Justice Dept.: Armed Agents Are Allowed to Oversee Ballot-Counting Venues

first_imgWASHINGTON — The Justice Department told federal prosecutors in an email early on Wednesday that the law allowed them to send armed federal officers to ballot-counting locations around the country to investigate potential voter fraud, according to three people who described the message.The email created the specter of the federal government intimidating local election officials or otherwise intervening in vote tallying amid calls by President Trump to end the tabulating in states where he was trailing in the presidential race, former officials said.- Advertisement – Mr. Donoghue, the No. 2 official in the office of the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, sent his email about half an hour before Mr. Trump made reckless claims including falsely declaring himself the winner of the election and began calling for election officials to stop counting ballots.“We want all voting to stop,” Mr. Trump said at the White House. He said, without offering details, that his campaign would “be going to the U.S. Supreme Court” over the election count. The Trump campaign said later in the day that it was filing lawsuits in multiple states, including Michigan, to halt or protest vote counts.One state election official vowed to resist any interference or intimidation efforts by federal officials.- Advertisement – “Elections are a state matter, and we have authority as state officials over anyone trying to enter locations where ballots are being counted,” said Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts. “Anything else is a radical reinterpretation of the law. States can handle elections, and we will ensure the people decide the outcome.”The election has been both unusual and charged. A historic number of mail-in ballots, prompted by the pandemic, have slowed the work of local election officials who tally them. And Mr. Trump has for months stoked fears about the integrity of the vote and amplified unfounded conspiracy theories that slow-counting states could not be trusted, intensifying his baseless accusations as the count stretched on past Election Day and his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., gained an edge in key states. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.- Advertisement – A law prohibits the stationing of armed federal officers at polls on Election Day. But a top official told prosecutors that the department interpreted the statute to mean that they could send armed federal officers to polling stations and locations where ballots were being counted anytime after that.The statute “does not prevent armed federal law enforcement persons from responding to, investigate, or prevent federal crimes at closed polling places or at other locations where votes are being counted,” the official, Richard P. Donoghue, told prosecutors in an email that he sent around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Attorney General William P. Barr also spent the months leading up to Election Day echoing the president’s dark warnings, claiming without evidence that the wave of mail-in ballots would lead to an unprecedented amount of voter fraud.He cited one example of 1,700 falsified ballots that The Washington Post found to be false. A department spokeswoman blamed an inaccurate memo from an aide.The new legal interpretation about armed officials at vote-counting locations appeared to be another example of the attorney general mirroring Mr. Trump’s public posture, former Justice Department officials said.“This seems like a messaging tactic for the attorney general,” said Vanita Gupta, the acting head of the department’s Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama. “Lawfully, the Justice Department can’t interfere in the vote count, enter polling places or take ballots, even in the course of an investigation.”In instances where the department can secure access to ballots for any investigation, Ms. Gupta said that federal law allowed law enforcement officials to “copy and inspect, but that ballots stay in the hands of local election officials.”Justice Department officials said this week that they expected lawyers for the Trump and Biden campaigns to take on court challenges related to the election, and that the Trump administration would have little, if any, role.Election experts said that any effort by the Justice Department to blatantly interfere in the election would immediately prompt legal challenges. Still, armed officials arriving at ballot-counting locations even for investigatory purposes could intimidate or otherwise disrupt the process, they warned.“The very strong, longstanding norm is that the federal government does not seek to do anything to interfere with a state’s ability to count votes and certify elections,” said Kristy Parker, an official in the department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Tomori eyes FA Cup glory

first_imgRelatedPosts Lampard: I still have confidence in Tomori Rennes want Fikayo Tomori, £25m for Mendy Lampard: Tomori won’t leave Chelsea Fikayo Tomori has claimed he wants to follow in the footsteps of Frank Lampard and add to Chelsea’s “rich history” in the FA Cup by lifting the trophy this season. The 22-year-old scored the winner in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Hull, which saw the Blues safely into the hat for tonight’s fifth-round draw. Lampard won the trophy four times as a player and although the FA Cup is not a priority for him this season, Tomori insisted he would like to add to his boss’s fond memories of the world’s oldest domestic cup competition. “Chelsea have a rich history in the FA Cup,” said Tomori. “With the gaffer being in there we went to a lot of finals at Wembley. “We have seen Chelsea lift it many times with Conte and in the past as well. Of course, it is Chelsea and we want to fight for every competition. “There’s a trophy to play for at the end of it. When you step on the pitch we are not thinking this is just an FA Cup game or this is a Champions League game. “We want to win. Every game is the same. Going into the FA Cup games we want to do the same thing. We want to try to go as far as we can.” The FA Cup may also be a useful opportunity for Tomori to revive a breakthrough season, which has stalled of late. Tomori was a key part of the fresh injection of youth under Lampard, forming an early-season centre-back partnership with Kurt Zouma, the highlight of which was undoubtedly keeping a clean sheet in Amsterdam as Chelsea secured a vital Champions League group stage victory against Ajax last October. He signed a new five-year contract in December just a week before turning 22 but has found first-team appearances hard to come by since Antonio Rudiger’s return from injury with Lampard preferring Andreas Christensen in the Blues’ last three League outings. Tomori has started just five of the past 13 matches in all competitions but featured in both rounds of the FA Cup so far. “I think it gives me the opportunity to have a run of games,” said Tomori, who spent last season on loan at Derby. “We can all contribute. We’re into the fifth round, so we can watch the draw and wait to see who we get. Hopefully we can get a good draw and win again. “With winning games and playing games it builds confidence. I feel a lot more confident than I was in the beginning at the season so I feel like I have a bigger role to play in the team. “That’s whether I am in the team or not I feel like that’s in what I need to bring to the training sessions and the changing room even though I am just starting out. “Us young players are encouraged to talk in the changing room and use our voices. “This season as it has gone on I have tried to do that a lot more. “We young players have a lot of personalities even though we are young and we just want to show what we can do.”Tags: FA CupFikayo TomoriFrank Lampardlast_img read more