Philadelphia’s Republican city commissioner blasts accusations of voter fraud as ‘deranged’

Philadelphia’s lone Republican city commissioner has described as ‘deranged’ the accusations of voter fraud being made by the White House, as he revealed his staff had been receiving death threats as Donald Trump attacks their integrity.

Al Schmidt, one of three city commissioners charged with overseeing elections, told 60 Minutes that he was shocked at the accusations made against him and his team.

‘From the insight looking out, it feels all very deranged,’ he said.

‘At the end of the day we are counting eligible votes, cast by voters. The controversy surrounding it is something I don’t understand.’

Al Schmidt, the Republican Philadelphia city commissioner, said the attacks felt 'deranged'

Al Schmidt, the Republican Philadelphia city commissioner, said the attacks felt 'deranged'

Al Schmidt, the Republican Philadelphia city commissioner, said the attacks felt ‘deranged’

Schmidt is pictured on Election Day with Lisa Deeley, one of two other city commissioners

Schmidt is pictured on Election Day with Lisa Deeley, one of two other city commissioners

Schmidt is pictured on Election Day with Lisa Deeley, one of two other city commissioners

Officials inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday morning counting votes

Officials inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday morning counting votes

Officials inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Friday morning counting votes

Election workers in Philadelphia sort and count the votes on Sunday

Election workers in Philadelphia sort and count the votes on Sunday

Election workers in Philadelphia sort and count the votes on Sunday

Schmidt, a former senior analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) who held top secret security clearance, has ran elections since 2011 and takes pride in modernizing and making more efficient the process.

He said he was saddened by the ‘crazy stuff’ being said. 

‘It’s people making accusations that we wouldn’t count those votes, or people are adding fraudulent votes, or – just, coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff,’ he said. 

Donald Trump dispatched his son Eric and lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Philadelphia to press the president’s claim of fraud.

A record number of people voted by mail in the state, and many of the mail-in ballots were Democrat because Trump told his own supporters not to trust mail-in ballots, and to vote in person instead.

The president was then enraged when the mail-in ballots started being counted, and the pendulum swung away from him. 

‘This is absolute fraud,’ said Eric Trump. ‘We’ve seen it in Philadelphia before.’

Giuliani told a press conference at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping that Trump was ‘obviously not gonna concede.’

He said he will start filing lawsuits on Monday.

‘I don’t know if there’s enough evidence to set aside the entire election. Certainly not around the country, maybe in Pennsylvania,’ he said.

A pained-looking Schmidt said he was dismayed by the rhetoric.

Schmidt is seen inspecting the vote counting processes

Schmidt is seen inspecting the vote counting processes

Schmidt is seen inspecting the vote counting processes

Protesters outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center demand 'legal votes only'

Protesters outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center demand 'legal votes only'

Protesters outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center demand ‘legal votes only’

‘In the birthplace of our Republic, counting votes is not a bad thing,’ he said. 

‘Counting votes cast on or before Election Day by eligible voters is not corruption. It is not cheating. It is democracy.’ 

He said the argument that votes should not be counted bemused him. 

‘There really should not be a disagreement, regardless of party affiliation, when we’re talking about counting votes cast on or before Election Day by eligible voters,’ he said. 

‘It’s not a very controversial thing, or at least it shouldn’t be.’

And he revealed that his team had received calls from Trump supporters threatening them over the continued count – a process which will likely take another week.

He said they were receiving calls alleging ‘cheating’ and ‘manipulating the vote’. 

‘Or calls to our offices reminding us that ‘This is what the Second Amendment is for, people like us.”

Asked if he interpreted that as a death threat, Schmidt replied: ‘Yes, for counting votes in a democracy.’

Trump supporters protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Sunday

Trump supporters protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Sunday

Trump supporters protest outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Sunday

Votes are still being counted and sorted inside the room, pictured on Wednesday

Votes are still being counted and sorted inside the room, pictured on Wednesday

Votes are still being counted and sorted inside the room, pictured on Wednesday

Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, is in charge of defending the state from any legal suits launched by the Trump campaign.

He said the Trump campaign wanted two things.

‘Number one, to stop the count and number two, to allow their watchers to get closer to where the envelopes were being opened and scanned,’ he said.

‘On the first issue, being able to stop the count, they failed. 

‘And on the second thing – an agreement was reached to move these poll watchers from roughly 10 feet away to roughly six feet away.’

He said that had done nothing to affect the outcome of the vote.

Trump had said that poll watchers needed ‘binoculars’ to be able to observe.  

Ben Ginsberg, a Republican lawyer who was part of the legal team in Florida in 2000, successfully arguing the case for George W. Bush, said Trump’s legal team was on shaky ground.

He said there was no comparison to their own efforts in Florida.

‘On the one hand, it’s lawyers reacting to a client who is disjointed and unhinged and not terribly accepting of defeat,’ he said. 

‘And on the other extreme, this could be an instance of trying to slow down counts in individual states in the hopes that those states don’t complete their job of certifying election results in time for the electoral college to meet. 

‘And then he would go back to something else he’s talked about which is telling legislators to go and vote Trump slates even in states that were won by Biden.’

Asked what he would say to Trump if he could speak to him, Ginsburg replied: ‘Sir, you need to take a step back, look at the results. It is a democracy,’ he said.

‘It is a country that’s been very good to you. 

‘And you need to respect the institutions and the greatest institution of all is our elections that lead to the peaceful transfer of power. And you cannot be destructive of that.’

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