RNC: We Swear We’re Not Helping Trump Camp With Poll Watcher Effort

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The Republican National Committee assured a federal court Wednesday that it has not engaged in illegal elections monitoring activities, in connection with Donald Trump’s calls for vigilante poll watchers. The RNC said that it had interviewed Trump surrogates, namely his campaign manager and his VP pick, who had said publicly that the RNC was assisting their anti-voter fraud efforts, and both confirmed that their comments were misinformed, according to the court documents.

In a new filing with a federal court in New Jersey, the RNC produced evidence that basically suggested that the Trump campaign had no idea what it was talking about when it said the RNC was helping it with ballot security.

The filings came in a legal action mounted by the Democratic National Committee accusing the RNC of violating a consent decree from the 1980s limiting its participation in so-called “ballot security” activities.

In the new court filing, in accordance with a court order, the RNC provided evidence that it said showed that the DNC’s allegations were “mistaken.”

In their motion last week, the DNC had pointed to comments made by Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), Trump’s running mate, in August suggesting that the RNC was helping with the campaign’s “ballot integrity” initiatives. The RNC said Wednesday that its chief counsel John R. Phillippe Jr. had interviewed Pence, and that Pence “confirmed that he made the statement based on his incorrect assumptions, and that he has had no contact with the RNC about any ballot integrity program and has no basis to believe that the RNC is working with the Trump campaign on such efforts.”

Likewise, the RNC interviewed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway about comments she made to a Washington Post reporter in October that the campaign was working with the RNC on its efforts to prevent voter fraud. As TPM reported last month, Conway later recanted the remark to the Post, a point the RNC reiterated in its filing Wednesday.

Conway said she “has no knowledge of, and knows of no acts indicating, the RNC’s involvement in any poll monitoring activities in any state,” according to the filing.

The court documents also included affidavits from two state Republican Party officials, both also members of the RNC, who had been cited by in DNC motion for comments to the press about their plans to take on ballot security initiatives.

The leaders, Michigan GOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Pennsylvania GOP Chair Robert A. Gleason, both said that their comments reflected their roles as state party members, and that they were not receiving assistance from the RNC.

In the affidavit provided by Phillippe, the RNC general counsel, he said that spoke to everyone at the committee who would have had the authority to approve of any agreement between the committee and the Trump campaign, and none had reason to believe that the RNC had agreed to assist with Trump’s elections monitoring activities. He also spoke to the regional political directors, and they denied any knowledge of such agreements as well, according to the court docs.

He even had his staff review the files of digital and hard copies of RNC agreements with the Trump camp, and found no agreements concerning the kind of activities prohibited by the consent decree, according to his affidavit.

Additionally, he talked to Trump campaign general counsel Donald McGahn over the phone, and McGahn said he wasn’t aware of any agreement beyond their oral agreement that the RNC would not be involved in any ballot security efforts, according to the docs.

Read the filing below:

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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