Three top ethics experts and prominent critics of President Donald Trump on Wednesday formally requested the Senate Ethics Committee investigate whether Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina violated the chamber’s rules in his probe over how mail-in voting was conducted in the 2020 presidential election.
In a letter, Walter Shaub, a former top ethics watchdog for the federal government, Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush’s administration, and Claire Finkelstein, the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law, asked the panel to look into Graham’s call last week with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and whether Graham “suggested” that Raffensperger “disenfranchise Georgia voters by not counting votes lawfully cast for the office of president.”
They also asked the panel to investigate whether Graham “threatened anyone with a Senate investigation of the Georgia vote tally.”
The Senate panel reviews complaints “from virtually any source,” according to its guidelines, but whether it will probe Graham is uncertain. The panel, which is evenly split between three Democrats and three Republicans, acts in secrecy and often offers little more than a slap on the wrist to admonish a senator’s misconduct.
Graham told CNN “no, not at all” on Wednesday when asked if he’s concerned about facing any ethics investigation.
“I get accused of everything, I’m just going to keep being me,” Graham said in the Capitol. “I called up the Secretary of State to find out how you verify a signature and what database you use because I think it’s important that if we’re going to vote by mail, we get it right.”
Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a top Trump ally, has no oversight over election matters, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate Rules Committee, and has faced a barrage of criticism for his interventions in the democratic process.
But he defended his call to Raffensperger, who is currently overseeing the Georgia recount, and has said that he also investigated the voting practices of Arizona and Nevada — two other states that Joe Biden won. Graham has maintained that he’s interested in protecting the integrity of absentee voting and zeroing-in on signature matching, although there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Graham has not looked into states that Trump won. Asked why not, Graham said Wednesday “because they’re not in question. I mean, we’re looking at states where there’s a contest. I’m not looking at states that he lost. I’m looking at states where there’s a challenge.”
Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop also dismissed the ethics complaint, noting that Painter and Shaub are “long-time, frequent and vocal critics of Sen. Graham.”
In the letter, the three ethics experts and Trump critics wrote that if the allegations are true, Graham’s conduct is “an abuse of office” and “unbecoming of a senator,” and claimed that the Ethics committee led by Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford and Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons should “seek an appropriate sanction or any other appropriate remedy.”
“For the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to suggest to a state Secretary of State that he refrain from counting lawful votes threatens the electoral process and damages representative democracy,” they wrote.
Raffensperger said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Monday that Graham had hinted that he should try to discard some ballots in Georgia.
“It was just an implication of, ‘Look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out,'” said Raffensperger.
Georgia election implementation manager Gabriel Sterling, who works for Raffensperger, said on Tuesday that he had participated in the call with Graham on Friday. Sterling said he had heard the senator ask if state officials could throw out all of the absentee ballots where a “percentage” of signatures did not “truly” match.
Graham’s comments “might have gone a little to the edge of” what people deem acceptable, said Sterling. But he added that he understood why Raffensperger and Graham interpreted the conversation differently.
“The President is going to continue to fight; his supporters continue to fight,” Sterling said. “Our job is to continue to follow the law, and we were answering process questions.”
Arizona GOP chair Kelli Ward rejects calls for audit of party elections
Kelli Ward on Friday rejected calls for an audit into her recent reelection as the chair of the Arizona Republican Party and other party races, arguing that the state GOP does not have the structure to review them.
Senate impeachment trial arguments to start February 9
The second Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump is scheduled to begin on February 9 after Senate leaders reached a deal to push it back, giving Trump’s legal team more time to prepare and Senate Democrats a chance to consider Covid-19 legislation and to confirm President Joe Biden’s Cabinet.
‘It will be a full trial’
‘QAnon Shaman’ Jake Angeli charged over pro-Trump riots
A prominent follower of the baseless conspiracy theory QAnon has been charged over the US Capitol riots.
Jacob Anthony Chansley, known as Jake Angeli, is in custody on charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct.
Mr Chansley, who calls himself the QAnon Shaman, is allegedly the man pictured with a painted face, fur hat and horns inside Congress on Wednesday.
Donald Trump faces another impeachment charge for his role in the unrest.
Democrats accuse the president of encouraging the riots, in which five people died.
The FBI has been appealing to the public to help bring the assailants to justice.
Mr Chansley has not commented publicly on the charges.
A statement from the federal attorney for Washington DC said: “It is alleged that Chansley was identified as the man seen in media coverage who entered the Capitol building dressed in horns, a bearskin headdress, red, white and blue face paint, shirtless, and tan pants.
“This individual carried a spear, approximately 6 feet in length, with an American flag tied just below the blade.”
The statement said police had also detained a man from Florida believed to have been photographed carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern from the House of Representatives chamber.
Adam Johnson, 36, is being held on charges including one count of theft of government property and one count of violent entry.
Also among those charged is West Virginia lawmaker, Derrick Evans. He is alleged to have posted a video of himself online, standing outside the building with Trump supporters, and then going inside.
He was arrested on Friday and is also accused of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds, the Department of Justice statement said.
More than a dozen people have now been charged in offences related to the assault on the Capitol building. They include an Alabama man allegedly found with 11 Molotov cocktails near the unrest.
Mr Trump is due to leave office in 11 days. Democrats in the House of Representatives plan to introduce an article of impeachment against him on Monday, for “incitement of insurrection”.
A White House spokesperson said impeaching the president at this late stage would only further divide the country.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55606044
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