President Trump’s legal fight over the Nov. 3 election scored a rare win Wednesday when a Pennsylvania state court sided with Republicans contesting the state results.
The judge halted further certification of the state’s election results.
The win, though far from reversing the projected nationwide win for presumed President-elect Joseph R. Biden, kept alive Mr. Trump’s claims that widespread mishandling of ballots tainted results in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Arizona.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania held a hearing on accusations of rampant fraud and irregularities in the vote-counting.
“All that we ask is that you listen to the facts we are presenting and then evaluate it,” said Rudolph W. Giuliani, the lead lawyer for the Trump campaign legal team. “We don’t want to disenfranchise anyone.”
Mr. Giuliani presented witnesses who said that, despite their jobs as designated Republican poll watchers, they were prevented from inspecting mail-in ballots in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and elsewhere in the state.
More than 670,000 ballots lacked proper inspection and should be tossed, according to the Trump campaign.
Another witness who performed a data analysis testified that there appeared to be manipulation of ballot tabulation.
The hearing, which was hosted by the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee, was informal and conducted at the Wyndham Hotel.
State Sen. David Argall, chairman of the policy committee, said the event was intended to examine local, county, state, and federal conduct in the election. He noted that his office received tens of thousands of calls from constituents upset with the handling of the election.
Mr. Trump planned to attend the event but the White House canceled travel plans after one of the president’s senior campaign advisers, Boris Epshteyn, announced he tested positive for COVID-19.
The president did speak remotely by phone, calling the people that were testifying and coming forward with election complaints “patriots.”
“I really appreciate being asked to speak and I am in the Oval Office right now, and it is very interesting to see what is going on and this was an election we won easily. We won it by a lot,” Mr. Trump said. “This is not the United States of America.”
“This election was rigged and we can’t let that happen,” the president added. “This election has to be turned around.”
Mr. Trump’s legal team told the lawmakers they could subpoena the envelopes for mail-in ballots for review, call for a special election, or choose the Trump slate as the state’s electors.
While the president’s legal team made its case to the lawmakers in Gettysburg, Judge Patricia McCullough for the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued the order freezing the certification process pending an evidentiary hearing scheduled for Friday.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and Gov. Tom Wolf, both Democrats, announced Tuesday that they certified the results and named Mr. Biden the winner.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said the state will appeal Judge McCullough’s order to the state Supreme Court.
“This order does not impact yesterday’s appointment of electors,” he tweeted.
The lawsuit seeking the injunction was brought by two Republicans, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly and congressional candidate Sean Parnell.
Mr. Trump’s campaign was not a party to the case. The campaign also has an appeal pending before the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a lawsuit that was dismissed this week by a federal district court judge.
The campaign argued that several counties violated the Constitution by treating Republican and Democratic voters differently, letting voters in Democrat-heavy counties fix mistakes on mail-in ballots and not giving the same opportunity to voters in Republican counties.
A lower court judge dismissed the case Saturday, saying there was no evidence of widespread fraud sufficient to toss out hundreds of thousands of ballots, but the president’s legal team has vowed to fight on to the Supreme Court.
The campaign and the state of Pennsylvania have filed their arguments with the court, but oral argument had not been scheduled by Wednesday evening.
In Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden is leading Mr. Trump by more than 80,000 votes or 1.2%.
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 somehow he still prevailed there, he would also need to take reverse his projected loss in at least two other states to reach the 270 electoral votes required to win the White House.
The campaign is fighting to make up ground in Wisconsin and Georgia.
A recount is underway in Wisconsin in two of the state’s largest counties, and the Trump campaign is pushing for a second recount in Georgia but this time demanding signature matching for mail-in ballots.
The first recount in Georgia did not change the results showing Mr. Biden won, but it did uncover more than 3,000 ballots that had not originally been tabulated. The discovery, though, 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. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin recount likely won’t wrap up until just before the state’s certification deadline of Dec. 1. Mr. Trump trails Mr. Biden in the state by about 20,600 votes or 0.7%.
The campaign announced Tuesday it planned to hold hearings before Republican lawmakers in Michigan and Arizona as well, but local media reported Wednesday that there were no formal plans for hearings by lawmakers in either state.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the status of those planned events.