Obama Campaign Will Not Be Pushed Around on Voters' Rights
by Jonathan Singer, Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 08:23:13 AM EDT
You have to give it up to the Obama campaign. They are not allowing themselves to be pushed around -- not by the McCain campaign, not by the Republican National Committee... not even by the Bush justice department. Here's Obama campaign counsel Bob Bauer on Countdown last night:
KEITH OLBERMANN: First, we're joined now by the general counsel to the Obama campaign, Bob Bauer, whose letter to General Mukasey we just quoted. Thank you for your time, tonight, sir.
BOB BAUER: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: Have we got this pretty much right? That youre essentially raising the possibility, asking for a prosecutor to determine whether the McCain campaign is essentially conspiring with the Republican National Committee, and in what would be a pretty crucial illegal part, with official government elements at the White House, at the Department of Justice, to create this phony experience of widespread voter fraud that wins itself to crackdowns that wind up suppressing only democratic votes?
BAUER: You have it right. You have it exactly right. I think it's important to put it in the broader context of the kind of negative, unprecedentedly vicious and negative campaign that the McCain-Palin campaign is currently running. Wherever you look, at every level you see the tactics they use. Now, this toxin entered in the justice department, not too long after the administration promised to clean up after the U.S. Attorney dismissal and scandals. What we are seeing here is Im afraid to say evidence that on another level, again, along with the robocalls and negative ads and all the negative activities, we now have legal tactics being used of a vicious nature, and they threaten to poison the Department of Justice and the impartial nature of the law. Were acting, Mukasey came to the department of justice to clean up after the attorney scandal to take the action necessary to remove this matter from frankly political hands and put them in independent hands. You pointed there's a prosecutor who could easily take this on and make it part of her expanded responsibilities.
OLBERMANN: Can you connect the dots for me. Explain how and why crackdowns on voting fraud would reduce Democratic votes disproportionately to Republican votes?
BAUER: Well, there's an attempt here at all phases of this campaign to smear. And this is a smear on voters. Its an attempt to discourage people from voting, to drive them away from the polls. And theres a variety of ways voters are discouraged and subject to these smears. You have to see it as part of the piece. Whether its the robocalls that even today, by the way, that Republican senator Susan Collins asked the McCain campaign to take down in the state of Maine, or the sleazy legal tactics repudiated today by an unanimous Ohio Supreme Court, or the senior justice department officials now engage apparently in colluding for partisan political purposes in violation of department policy. At every single one of these levels you see this behavior taking place. So, I think, now, with the report of these officials who you point out knew what they were doing was wrong, told the reporters what they were doing violated departmental policy. Its time for Attorney General Mukasey to do what other Republicans of good conscience and independents have done, which is to repudiate this negativity and start to entrust government to responsible people and politics, quite frankly, kept out of it.
OLBERMANN: What would the smoking gun be here, sir?
BAUER: Well, what you have is the newspaper article. By the way, less than 24 hours after John McCain thundered about vote fraud threatening the very fabric of our democracy, right there after, almost precisely as you would expect, the Republican National Committee and the McCain-Palin campaign to plot it, lo and behold, senior department officials admitting they were violating departmental policy announced an investigation of fraud was underway. This is an astonishing repeat of the kind of toxic intrusion of politics into the lawful administration of justice that we saw during the U.S. attorney scandal. We are seeing a repeat of that. As I said, Mukasey came to clean the department of justice out. He has a chance to purge this toxic from the system. The way to do that is take it to a special prosecutor. She would be in a position to investigate the coordination of the campaign, this illegal campaign, this disreputably negative campaign that the administration of justice. She would be in a position to collect information about who the officials were and we would begin hopefully to have government entrusted to people who would do their responsibility.
OLBERMANN: Bob Bauer, great thanks for explaining it to us tonight.
The Politico has a copy of Bauer's letter to the Bush Justice Department, for those interested in reading through it.
To reiterate the point I made above, the Obama campaign isn't going to let this election be stolen or delegitimized. They have put together a great organization of attorneys around the country who are going to be vigilant about ensuring that voters aren't turned away from the polls, and the campaign leadership is very committed to fighting the broader strategic battles over allowing voters to have their voices heard. Everything above is a testament to this. And speaking from personal experience, Bauer, with whom I worked this summer, understands the stakes and knows as much as anyone in politics today -- on either side of the aisle -- about combating any attempts to use the justice system to subvert the will of the voters.