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


With the midterm elections less than a week away, U.S. democracy showed signs of strain on Wednesday, with President Biden warning that candidates who reject Tuesday’s results could set the country down a “path of chaos.”

Biden made a grim assessment in a speech Wednesday night, while the FBI and other agencies predicted the threat of violence from domestic extremists could increase after the election. In Arizona, voters complained of intimidation by self-appointed drop-box supervisors, some of whom were armed, prompting a federal judge to set tough new limits. Republicans have stepped up litigation in multiple states in an effort to cast some votes and expand access for partisan poll watchers.

Biden speaks at Union Station in Washington — just steps from the U.S. Capitol, which was attacked by pro-Trump thugs after the last U.S. election — Biden warns that American democracy is under attack .president A growing number of leading Republican candidates say they may follow in the footsteps of former President Donald Trump and refuse to budge if they lose.

“This is unprecedented. This is illegal. This is un-American,” Biden said. “As I said before, you can only love your country if you win.”

Most GOP nominees deny or question 2020 election results

The almost unprecedented presidential message — calling on Americans to embrace the basic tenets of their democracy — comes as millions of voters have already voted or plan to vote on Election Day, and some election officials have expressed confidence that the system will hold.

Days earlier, an attacker armed with a hammer broke into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in San Francisco and attacked her 82-year-old husband, Paul, Biden, according to police and prosecutors. give a speech. Biden first spoke about the gruesome attack on Friday morning.

“We have to speak with one overwhelmingly unified voice, as a nation, that there is no place in America, no place for voter intimidation or political violence, whether it’s against Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “There is no place, period. There is never a place.”

Last week, multiple government agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, issued a memo warning of the threat posed by violent domestic extremists in the 90 days after the election, according to a copy of the document obtained by Washington. may increase. postal.

The memo listed possible scenarios that could spark more violence, including “actual or perceived efforts to suppress voting rights.”

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

Election officials said they were less sure what to expect, as various Trump-backed groups have pledged to flood polling and counting booths with partisan observers. Trump’s allies have urged his supporters to raise frequent challenges, which officials say could derail the process.

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In recent months, Biden has spoken more forcefully about the threat Republicans pose to democracy. While he began alluding to “MAGA Republicans” in the spring — a moniker he used to distinguish between those Trump-aligned with more traditional conservatives — Biden opened the door to a fundraiser in late August. The unusually blunt language addresses the issue, warning that the GOP is heading for “half-fascism.”

Biden put democracy at risk on Wednesday night as part of an ongoing attack two years ago by Trump and the Republican Party he still leads. He said the party’s pro-Trump faction “is trying to succeed where it failed in 2020: suppressing voter rights and subverting the electoral system itself.”

Even before Biden spoke on Wednesday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released a statement calling his words “desperate and dishonest.”

“Joe Biden promises unity, yet demonizes and discredits Americans while making life more expensive for all,” McDaniel said. “While Republicans remain focused on the issues that matter most to voters, Biden and Democrats are on the back foot.”

Wednesday night’s speech was Biden’s most direct since Sept. 1 about threats to the American democratic system, when he spoke outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia and warned that “too much of what’s happening in our country today is inappropriate.” normal”.

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

Shortly after Biden’s speech in Philadelphia, senior White House officials began talking about another similar speech about the threat to democracy, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named.

Biden’s speech on Wednesday had been in the works for several weeks, the person said. But the opening was rewritten to address the attack on Paul Pelosi. Biden also singled out Republicans who have suffered election threats and violence, including former Vice President Mike Pence and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Finsberg.

Biden urged voters to be patient after the election, noting that voting rules meant some results might not be immediately clear.

“It has always been important for citizens of democracies to be informed and engaged,” he said. “It’s also important for citizens to be patient now.”

He urged citizens to consider the future of democracy when making their choices on Tuesday, saying they should vote “to know what we have the potential to be.”

“In our bones, we know that democracy is at risk,” he said. “We know this too: each of us does what we can to preserve our democracy.”

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Unlike their Democratic counterparts, many Republicans nationally targeting key races declined to say whether they would accept Tuesday’s election results.

“We’ll see what happens,” Republican Sen. Ron Johnson told reporters in Wisconsin on Tuesday. He is in a tight race against Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes, who is his state’s lieutenant governor. “I mean, what’s going to happen on Election Day? Are the Democrats on the sidelines?”

The president’s remarks came as developments in and out of the courtroom underscored concerns over whether next week’s elections will go smoothly and whether the results will be widely accepted as legitimate.

The Justice Department said multiple branches of the sprawling law enforcement agency will work to ensure the voting process runs safely and smoothly across the country.

The department’s civil rights division, which enforces voting rights-related laws, said it will oversee the voting process across the country to ensure jurisdictions comply with federal voting laws. The department has not said how many people will be sent or where they will be sent. On Election Day 2020, it dispatched ombudsmen to 44 jurisdictions, including Gwinnett County, Georgia, Broward County, Florida, and Fairfax County, Virginia.

The department has intervened in an Arizona election lawsuit, backing a claim by the Arizona League of Women Voters that monitoring ballot drop boxes, including filming votes cast, could constitute unlawful voter intimidation.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Michael Liberty, who was appointed by Trump to the bench, agreed to issue a far-reaching order limiting what the Arizona Clean Elections group or its allies can do or say near the ballot box. The ruling prevents dropbox watchers from taking photos or videos of voters and using the material to spread baseless allegations of election fraud. Clean Elections USA has been among the groups backing the claim that “ballot smugglers” illegally put multiple ballots into drop boxes ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Bill Gates, chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Management, which oversees the majority of Arizona voters, said the “rest of the world” will be watching how America conducts elections when truth and misinformation collide.

“What’s really concerning is that our Democratic Republic … and Arizona … and Maricopa County are where this kind of fighting takes place,” said Gates, a Republican.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court told counties not to count mail-in ballots without handwritten dates, but did not answer key legal questions about the issue, including how it would be resolved if top races in key states were tight. Republican voters and state and national parties have filed lawsuits over the issue, arguing that state law requires all ballots with missing or inaccurate dates to be considered invalid.

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Attorneys for Leigh M. Chapman, the top state election 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 could not determine whether the date was what was on the mail envelope. is “inaccurate”. They argue that the decision not to count those votes would create confusion and disenfranchise legitimate voters.

The case is part of a raft of lawsuits already filed against election practices, and court proceedings could soar after Election Day if the key race draws to a close. The RNC said it participated in lawsuits in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin to expand access for partisan poll watchers and challengers.

On Wednesday, a judge in Wisconsin ordered a city employee in Green Bay to give poll watchers more access, a day after a group of watchers filed a lawsuit claiming they were unable to observe all aspects of early voting. City officials said they are providing more areas to observe for the lawsuit. The RNC hailed the ruling as a victory for transparency.

How votes are voted and counted is increasingly being decided in court

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

“I believe that if we need to go through a legal process, the will of the people will be respected,” said Shapiro, who is campaigning against state Sen. Doug Mastriano, right, who falsely claimed main supporter. The 2020 election was stolen.

Mastriano was one of more than a dozen Republican candidates running for governor and the Senate in a September investigation by The Washington Post who declined to say whether they would accept the results.

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

“Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor,” Michels said.

Michels is locked in a tight race with Gov. Tony Evers (D).Five-second clip of Michels saying Republicans will never lose another election if he wins post on twitter By the liberal group American Bridge.

His spokesman later said he just meant he would do a good job and voters would reward his party, but Democrats were concerned he was hinting at an overhaul of how state elections are managed.

Emma Brown, Amy Gardner, Colby Itkowitz, Annie Lynskey, Patrick Marley, Yvonne Wengert Sanchez, Maria Sacketti and Anna Bell Timsit contributed to this report.


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