Green Party candidate Jill Stein escalated her quixotic campaign for a presidential recount Monday in several battlegrounds where Donald Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton, vowing at a press conference outside Trump Tower not to “give in” as she seeks federal court help to force statewide tallies in the face of bipartisan criticism.
Stein and her Green Party allies are seeking recounts in three states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
With a count already under way in Wisconsin, a federal judge ruled in a late-night order that Michigan also must begin its recount at noon Monday. Judge Mark Goldsmith rejected an effort by state officials to delay the hand-counting of about 4.8 million ballots.
Celebrating that decision mere steps from Trump Tower, Stein cited concerns over “blank votes” on some ballots. “We will not give in to intimidation,” Stein said.
The fight turns next to Pennsylvania, where Stein’s team said Monday they have gone to federal court to try to force a recount -- after the Green Party earlier dropped their case in state courts in the face of a required $1 million bond.
“We have no choice but to seek federal intervention,” Stein counsel Jonathan Abady said Monday, announcing the Pennsylvania filing. He called for a tabulation of paper ballots and “forensic examination” of the state’s voting machinery.
“We are here to verify the accuracy of the vote,” he said, calling criticism of their effort “deeply misguided” and accusing Trump of trying to “obstruct and stop this democratic process.”
The outstanding question is what Stein hopes to accomplish.
Trump tweeted Sunday that the push is “Just a Stein scam to raise money!”
Even some Democrats are challenging her. Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and DNC chairman, said in a radio interview Sunday that Stein’s efforts are a “waste of time.”
The push also flies against what Stein said in October, in an interview with Fox News. At the time, Stein was asked if she would support Clinton or Trump as the choice of the people if they won.
“I would accept the results of the election . . . as flawed as our electoral system is. In my view, that's not where we need to put our energy into challenging the election of Hillary or Donald. On the other hand we need to organize so we do have effective political resistance," she said at the time.
But Stein, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” insisted the money is “going strictly into a segregated account which can only be spent on the recount,” and asked, “What is Donald Trump frightened of?”
Stein has said her intent is to verify the accuracy of the vote, while suggesting, with no evidence, that votes cast were susceptible to computer hacking.
President-elect Trump narrowly defeated Democratic nominee Clinton in all three states. The recounts were not expected to change enough votes to overturn the result of the election.
In Wisconsin, state and local election officials have said they don't expect Clinton to surpass Trump in Wisconsin, where he won by about 22,000 votes.
In Michigan, Trump won by about 10,700 votes, or two-tenths of a percentage point, over Clinton. Stein received about 1 percent of the vote.
And in Pennsylvania, an updated count Friday by state election officials showed Trump's lead shrinking to 49,000 from 71,000 over Clinton, out of 6 million votes cast, as more counties finish counting overseas ballots and settled provisional ballot challenges. That is still shy of Pennsylvania's 0.5 percent trigger for an automatic statewide recount. Stein drew less than 1 percent of the votes cast there as well. Final counts are outstanding in some counties, but there are not enough uncounted votes to change the outcome, officials say.
Meanwhile, a recount of a sample of ballots has begun in Nevada, at the request of independent presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente.
Clinton won in Nevada, and De La Fuente finished last. But De La Fuente requested and paid about $14,000 last week for the recount, which he called a counterbalance to the review sought by Stein in Wisconsin. If the sample shows a discrepancy of at least 1 percent for De La Fuente or Clinton, a full recount will be launched in all 17 Nevada counties.
Fox News’ Ray Bogan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.