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Aides: Critics trying to use Electoral College to de-legitimize Trump

Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa’s Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. Scott Olson, Getty Images

December 18, 2016

WASHINGTON — Aides to President-elect Donald Trump accused their critics Sunday of trying to use the upcoming Electoral College vote as part of an effort to de-legitimize the president-elect’s victory.

“The whole thing is a spin job,” incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told Fox News Sunday. “And I think what the Democrats ought to do is look in the mirror and face the reality that they lost the election.”

Citing attempted recounts in key states as well as efforts to get Trump electors to vote for someone else, Priebus said anti-Trump political groups are “doing everything they can to de-legitimize the outcome of the election … Nothing is going to change.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, speaking on CBS’ Face The Nation, denounced the “nonsense” surrounding Monday’s vote of the Electoral College, and said those who are urging electors to vote against Trump are undermining a democratic election.

Priebus and Conway, like Trump himself, also continued to dispute the conclusion of intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in an effort to help Trump win, a cyber attack project probably approved by President Vladimir Putin.

Different agencies are saying different things about the plot, Priebus said, and there is no evidence Russian activity changed the results of the election.

Members of the Electoral College and others —  all but one of them Democrats — are calling for at least a delay of Monday’s vote, citing reports that Russia intervened in the election by hacking the emails of Democrat officials. A group of electors have requested a classified briefing on the Russia allegations before the Electoral College vote, though there is no sign there will be a delay.

“This is about protecting democracy,” said Rhode Island Democrat elector Clay Pell, also speaking on Fox News Sunday.

Pell added, though: “Donald Trump will be re-elected as president tomorrow.”

A coalition of outside groups are financing a half-a-million ad buy over the weekend, seeking to pressure Republican electors to vote for someone other than Trump. Some are not urging a vote for Clinton, but another Republican like Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

An organization called Hamilton Electors said in a statement Sunday it wants college members “to either vote for an alternative Republican candidate or abstain from voting” in order to send the vote to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Thanks to victories in once-Democrat-leaning states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Trump racked up 306 electoral voters, well over the 270 majority needed to win. While critics are trying to get electors to change their votes, some states forbid the practice of “faithless electors.”

Should Trump somehow fail to get 270 electoral majority, the decision would then go to the House of Representatives — which has a Republican majority.

Some groups, upset that Clinton didn’t win, are pushing for a delay of the Electoral College vote by suggesting some kind of link between the Russian hacking and the Trump campaign, a claim the Trump camp has angrily denied.

“Even this question is insane,” Priebus told Fox News Sunday. “Of course, we didn’t interface with the Russians.”