Tags: reince priebus | election night | trump tower

Report: Dems Seek to Query Priebus on Being at Trump Tower on Election Night

Image: Report: Dems Seek to Query Priebus on Being at Trump Tower on Election Night
Reince Priebus (Andrew Harnik/AP)

By    |   Friday, 29 December 2017 09:12 PM

Democrats want to interview former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus about his activities on Election Night in November, according to news reports Friday.

Priebus was on the fifth floor of Trump Tower in New York on Nov. 8, 2016, "the nerve center of then-candidate Donald Trump's poll-watching operations," Politico reports.

For 35 years, the RNC has been legally barred from participating in ballot-security operations on Election Night, according to the report.

The consent decree, stemming from a New Jersey governor's race in the 1980s, was scheduled to expire Dec. 1.

Democrats have sued in federal court in Washington to keep it in force, arguing that statements from Trump officials have since showed that RNC officials had participated in poll-watching efforts.

Priebus also served as Trump's chief of staff for seven months.

U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez allowed Democrats to depose former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who was the RNC's communications director and chief strategist, but he has ruled against the party's request for a hearing on the matter.

Spicer testified that he was on the fifth floor of Trump Tower on Election Night.

In his deposition, Spicer said he saw no sign warning him to stay away from the floor that night, though four Republican sources told Politico that large signs were on the doors leading to the floor warning RNC personnel to keep out.

Spicer said, however, that RNC staffers knew not to become involved in ballot- security operations, even if he did not recall them being warned not to be on the floor.

"Over the course of six years, the counsel's office had been vigilant in informing both senior staff and subordinates on the importance of the Consent Decree 20 and the activities that we were clearly not — should not be engaged [in] or be even perceived as engaging in," Spicer said in his deposition, according to Politico.

"And so we had grown accustomed to not even coming too close to a line that would in any way, shape or form lead one to believe that we were engaged in those activities."

Spicer said that party officials were careful "to ensure that we didn't do anything that was questionable."

However, he told GQ magazine in an interview last month that he watched election returns from key swing states in an "oversized utility room" on the fifth floor of Trump Tower.

Priebus also was present, Spicer said in his deposition.

According to Politico, the consent decree stemmed from efforts by the RNC to intimidate voters in New Jersey's 1981 gubernatorial election.

Republicans, some of whom were armed off-duty law enforcement officers wearing armbands, challenged voters at urban polling sites.

The actions were blamed for suppressing the black vote, allowing Republican Tom Kean to edge out a very narrow victory over Democrat Jim Florio, according to the report.

"Contrary to the suggestions by some of the anonymous sources in the Politico article, Mr. Spicer did not observe, nor was he aware of, any signs prohibiting RNC personnel from being present on the fifth floor of Trump Tower on Election Day," RNC attorney Bobby Burchfield wrote in a letter to Judge Vazquez cited by Politico.

"This Court has repeatedly observed that the DNC has failed to submit evidence of RNC participation in ballot-security efforts or voter-suppression efforts during the 2016 election cycle.

"Accordingly, the RNC urges the court to terminate these proceedings and confirm that the consent decree has expired."

However, Angelo Genova, a Democratic National Committee attorney, countered in a letter to Vazquez that "several points" Spicer raised should allow the DNC to depose Priebus and two Trump campaign officials.

"The DNC submits that it should be permitted to question Mr. Priebus to determine whether he had any communications related to ballot-security efforts on Election Day," Genova wrote.

"In addition, the DNC seeks to question Mr. Priebus on the material discrepancies noted above between Mr. Spicer's testimony and Politico's reporting.

"Given that Mr. Priebus was the chair of the RNC and was present on the fifth floor of Trump Tower on Election Day, he should be able to testify directly to the pertinent points," Genova wrote.

The Trump campaign officials the Democrats would like to depose are Mike Roman, who Genova said oversaw the campaign's "election-protection" efforts, and digital director Brad Parscale, Politico reports.

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Democrats want to interview former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus about his activities on Election Night in November, according to news reports Friday.
reince priebus, election night, trump tower
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2017-12-29
Friday, 29 December 2017 09:12 PM
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