Friday 9 December 2016

Wisconsin to recount US election as Trump shapes his White House team

Steve Peoples and Todd Richmond

Published 26/11/2016 | 09:46

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade blows at a TV debate, as Wisconsin announced it will recount the votes cast in the presidential election (AP)
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton trade blows at a TV debate, as Wisconsin announced it will recount the votes cast in the presidential election (AP)

There will be a recount of the US presidential vote in Wisconsin as failed Green Party candidate Jill Stein stepped up her bid to force two other key Midwestern battlegrounds, Michigan and Pennsylvania, to do the same.

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In a move that could complicate President-elect Donald Trump's push for national unity as he continues to shape his White House team, Ms Stein formally requested a Wisconsin recount on Friday, and vowed to do the same in the coming days in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Wisconsin officials confirmed on Friday evening they would move forward with the first presidential recount in state history.

Ms Stein gained little more than 1% of the national vote, and there is no evidence of election tampering in the states where Mr Trump scored razor-thin victories.

But Party spokesman George Martin insisted "the American public needs to have it investigated to make sure our votes count".

He said: "We're doing this to ensure the integrity of our system."

Mr Trump's team ignored questions about the looming recounts.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton leads the national popular vote by close to two million votes. Mr Trump scored narrow victories in key battleground states, however, giving him the necessary 270 electoral votes to assume the presidency.

He won in Pennsylvania, and in Wisconsin, breaking a Democratic winning streak dating back 32 years. He holds a slim lead in Michigan, where a Republican presidential candidate had not won since 1988; The Associated Press still has not officially called that race.

Wisconsin, where Mr Trump leads by little more than 22,000 votes, will conduct an unprecedented presidential recount, state administrator Michael Haas announced, citing requests by Ms Stein and independent candidate Rocky De La Fuente.

"The commission is preparing to move forward with a state-wide recount of votes for president of the United States, as requested by these candidates," Mr Haas said, noting that the recount is expected to be completed by the December 13 federal deadline.

In Michigan, Mr Trump's 10,704-vote lead is expected to be certified by the state elections board on Monday. The deadline to ask for a recount is Wednesday.

A state-wide recount would cost Ms Stein roughly 790,000 dollars (£63,316), said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for the Michigan secretary of state. An opposing candidate would have seven days to file objections to the recount petition, after which the board would schedule a public hearing and later issue a ruling on the objections.

Mr Trump's transition team indicated he was in Florida focused on the challenges of governing.

He has gathered with family at his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach estate for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and made two senior-level staff appointments and scheduled meetings with several more prospective administration officials.

He chose Fox News analyst Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland to serve as deputy national security adviser and lawyer Donald McGahn as White House counsel.

Mr Trump cited Ms McFarland's "tremendous experience and innate talent" and said Mr McGhan "has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law".

Having faced criticism about the inexperience of his initial picks, Mr Trump finds in Ms McFarland someone who previously worked under three presidents, although none since Ronald Reagan.

Mr McGahn, a veteran Republican election lawyer, served as Mr Trump's lawyer during the campaign.

Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer said the president-elect scheduled meetings on Monday with eight more prospective administration hires.

They include several business leaders, Pennsylvania Republican Lou Barletta, and David Clarke, the Wisconsin sheriff who is an aggressive opponent of the Black Lives Matter movement.

There were also signs of internal discord within the president-elect's small inner circle as Mr Trump considered his choices for secretary of state, the most important role.

The options include former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who lacks foreign policy experience but is intensely loyal to Mr Trump, and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who aggressively opposed the tycoon's candidacy but is regarded as more qualified.

Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway took the unusual step of shining light on the controversy over the Thanksgiving holiday, tweeting that she had been "receiving a deluge of social media & private concerns re: Romney Some Trump loyalists warn against Romney as sec of state".

Since arriving in Palm Beach on Wednesday, the president-elect has spoken to the prime ministers of Greece, Hungary and Sweden, along with the presidents of Panama and Slovenia.

He is expected to return to his New York City home on Sunday.

Press Association

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