Biden warns GOP could set nation on ‘path to chaos’ as democratic system faces strain

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Signs of stress in the nation’s democratic system mounted Wednesday with less than a week to go before the midterm elections, as President Biden warned that candidates who refuse to accept Tuesday’s results could set the nation on a “path to chaos.”

Biden’s scathing assessment in a speech Wednesday evening comes as the FBI and other agencies predict that threats of violence from domestic extremists are likely to increase after the election. In Arizona, voters have complained about threats from self-appointed drop-box monitors — some of whom are armed — prompting a federal judge to set strict new limits. And the GOP has stepped up litigation in multiple states in an effort to toss out some ballots and expand access to partisan poll watchers.

Speaking in Washington’s Union Station – the steps of the US Capitol attacked by pro-Trump mobs in the wake of the nation’s last major election – Biden warned of an ongoing assault on American democracy. President A growing number of leading Republican candidates said they could follow in former President Donald Trump’s footsteps and refuse to concede if he loses.

“It’s unprecedented. It’s illegal. And it’s not American,” Biden said. “As I’ve said before, you can’t love your country only when you win.”

A majority of GOP nominees deny or question the 2020 election results

The virtually unprecedented presidential message — an appeal to Americans to embrace the core principles of their democracy — has millions of voters already casting their ballots or planning to go to the polls on Election Day, and some election officials are confident the system will hold.

Biden spoke days after an assailant armed with a hammer broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and beat her 82-year-old husband, Paul, according to police and prosecutors. Biden opened up about the horrific attack early Friday morning.

“We must, with one overwhelming unified voice, speak as a country and say there is no place, no place for voter intimidation or political violence in America, whether it’s targeting Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “No place, period. No place, ever. “

Last week, multiple government agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, issued a memo warning that threats from domestic violent extremists could increase in the 90 days after the election, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Washington. Post it.

The memo listed possible scenarios that could trigger more violence, including “real or perceived attempts to suppress access to voting.”

“After the 2022 midterm elections, perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with election results may lead to threats of violence against a wide range of targets, such as ideological opponents and election activists,” the memo read.

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Election officials said they did not know what to expect, given promises by various Trump-backed organizations to flood polls and counting centers with partisan observers. Trump allies have often urged his supporters to file challenges, a move officials say could disrupt the process.

Biden has spoken more forcefully in recent months about the threats Republicans pose to democracy. While he began to refer to “MAGA Republicans” in the spring — a moniker he uses to distinguish himself from more traditional conservatives with Trump — Biden addressed the issue in unusually blunt terms at a fundraiser in late August, warning that the GOP is headed toward “Semi-fascism.”

On Wednesday night, Biden invoked the threat to democracy two years ago as part of an ongoing assault by Trump and the Republican Party he still leads. The pro-Trump faction of the party, “is trying to succeed in 2020 where he failed: to suppress voter rights and destroy the electoral system.”

Before Biden spoke Wednesday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel called his words “desperate and dishonest.”

“Joe Biden promised unity but has instead demonized and smeared Americans, while making life more expensive for everyone,” McDaniel said. “While Republicans are focused on the issues most important to voters, Biden and Democrats are floundering.”

Wednesday evening’s speech was Biden’s direct address to the threats facing the American democratic system since Sept. 1, when he spoke outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and warned that “what is happening in our country today is not normal.”

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundation of our republic,” he said.

Shortly after Biden’s Philadelphia speech, top White House officials began talking about giving another similar speech on threats to democracy, according to a person familiar with the plan who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

Biden’s speech Wednesday has been in the works for several weeks, the person said. But the opening was rewritten to convey an attack on Paul Pelosi. Biden also offered to mention Republicans who have been targeted by election threats and violence, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Biden urged voters to be patient after the election, saying the rules for counting votes meant some results were not immediately clear.

“In a democracy it is always important for citizens to be informed and engaged,” he said. “Now it’s important for citizens to be patient as well.”

And he urged citizens on Tuesday to take the future of democracy into account when making their choices, saying they should vote “knowing what we’re risking.”

“In our bones, we know that democracy is at stake,” he said. “We know this too: it is within our power, each of us, to preserve our democracy.”

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Unlike their Democratic counterparts, many Republicans locked in key races across the country declined to say whether they would accept the results of Tuesday’s election.

“We’ll see what happens,” said Republican Sen. Ron Johnson told reporters in Wisconsin on Tuesday. He is in a tight race with Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes for his state’s lieutenant governor. “I mean, is anything going to happen on Election Day? Do the Democrats have something up their sleeve?”

The president’s speech helped underscore concerns over whether next week’s elections will go smoothly and whether the results will be widely accepted as legitimate, developments in the courtroom and beyond.

The Department of Justice said multiple divisions of the sprawling law enforcement agency work to ensure the safe and smooth running of the voting process across the country.

The department’s Civil Rights Division, which is charged with enforcing laws related to voting rights, said it will monitor the voting process across the country to ensure jurisdictions follow federal voting laws. The department has not said how many people it will send or where they will be sent. On Election Day 2020, it sent monitors to 44 jurisdictions, including Gwinnett County in Georgia, Broward County in Florida, and Fairfax County in Virginia.

Already, the department is weighing in on an Arizona election lawsuit that supports a claim by the League of Women Voters of Arizona that monitoring ballot drop boxes, including filming voters depositing their ballots, could lead to illegal voter intimidation.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi, appointed to the bench by Trump, issued a far-reaching order restricting what Arizona group Clean Elections USA or its allies can do or say near ballot boxes. The ruling also prevents drop-box watchers from taking photos or videos of voters and using the material to spread baseless allegations of electoral fraud. Clean Elections USA is among the groups echoing claims that “ballot smugglers” illegally deposited many ballots into drop boxes ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Bill Gates, chairman of the board of governors that oversees Arizona’s Maricopa County, home to most voters, said “the rest of the world” will watch how America conducts its elections as truth and disinformation collide.

“There is a real concern that something is wrong in our democratic republic … and Arizona … and Maricopa County is a place where this kind of battle is taking place,” said Gates, a Republican.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court told counties not to count mail-in ballots without handwritten dates but left unanswered key legal questions about the issue, including how it will be resolved if the top race is tight in a critical state. GOP voters, as well as state and national parties, sued over the issue, arguing that state law required all ballots that lacked or were dated to be invalid.

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Attorneys for Leigh M. Chapman, the top state elections official in the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf (D), argued that multiple courts had previously ruled that undated ballots should be counted and that counties had no way to determine the date. “Not accurate” on the mail envelope. A decision not to count those votes would sow confusion and disenfranchise legitimate voters, he argued.

The case is part of a flood of lawsuits already filed targeting election practices, with court action likely to increase if key races close after Election Day. The RNC said it is involved in lawsuits in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin to expand access to partisan poll watchers and challengers.

A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday ordered the city clerk in Green Bay to give more access to election observers, after a group of observers sued that they can’t observe all aspects of early voting. City officials said they are making more areas available for viewing in response to the lawsuit. The RNC hailed the ruling as a victory for transparency.

How votes are cast and counted is largely determined in courtrooms

Democrats could challenge the GOP’s actions in court, extending the election process for days after Tuesday’s vote. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, told reporters on his campaign bus in Pittsburgh on Tuesday that he would use the courts if necessary to protect the vote.

“If there’s a legal process that we need to go through, I’m confident that the will of the people will be respected,” said state Sen., a prominent proponent of false claims. said Shapiro, who is running against Doug Mastriano (R). 2020 election is stolen.

Mastriano was one of a dozen Republican candidates in competitive races for governor and Senate who declined to say whether they would accept the results of their contests in a September poll by The Washington Post.

In Wisconsin, Republican gubernatorial nominee Tim Michaels signaled at a campaign stop Monday that his election would result in permanent GOP control of the state.

“The Republicans won’t lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor,” Michaels said.

Michaels is locked in a tight race with Gov. Tony Evers (D). A five-second clip of Michaels saying that if he wins, Republicans won’t lose another election Posted on Twitter From the liberal group American Bridge.

His spokeswoman later said only that he would do a good job and that voters would reward his party, but Democrats feared he was hinting at an overhaul of how he would handle state elections.

Emma Brown, Amy Gardner, Colby Itkowitz, Annie Lynskey, Patrick Marley, Yvonne Winget Sanchez, Maria Sacchetti and Annabelle Timsitt contributed to this report.


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