Monday Allahpundit noted the letter from a group of electors demanding a briefing from the Director of National Intelligence on Russian involvement in the election. At the time there were 10 signatories to the letter, 9 of whom were Democrats. Today, after Clinton adviser John Podesta said he supported giving electors a briefing, the number of signatories has jumped to 40. But still there is only one Republican on the list, faithless elector Chris Suprun from Texas.
Politico reports that there are a few notable names on the list but some of the biggest names who could join the effort have not done so:
The letter, which is signed by electors from 12 states and Washington D.C., is equally notable for the names that don’t appear. Some of the Democrats’ heaviest hitters on the Electoral College — most notably, former President Bill Clinton — have so far avoided associating with the effort.
Others on the sidelines include New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman…
The highest-ranking elected officials on the list include incoming Congresswoman Carol-Shea Porter of New Hampshire, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
It’s curious that Bill Clinton hasn’t signed the letter given that two Clinton insiders, Podesta and former campaign spokesperson Karen Finney, have both offered public support for the effort. That suggests this is not about Podesta’s personal pique over being hacked. Rather, Clinton World has reached a broader decision to support this.
One possible explanation for the absence of Bill’s signature is that the Clinton camp knows this is ultimately a purely partisan gesture. It’s one thing to have partisans like Podesta and Finney get involved in what amounts to a hit on Trump’s legitimacy, it’s something else for a former president to whack the President-elect in the knees before he is even sworn in.
Having Clinton’s advisers push this keeps the effort one step removed from the losing candidate. Bill’s involvement would make this clear it was coming from Hillary and also suggest the Clintons are maybe hoping the faithless electors succeed in doing more than getting a briefing. After all, two of the signatories of this letter are the founders of “Hamilton electors” the group hoping to block Trump from becoming president. The other members of that group haven’t been named but it’s a safe bet most of them have signed this letter.
There’s one more interesting angle on this that needs to be kept in mind. The Hamilton electors want to block Trump and the electors demanding a briefing want to delegitimize him. But there is one other target in the midst of all this activity: the electoral college itself. This election brought home from Democrats how much better they might do in presidential elections if not for that pesky electoral college. As Politico reported last month, the people involved in these other short-term efforts also like the idea of undermining the electoral college in the longer term:
Behind the overt anti-Trump push is a covert agenda: If the courts establish that individual electors can switch allegiances, supporting candidates other than those who win their states, it would inject so much uncertainty into the process that states may be willing to junk the Electoral College in favor of a popular-vote winner.
“There might well be a clamor to get rid of the Electoral College altogether, a move that would have some disadvantages (like eliminating Hamilton’s safeguard) but many advantages as well,” wrote Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, in an email.
Remember, outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer has already introduced a bill to amend the U.S. Constitution and get rid of the electoral college. That effort was also political, intended to highlight Clinton’s victory in the popular vote. But that is the direction Democrats are going and the briefing effort is the first crack in that wall. Once the American people start seeing electors as free agents who could act to thwart the voters’ will based on post-election briefings, they may feel less committed to keeping them around.
Update: Outgoing Senator Harry Reid is on board.