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News brief: Georgia election probe, Alaska House seat, Kenyan election results

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The FBI search of Donald Trump's home is just one of several criminal proceedings involving the former president.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The court-authorized search recovered boxes of documents marked classified or top secret. The warrant included possible violations of laws, including the Espionage Act. A different investigation examines one of Trump's many efforts to overturn the 2020 election. A Georgia grand jury is studying his pressure on state officials to, quote, "find extra votes" so he could win by exactly one vote. Now a lawyer for Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani says he is a target of that investigation.

INSKEEP: Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting joins us once again. Stephen, good morning.

STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: Why would Giuliani be a target of the Georgia investigation?

FOWLER: Well, it's important to remind people that Rudy Giuliani is right there in the middle of Trump's efforts to undo his loss and why the DA's office here notified him he's moved from a witness to a target of their investigation. He's been one of the biggest megaphones for Trump's false claims of voter fraud post-2020 and is being sued by voting machine vendors and poll workers alike for some of those claims. That's where Georgia comes in. After the presidential election, he appeared in front of state lawmakers and made a number of far-fetched claims that officials debunked, including that two Black election workers were manipulating election results, like he said here in 2020.

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RUDY GIULIANI: Quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine. I mean, it's obvious to anyone who's a criminal investigator or prosecutor. They are engaged in surreptitious, illegal activity again that day.

FOWLER: That, of course, is not what happened, Steve. The women testified to Congress that they had passed a ginger mint. And these women faced death threats because of those false claims.

INSKEEP: There's news of another Trump supporter here, Stephen, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. We know that Trump made phone calls to overturn the election. And Graham also phoned the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger. What do investigators want to know from him?

FOWLER: Well, so Graham is a witness and not a target. That's an important distinction. Raffensperger said his impression of those calls was that Graham wanted him to reject absentee ballots that had already been counted. Graham disagrees with that characterization and also said he should not have to testify about the call under several privileges that come with being a U.S. senator. A federal judge disagreed. Monday, a ruling came down that said Graham's call to the secretary of state fell outside certain constitutional protections, and that the grand jury seemed to have questions about things other than calls with elections officials. So he should answer them.

INSKEEP: Well, Trump is the one who was recorded calling Raffensperger and saying he wanted to find 11,780 votes so that he could win the state by one vote. Do prosecutors want Trump to testify?

FOWLER: It's unclear if and when Donald Trump will face a subpoena. But he did just hire a well-known local criminal defense attorney in Georgia to help handle what might be coming. This lawyer, Drew Findling, is most known for representing famous rappers and other high-profile clients. But this obviously might be the biggest case yet. Besides that, there's still plenty of other witnesses to come. Rudy Giuliani is still slated to appear tomorrow in Atlanta. Lindsey Graham is appealing the decision ordering him to testify. And several other figures inside and outside Trump's orbit have been subpoenaed to answer questions in this far-reaching probe.

INSKEEP: OK. Stephen, thanks so much for the update, really appreciate it.

FOWLER: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting.

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INSKEEP: Some big names in the Republican Party are facing elections today.

FADEL: Yes. In Wyoming, Congresswoman Liz Cheney is fighting to keep her seat in a primary. The leading Republican is struggling with long odds amid her effort to investigate former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his election defeat. And in Alaska, a Trump-endorsed candidate is trying to make a comeback. Sarah Palin is running in a special election for the U.S. House.

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SARAH PALIN: The overtaxed and overregulated had-it-up-to-here mama grizzlies and every day, liberty-loving Joe Sixpack, that's us. That's Alaska.

INSKEEP: Liz Ruskin of Alaska Public Media is covering that campaign and joins us. Welcome.

LIZ RUSKIN, BYLINE: Thank you.

INSKEEP: Wasn't Sarah Palin out of politics for years and years?

RUSKIN: Yes. It's been 14 years since she was a vice presidential nominee and 13 years since she resigned as governor. Since then, she's been on Fox News. She had a reality TV show. She was on a singing show, "Masked Singer." And now we have an open seat in the U.S. House for the first time in 50 years. And she's decided it's for her. And she's one of three people running.

INSKEEP: What does it mean that she has Trump's endorsement in this special election?

RUSKIN: She was Trumpy before Trump entered politics. She had the idea of grievance against elites. She was angry at the media all the time. Those are elements that Trump picked up on later. But she had those before he did.

INSKEEP: And now he's supporting her. But how does this special election in Alaska work?

RUSKIN: Oh, it's very unusual. We have a new system. It pairs an open primary that's nonpartisan - all the candidates on one ballot. The top four advance from the primary. And at the general, we have ranked-choice voting. And this election is actually two elections in one. It's the special for U.S. House to fill the remainder of the late Congressman Don Young's term. And then it's also a primary for all the other races. And on that, it's pick one. So there's potential for voters to be really confused.

INSKEEP: Well, let's try to be as clear as we can. Who were the other key opponents of Sarah Palin in this vote?

RUSKIN: In the special she's running against Nick Begich III, who comes from a prominent Democratic family. His grandfather and uncle served in Congress. He's running as a conservative Republican. And even though Trump is supporting Palin, Begich has a lot of support from pro-Trump conservatives. And then we have Democrat Mary Peltola. She served in the state legislature for 10 years. She's Alaskan native. And she has the support of Begich's Democratic family members.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) Thanksgiving is going to be interesting in the Begich household this fall, I suppose.

RUSKIN: Very.

INSKEEP: OK. Liz Ruskin of Alaska Public Media. Glad you're there.

RUSKIN: Thank you.

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INSKEEP: According to the head of an election commission, Kenya has a new president-elect.

FADEL: The current deputy president, William Ruto, narrowly defeated his challenger. In some parts of Kenya, people received the news with violent protests, others celebrated.

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UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in non-English language).

FADEL: The announcement follows a bitter election and a chaotic announcement of the results.

INSKEEP: All of which NPR's East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta has been covering. He is in Nairobi. Hey there, Eyder.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: So how did yesterday unfold?

PERALTA: Oof. It was chaos. First off, right before an announcement, four out of the seven electoral commissioners in the country defected. They left the main tallying center and told reporters that the counting was, quote, "opaque" and they couldn't stand by the final result. And it's important to note that one of the lead candidates in this race had already made claims of rigging. And so the electoral chief pressed on after this happened. And when he got onstage to announce the results, he was attacked. A mob just jumped onstage. They hit some elections officials with chairs. And somehow, the choir kept singing. And somehow, the commissioner came back onstage and declared the results. He said that Deputy President William Ruto had beat Kenya's longtime opposition leader, Raila Odinga, by a slim margin - less than 2% of the vote.

INSKEEP: I don't want to get lost in the intricacies of Kenyan election law. But if four of the seven members of the commission defected and did not accept the results, but the head of the commission said the results, those are the results? That is - it's legal? That - this is a final finding?

PERALTA: Well, look; the opposition leader, the loser here, has seven days to take this to court. And I'm sure that will be litigated.

INSKEEP: What have you been hearing and seeing outside of that chaotic and attacked announcement of the election results?

PERALTA: So look; last night, we heard celebration, but also anger because this is a bitterly divided country, as that result tells you. It's almost 50-50. And at least a couple of people were killed in the violent protests that erupted last night. But then, as the night wore on and the fire started to die down, I heard reflection. I spoke to a young guy, Martin Iming'a (ph). And he was hoping that the violence that we had seen earlier wouldn't turn tribal, as it has done before here in Kenya. Essentially, he said he was hoping that Kenyans wouldn't once again get dragged into the disagreements of their politicians. Let's listen.

MARTIN IMING'A: My - I'm from Masai. I'm a Masai. My neighbor is a Luo. If I go to my neighbor, he's the one who will give me salt if I don't have salt. So if I think something beyond election, then I will not fight my neighbor.

INSKEEP: I want to understand what exactly is going on with the opposition here, Eyder, which seems to be the key question. We in the United States witnessed in the last couple of years a circumstance in which a presidential candidate had, clearly, a strategy. He talked about how the election was going to be fraudulent months before. And then on the night of the election, according to plan, declared himself the winner without any evidence that he was the winner whatsoever. It was just a lie...

PERALTA: Yeah.

INSKEEP: ...But it was part of a larger strategy. When Odinga declares or stopped short of accepting the election results, is that, as far as you can tell, a strategy? Or is he just waiting for the final, final, final result? What's going on here?

PERALTA: I think it's a strategy. Raila Odinga has run five presidential campaigns before. And the last time around, he ran, he lost. The courts here threw out that first election. They reran it. And right now, this started as one of the most credible elections that Kenya has run. They made public raw data about 46,000 polling stations. And he is saying that they're rigged. But he's providing no evidence for it so far.

INSKEEP: Eyder, thanks for the update, really appreciate it.

PERALTA: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eyder Peralta is in Nairobi. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.