President Trump’s legal team is preparing appeals and new lawsuits for Monday, not letting a string of courtroom losses end its quest to overturn the projected outcome of the Nov. 3 election.
The uphill battle became a steeper climb after a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed with prejudice the campaign’s last major legal challenge to the election. The setback prompted some of Mr. Trump’s closest allies to intensify calls for him to give up the litigation.
“Quite frankly, the conduct of the president’s legal team has been a national embarrassment,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told ABC’s “This Week.”
Mr. Christie was the first of Mr. Trump’s major 2016 presidential-primary rivals to endorse him and also helped him prepare for the 2020 presidential debates.
But Mr. Trump’s campaign vowed to fight on to keep presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden out of the White House.
The lawyers are working on an appeal of the dismissed Pennsylvania case to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and setting their sights on a showdown in the Supreme Court.
“Today’s decision turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although we fully disagree with this opinion, we’re thankful to the Obama-appointed judge for making this anticipated decision quickly, rather than simply trying to run out the clock,” the Trump campaign’s top lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, said in a statement.
A notice of appeal was filed Sunday and the campaign also demanded a second recount in Georgia. This time it’s demanding signature analysis for mail-in ballots, and they’ve hinted at a major election-fraud lawsuit to come.
At press conferences and in interviews, the president’s lawyers said they have evidence of widespread voter fraud that lowered Mr. Trump’s vote tally while increasing Mr. Biden’s total.
They also said Democratic-run cities coordinated to keep Republican poll watchers from reviewing mail-in ballots and alleged manipulation of the voting machines used in more than two dozen states.
None of their lawsuits thus far alleged a widespread conspiracy or fraud involving voting software.
Sidney Powell, who appeared along side Mr. Trump’s lawyers at last week’s press conference, has been the main attorney accusing voting software of security issues.
On Sunday, the campaign issued a statement appearing to distance itself from Ms. Powell.
“Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity,” said Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Ellis.
In the dismissed Pennsylvania case, the president’s lawyers argued that state officials caused a constitutional crisis by treating Republican and Democratic voters differently. They asked the federal court to halt certification of the results.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, argued that Republican counties were not allowed to cure mail-in ballots while voters in Democratic counties were able to fix errors with their absentee ballots before Election Day.
The lawsuit aimed to throw out more than 600,000 ballots from heavily Democratic counties around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Judge Matthew Brann, who was appointed by President Obama, dismissed the case Saturday. In a blistering opinion, he chastised the Trump legal team for what he said was an attempt to disenfranchise 7 million voters.
He said the president’s lawyers presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that he said were “unsupported by evidence.”
“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more,” the judge wrote in dismissing the case “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be refiled.
Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general, took to Twitter to comment on Saturday’s ruling, saying “Another one bites the dust.”
Mr. Trump called the ruling politically motivated.
“Other than politics, how do you lose a case where large numbers of voters, far more than you need to flip Pennsylvania, are disenfranchised? Vote Observers thrown out of counting rooms. People going to vote finding out they have already voted through a fake ballot — go home!” he tweeted.
The Trump campaign made similar arguments in a Michigan lawsuit, accusing the city of Detroit of election irregularities. The campaign withdrew that lawsuit Thursday.
In Pennsylvania, where the deadline to certify results is Monday, Mr. Biden is leading Mr. Trump by more than 80,000 votes or 1.2 percentage points. In Michigan, where the certification deadline is Dec. 13, Mr. Biden is ahead by more than 155,000 votes or 2.8 percentage points.
Pennsylvania’s counties must certify their results Monday for Kathy Boockvar, the secretary of the commonwealth and its top elections official. She will then make her own certification and Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, will alert the winning candidate’s electors, so they can appear in the Capitol in Harrisburg on Dec. 14 to vote.
Nearly three weeks after the election, Mr. Trump appears far from his goal of reversing the projected outcome.
The most likely path to victory for Mr. Trump would have been through Pennsylvania. If he prevailed there somehow, he would also need to reverse his projected loss in at least two other states to reach the 270 electoral votes required to win the White House.
A Trump-requested recount is now underway in two Wisconsin counties. Mr. Trump tails Mr. Biden in the state by about 20,600 votes or 0.7 percentage points. Wisconsin’s certification deadline is Dec. 1.
The first recount in Georgia closed Mr. Biden’s winning margin by some, but did not come close to overturning the initial 14,000-vote margin.
Mr. Trump’s team petitioned the state Saturday for another recount. This time, they want to look at signatures on mail-in ballots to throw out any that are suspect of fraud.
“We are focused on ensuring that every aspect of Georgia State Law and the U.S. Constitution are followed so that every legal vote is counted. President Trump and his campaign continue to insist on an honest recount in Georgia, which has to include signature matching and other vital safeguards. Without signature matching, this recount would be a sham and again allow for illegal votes to be counted. If there is no signature matching, this would be as phony as the initial vote count and recount. Let’s stop giving the People false results,” Mr. Trump’s lawyers said in a statement.
The original hand recount uncovered more than 3,000 ballots that had not originally been tabulated. It did not change the outcome. Mr. Biden took the state’s 16 electoral college votes by about 12,600 votes or a 0.2% margin
• This article was based in part on wire service reports.