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Clinton Campaign Backs Jill Stein's Election Recount Effort: Lawyer

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein also has plans to file recount efforts in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
IMAGE: Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton.Cliff Owen / AP - file

Hillary Clinton's campaign intends to back the statewide election recount effort in the battleground state of Wisconsin spearheaded by third-party candidate Jill Stein.

The Clinton team had been quiet about Stein's crusade, but campaign lawyer Marc Elias said that because a recount was set into motion Friday — and could begin as soon as next week — they want to see a "fair" process for all involved.

"Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves," Elias wrote in a Medium post explaining the decision, "but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides."

President-elect Donald Trump slammed the effort as a "scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded."

He also posted on Twitter, including a series of tweets early Sunday quoting Clinton's previous comments on respecting the outcome of the election and calling the recount effort "sad."

Wisconsin election officials said that they received Stein's paperwork and that they were still waiting to obtain a cost estimate from county clerks to calculate a fee her campaign must pay before the recount can start. However, the Wisconsin Election Commission staff announced Saturday that it has already pulled together a timeline it expects the commission to approve.

The timeline, which would have the recount begin Thursday, follows federal law calling for it to be completed withing 35 days of Election Day. That so-called safe harbor date is Dec. 13 this year.

The commission will review the proposed timeline Monday.

Stein's campaign is trying to raise as much as $7 million for the effort online — and it had garnered more than $5.9 million as of Saturday evening.

Stein, the Green Party's presidential nominee, also has plans to file recount efforts in Michigan, where NBC News has yet to officially call a winner, and Pennsylvania.

Saturday afternoon, she indignantly tweeted, "I will do a recount in any state where the deadline has not passed."

Trump still holds narrow leads in all three states, and his victories in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin provided him with the Electoral College advantage he needed to win the presidency.

Elias acknowledged that "the number of votes separating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the closest of these states — Michigan —  well exceeds the largest margin ever overcome in a recount," but he said the Clinton campaign felt it was "important, on principle," to take part in and monitor the process.

If Stein follows through with her promise to pay for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania, Elias wrote, the campaign will "take the same approach" with additional states and participate in any verification efforts there.

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski tweeted, "Where is the media outcry?" after news broke that Clinton would back the recount.

It's an endeavor that will take long hours, hundreds of election workers and millions of dollars — and one that Stein herself admits may not change a thing about Trump's defeat of Clinton.

"I don't think that's likely, and this is not done to benefit one candidate at the expense of the other," Stein said this week on "PBS NewsHour."

It could, however, delay the final results for weeks and provide fuel to the tens of thousands of upset Americans who've taken to the streets in protest against Trump's win, declaring that the real estate mogul is "not my president."

Until now, the Clinton campaign had declined to comment on the potential re-tallying. After what aides called a crushing and unanimously stunning loss, most went silent as they came to grips with the outcome.

Over the last few weeks, lawyers and data scientists have urged the campaign to consider a recount, according to Elias' post. He also said a deciding factor was Russia's reported interference in the U.S. election process.

Besides "quietly" taking steps to "rule in or out any possibility of outside interference," the campaign also dispatched resources to critical battleground states.

"We have monitored and staffed the post-election canvasses  —  where voting machine tapes are compared to poll-books, provisional ballots are resolved, and all of the math is double checked from election night," he wrote.

Elias also acknowledged the anguish that many that Clinton's supporters and staffers felt after the shocking upset.

"We certainly understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton, and it is a fundamental principle of our democracy to ensure that every vote is properly counted," he wrote.