 and Inauguration Day 2017, there were multiple protests across the U.S. against Trump's election, many of which turned violent. One protest in New York City that drew thousands of protesters was organized by a Russian-linked group on Facebook.

Hamilton Electors and other leftist organizations planned to organize protests in all 50 state capitals on the day the Electoral College met in an effort to persuade electors to change their votes for Trump.

Electors for Trump were also harassed, with one telling the New York Post that he had received death threats.

There were seven total faithless electors in 2016, two Republicans in Texas who didn't vote for Trump and five Democrats who didn't vote for Clinton. Trump received 304 electoral votes to Clinton's 227.

Kline explained his concern about the Democrats' double standard regarding the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

"I don't say that for Congress to look into it like January 6th — it's the standard of blaming anything anybody does that might be illegal in support of Trump, on Trump, and ignore on the left that there's illegal activity occurring and people on the left that encourage it," he said.

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