Trump calls Stein recount effort a ‘scam’

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday blasted Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s attempt to launch recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, calling the efforts a “scam” and attempt by Stein “to fill her coffers” with donations to fund a challenge of the Nov. 8 election results.

“This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than one percent of the vote overall and wasn’t even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount,” Trump said Saturday in a statement. “All three states were won by large numbers of voters, especially Pennsylvania, which was won by more than 70,000 votes.”

Trump narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by 10,704 in Michigan. Approximately 84,290 voters did not vote in the presidential contest but cast ballots in other races, according to unofficial results.

As of Saturday afternoon, Stein had raised $5.84 million of a $7 million goal for funding recount challenges in the three states. A recount in Michigan would cost Stein about $790,000, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Stein’s campaign manager has said any donations not used for the recount efforts will be directed toward building the Green Party’s base of candidates for public office.

"This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing,” Trump said.

Stein, who won just 1.1 percent of Michigan’s vote, can’t formally request a recount in Michigan until after the Board of State Canvassers certifies results from the state’s 83 counties on Monday afternoon. Stein’s campaign would then have about 48 hours to decide by Wednesday to exercise her right to pay for a statewide recount.

Stein said Friday in a Facebook video that she’s initiating the Wisconsin recount because of concerns about hacking into voting machines and tampering with the results.

“The state of Michigan has some red flags in that there’s an extremely high level of blank votes — far higher than anything historically in the state — basically way out of proportion. And that has been a red flag as well,” Stein said.

Stein faces a Monday deadline for seeking a recount in Pennsylvania. Wisconsin’s election commission agreed Friday to recount that state’s vote, which shows Trump winning by about 27,000 votes.

All three states were critical to Trump’s Electoral College victory over Clinton, who won the national popular vote by 2.2 million votes.

Clinton’s campaign lawyer announced plans to participate in vote recounts of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan if they take place, yet doesn’t expect to overturn the election of Donald Trump as president.

If Green Party candidate Jill Stein initiates recounts in all of those states as she intends, the Clinton campaign “will participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides,” lawyer Mark Elias said Saturday in a post on the blogging website

The Democrat’s campaign didn’t plan to initiate recounts on its own because it hasn’t found “any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology,” Elias wrote.

Elias also isn’t expecting the recounts to erase what he said was a 107,000 combined vote margin separating the candidates in the three battleground states and overturning the election of Trump, who is due to be sworn in as president in January.

“We do so fully aware that the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan — well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount,“ Elias said. “But regardless of the potential to change the outcome in any of the states, we feel it is important, on principle, to ensure our campaign is legally represented in any court proceedings and represented on the ground in order to monitor the recount process itself.”

Elias said there also is an obligation to the voters now that a recount is planned in Wisconsin and potentially the other two states.

“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," Elias said.

Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, said Saturday the state GOP will work with the Republican National Committee to recruit and train volunteers to monitor a statewide recount.

"We are confident that the results will uphold what Michigan voters decided on Election Day: Donald Trump won Michigan and is the President-elect of the United States," McDaniel said in a statement.

Bloomberg news service contributed.