who would have ever thought we have to push our supposed ELECTED leaders to do the right thing!!!
Business leaders urge Congress to certify Biden win
Almost 200 of the country’s top business leaders urged Congress to certify the electoral results for President-elect Joe Biden in a letter Monday, arguing that “attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy.”
The letter marked the business community’s most significant push yet to ensure President Trump’s efforts to overturn the November election are unsuccessful. Signers included a wide array of executives of Fortune 500 companies, from the leaders of banks, airlines, investment firms, pharmaceutical companies, professional sports leagues, real estate conglomerates, top law firms and media companies.
“The presidential election has been decided and it is time for the country to move forward,” the letter reviewed by The Washington Post said. “ … The incoming Biden administration faces the urgent tasks of defeating covid-19 and restoring the livelihoods of millions of Americans who have lost jobs and businesses during the pandemic.”
Many of the leaders have previously been wary of getting publicly involved in politics, and some have been supportive of the president. Kathryn Wylde, the president and chief executive of the Partnership for New York City, which organized the letter, said questioning the national election was causing long-term damage to the country and that important issues such as vaccine distribution and high unemployment needed more focus.
The partnership — the major advocacy and political influence arm for the business community in New York — counts many of the city’s top firms as its members. Among the signers included leaders of Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Pfizer, the National Basketball Association, Mastercard, Blackstone Group, BlackRock, Lyft, Deloitte, Warby Parker, Moody’s, WeWork, Ernst & Young, JetBlue, MetLife, Condé Nast, the Carlyle Group, Hearst, American Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, Price Waterhouse Cooper and Deutsche Bank, along with 150 more.
Others who signed include some of New York’s top private equity and real estate figures including Henry Kravis, Rob Speyer, William Rudin and Laurence Fink.
Much of the business community initially had a cordial relationship with Trump in the early days, coming to Washington for summits led by the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and maneuvering to influence the Republican tax bill. They were pleased with some of Trump’s choices for top administration jobs, such as Gary Cohn as his first national economic adviser.
But there was a significant rift after Trump’s comments in Charlottesville on the protests by self-proclaimed white supremacists in the streets, and chief executives withdrew from his business council. There was also considerable frustration with the White House for capping the state and local tax deduction as part of the tax bill.
Trump has taken particular joy in having close ties with some business leaders such as Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the Blackstone Group. Schwarzman did not sign the letter, but the president and chief operating officer of his firm — Jonathan Gray — did.
President caught on tape attempting to pressure the GA State Atty General to remove votes or invalidate votes. WOW this is explosive!!!
‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor
In a phone call on Saturday, President Trump insisted he won the state and threatened vague legal consequences. Here are excerpts from the call. (Obtained by The Washington Post)
Jan. 3, 2021 at 12:59 p.m. EST
President Trump urged fellow Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in an extraordinary one-hour phone call Saturday that election experts said raised legal questions.
The Washington Post obtained a recording of the conversation in which Trump alternately berated Raffensperger, tried to flatter him, begged him to act and threatened him with vague criminal consequences if the secretary of state refused to pursue his false claims, at one point warning that Raffensperger was taking “a big risk.”
Throughout the call, Raffensperger and his office’s general counsel rejected Trump’s assertions, explaining that the president is relying on debunked conspiracy theories and that President-elect Joe Biden’s 11,779-vote victory in Georgia was fair and accurate.
President Trump walks to the Oval Office after returning from Florida on Thursday. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
Trump dismissed their arguments.
“The people of Georgia are angry, the people in the country are angry,” he said. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, um, that you’ve recalculated.”
Raffensperger responded: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”
At another point, Trump said: “So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.”
The rambling and at times incoherent conversation offered a remarkable glimpse of how consumed and desperate the president remains about his loss, unwilling or unable to let the matter go and still believing he can reverse the results in enough battleground states to remain in office.
“There’s no way I lost Georgia,” Trump said, a phrase he repeated again and again on the call. “There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.”
Several of his allies were on the line as he spoke, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, a prominent GOP lawyer whose involvement with Trump’s efforts had not been previously known.
In a statement, Mitchell said Raffensperger’s office “has made many statements over the past two months that are simply not correct and everyone involved with the efforts on behalf of the President’s election challenge has said the same thing: show us your records on which you rely to make these statements that our numbers are wrong.”
The White House, the Trump campaign and Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Raffensperger’s office declined to comment.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he had spoken to Raffensperger, saying the secretary of state was “unwilling, or unable, to answer questions such as the ‘ballots under table’ scam, ballot destruction, out of state ‘voters’, dead voters, and more. He has no clue!”
Raffensperger responded with his own tweet: “Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true.”
The pressure Trump put on Raffensperger is the latest example of his attempt to subvert the outcome of the Nov. 3 election through personal outreach to state Republican officials. He previously invited Michigan Republican state leaders to the White House, pressured Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in a call to try to replace that state’s electors and asked the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to help reverse his loss in that state.
His call to Raffensperger came as scores of Republicans have pledged to challenge the electoral college’s vote for Biden when Congress convenes for a joint session on Wednesday. Republicans do not have the votes to successfully thwart Biden’s victory, but Trump has urged supporters to travel to Washington to protest the outcome, and state and federal officials are already bracing for clashes outside the Capitol.
During their conversation, Trump issued a vague threat to both Raffensperger and Ryan Germany, the secretary of state’s general counsel, suggesting that if they don’t find that thousands of ballots in Fulton County have been illegally destroyed to block investigators — an allegation for which there is no evidence — they would be subject to criminal liability.
“That’s a criminal offense,” he said. “And you can’t let that happen. That’s a big risk to you and to Ryan, your lawyer.”
Trump also told Raffensperger that failure to act by Tuesday would jeopardize the political fortunes of David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Georgia’s two Republican senators whose fate in that day’s runoff elections will determine control of the U.S. Senate.
Trump said he plans to talk about the fraud on Monday, when he is scheduled to lead an election eve rally in Dalton, Ga. — a message that could further muddle the efforts of Republicans to get their voters out.
“You have a big election coming up and because of what you’ve done to the president — you know, the people of Georgia know that this was a scam,” Trump said. “Because of what you’ve done to the president, a lot of people aren’t going out to vote, and a lot of Republicans are going to vote negative, because they hate what you did to the president. Okay? They hate it. And they’re going to vote. And you would be respected, really respected, if this can be straightened out before the election.”
Trump’s conversation with Raffensperger put him in legally questionable territory, legal experts said. By exhorting the secretary of state to “find” votes and to deploy investigators who “want to find answers,” Trump appears to be encouraging him to doctor the election outcome in Georgia.
But experts said Trump’s clearer transgression is a moral one. Edward B. Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, said that the legal questions are murky and would be subject to prosecutorial discretion. But he also emphasized that the call was “inappropriate and contemptible” and should prompt moral outrage.
“He was already tripping the emergency meter,” Foley said. “So we were at 12 on a scale of 1 to 10, and now we’re at 15.”
Throughout the call, Trump detailed an exhaustive list of disinformation and conspiracy theories to support his position. He claimed without evidence that he had won Georgia by at least a half-million votes. He floated a barrage of assertions that have been investigated and disproved: that thousands of dead people voted; that an Atlanta election worker scanned 18,000 forged ballots three times each and “100 percent” were for Biden; that thousands more voters living out of state came back to Georgia illegally just to vote in the election.
“So tell me, Brad, what are we going to do? We won the election, and it’s not fair to take it away from us like this,” Trump said. “And it’s going to be very costly in many ways. And I think you have to say that you’re going to reexamine it, and you can reexamine it, but reexamine it with people that want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.”
Trump did most of the talking on the call. He was angry and impatient, calling Raffensperger a “child” and “either dishonest or incompetent” for not believing there was widespread ballot fraud in Atlanta — and twice calling himself a “schmuck” for endorsing Kemp, whom Trump holds in particular contempt for not embracing his claims of fraud.
“I can’t imagine he’s ever getting elected again, I’ll tell you that much right now,” he said.
He also took aim at Kemp’s 2018 opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, trying to shame Raffensperger with the idea that his refusal to embrace fraud has helped her and Democrats generally. “Stacey Abrams is laughing about you,” he said. “She’s going around saying, ‘These guys are dumber than a rock.’ What she’s done to this party is unbelievable, I tell you.”
The secretary of state repeatedly sought to push back, saying at one point, “Mr. President, the problem you have with social media, that — people can say anything.”
“Oh this isn’t social media,” Trump retorted. “This is Trump media. It’s not social media. It’s really not. It’s not social media. I don’t care about social media. I couldn’t care less.”
At another point, Trump claimed that votes were scanned three times: “Brad, why did they put the votes in three times? You know, they put ’em in three times.”