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This GOP lawyer breaking with Trump on voter fraud claims is a big deal

(CNN) Ben Ginsberg is the single most influential Republican election lawyer in recent US history. That's why it's very important to look at what he said on CNN Wednesday.

He's blowing a whistle, of sorts. There are random cases of fraud in many elections, he said, pointing out he'd been working for 38 years for Republicans on Election Days. Fraud? He hasn't seen it. And it's not healthy to say it's there when it isn't.

Who is he? Now retired, Ginsberg was a partner at Jones Day, the same firm as former White House chief of staff Don McGahn. The firm represents President Donald Trump's campaign. Ginsberg worked for the Trump campaign in 2016 -- but before that, he was a central figure in the 2000 Florida recount, helping get George W. Bush into the White House. He worked for the Romney campaign in 2012. He's tried to help GOP campaigns figure out a fair debate process.

But he also co-chaired a bipartisan look at voter problems in 2013.

Here are some excerpts from his interview with CNN's Brianna Keilar:

There is no widespread fraud. "The lack of proof that elections are rigged or fraudulent should be what governs the parties policies and for the President's words, and for the President to cast doubt on the credibility of the election, by saying that they're fraudulent or that the results are rigged, is simply not backed up by what has been found by the legions of Republican election lawyers in the polling places."

Ginsberg doesn't like it when states mail ballots to every voter. But that doesn't make Trump correct. "It is a problem because the voter rolls are not always completely accurate. People move and die. So there are live ballots in those states that could create problems. In other states, absent or mail-in balloting, the process is the same between states, is not subject to the same thing the President is talking about. So the rhetoric about cheating and ballots being sent out willy-nilly is not accurate under the facts of the laws of the different states."

He said if you follow Trump's advice to vote by mail and in person, you could go to jail. "Anyone who decides to do that should look to the south of North Carolina to Georgia where the attorney general, a Trump ally, announced today that they actually had caught people who they believe voted twice -- once by the polls and once through absentee balloting -- the attorney general said he's going to prosecute them. Typically these fall away where there are people who just get confused. But the fact that the Georgia attorney general felt the need to prosecute the exact advice that the President has been giving to people should be pause for anyone who does want to follow the President's advice."

Side note: Ginsberg said there's a good chance we won't know who wins the election until December 1. We've written about that before, but this is just another reminder to steel yourself for uncertainty.

Three legal victories this week -- all for Democrats

From CNN's Marshall Cohen:

Liberal groups scored a victory in Texas, where a federal judge ordered the state to establish a process where voters will be notified if there are problems with their absentee ballot and give them a chance to resolve the issue -- a process known as "curing," which already exists in many, but not all, states.

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld a previous ruling that keeps rapper Kanye West off the presidential ballot this November. Arizona is one of the most competitive battleground states, and Republican operatives have scrambled to get West on the ballot in hopes that he might lure away Biden voters.

A federal judge in Pennsylvania rejected a request from the Trump campaign to set aside mail ballots cast at drop boxes so they can be challenged later as one big batch. The judge said this isn't necessary at this moment, because of related litigation that is ongoing, but that Trump can refile his request later.

No excuses for these quotes. They're Trump's.

No anonymous sources to quibble about here. No former staffers with an axe to grind or a buck to make. This time, it's from the horse's mouth.

Trump's been talking to Bob Woodward. On the phone. There are tapes.

The main headline. He knew in February that Covid-19 was going to be horrible but he intentionally downplayed it, he said, to avoid a panic.

The line that sticks out from CNN's story is that Trump does not seem to grasp that a President has a responsibility to protect the public.

"The virus has nothing to do with me," Trump told Woodward in their final interview in July. "It's not my fault. It's — China let the damn virus out."

We're approaching 200,000 American deaths from this thing.

There's a lot more there. That includes the unvarnished (and second-hand) view of Anthony Fauci that Trump is only interested in getting reelected.

People keep saying that. I don't understand how any of his actions have helped him.

Why would any President talk to Bob Woodward? Chris Cillizza's theory has to do with hubris.

The spin: Asked by a reporter Wednesday whether he misled the public about the seriousness of coronavirus by downplaying it, Trump said, "Well, I think if you said in order to reduce panic perhaps that's so. The fact is I'm a cheerleader for this country. I love our country."

He added: "And I don't want people to be frightened. I don't want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I'm not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We want to show strength."