Democrats to challenge Trump’s Electoral College victory

U.S. Democratic lawmakers planned to challenge President-elect Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory on Friday in a largely symbolic move that is unlikely to gain traction in the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress but exposes lingering dismay over a contentious election campaign.

The electoral votes were to be opened before a joint session of Congress in what is considered a formality for most presidential elections.

While Trump, who is set to take office on Jan. 20, garnered more than the 270 electoral votes required to win, Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots. The election has been shadowed by concerns over Russian attempts to influence the result in Trump’s favor.

Trump, who has repeatedly downplayed possible Russian interference, was due to receive a U.S. intelligence report on the situation later on Friday. He told the New York Times on Friday that the focus on the issue was a “political witch hunt.”

U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas plans to file an objection to electoral votes submitted from her state, a spokesman confirmed. Politico reported possible challenges also might come from fellow Democrats Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, Bobby Scott of Virginia, John Conyers of Michigan and Jamie Raskin of Maryland.

A member of Congress needs at least one U.S. senator to back the objection and suspend the joint session while the House of Representatives and Senate meet separately to debate it.

House Democratic leaders said they knew of no senator lined up behind such an effort.

However, U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer said on CNN he expected a number of Democrats to raise the issue of Russian hacking of Democratic groups during the presidential campaign and question whether there was legitimate information available to the electors when they voted for Donald Trump.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the Russian hacking concerns cast a pall over the 2016 vote.

“That’s why people have some level of dismay today on the vote … about the Electoral College,” Pelosi said at a news conference. “How much is known about the foreign disruption of our election?”

Members of the Electoral College convened last month in the 50 state capitals to cast their votes for president and vice president and to submit them to Congress.

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