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Florida 2000 recount ‘brawl’ evokes new election fears in HBO film

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Florida's aborted 2000 recount of some 10,000 ballots could have handed the election to Democratic nominee Al Gore STAN HONDA AFP/File

Two weeks after a knife-edge election, an angry mob claiming a “coup” storms a building to intimidate local officials as they count the final few ballots that will determine the next president of the United States.

This scene from a new HBO movie is not a prediction of what could follow President Donald Trump’s re-election bid next month, but a re-telling of actual events that followed Florida’s bitterly contested 2000 vote.

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The documentary “537 Votes,” out Wednesday, recalls how pro-Republican protesters stormed Miami’s government center to rage against an ongoing manual recount of some 10,000 ballots that could have handed the election to Democratic candidate Al Gore.

Soon after, the tally was halted, and ultimately George W. Bush won Florida and thus the presidency — a chain of events the film’s director believes could be mirrored on a much broader scale next month.

“There’s no telling how many scenes like Miami-Dade, and how many states like Florida circa 2000 we might see,” Billy Corben told AFP.

“That’s the truly frightening prospect.”

Analysts say a mail-in voting surge due to Covid-19 could delay the confirmation of next month’s winner, with the Transition Integrity Project warning of a possible period of legal and political “chaos” exploitable by both parties.

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Trump has prepared the ground should he challenge next month’s results, frequently claiming Democrats will hijack tens of millions of mailed-in ballots — despite no past evidence of widespread irregularities.

He has refused to declare he will accept the election results, and called on supporters to attend polling stations and “protect” ballots, raising fears of clashes if the race turns out to be very close.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has sought to reassure voters that “the winner… will be inaugurated on January 20th.”

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But “537 Votes” interviews officials from both sides in 2000 — including Roger Stone, the Republican operative who later steered part of Trump’s first campaign — who see things less optimistically.

“The recount in Florida was a street brawl for the presidency of the United States,” says Stone, speaking to filmmakers last year before his conviction for federal crimes later pardoned by Trump.

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“Overheated rhetoric” by Miami protesters accusing the recount of fraud and even a coup “worked extremely well” in securing Bush’s victory, Stone says.

“One man’s dirty trick is another man’s civic participation,” he adds.

Corben’s film also claims Cuban-American “neo-fascists” in Florida were “weaponized” by Republicans in 2000 after the Clinton administration controversially sent child refugee Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba after his shipwreck.

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Trump has been accused of courting far-right groups including white supremacists.

After his ambiguous comments about the Proud Boys militia group at his first debate with opponent Joe Biden caused uproar, Trump said he condemned “all white supremacists.”

“These tactics work… they worked in 2000, and (Trump) hopes that they will work again,” said Corben. “And if the election is close, they can work again.”

© 2020 AFP


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2020 Election

Donald Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department banned from the building: report

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The Associated Press reported Thursday that President Donald Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department was barred from entering the building.

The report revealed that Heidi Stirrup, "an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller," was pressuring Justice Department staff to hand over sensitive documents and information about alleged "election fraud" and other issues that are important to Trump.

Attorney General Bill Barr told the AP on Tuesday that there was no widespread election fraud or voter fraud, as Trump has claimed for the past several weeks since losing the 2020 election. Trump alleged that Barr “hasn’t looked very hard."

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2020 Election

Obama says some Black men are persuaded by Trump’s ‘macho’ bravado bragging about women and money

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In part two of the SnapChat interview with President Barack Obama, Peter Hamby asked how President Donald Trump was able to persuade so many Black men to support him over President-elect Joe Biden.

When Obama was elected he got about 95 percent of the Black vote, where Biden got about 80 percent.

"Well, look, I think men, generally, are more susceptible to public figures who act tough, sort of the stereotypical macho style," Obama said, while videos of Trump showing off his flabby muscles appeared. "I don't think Black men are immune to that any more than White or Hispanic men are. A lot of the values of pop culture are extolling wealth, power, frankly, greed, not thinking about other people because you're so ruthless you're just looking out for yourself."

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2020 Election

‘I’m utterly embarrassed’: Michigan Republican admits Rudy Giuliani ‘waded into the realm of insanity’

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Michigan state Rep. Aaron Miller, a Republican, this week accused Rudy Giuliani of entering the "realm of insanity" with his testimony to lawmakers in Michigan.

Miller made the remarks following Giuliani's wild testimony to the Michigan House Oversight Committee.

"I’m happy to thoughtfully listen to evidence and claims and that was what today was supposed to be about, but Mr. Giuliani’s final statement waded into the realm of insanity," Miller said, according to The Detroit News. "He made wild and broad partisan insults for several minutes that had nothing to do with the election, and it was frankly unacceptable, shameful, and pathetic and distracts from any evidence that we might hear."

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