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Electors demand intelligence briefing before Electoral College vote

In its first show of public support for efforts questioning the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s victory, Hillary Clinton’s campaign said it is supporting a request by members of the Electoral College for an intelligence briefing on foreign intervention in the presidential election.

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

“Each day in October, our campaign decried the interference of Russia in our campaign and its evident goal of hurting our campaign to aid Donald Trump,” he said. “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 elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump. This should distress every American.”

Podesta’s statement follows an open letter from 10 members of the Electoral College, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s daughter Christine and a former member of Congress, who are demanding a briefing from U.S. intelligence officials on any ongoing investigations into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

In a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the electors — nine Democrats and one Republican — argue that they require the information ahead of Dec. 19, when the Electoral College is set to meet and select the next president.

“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,” they wrote. “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.”

The letter is signed by electors from five states and the District of Columbia. In addition to Christine Pelosi — a California elector — it includes a signature from one former members of Congress: New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter.

Shea-Porter’s three other New Hampshire colleagues — Terie Norelli, Bev Hollingsworth and Dudley Dudley — also signed the letter. D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds, former Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell and Maryland activist Courtney Watson round out the nine Democratic signatories. Colorado Democratic elector Micheal Baca, leader of an effort to turn the Electoral College against Trump, is also on the list. Texas’ Chris Suprun, an emergency responder who has been a vocal critic of Trump, is the only Republican elector to sign on.

“Yes, we the Electors should have temporary security clearance to perform our constitutional duty in reviewing the facts regarding outside interference in the US election and the intelligence agencies should declassify as much data as possible while protecting sources and methods so that the American people can learn the truth about our election,” said Pelosi.

Though the letter doesn’t explicitly endorse a separate effort by electors in Colorado, Washington and California to stop Trump from winning the presidency, it represents the latest effort by Democratic electors to look to the Electoral College as a possible bulwark against a Trump presidency. The letter follows on the heels of two Democratic congressmen — David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Jim Himes of Connecticut — who suggested this weekend that the Electoral College should consider whether to block Trump’s election.

Hillary Clinton, her top advisers and former President Bill Clinton, who’s an elector from New York, have remained notably silent on the various Electoral College machinations.

The signatories of Monday’s letter represent some prominent party names. Pelosi’s mother is the highest-ranking House Democrat, Bonds is a member of the Washington, D.C., city council, Norelli is a former speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and Shea-Porter was recently elected to her old seat in Congress. Pell, the grandson of Democratic Sen. Claiborne Pell, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014. His wife, the former figure skater Michelle Kwan, was a senior staffer in Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The letter begins with a lengthy defense of the Electoral College’s role in the election process. The Democrats argue that it’s their duty not simply to rubber-stamp the Election Day results but to “investigate, discuss, and deliberate with our colleagues about whom to vote for.” They point to Trump’s repeated rejection of intelligence assessments suggesting Russia’s meddling in the election, as well as his suggestion during the campaign that Russia should unearth some of Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. And, they note, Trump has dismissed reports over the weekend that the U.S. intelligence community had determined Russia intervened in the election to help him win.

“Trump’s willingness to disregard conclusions made by the intelligence community and his continuing defense of Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin demand close scrutiny and deliberation from the Electoral College,” they write.

The 538 members of the Electoral College are slated to meet in their state capitals on Dec. 19 to cast the only official vote for president. Trump won the popular vote in states that include 306 electors, while Clinton won states that include 232 electors. Anti-Trump forces are working to convince at least 37 Republican electors to turn on Trump, which would block his immediate election and send the final decision to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

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