Recount trial: Election official out, in, and out again

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The drama surrounding one of Norm Coleman's key witnesses is even confusing us and making us a bit dizzy. Why does this have to get so muddy?

Coleman's key witness for his claim of double voting, election worker Pamela Howell was removed from the stand earlier this week when Coleman's legal team failed to provide all of the notes to Al Franken's lawyers. The three-judge panel decided it was an honest mistake and put her back on the stand. Oops.

Turns out there is even more to this story and she was taken off the witness stand again. Give us a break.

More from Talking Points Memo:
This morning, Franken lawyer David Lillehaug was restarting his cross-examination of Howell, and inquired as to whether there had been any further communications between herself and Coleman. The answer was yes -- and Coleman lawyer Tony Trimble then had to cough up some private e-mails he'd sent to Howell in early January.

"Pam, the legal team and campaign have made a strategic litigation decision to hold off from having you sign and us file your affidavit at this time," Trimble (or possibly his assistant, Matt Hapooja) wrote on January 6, "to avoid tying you down to any particular testimony and to avoid having to disclose your name and statement."

Trimble assured Howell in the e-mail that she shouldn't worry -- that the campaign would be calling her at a later date and incorporating her into this case, just not at this time, and they were keeping her name private.

Howell wrote to them in late January to seek further clarification -- whether she would be coached, how much the Franken camp knew, etc. Trimble answered that there would be no further coaching, and the Franken camp didn't know about her statement.
Franken's lawyer wanted Howell's testimony to be re-stricken and for the panel to completely throw out Coleman's double-counting claim.

So if something doesn't stick, try something else. In the latest Coleman effort to get more votes, his team wants to reconsider all 287,000 absentee votes from the 2008 election. Wait, are you serious?

More from the Star Tribune:
His lawyers say thousands of accepted ballots would be illegal under the standards the three-judge panel set forth in a Feb. 13 ruling.

To date, the trial has focused mainly on absentee ballots the sides say were mistakenly rejected. But Coleman now wants the court to examine the outer envelopes for all accepted absentee ballots to determine whether they were properly filled out.

The challenge is that accepted absentee ballots are separated from the outer envelopes and there is no way to reconnect the two now.

Looks like Coleman's team is setting up for a big-time Minnesota Supreme Court appeal. Are you ready for it?
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