Biden warns GOP could set country ‘on path to chaos’ when democracy is in trouble


Signs of a crisis in the country’s democracy emerged Wednesday, with President Biden warning that candidates who refuse to accept Tuesday’s results could lead the country down a “path of violence” with the midterm elections a week away.

Biden’s grim assessment came in a speech Wednesday evening as the FBI and other agencies predicted that attacks by domestic extremists would increase after the election. In Arizona, voters have complained of intimidation by self-appointed ballot inspectors — some of whom are armed — prompting a federal judge to impose strict new restrictions. And the GOP has stepped up litigation in several states in an effort to throw out some ballots and expand the reach of partisan voting audiences.

Speaking at the Washington Union Station – from the US Capitol, which has been attacked by pro-Trump groups in the wake of the country’s last major election – Biden warned of a continuing attack on American democracy. The president A growing number of Republican primary candidates have followed in former President Donald Trump’s footsteps by refusing to concede defeat.

“It is unprecedented. It is illegal. And it’s un-American,” Biden said. “As I said before, you can only love your country when you win it.”

Most GOP candidates deny or doubt the results of the 2020 election.

The unprecedented presidential message — a plea for Americans to embrace the basic principles of democracy — comes as millions of voters cast ballots or plan to go to the polls on Election Day, and some election officials believe the system will stand still.

Biden spoke days after a hammer-wielding attacker 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 by addressing the brutal attack on Friday morning.

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

Last week, several government agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, issued a memo that threats from domestic extremists would likely increase 90 days after the election, according to a copy of the document obtained by The Washington. Paste it.

The memo listed situations that could lead to further violence, including “actual or perceived efforts to suppress access to elections.”

“Following the 2022 midterm elections, perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with election results may lead to increased threats of violence against various targets — such as ideological opponents and poll workers,” the memo reads.

Various pro-Trump organizations have said election officials don’t know exactly what to expect, with polling stations flooded and party observers vowing to count. Trump allies have urged supporters to file repeated challenges, which officials say could derail the process.

Biden has spoken more forcefully in recent months about the threat Republicans pose to democracy. As he began referring to “MAGA Republicans” in the spring — a moniker he uses to distinguish those aligned with Trump from traditional conservatives — Biden made an unusual appearance at a fundraiser in late August, warning that the GOP is headed “Partial Fascism.”

On Wednesday night, Biden laid out the threat to democracy as part of a continuing assault launched two years ago by Trump and the Republican Party he still leads. A pro-Trump faction of the party is “trying to succeed in 2020 where they failed: to suppress voter rights and subvert the electoral system itself,” he said.

Even before Biden spoke Wednesday, Rona McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, issued a statement calling his words “desperate and dishonest.”

“Joe Biden promised unity, but instead he’s demonizing and demonizing Americans and making life more expensive for everyone,” McDaniel said. “While Republicans are focused on the issues that matter most to voters, Biden and the Democrats are getting it wrong.”

Wednesday night’s speech was Biden’s direct take on the threats facing American democracy since Sept. 1, when he spoke outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and warned that “too much of what’s going on in our country right now 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, senior White House officials began talking about giving another similar speech about the dangers of democracy, said 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 had been in the works for several weeks, the person said. But the opening was rewritten to address the attack on Paul Pelosi. Biden cited former Vice President Mike Pence and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger among Republicans who have been vulnerable to election threats and violence.

After the election, Biden urged voters to be patient, saying some results of the ballot counting rules may not be immediately clear.

“It is always important for citizens in a democracy to be informed and participate,” he said. “Now it is important for citizens to be patient.”

And when our citizens go to their polls on Tuesday, they must consider the future of democracy and “know that we are at risk and vote.”

“We know in our bones that democracy is at risk,” he said. We know this: each and every one of us is within our power to protect our democracy.

Unlike their Democratic counterparts, many Republicans, locked in key races across the country, are refusing to say whether they will 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 with Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes, who is the lieutenant governor of his state. “I mean, is something going to happen on election day? Do the Democrats have something up their sleeve?

The president’s speech at the hearing and other occasions highlighted concerns over whether next week’s election would be held in a peaceful manner or whether the results would be legitimate.

The Department of Justice said several parts of the sprawling law enforcement agency will work to ensure the safe and smooth conduct of elections across the country.

The department’s Civil Rights Division, which is charged with enforcing voting rights laws, has announced that it will monitor voting processes across the country to ensure that jurisdictions are complying with federal voting laws. The department did not say how many people it would send or where. On Election Day 2020, it has sent monitors to 44 counties, including Gwinnett County in Georgia, Broward County in Florida, and Fairfax County in Virginia.

Earlier, the department ruled in an Arizona election lawsuit, supporting a claim by the Arizona League of Women Voters that monitoring ballot boxes, including recording voters as they cast ballots, could constitute illegal voter intimidation.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi, a Trump appointee, agreed to a broad injunction that would limit what the Arizona group Clean Elections USA or its allies can do or say near ballot boxes. The ruling prohibits Fight-Box viewers from taking photos or videos of voters and using the content to spread baseless allegations of electoral fraud. Clean Elections USA is among the groups echoing claims that “ballot brokers” illegally placed scores of ballots in drop-off boxes ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Bill Gates, chairman of the board of trustees that oversees Maricopa County, home to the majority of Arizona voters, said when truth and misinformation collide, “the rest of the world” will see how America conducts its elections.

“There’s a real concern that there’s something wrong with our Democratic Republic … and Arizona … and Maricopa County is where this kind of battle is going to take place,” said Gates, a Republican.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court has told counties not to count handwritten postcards days out, but has left open key questions about the issue, including how it will be resolved if the top races in the issue are tight. GOP voters, as well as state and national parties, sued in the case, arguing that state law requires all ballots that are dated or incorrectly dated to be considered invalid.

Attorneys for Leigh M. Chapman, the top state elections official in the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf (D), argued that many courts have already ruled that expired elections should be counted and that counties have no way to determine the date. It’s “incorrect” on the postal envelope. They argued that the decision not to count those cards would create confusion and violate the rights of legitimate voters.

The case was already part of a flood of court cases aimed at election practices, which may increase if the court action is to be filed after election day. The RNC said it is participating in lawsuits in Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin to expand the reach of party pollsters and challengers.

A judge in Wisconsin on Wednesday ordered the city clerk in Green Bay to give more access to vote watchers, a day after a watchers’ group sued that they can’t observe all aspects of early voting. City officials said they are dedicating more areas to surveillance in response to the lawsuit. The RNC hailed the decision as a victory for transparency.

How votes are cast and counted is becoming more and more common in the courts

Democrats could challenge the GOP’s actions in court, extending ballot measures for days after Tuesday’s vote. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate for governor, told reporters on a 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 go through, I’m confident that the public’s will will be respected,” said Shapiro, who is running against state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), a supporter of false claims. The 2020 election was stolen.

Mastriano was one of a dozen Republican candidates running for governor and Senate who declined to say whether they would accept the results of their races, according to a Washington Post survey in September.

Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels suggested at a campaign stop Monday that the election would result in permanent GOP control of the state.

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

Michel is locked in a tight race with Gov. Tony Evers (D). It’s a five-second clip of Michels saying that if the Republicans win, they will never win another election. Posted on Twitter by 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 reforms to how state elections are administered.

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

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