Clinton camp splits from White House on Jill Stein recount push

Attorney says each vote must be counted while White House says election free and fair, as Trump calls Green candidates effort a scam to fill her coffers with money

Hillary Clintons presidential campaign said on Saturday it would help with efforts to secure recounts in several states, even as the White House defended the declared results as the will of the American people.

The campaigns general counsel, Marc Elias, said in an online post that while it had found no evidence of sabotage, the campaign felt an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton.

We certainly understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton, Elias wrote, and it is a fundamental principle of our democracy to ensure that every vote is properly counted.

In response, President-elect Donald Trump said in a statement: The people have spoken and the election is over, and as Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, We must accept this result and then look to the future.

Wisconsin began recount proceedings late on Friday after receiving a petition from Jill Stein, the Green party candidate. Stein claims there are irregularities in results reported by Wisconsin as well as Michigan and Pennsylvania, where she plans to request recounts next week, having raised millions of dollars from supporters.

Trump called Steins effort a scam and said it was just a way to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount.

The results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, he added, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing.

A spokeswoman for Stein did not respond to a request for comment. Speaking to CNN, however, Stein said she had no contact with the Clinton campaign and added: I have said consistently that if there are questions about the accuracy and security I would challenge it, no matter who was the winner.

Asked what the recount would do for her or for the Green party, Stein said: We want to know what our vote is, and that our votes are being counted. This is not a partisan effort but we need to have confidence, too.

When evidence emerged the system was being hacked all over the place, my conviction only strengthened that this was something we have to do.

She did not discuss any such evidence for her claims. Earlier in the afternoon, she had used Twitter to say: Election integrity cannot be led by a party w/o integrity, just as a revolution cannot happen in a counterrevolutionary party.

Trump narrowly defeated Clinton in all three states on his way to national victory, surprising pollsters. Because Trumps win followed warnings from US intelligence that Russia was trying to interfere with the election, thousands of people who opposed Trump now claim he could have had foreign assistance.

In its first public remarks about the elections security, the Obama administration said it did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber-activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day.

A senior administration official told the Guardian: We believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.

Steins petition to Wisconsin, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian, focused on concerns that foreign actors might have copied the states voter registration database and then filed bogus absentee ballots. No direct evidence supporting this claim was cited.

In requesting the recounts, Stein is acting on behalf of a loose coalition of academics and election experts. Her Wisconsin petition features an affidavit by J Alex Halderman, the director of Michigan Universitys Center for Computer Security and Society, who has for years detailed vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines used in the US.

One of the leaders of the coalition, John Bonifaz, founder of the National Voting Rights Institute, expressed frustration that critics were accusing Stein of exploiting disappointment over the election result to collect money and gather contact details from liberal activists.

This was all driven by the nonpartisan election integrity community, said Bonifaz, a constitutional attorney, in his first interview about the recount effort. Im the one who asked Jill Stein to file these petitions.

Bonifaz also defended Steins decision to increase her fundraising target from its original $2.5m, which led to more criticism. Bonifaz said the coalition had retained the New York law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, which has extensive experience in election disputes and had advised them to budget $7m for the effort.

This is going to be a very costly campaign, said Bonifaz, adding that the average contribution from the tens of thousands of supporters who had donated was about $42. But it is something that a lot of people clearly want.

By Saturday afternoon, the online fundraising effort had reached $5.8m.

In addition to lawyers fees and state filing fees, the group is anticipating that litigation will be needed against opposition to recounts. Michigans election rules allow a candidate to oppose a request from another for a recount, but it is unclear whether the Trump campaign would decide to take advantage of this.

Read more: www.theguardian.com