Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images
Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images
Gregg Phillips via LinkedIn
In an interview with the Daily Beast, the man behind the conspiracy theory that there were over 3 million votes cast illegally in the 2016 presidential election claims he has the names of those voters and he is considering releasing them.
Back on Nov. 13, Gregg Phillips, who claims to head up a voter-fraud reporting group, stated on Twitter, “We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens. We are joining .@TrueTheVote to initiate legal action. #unrigged.”
Since that time, and with no information provided to back up his claim, his boast has been retweeted over 10,000 times and — back when it was still new — caught the eye of Alex Jones who runs the conspiracy website Info Wars, who then spread it far and wide on Nov. 14.
It is believed that Trump, who has a relationship with Jones, picked it up from there and has been using it since then to diminish his loss in the popular vote — which also hovers around 3 million votes.
While there is absolutely no evidence of wide-scale voter fraud taking place, that hasn’t stopped Phillips from now stating that he can identify those voters.
Speaking to the Beast, Phillips said he is on the fence as to whether release the information he claims he holds.
“If I had my druthers, and they said, ‘Gregg, you can release your list or you can give it to [the Department of Justice],’ I’d instantly agree to give it over to DOJ. They could bump it up against the Homeland Security file,” Phillips explained. “There’s a group of us who don’t think we should release the names at all.”
Asked last November by reporters to release his data and how he arrived at it to back up his claim, Phillips demurred saying,“We will release it in open form to the American people. We won’t allow the media to spin this first.”
With Phillips not following through, he now says he is reconsidering after President Trump made it an issue by mentioning the supposed fraud numbers while sitting down with Congressional leaders this week.
According to Phillips, he claims to have over 184 million voting records that his group –made of volunteers — have accumulated.
Phillips stated his group “worked on various projects and analysis and plenty of different methodologies on key components on the valuations such as verifying identity and verifying citizenship.”
“I believe in this stuff to my core, in my bones. A lot of people are saying, even people on the Trump side, ‘Who cares? He won,’” he added. “Well, I care. We have identified what we believe to be likely 3 million illegal voters. I’ve got 184 million records that we have applied an enormous amount of analytic capability to.”
According to Phillips he’s taking his time, saying he doesn’t want to mistakenly accuse someone of felony voter fraud who isn’t a felon
“That’s exactly what’s taking so long. Rather than publishing things that might be wrong, we not only just want to do a quality check on our own algorithm, we want to do an internal audit, if you will,” he explained.
“I committed from the outset to publish all of this data to the public. I’m gonna let the public see everything we’ve done. Our analysis, everything, will be published. We will also give copies to the federal government,” he told the Beast. “We’re gonna publish the entire data set.”
Phillips provided no time frame for the release of the info.
His original tweet can be seen below:
We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens.
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 13, 2016
Donald Trump is reportedly close to making what will be one of the biggest decisions of his entire presidency: choosing a replacement for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Trump is now saying he will announce a pick next week.
After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell successfully obstructed President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for nearly a year, the Court is still short a member, a vacancy that Trump and his allies in the Senate are eager to fill quickly. In May, Trump released a list of 11 possible choices for the slot, before adding 10 more in September. As an effort to signal his reliability to conservatives, he promised he would make his choice only from the names on these lists.
Now, Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Shane Goldmacher report that Trump has narrowed the choices to three, all of whom are on federal appeals courts:
Johnson and Goldmacher report that Gorsuch and Hardiman have an advantage and Pryor’s chances have waned.
All three finalists are white men appointed to their posts by George W. Bush, but they vary in background and in how contention their nominations would likely be. Here’s a rundown of what each choice would mean.
While Trump’s list includes more graduates of state schools and fewer Ivy League grads than most Supreme Court shortlists, Gorsuch is exactly the kind of elite-educated figure who’s traditionally made it onto the Court. A graduate of Columbia (where he was a Truman scholar), Oxford (where he got a doctorate as a Marshall scholar), and Harvard Law (which five other members of the Court attended), Gorsuch clerked on the DC Circuit and then for both Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
But Gorsuch is also more outspoken and forthright in his positions than your typical Supreme Court aspirant. He wrote a full book on assisted suicide and euthanasia that, while fairly recapping both sides, came down decisively against them, arguing that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” It’s not hard to infer what that implies for Gorsuch’s attitudes on abortion.
He’s reliably, though idiosyncratically, conservative on a number of other issues as well. A former law clerk describes him as having a “deep commitment to the original understanding of the constitution and the rule of law.” Gorsuch delivered a speech after Scalia’s death (an event which he stated moved him to tears) praising his possible predecessor for understanding the distinction between judge and legislator, and for striving not to use the Court to make law.
He appears to believe Obamacare’s birth control mandate is unconstitutional on religious liberty grounds. He has taken a limited view of a defendant’s right to competent representation. Intriguingly, he’s suggested that he thinks Chevron v. NRDC, a foundational decision in administrative law that gives regulatory agencies broad deference in determining rules, was wrongly decided. That could give plaintiffs — whether they’re businesses wanting laxer rules or advocacy groups wanting tougher ones — more say in the rulemaking process.
But he’s also suggested more sympathy for criminal defendants than most conservative picks might have. He sided with a Albuquerque middle schooler who was strip-searched by his school, dissenting while his colleagues ruled that the school police officer and other employees are immune from lawsuits. And he’s expressed concern with overcriminalization, saying that states and the federal government have enacted too many statutes forbidding too much activity.
Trump has been known to say that “the police in our country do not get respect.” That is assuredly not Thomas Hardiman’s fault.
On the Third Circuit, Hardiman has consistently sided with law enforcement against defendants and inmates. He ruled that a policy of strip-searching jail inmates didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search (an opinion the Supreme Court upheld). He’s also written, in dissent, that the First Amendment does not give citizens the right to tape police — something with which every state in the union currently disagrees.
Hardiman’s pre-judicial career is full of the kinds of things liberals and Democrats don’t like: He donated to Republican candidates before being appointed to the bench (something that is neither illegal nor, to most legal experts, a big deal), and he represented plenty of political clients and political cases while he was in private practice. Most of this is insignificant: Just like it’s a defense lawyer’s job to defend murderers, it’s a civil lawyer’s job to defend companies accused of discrimination.
But it’s ironic that one of Hardiman’s most high-profile cases was a housing discrimination suit against a company accused of conspiring to keep out low-income clients — given that the president who might appoint him to the Supreme Court, early in his own career, settled a housing discrimination suit of his own against the federal government.
Pryor has been on Trump’s shortlist at least since the February 13 GOP presidential debate, where he came up as an example of the kind of justice Trump would like to appoint. Pryor, 54, probably has the biggest national profile of anyone on this list due to his starring role in the 2005 showdown between President Bush and Senate Democrats over judicial appointments.
He was initially nominated in 2003 and faced fierce opposition for his unusually strident and blunt recitation of conservative dogma. Asked about a statement he made calling Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law,” Pryor said, “I stand by that comment. I believe that not only is [Roe] unsupported by the text and structure of the Constitution, but it has led to a morally wrong result. It has led to the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn children.”
He also, as attorney general of Alabama, wrote an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold laws banning sodomy and, in the words of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), “equated private, consensual sexual activity between homosexuals to prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, incest and pedophilia.” He also purposely rescheduled a family trip to Disney World to avoid attending during “Gay Day,” lest his children see gay people enjoying theme park rides.
Pryor eventually got a recess appointment to the 11th Circuit in February 2004, and was finally officially confirmed in 2005 as part of the “Gang of 14” compromise. In his position he’s mostly been a doctrinaire conservative, the most notable exception being a ruling arguing that discrimination against trans people violates the Equal Protection Clause.
That decision appears to be harming his chances in 2017. According to Politico’s Johnson and Goldmacher, Pryor is being attacked from the right “on an off-the-record list-serv that includes many in the conservative legal and political communities,” for siding in favor of trans rights. While the left almost defeated Pryor’s appellate nomination, the right could be in the process of defeating his Supreme Court bid.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Sales of 1984, socialist author George Orwell’s famous 1949 sci-fi novel about a dystopian future ruled by oligarchical mega-states, have skyrocketed on Amazon after President Donald Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway coined the term “alternative facts” to describe blatant lies.
According to Mashable, 1984 rose to the sixth-highest place on Amazon’s best-seller list as of Tuesday afternoon.
Orwell’s book describes a nightmarish future where England is one province of a totalitarian mega-state called Oceania. It’s particularly renowned for its impressive additions to world lexicon — from “Newspeak,” Oceania’s official state language which lacks the words necessary to express dissent, to “unperson,” a perceived state traitor who is removed from all historical records.
Though the book is commonly interpreted as a cautionary tale about communism, Orwell was himself an ardent socialist and intended the book as a commentary on the USSR and other totalitarian governments, including Nazi Germany, that failed to match the promises of their revolutions and degenerated into oligarchy.
“Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods,” Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017
On Sunday, Conway described White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s decision to present complete and total falsehoods about the size of the crowds at Trump’s inauguration as merely “alternative facts.” NBC News’ Chuck Todd shot back, “alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods.”
Spicer backed Trump’s assertion 1 to 1.5 million people attended the inauguration, a claim that was widely mocked as a fabrication. Empirical estimates have concluded attendance was much lower and was likely in the range of 250,000 to 600,000, and thus dwarfed by either of former President Barack Obama’s inaugural celebrations. Protests the next day in D.C. also exceeded attendance at Trump’s inauguration by a significant margin.
CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump has only had a few days to govern so far.
In that time, he staged a press conference where his press secretary blatantly lied to the media, told the National Park Service not to tweet, and met with an American intelligence agency in an “uncomfortable” meeting. One of his senior advisers introduced the worrying concept that the Trump administration’s lies will be considered “alternative facts.”
ThinkProgress surveyed a group of political theorists and scholars of authoritarianism and asked them to evaluate the new president. Trump is already trying to rule in the style of a populist authoritarian, they said.
Sheri Berman, a political scientist at Barnard College, said that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s invocation of “alternative facts” was particularly alarming.
“Former scholar of fringe politics. Current scholar of mainstream politics.”
“It’s one thing to bash journalists but when you start talking about facts not being facts, and bar people from access to information, major red flags are going up,” said Berman.
“There is no doubt he is an authoritarian, which is completely logical because he has always worked in a structure in which he has absolute power and to me that is clear in his understanding that he sees politics as a business,” said Cas Mudde, an associate professor at the University of Georgia. “He sees democracy as ‘I have won, so I can do whatever I want or whatever I think is best for the country and I’m allowed to do that because I’m the CEO of America, Inc.’”
(Mudde’s Twitter profile reads: “Former scholar of fringe politics. Current scholar of mainstream politics.”)
But while Mudde and Berman said that Trump undoubtedly displays authoritarian tendencies, they were careful to note that he is not a fascist or totalitarian. Totalitarian regimes tend to control every facet of society, including culture, politics, and media. Fascism is a form of right-wing totalitarianism which tends to be nativist, nationalist, and anti-individualist. Authoritarians, on the other hand, demand a strict adherence to authority at the expense of individual liberty.
“I don’t like conflating populism with fascism,” Berman said. “Both are on the spectrum but there are critical differences. We’re certainly not there yet.”
“I will not call him a fascist,” Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University, told ThinkProgress. “He’s not trying to have a one party dictatorship.”
Trump has exhibited certain personality traits shared by authoritarian rulers, including a tendency toward nepotism, a fragile ego, and an unwillingness to gracefully accept criticism. But he will have a hard time consolidating power, so long as there remains political opposition, a free press, and checks and balances in government. Experts in authoritarianism said his movement also lacks the organization that would allow it to fully supplant existing institutions.
Totalitarian regimes of the past, like Communists in the Soviet Union or the Nazis in Germany, rose to power after incredible organization and could call upon hundreds of thousands of members. Despite already having an intricate structure in place, “even they achieved a totalitarian regime after a long time,” Mudde said.
Compared to those regimes, it’s staggering how unorganized Trump’s movement is, Mudde said. “While I worry about autocratic tendencies, I don’t see ideology or structure for anything that is comparable to fascism.”
But there are certain moves Trump could make that would suggest a line had been crossed.
“If he started passing laws or trying to use his influence to hinder CNN’s ability to report or broadcast [that would cross a line],” Berman said. “Not talking to members of the press you don’t like is bad, but to use the power of the presidency or government to actually stop parts of the media doing their job would be clearly crossing a line.”
Other triggers would include using the government to “pass laws that impinge on certain citizens of ethnic or religious backgrounds,” said Berman. “Characteristics that are not just un-American, but antithetical to precepts of liberal democracy.”
The fact that Trump isn’t there yet doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to fear. Vigilance is important going forward, as Trump’s ascension to the presidency shows that a considerable portion of Republicans accepted the more radical aspects of his candidacy.
“The main concern is the flexibility of the GOP,” Mudde said. “We have seen in the last couple months that GOP leadership has a remarkable tolerance toward Trumps illiberal tendencies as long as he lets them get a pro-market, anti-regulation program.”
“Vulgar populism might not be shared, and some of his economic nationalism isn’t shared, but the nativism is shared,” Mudde said, “both towards Mexicans and Muslims, and so those parts of the agenda can be very easily pushed through.”
The toleration, or in some cases radicalization, of the GOP establishment is more threatening than Trump’s presidency on its own, said Ben-Ghiat.
“Formally, we have checks and balances. I’m of the school that those things are not going to stop him,” Ben-Ghiat said. “We put all the blame on Trump but the GOP has seen in him a kind of vehicle to get certain radical things they want done and [to push] a certain cultural shift in the nation.”
“The only thing between Trump and autocratic and illiberal democratic rule might be the GOP and I’m not sure how much that is going to do for us,” Mudde said. “I don’t think there is reason to panic. There is reason to organize.”
“Donald Trump got a lot of votes — probably got the Republican nomination in large part — because he said he was going to be aggressive in defending our borders,” Rep. Mo Brooks said. | Getty
Donald Trump promised during the campaign that he’d “immediately” kill Barack Obama’s unilateral actions to shield hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Now, just four days into the new administration, immigration hardliners are demanding that the new president follow through. And they’re increasingly frustrated at the shift in tone from top White House officials signaling a more compassionate approach for so-called Dreamers.
Influential groups advocating for more immigration restrictions have already launched a campaign aimed at pressuring Trump to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era directive that allowed Dreamers to obtain work permits and protection from deportation. On Tuesday, NumbersUSA urged its 2 million-plus members, as well as 6 million followers on Facebook, to tweet at Trump urging him to rescind DACA, and even the Trump-friendly news outlet Breitbart ripped the administration for its DACA inaction.
That irritation from Trump’s base is quickly spreading to conservatives on Capitol Hill.
Asked whether he was disappointed Trump hadn’t yet ended DACA, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) barely let a reporter finish the question before he responded: “Yes.”
“It was front and center in his campaign,” Brooks said in an interview Tuesday. “Donald Trump got a lot of votes — probably got the Republican nomination in large part — because he said he was going to be aggressive in defending our borders. One of the low-lying fruits is repealing, by executive order, the amnesty executive orders of Barack Obama, and he hasn’t done it yet.”
For the hard-liners, rescinding the DACA program should be the easiest of Trump’s immigration promises to fulfill: a simple memo ordering federal officials to stop accepting DACA applications that have steadily arrived since Obama first announced the initiative in 2012.
But U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is still taking DACA requests, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday. That means the agency is greenlighting an average of 140 initial applications and 690 renewals, according to the most recent publicly available data.
Advocates pushing for more restrictions on immigration see each approval as an affront to Trump’s core campaign pledge.
“This was one promise I thought he would keep,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “There was no wiggle room. ‘I will immediately cancel.’ That’s a pretty declarative sentence.”
Krikorian has fired off a flurry of tweets and written an op-ed for the conservative National Review wondering whether Trump plans to revoke DACA, which was established through a Department of Homeland Security memorandum by then-Secretary Janet Napolitano. Brooks said he is discussing the matter with Peter White, his former legislative counsel who now works in the White House’s policy shop, and Krikorian has also reached out to White House officials.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) warned Tuesday that Trump “absolutely” faces a backlash from his political base if he backtracks from his pledge to rescind DACA and a related Obama executive action that expanded those benefits to undocumented parents of U.S. citizens. That directive never launched after being blocked by the Supreme Court last June.
“The quicker he takes the action, the less painful it’s going to be,” King said. “There was a Hispanic young lady in my district and I said I would consider adopting her, I like her so much. [But] I love the rule of law more. And we can’t have the rule of law if we let our hearts rule.”
But after Trump’s vows to crack down on illegal immigration during the campaign, his tone has softened when it comes to the more than 740,000 immigrants brought here illegally as children who have DACA permits.
He was sympathetic toward Dreamers in an interview with Time magazine after being chosen its Person of the Year. And after Sen. Dick Durbin thanked Trump at Friday’s inaugural lunch for his warm comments about Dreamers, Trump told the Illinois Democrat that he would find a way to accommodate the DACA recipients that was “fair” to them, Durbin recounted Tuesday.
“I know there are people in the administration who understand these issues. There are many voices inside the administration. There are hints of a power struggle going on now,” Ting said. “They have a political problem. They recognize it. They don’t want to have bad press of having all these Dreamers thrown to the wolves.”
There are signs that the pressure campaign — both public and private — to ensure Dreamers can work and stay in the United States is influencing the mercurial Trump.
In their first private meeting after his election, Obama repeatedly impressed upon Trump the value of the Dreamers who’ve benefited from DACA. It was one reason why their 90-minute meeting ran so long, according to Durbin, who said Obama had relayed that account to him and other Democrats.
“I’ve been encouraged because they have been making an exception for Dreamers with DACA,” Durbin, who has made rescuing Dreamers his top priority since Trump’s surprise election, said Tuesday. “Until we get the proper legislation passed, I’m going to be worried. But these statements make me feel better.”
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
President Donald Trump thinks that unfavorable media coverage of his first weekend in office has not allowed him to “enjoy” the White House, according to a Tuesday report by the Associated Press.
Trump believed that the media would cover him more favorably after he was inaugurated, according to an Associated Press report citing two anonymous sources close to the President, but instead believes it has worsened.
The President said that the negative press has not allowed him to “enjoy” the White House on his first weekend in office, according to an anonymous source who spoke with him also cited in the report.
Trump’s administration faced a rocky weekend of media coverage on its first weekend in the White House.
Thousands of marchers attended protests on Saturday along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as well as in hundreds of other cities across the United States and around the world, many carrying anti-Trump signs. And an official estimate from D.C. Metro authority showed that the transit system had its second-busiest day ever on the day of the Women’s March on Washington, far surpassing its ridership on the day of Trump’s inauguration.
Following reports of low attendance at his swearing-in ceremony on Friday, Trump pushed White House press secretary Sean Spicer to issue a fiery public response, according to a Washington Post report published Sunday citing interviews with Trump’s advisors and confidants as well as a number of senior White House officials.
In his Saturday remarks railing against the media, Spicer included a number of incorrect figures which were quickly highlighted as baseless. Trump, however, thought that Spicer’s statement was not forceful enough, according to the Washington Post’s report.
Spicer continued to condemn the media’s treatment of Donald Trump in his first daily briefing with reporters from the White House on Monday, saying that it is “demoralizing” for the President to see unfavorable coverage.
“There is this constant theme to undercut the enormous support that he has,” Spicer said. “I think it’s unbelievably frustrating when you’re continually told it’s not big enough, it’s not good enough, you can’t win.”