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Lawyer who tried to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss appointed to a U.S. election board

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Nov 19 (Reuters) – In January, lawyer Cleta Mitchell joined a phone call with then-President Donald Trump as he pressured Georgia’s top election official to “find” enough votes to overturn his defeat in the state, playing an important role in Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 results.

Nearly a year later, the longtime conservative has been appointed to the advisory board of a federal agency with a mission to help states conduct secure elections.

Her surprise appointment to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Board of Advisors shows how once-fringe “election integrity” activists are trying to gain footholds in U.S. institutions in the run up to next year’s congressional elections. And it illustrates Trump’s continued dominance over his party as Mitchell and other backers of his stolen-election falsehoods win support from powerful Republicans in Congress.

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Mitchell, part of a small network of Republican lawyers who have for decades pushed the idea that U.S. elections are vulnerable to rampant fraud, left her partnership at law firm Foley & Lardner days after the Georgia phone call. She has since been focused on championing “election integrity” as chairwoman of the conservative Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF). She began work at the EAC advisory board on Nov. 3.

Research by election lawyers shows voter fraud in the United States is rare, despite what Trump and his allies have claimed about voting in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Mitchell’s appointment, which was made in August but only came to light this week after a tweet by a reporter with non-profit media organization Votebeat, alarmed Democrats and voting rights groups. Although the 35-member board is an advisory body and does not have any specific powers over voting procedures, critics said the appointment gives legitimacy to someone they accuse of undermining faith in the democratic process in the United States.

“I would expect Mitchell to continue to spread disinformation about the actual integrity of American elections,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of watchdog group True North Research and a former deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice. “Putting Mitchell on the advisory board demonstrates how devoted the Trump party is to rewarding those who spread his claims.”

Mitchell pushed back against the criticism, saying “millions of Americans” are concerned about voting integrity.

“The real outliers are the tiny fraction of Americans who oppose voter ID, who promote an avalanche of unverified mail ballots and who work constantly to eliminate procedures that ensure proper election administration,” she said in a statement to Reuters.

The EAC’s four commissioners said in a statement it was not their role to “comment on or criticize” appointments to the Board of Advisors.

Mitchell was nominated to the board by conservative members on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), a bipartisan agency that studies allegations of discrimination, including in voting rights.

Her appointment is part of a much larger Republican push to try to exert more control over election administration. At least 18 Republican-led states have passed voting restrictions this year, while backers of false stolen-election claims are running campaigns for secretary of state – the top election official – in election battleground states. read more

‘HOSTAGE’

Mitchell said her role was clinched with bipartisan support by the eight-person USCCR, evenly split between conservatives and liberals. But Democratic commissioner Michael Yaki told Reuters that his bloc was subject to a “hostage-like” situation by conservatives.

The commission’s conservative faction refused to ratify Norma Cantu, who was appointed by President Joe Biden to chair the agency in February, unless certain demands were met, Yaki and Cantu said.

“One of the changes the Conservative placed as a condition to ratifying me as the Chair was to create a process for bipartisan nominations to the board of advisors of Elections Assistance Commission,” Cantu said in a statement to Reuters.

At the time, the USCCR chair put forward nominees, who were then ratified by majority vote, but Republicans asked each of the two political factions to put forward a candidate, Yaki said.

The conservatives initially wanted J. Christian Adams, a Trump-appointed USCCR commissioner who has, without evidence, alleged “alien invasion” by non-citizens trying to vote illegally in the United States and spent years suing counties to force them to purge voter rolls. Adams, president of the PILF group, was also a member of Trump’s election integrity commission, which disbanded without finding evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.

When Democrats refused to accept Adams, work on the commission stalled, Yaki said.

Eventually, the two sides reached a deal in which both factions put forward two appointments to boards such as the EAC’s and the opposite side selects one of them.

Adams told Reuters that the selections should have always been bipartisan. “They weren’t. We fixed that,” he said. “You don’t really think having a bipartisan process is ‘being held hostage do you?'”

On April 30, the USCCR commissioners ratified Cantu and, minutes later, agreed to change the appointment process. The commission’s four conservatives then put forward two names for the EAC board, according to an internal nomination email reviewed by Reuters: Adams and Mitchell.

“Well, do you drink cyanide or hemlock? It’s a Hobson’s choice of nightmarish proportions,” Yaki said.

Adams was well-known for his work at PILF whereas Mitchell was more of an “unknown variable,” Cantu said. “I am not pleased with the appointment and would have welcomed another choice.”

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Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer, Editing by Soyoung Kim and Grant McCool

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Trump's businesses made $1.7B while in office, book says – CNN

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Trump’s businesses made $1.7B while in office, book says  CNN

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How to pronounce Omicron, the new COVID-19 variant

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How to pronounce Omicron


How to pronounce Omicron&nbsp | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Omicron variant’s scientific name is B.1.1.529

  • Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet

  • India has not reported any cases of Omicron variant so far

Omicron, the new variant of COVID-19 that has become a cause of concern around the world. Around 20 countries and territories now have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases of the Omicron variant. While no cases of the Omicron variant have been reported from India so far, people are having a hard time pronouncing the name of the Omicron variant.

The scientific name of the Omicron variant is B.1.1.529. The COVID-19 variant of concern gets its name from the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet. However, unlike alpha or delta variants, many people are left rolling their eyes while pronouncing the word Omicron.

How to pronounce Omicron

The Cambridge Dictionary states two different English pronunciations of Omicron – 

“oh-MY-cron” for British English and “OH-mi-cron” for American English.

The Omicron variant was first reported in South Africa on November 24.

When the COVID-19 variants became a cause of concern for the general public, many people started referring to them by name of the country where they were first detected, leading to stigmatisation. To avoid this, the Greek alphabets were chosen to name the variants.

WHO skipped two letters of the Greek alphabet – Nu and Xi – while naming the new variant. “‘Nu’ is too easily confounded with ‘new,’ and ‘Xi’ was not used because it is a common last name,” WHO said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, India reported 8,954 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,45,96,776. The active COVID-19 cases were recorded at less than a lakh after 547 days. The active cases have declined to 99,023. The national COVID-19 recovery rate has improved to 98.36 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the Union Health Ministry said.

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David Dastmalchian boards cast of Keira Knightley-led ‘Boston Strangler’ movie

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Los Angeles:

The film is inspired by the infamous Boston Strangler murders that happened between June 1962 and January 1964. 13 women were murdered during that period by a serial killer.

The film will follow the true story of Loretta McLaughlin (Knightley), the first reporter to connect the murders and break the story of the Strangler.

She and fellow reporter Jean Cole challenged the sexism of the early 1960s to report on the city”s most notorious serial killer and worked tirelessly to keep women informed.

Loretta pursued the story at great personal risk and uncovered corruption that cast doubt on the true identity of the Boston Strangler.

The film’s cast also includes Carrie Coon, Alessandro Nivola and Chris Cooper.

”Boston Strangler” will be produced by veteran filmmaker Ridley Scott along with Kevin Walsh through their Scott Free banner. Tom Ackerley and Josey McNamara of LuckyChap Entertainment are also backing the film.

The film will start production later this month.

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