Fri. Feb 26th, 2021

By Michael Biesecker And GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – A veteran Republican operative who made his debut in politics helped persuade a judge to throw out hundreds of mail-in ballots and for Democratic-leaning voting to oversee President Donald Trump’s campaign Organized an “army” of volunteers. Areas on Tuesday.

Mike Roman, director of Trump of Election Day operations, is a former White House aide who collected voter fraud claims in 1993, which resulted in the court reversing the election results and sitting his candidate in the Pennsylvania State Senate.

This is a strategy Trump has been advocating on Twitter and on the stump.

For months the president has been trying to reduce the validity of mail-in ballots, a long-standing way of voting that was due to the COVID-19 epidemic this year. Last week, Trump has also suggested that any vote tables are questionable after Election Day, even as his campaign opposes plans by election officials to begin counting mail-in ballots.

Roman, who previously ran secret in-house intelligence units for political networks led by GOP mega-donors Charles and David Koch, claimed the campaign to have 50,000 voters. Many of them registered through the “Trump for the Army” website, which asks their supporters to “enlist” them in their fighting battles. The campaign hired at least 11 battlefields to hire full-time employees, many of whom are young lawyers.

At the press conference, Trump 2020 director Erin Perrine said for the purpose of hiring volunteers, “Our Election Day operations are designed to ensure that everyone who has the opportunity to vote legally has a chance to vote.” Is, once you have the opportunity to vote “. “We all know that Democrats will rely on their old dirty tricks on election day to ensure that President Trump does not win. We cannot allow this to happen. “

The Trump campaign portrays its election day operations efforts given the traditional turnout conducted by both parties. But Democrats and some Republicans who have followed Roman’s political career are concerned that Trump’s team is more interested in extinguishing doubts about the security of the vote.

“Mike Roman has made many unwarranted accusations of fraud and rigging, he has a history and a general reputation that prevents things from anyone, so his presence in any Election Day issues gives me pause,” Rick Hasen, Said a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who studies election law.

Trump 2020 spokesman Thia Macdonald called such a claim “laughable”. He said the campaign’s “rule-following poll watchers” are simply trying to “ensure fair elections”.

Both campaigns have zeroed in on Pennsylvania as a battleground that could decide the election. Speaking about Keystone State on Sunday, Trump said that when election night ends, “We’re going with our lawyers.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate that we have to wait long,” Trump said. “They should have cast their ballot.”

Roman, who declined to comment for this story, has experience describing Trump.

He made his political debut running a ballet security campaign in Philadelphia for Republican Bruce Marks, who campaigned for the Pennsylvania State Senate in 1993 and lost to his Democratic opponent.

As Roman and Marx reported in a June blog post on Marx’s website, control of the Pennsylvania State Senate changed to race, and “the operators of the Democratic machine descended into the district to steal the election.” His legal team later convinced a federal judge that the Latino neighborhood had so many ballots with irregularities that it threw hundreds of ballots, overturning the result and sending Marx to the state Senate seat.

Marx, who has spent his legal career representing wealthy Ukrainian and Russian clients and briefly defending Trump’s 2016 campaign, said Roman’s working-class background gave him a comfortable understanding of ballet-box politics .

Marx said, “He was not some ivy legor with a bow tie, he learned that it was to come up for elections and face voter suppression on the street.” “If there is a problem on election day and even after that, I am ready and willing to help. Mike is a great guy. “

In the 2008 presidential election, Roman made a splash by promoting a video of two members of the New Black Panther Party standing outside a polling place in Philadelphia, one of them holding a Billy Club. While there was no violence, the video was hypnotized by people nationally on the right as evidence of Democratic voter intimidation, while those on the left sought to prevent racial division during the election of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama It was criticized as an attempt.

The New Black Panther tape elevated Roman’s profile within the Republican Party, and he was soon working on the left of Democrats, environmental activists, and others in search of jobs on the Coke Network. The 2014 tax return for the Koch-backed Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce Inc. lists Roman as vice president of research, and says he was paid more than $ 285,000 in annual salaries and benefits.

In 2016, the coaches dissolved the intelligence unit and Roman conducted a pole-watching operation to work for the Trump campaign. After Trump’s win, Roman worked in the office of then-White House attorney Don McGann as director of special projects and research, though it’s not immediately clear what happened in his duties.

Roman left the White House in 2018 and soon returned to Trump’s campaign. There he has led an aggressive effort that did not wait for Election Day to challenge the voting process.

Last month in Pennsylvania, a Trump campaign lawyer presented surveillance photos of three voters who appeared to be submitting more than one ballot in an election drop box. Under state law, voters must return their ballots, unless they are disabled or otherwise unable to do so for themselves. However, election officials said the Trump campaign produced insufficient evidence to prove voters in the photo were in violation of the law.

The Pennsylvania complaint appears to be part of a broader national strategy by Trump and his allies to challenge allegations of voter fraud in areas with high rates of registered Democrats and ballots.

In Texas, Republicans sought to toss nearly 127,000 votes cast from the drive-through lane in Harris County’s Democratic stronghold, including Houston. Both the GOP-dominated Texas Supreme Court and a federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush claimed that drive-through voting is illegal.

And some Democrats and election watchers also worry that Trump aides may want to scare voters for elections.

In Minnesota last week, the head of the Minneapolis Police Union sent an email to search for 20 to 30 retired officers to help serve as “pole challengers” present in the city’s “problem” areas. The message was signed by William Willingham, whose email signature identified him as a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign and state director of election day operations.

“Poll Challengers do not deter people ‘per second’, but act as our eyes and ears in the field and call our hotline for document fraud,” the email said, a copy of which was obtained, but Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We don’t necessarily want our poll challengers to look intimidating, they can’t carry weapons in elections because of state law. … We just want people who won’t fear rough neighborhoods or intimidating situations . “

The Trump campaign later tried to distance itself from requests for retired police, but the email reinforced fears among the voting right that the Trump campaign might revive old voter-suppression tactics.

In 1981, the Democratic Party sued the Republican Party after a disputed state election in New Jersey, where GOP officers hired off-duty police officers to patrol black and latino areas that read “National Ballot Security Task Force” Was hired. Without acknowledging any wrongdoing, the Republican Party agreed to a national consent decree the following year to abandon such tactics. However, at the behest of the GOP, a federal judge allowed that agreement to be concluded in 2017.

In August, Trump himself suggested that his campaign could send law enforcement officers to polling places.

Trump said during an interview, “We’re going to do sheriffs, and we’re going to enforce the law, and we’re going to, hopefully, American lawyers, and we’re going to everybody and the lawyer generals . ” With Sean Hannity on Fox News.

Federal law prohibits bullying in elections and makes it illegal for any federal official to order “soldiers or armed men” at polling sites, unless required to “repel armed enemies of the United States” Ho. But such statements by the president have raised concerns among voting-rights advocates that some Trump supporters may take it upon themselves to show outside polling spots in military-style gear with semi-automatic weapons branding.

Reed Galen, a veteran political consultant who worked for John McCain’s presidential bid before leaving the GOP after Trump’s nomination, said he would be in Philadelphia after hearing about his reputation as a local operative for Trump’s election day operations Were concerned about Roman’s involvement with.

“Here you have an army for Trump that can be official, enrolling people through a texting mechanism, but tens of thousands of people can take their own initiative” and get violent, Galen said.

“This is what this man does and this is bad news,” he said.

Burke reported from San Francisco. Associated Press writers Juliet Linderman in Baltimore, Jason Dearn in New York and Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz, California contributed to this report.

Follow Associated Press investigative reporters Michael Beisker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck and Garens Burke at http://twitter.com/garanceburke

Contact AP’s global investigative team at investigative@ap.org

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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