Federal Judge Will Decide By Saturday If RNC Violated Consent Decree

J. Scott Applewhite

The federal judge presiding over a case alleging that the Republican National Committee was illegally engaging in so-called "ballot security" activities said Friday that he intended to decide whether to issue an order against the RNC by Saturday if not sooner, according to the initial reports of the Friday morning hearing.

U.S. District Court John Michael Vazquez expressed skepticism toward the arguments made by the Democratic National Committee that the RNC had violated a decades-old consent decree limiting its involvement in elections monitoring, according to reports by Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal and NorthJersey.com. However, he had some pointed questions for the Republican lawyers as well, who have argued that the RNC complied with the decree, and that it shouldn't be punished for the actions or rhetoric of the Donald Trump campaign.

"Is the DNC really contending the RNC really has control over Donald Trump? That would be a news flash,” GOP lawyer Bobby Birchfield said when the judge asked whether Trump should be treated as an "agent" of the RNC, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Democrats have zeroed in on comments made by Trump campaign officials, including his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (IN-R) and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, suggesting that the RNC was assisting in its efforts to prevent voter fraud. Conway and Pence both said their comments were mistaken in court documents filed by the RNC.

“How many times can people make mistakes before you say, maybe they’re not mistakes?” Judge Vazquez asked at the hearing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The judge also, however, seemed unsure what effect an injunction on the RNC's activities would have, according to the Wall Street Journal, given that the RNC has said it has found no evidence of any collaboration with the Trump campaign on ballot security activities.

“We have turned over every stone in the last week, through all levels of the Republican parties, to confirm there is no violation here,” Mr. Burchfield said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.
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