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Hours after polls closed in the US election, as votes were being counted, Donald Trump claimed fraud – without providing evidence – and said: “We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court.”

To date, the only election that hinged on a US Supreme Court decision was in 2000 when Al Gore was defeated by George W Bush.

So it’s tempting to make comparisons between the two elections but they can be misleading.

The 2000 election came down to one state – Florida – where both candidates were separated by only a few hundred votes. By contrast, Donald Trump has filed lawsuits in several states, and the margins with his rival Joe Biden are far greater.

What happened in 2000?

In one of the closest and most controversial votes in US history, Democratic Vice-President Al Gore was pitted against the Republican governor of Texas and son of a former US president, George W Bush.

Opinion polls had suggested that the race would be close. As the night wore on, it became clear that the result rested on Florida and its 25 votes [now 29] in the electoral college (the system the US uses to elect its president).

As ballots were counted, US networks initially called the state for Al Gore. However, they later retracted that, saying that the result was too close to predict. Then, hours later, networks one by one declared that George W Bush had won Florida. However it soon emerged that the vote was on such a knife edge that it was too close to call.

The dramatic seesawing of the night was heightened when Mr Gore rang Mr Bush to concede – and then rang him back to retract his concession.

Because of the close margin – on election night Mr Bush led by 1,784 votes – an automatic recount was called under Florida law and began the next day. It reduced the margin to 327 votes. The Gore campaign then requested manual recounts in individual counties, which went ahead amid much legal wrangling.

With the nation’s eyes turned on Florida, news networks carried footage of scrutineers examining “hanging chads” – the small pieces of paper created when a hole was punched in a ballot on the voting machines of the time.

When some voters had punched their ballots, the chad had not fully separated from the ballot, making their preference unclear. In other cases, an indentation had been made in the ballot but it had not been punched through, which was known as a pregnant or dimpled chad.

The confusion over the chads was discussed at length by the highest lawyers in the land and around every kitchen table.

Some Republican supporters in Florida staged a violent protest in Miami, calling for the recount to be stopped. Although the protesters claimed to be “local”, most were later identified as Republican aides from Congress in Washington. The protest became known as the “Brooks Brothers Riot” – a nod to the smart suits and ties worn by those involved.

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The turmoil ended when the US Supreme Court ruled in Bush’s favour, saying that the recount would cast “a needless and unjustified cloud” over his legitimate election. The final margin was 537 votes out of a total of almost six million cast in the state.

Mr Gore conceded, saying that while he disagreed with the court’s decision, he accepted it.

“I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the electoral college. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession,” he said.

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Although he lost the election, Mr Gore took 48.38% of the nationwide total vote to Mr Bush’s 47.87%.

What is different now?

In the 2000 recount there were ballots with “hanging chads” to argue over. Today there are only allegations of fraud – for which there is no evidence.

President Trump’s legal team has filed lawsuits in at least five states. His unsubstantiated claim is that there has been “major fraud on our nation”. He has long cast doubt on mail-in voting, referencing voter fraud or “rigged” elections since April, without providing concrete proof.

Election law experts say voter fraud is rare and only affects a tiny number of votes.

Mr Trump currently tails Mr Biden by thousands or tens of thousands of votes in the contested states.

In Georgia, Mr Trump is behind by about 14,000 votes. That is small enough to warrant an automatic recount, as per state laws, but it is considered highly unlikely that the result will flip.

There have been three reversals through recounts – a Minnesota Senate race in 2008, the election of a Washington governor in 2004, and a Vermont auditor’s race in 2006 – and in each case the initial margin was fewer than 500 votes.

Mr Trump would have to flip more than Georgia to reach the 270 electoral college votes needed to secure the presidency.

Lawyers who fought on both sides of the 2000 presidential recount have come out to say this year’s situation is no parallel.

“Basically, the election is over. There isn’t anything that has come out that could plausibly affect the outcome,” David Boies, who led Gore’s legal team in 2000, told USA Today newspaper. “There’s no legal avenue for the Trump campaign to plausibly dispute the results in any one state.”

James Baker, the former secretary of state who led Mr Bush’s team, also objected to Mr Trump’s initial calls to “stop the vote”, when the president suggested that counting postal votes that arrived after election day was “illegal”. (In Pennsylvania, the state’s court had extended the time for receiving absentee ballots by three days, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, as long as the ballots were postmarked by election day.)

Mr Baker said: “Our whole argument [in 2000] was that the votes have been counted and they’ve been counted and they’ve been counted and it’s time to end the process.”

Some senior Republicans – including Senate leader Mitch McConnell – have, however, defended the president’s right to pursue legal options.

Could the Supreme Court decide the result?

Mr Trump has repeatedly vowed to take his cases to the US Supreme Court.

But it’s not as simple as that.

Usually, legal teams would first have to challenge the results in state-level courts – although US Attorney General William Barr has also approved “preliminary inquiries” by federal prosecutors.

State judges would then have to uphold the challenge and order a recount.

The Supreme Court could then be asked to weigh in.

However, there must be legitimate federal or constitutional questions at the heart of the complaint.

The attorney general wrote earlier this week that inquiries could be made by federal prosecutors “if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities”.

There is, as yet, no clarity on the claims being made.

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Bill Gates

Bill Gates — President Trump should be allowed back on social media…

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JUST IN – Bill Gates says “Trump should probably be allowed back on social media,” in an interview with CNBC.

Was it corrosive when Hillary and Democrats cried about the election being stolen by Russia in 2016?

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Democrats

Impeachment blunder: Author of tweet introduced at trial says it was falsified, misinterpreted

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Jennifer Lawrence says Rep. Swalwell never called her to check meaning and appears to have altered her tweet with a blue check mark. Pastor backs her up.

The author of a tweet introduced by Democrats at the Senate trial said Thursday her statement “we are bringing the Calvary” was a clear reference to a prayer vigil organized by churchgoers supporting Trump and not a call for military-like violence at the Capitol riot as portrayed by Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Jennifer Lynn Lawrence also said she believes the California Democrat and House impeachment manager falsified her tweet, adding a blue check mark to the version he introduced at the trial suggesting she was a verified Twitter user with more clout when in fact her Twitter account never had a blue check and has never been verified.

“I noticed when they put my tweet on the screen that all of a sudden my tweet had a blue checkmark next to it,” she said during an interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast. “… This way, if he entered that into congressional testimony, it’s a verified account, and it has, it could be applicable in law. Secondly, he wanted to show that my Twitter account had more gravitas than it actually did. He wanted to show that the president was trying to use me to bring in the cavalry.”

A check of Lawrence’s Twitter account shows she does not have a blue check verification. Swalwell’s version of her tweet introduced at the trial did.

Swalwell’s office did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking reaction.

Lawrence, a Christian conservative activist and former Breitbart writer, said her tweet on Jan. 3 carefully chose the religious word “Calvary” — which means a public display of Christ’s crucifixion — as a reference to a prayer vigil they were hosting in Washington, and Swalwell distorted it to convey she was organizing a military cavalry, which is spelled differently and means a military brigade on horses.

“That’s exactly what I meant,” Lawrence told Just the News. “I did not mean we were bringing the cavalry. I wasn’t going to hop on horseback and come riding into D.C. with my horses and my cavalry. … And you know what we did on January 5? We held a prayer event at Freedom Plaza, and we prayed, and we brought Jesus Christ back into Washington, D.C.”

“We would not want violence, we wanted people to come out and peacefully protest,” she added. “… None of us engaged in protest. We were all at the Willard, you know, watching this all play out on television. We had no idea this was going to happen.”

Lawrence said neither Swalwell nor any other House impeachment managers reached out to her to check what her tweet meant.

During Wednesday’s impeachment trial, Swalwell introduced tweets by Lawrence and another woman named Kylie Jane Kremer who both referenced a “Calvary” coming to Washington. Trump retweeted both women. Swalwell used Lawrence’s tweet to suggest it was a call to violent action, equivalent to the differently spelled military calvary.

“What did President Trump say in response to hearing that the cavalry was coming?” Swalwell argued. “‘A great honor,’ he wrote back. This wasn’t just a single tweet. He and his organizers would do this over and over repeatedly.

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“On January 3 another supporter tweets. ‘We have been marching all around the country for you, Mr. President. Now we will bring it to DC on January 6, and proudly stand beside you. Thank you for fighting for us,'” Swalwell continued, referring to Lawrence’s specific tweet. “When President Trump reposted her tweet, she wrote back, ‘Best day ever. Thank you for the retweet. It has been an honor to stand up and fight for you in our nation. We will be standing strong on January 6 in DC with you. We are bringing the Calvary, Mr. President.’

“We are bringing the cavalry,” Swalwell added for emphasis. “That was the consistent message. This was not just any old protests. President Trump was inciting something historic. The cavalry was coming.”

Mixing up “Calvary” and “cavalry” is common, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

“On the battlefield, one should send in the cavalry, which is the word for an army component mounted on horseback,” the dictionary clarifies. “The similarly spelled word calvary however, refers to an open air depiction of the crucifixion, or more recently an experience of intense suffering … These two words are often confused.”

Lawrence’s account was backed up by a Christian church pastor, Brian Gibson, who was accompanying Lawrence and other activists on their trip to Washington at the time she wrote the tweet.

“I was sitting on the bus, and I saw Calvary come through,” Gibson told Just the News. “I went back to them, and specifically said, ‘Hey, guys, you spelt Calvary wrong, right?’ This is what I do for a living. I’m a preacher of the gospel. I’m a theology major, so that jumped off the page at me, and words matter, and I want them to be correct. And she said, ‘No pastor, I meant it. We meant to write Calvary like that. Because we were standing up for God, preaching the gospel. We have you ministers here that are going to be praying and leading people to Christ. And so that’s what that’s what we mean.”

Gibson, a religious freedom advocate, said he believes Swalwell badly served the trial, the country and Lawrence by falsely interpreting her meaning without checking,

“We’ve all learned a lesson in due diligence here, giving someone the benefit of the doubt,” he said. “And I think what we’re seeing, John, is a political witch hunt, where people have not crossed their t’s, dotted their i’s. And it’s the wrong way for some of our highest elected officials in the land to behave themselves. So I’m praying for Jennifer, I’m praying for everybody that has been put in harm’s way by this reckless behavior.”

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Capitol Building

Democrats Have Failed to Tie Capitol Breach to Trump, Says Defense Attorney David Schoen

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David Schoen, former President Donald Trump’s defense attorney, told reporters on Thursday that the Democrats, while “making a movie,” have failed to tie the Capitol breach to Trump.

“I think they’re making a movie,” Schoen said. “You know, they haven’t in any way tied it to Donald Trump.”

“And I think it’s offensive. Quite frankly, it’s antithetical [to] the healing process to continue to show the tragedy that happened here that Donald Trump has condemned, and I think it tears at the American people, quite frankly.”

A reporter asked the attorney why they broke from the trial to do a live shot.

“It’s more of the same thing. They’re showing the same repetitive videos. [Making] points that don’t exist.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Fox on Wednesday that although the Democrats highlighted Trump’s “fight like hell” remark numerous times, they obviated completely another section of Trump’s speech where he told protestors to be peaceful.

“Peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” Trump said on Jan 6.

“The one line from the president’s speech that wasn’t in the Democrats’ video is the line that’s most important, and that’s where the president said, ‘Peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,’” Jordan said.

Another lawyer representing Trump in the impeachment trial, Bruce Castor, said House Democrats hadn’t presented any new information in the nearly eight-hour session on Wednesday.

“Yesterday, we said we didn’t dispute that the breach of the capital is a terrible thing, and that mob violence is something that President Trump abhors. So we didn’t learn anything today we didn’t already know, it’s a matter of fact. I wonder why we sat through eight hours of videos that are under dispute,” Bruce Castor told reporters as he walked to his car after the session ended.

Although new footage was presented during the trial, no new evidence of the alleged incitement was presented.

Bruce Castor
Attorney for former President Donald Trump Bruce Castor speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 10, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Castor said that the defense team won’t make any adjustments to the president’s defense based on what was presented Wednesday.

“I don’t know what the public has seen and I don’t think the Democrats revealed anything the public hasn’t seen from a different angle; I think it was all angles,” he said.

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