ABC's Karl uncritically quoted Cornyn's baseless claim that Schumer "believes" Franken "should be seated without an election certificate"

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

ABC News' Jonathan Karl uncritically quoted Sen. John Cornyn's assertion that "[o]ne can't help but wonder why Senator [Chuck] Schumer believes Al Franken should be seated without an election certificate signed by both the Secretary of State and Governor, as Minnesota law requires." In fact, Schumer has not advocated bypassing legal requirements; he reportedly said that "it is now clear that Al Franken won the election," but added that "there are still possible legal issues that will run their course."

In a January 4 blog post on ABC News' The Note about the Minnesota Senate race, senior congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl uncritically quoted Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman John Cornyn's (TX) assertion that "[o]ne can't help but wonder why Senator [Chuck] Schumer [D-NY] believes Al Franken should be seated without an election certificate signed by both the Secretary of State and Governor, as Minnesota law requires. ... It appears that if Senator Schumer had his way, Minnesota's election laws would be disregarded." In fact, Schumer has not advocated bypassing legal requirements. In a January 4 statement -- which Karl did not provide -- Schumer reportedly said that "it is now clear that Al Franken won the election," but added that "there are still possible legal issues that will run their course." Schumer concluded: "With the Senate set to begin meeting on Tuesday to address the important issues facing the nation, it is crucial that Minnesota's seat not remain empty, and I hope this process will resolve itself as soon as possible." Schumer did not say that Franken should be seated "without an election certificate signed by both the Secretary of State and Governor."

From Schumer's statement, as posted on the TPM Election Central blog at 2:15 p.m. on January 4:

With the Minnesota recount complete, it is now clear that Al Franken won the election. The Canvassing Board will meet tomorrow to wrap up its work and certify him the winner, and while there are still possible legal issues that will run their course, there is no longer any doubt who will be the next Senator from Minnesota. Even if all the ballots Coleman claims were double counted or erroneously added were resolved in his favor, he still wouldn't have enough votes to win. With the Senate set to begin meeting on Tuesday to address the important issues facing the nation, it is crucial that Minnesota's seat not remain empty, and I hope this process will resolve itself as soon as possible.

From Karl's entry on The Note, posted on ABCNews.com on January 4 at 8:42 p.m.:

Republicans are loudly complaining that Democrats -- specifically Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer of New York -- have declared Al Franken the winner of the Minnesota Senate race.

The state canvassing board is expected to conclude Monday that Franken has won by 225 votes, but legal challenges continue and Gov. Tim Pawlenty won't certify the results until those challenges run their course.

Meanwhile, Minnesota now has only one senator. As of noon Saturday, Norm Coleman was no longer a senator -- his term expired. It's unclear whether he will now be booted from his offices, but he has no legal standing to either his office space or his staff.

Here is the statement from Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman John Cornyn, who basically calls Schumer a hypocrite for proclaiming the uncertified Franken a senator while refusing to recognize the uncertified Roland Burris -- indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pick to fill Barack Obama's vacated seat -- a senator:

"While I recognize that as the Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the 2008 elections, Senator Schumer is not ambivalent about the outcome of this election, his victory proclamation for Al Franken is troubling on at least a couple of levels.

"First, there is the matter of Minnesota law and double standards. One can't help but wonder why Senator Schumer believes Al Franken should be seated without an election certificate signed by both the Secretary of State and Governor, as Minnesota law requires, when that is the very reason Democratic leaders are citing for not seating Mr. Burris from Illinois. It appears that if Senator Schumer had his way, Minnesota's election laws would be disregarded.

"Then, there is the pending Supreme Court case and likely election contest that will ultimately decide, consistent with Minnesota law, who won the election. Senator Schumer's exultations are premature to say the least. Minnesota voters' choices must be respected and not the choices of political leaders in Washington.

"Finally, as the new Chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over contested elections, Senator Schumer will likely play a key role in determining who ultimately assumes this Senate seat. Pre-judging the outcome while litigation is still pending calls into question his ability to impartially preside over this matter when it comes before the Committee, as it most certainly will."

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Elections
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Jonathan Karl
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The Note
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2008 Elections
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