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Utah A.G. in Nevada to help Trump challenge election; Romney cautions on calling vote rigged

GOP Sen. Mitt Romney says Trump wrong to say election rigged, corrupt and stolen as Republican attorneys general move to investigate

Sean Reyes, the 21st attorney general of Utah, relaxes at home on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015.
Sean Reyes, the 21st attorney general of Utah, relaxes at home on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Fresh off a reelection victory, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is in Nevada today working on lawsuits challenging alleged voting irregularities in presidential election battleground states.

“On personal leave time to help prepare and support litigation in several states dealing with compromised election process,” the Republican attorney general tweeted Friday.

“Despite months of predictions about a “blue wave,” @GOP kept the Senate & expanded seats in the House. Biden & his allies know @POTUS will win if only verified, #legal votes are counted. We are making sure that happens but looks like courts may have to decide that. #RuleOfLaw.”

Reyes did not make himself available to comment immediately after his Friday morning tweets, but issued a statement in the afternoon. He said he doesn’t believe all votes in the 2020 election are fraudulent and many volunteers and officials across the nation, including in Utah, worked hard to ensure a fair process.

“But, if even some actions in battleground states resulted in improper votes being counted or proper votes being rejected, that compromises the overall fairness of the electoral process and can disenfranchise the votes of millions of Americans,” he said.

“Some mistakes were likely made innocently. Others appear very intentional. But, in either case, we should carefully review and remedy any such irregularities.”

Reyes also clarified that he’s not taking a leave of absence but a “personal weekend” to help review and advise on potential lawsuits related to ensuring all legal votes are counted.

President Donald Trump’s campaign and Republicans have mounted legal challenges in several battleground states. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed campaign lawsuits Thursday.

“But we think there’ll be a lot of litigation because we can’t have an election stolen like this,” Trump said at a White House briefing Thursday.

In a tweet Friday, Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney said the president is within his rights to request recounts, to call for investigation of alleged voting irregularities where evidence exists and to exhaust legal remedies, and that doing those things is consistent with the election process.

“He is wrong to say that the election was rigged, corrupt and stolen — doing so damages the cause of freedom here and around the world, weakens the institutions that lie at the foundation of the Republic, and recklessly inflames destructive and dangerous passions,” he said.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, also weighed in Friday, tweeting “Free, fair, and transparent elections are the heart of America and what sets us apart from much of the world. We must continue to count all legal votes and if there is a legitimate claim to fraud, it should be investigated and brought before the courts.”

Republican attorneys general are monitoring the election nationwide and having conversations with the Trump campaign in terms of where they can be useful in filing amicus or friend-of-the-court briefs and providing legal advice, said Kelly Laco, spokeswoman for the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Laco said Reyes is “on the ground” in Nevada but didn’t know specifically what he might be working on.

State Rep. Andrew Stoddard, a Murray Democrat and city prosecutor, ripped Reyes for getting involved in Trump’s fight.

“As a lawyer who is bound by a code of ethics, I am appalled, but not surprised, to see our Attorney General throw any support to these baseless claims. But I guess to him, serving Trump is more important that serving the people he was elected to serve,” he tweeted.

On Thursday, the Republican National Committee announced it has legal teams in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania “to fight back against Democrat efforts to disenfranchise voters and ensure that every vote for President Trump and other Republicans is counted fairly and accurately as required by law.”

“Democrats and their friends in the media spent four years talking about a Russia hoax on the grounds of election integrity. Now with just 48 hours after polls closed in an actual presidential election, they want to ignore clear irregularities, rush to call states as won, and end the election,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “We will not stand for that.”

McDaniel said the RNC intends to ensure that any irregularities that have occurred — whether by malicious intent or incompetence — are fully investigated to the fullest extent of the law.

“We will not give up on this process until every last issue has been resolved,” she said.

The Alliance for a Better Utah quickly condemned Reyes for leaving Utahns “out to dry” and for “abandoning his post” to give his attention to Trump days after being reelected.

Alliance Executive Director Chase Thomas said Reyes is trying to undermine the outcome of a democratic election to advance his own partisan interests.

“Reyes is showing where his true loyalties lie — not with the people of Utah, but with the party-line politics of Trump and the Republican Attorneys General Association,” he said in a statement.

Allegations of voter fraud are irresponsible and not true, Thomas said. Just because Reyes may not like the results of the election doesn’t make them any less valid, he said.

“As the attorney general of a state that has enjoyed mail-in voting for years, Reyes should know this,” Thomas said. “Whether acting in his private or public capacity, preparing to contest election results that he personally dislikes is an absolute betrayal of the trust Utahns have placed in him.”

Trump endorsed Reyes for reelection. Reyes easily won a second full term in office Tuesday over Democratic challenger Greg Skordas.