USA TODAY - Happy Cyber Monday, folks! If your Thanksgiving with relatives went about as well as everyone else's did, now's your chance to scoop up great deals on passive-aggressive gifts for family members on the other side of the political spectrum. May we suggest the $149 "Make America Great Again" hat ornament? Or perhaps a lovely "Build Bridges Not Walls" t-shirt? 'Tis the season to weaponize Christmas gifts, guys.
In today's edition of For the Record: Questioning the vote count isn't just for losers anymore, and new BFFs Donald Trump and Barack Obama don't quite see eye-to-eye on Fidel Castro's death. Let's do this ...
Trump: I know about popular
Bragging on Twitter about his popularity? Donald Trump is about to lose all his hipster cred.
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
Did he win the Electoral College? Sure. Did he win the popular vote? That's a pretty big stretch, with Hillary Clinton currently leading by about 2 million votes. Trump didn't elaborate on his tweeted claim of "millions of people who voted illegally," but his declaration may be based on a pair of tweets by VoteStand founder Gregg Phillips, who says he has "verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens." Apparently there wasn't any space available to share the evidence, though ... damn you, Twitter, and your 140-character limit! (We do have limited evidence of people voting illegally, but we're pretty sure these aren't the ones Trump was complaining about.)
Trump also tweeted he could have won the popular vote, illegal voters or no illegal voters, had he focused on a few populous states instead of campaigning in smaller states with more Electoral College clout.
Meanwhile, the Jill Stein-led recount effort in Wisconsin is expected to begin this Thursday. "It will be a significant challenge to complete a statewide recount of nearly 3 million votes in less than two weeks. County canvass boards and (Wisconsin Elections Commission) staff will need to put in a substantial amount of extended hours throughout the next few weeks," according to a memorandum sent by Wisconsin election officials. Right now, Clinton trails by just over 27,000 votes (about 1% of the total vote), while Stein trails by just under 1,380,000 votes (about 46.8% of the total vote).
What's in it for Stein: Your guess is as good as ours. During the campaign, she was often as critical of Clinton as she was of Trump; if she's trying to swing the election to Hillary, she hasn't said so. Her campaign has said her fundraising efforts are part of an "election integrity movement," although it's not entirely clear why the fundraising goal keeps increasing (now up to $7 million) even though the costs associated with the Wisconsin recount are only about $1 million. On the other hand, she just may be trying to ensure her name isn't synonymous with "threw the election to President Trump."
What's in it for Clinton: Her campaign's general counsel says they're participating, even though they don't believe there was any tampering which would have changed the election's outcome. "While that effort has not, in our view, resulted in evidence of manipulation of results, now that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported," said Marc Erik Elias. Translation: We didn't have any plans yet for December, so it was either this or working at the
Donald Trump and Barack Obama shared a 45-minute phone call Saturday (although the final 15 minutes was just the two of them saying "You hang up first!" "No, YOU hang up first!") "They get along nicely," Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on NBC's Meet The Press. "They disagree on many things. That's not going to change."
One of the possible points of disagreement: reacting to the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Obama had the unenviable task of eulogizing a man who called him "kind" but "stupid," and ended up with a statement that walked a thin line between Castro supporters and detractors. "We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation," Obama said, pleasing exactly no one.
Trump, meanwhile, had no filter.
Fidel Castro is dead!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2016
In a lengthier statement issued hours after his initial tweet, Trump said, "The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades ... our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty."
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