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Defiant Trump tweets through the night about his ‘legal challenge’ to Biden victory

Donald Trump tweeted late into the night on Sunday, continuing to push claims of voter fraud as he refused to concede the election to Joe Biden.

In a slew of tweets sent around midnight Washington Time, the President pushed videos of his allies talking to Fox News and alleging voter fraud and other irregularities, while calling for all claims to be fully investigated before the election result is allowed to stand.

It comes amid reports that Trump is planning a series of rallies where he will show off obituaries of dead people that his campaign claims were allowed to vote, while touting other allegations of fraud.

The Trump campaign is also said to be putting together ‘a campaign-style media operation’ to challenge the result, while building up staff numbers in states where legal challenges and recounts are likely to go ahead.

‘We want to make sure we have an adequate supply of manpower on the ground for man-to-man combat,’ one adviser said.

It comes despite some Republicans urging him to accept defeat including former President George W. Bush who issued a message telling him the election’s outcome was ‘clear’ and Chris Christie who said it was time for him to show evidence or ‘move on.’ 

But others in the White House are backing Trump’s fight, including first lady Melania who tweeted to make clear that she was still with her husband on his war footing on Twitter. Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr. are aggressively tweeting claims of voter fraud – none of them with evidence – and demands for a ‘manual recount’ across the country.

Among the legal avenues identified by Trump’s allies are: 

  • Challenging the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision that ballots arriving up to three days late can be counted in the total. The US Supreme Court has already ruled those ballots must be kept segregated and tallied separately, while the case is pending
  • Alleging that at least 15 ballots, and as many as 100, have been cast on behalf of dead people in Pennsylvania
  • Pushing the FBI to investigate claims from a postal worker in Pennsylvania that supervisors instructed him to back-date the stamps on postal ballots 
  • Investigating ballot-counting software in Michigan that tallied 6,000 Trump votes as Biden votes. That error was caught an corrected, but the same software was used elsewhere, and the campaign want it checked
  • Investigating claims that up to 9,000 people who no longer live in Nevada were allowed to vote in the state
  • Investigating claims that people who went to vote on election day were told that their ballot had already been cast for them, by someone else
  • Raising doubts over software used to check signatures on mail-in ballots cast in Clark County, Nevada – though they have not said what they believe is wrong with the software

Donald Trump waves to supporters outside his golf club in Virginia on Sunday

A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump carries a semi-automatic rifle as he takes part in a 'Stop the Steal' protest in front of the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday

A supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump carries a semi-automatic rifle as he takes part in a ‘Stop the Steal’ protest in front of the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday

Trump supporters in Phoenix on Sunday as they chanted: 'Stop the Steal'

Trump supporters in Phoenix on Sunday as they chanted: ‘Stop the Steal’

Worshippers pray during a protest with Trump supporters demonstrating against the presidential election results at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michican on Sunday

Worshippers pray during a protest with Trump supporters demonstrating against the presidential election results at the State Capitol in Lansing, Michican on Sunday

Ken Starr, former Clinton prosecutor and now a member of Trump’s legal team, appeared on Fox News saying that he expects the Supreme Court to overturn the Pennsylvania ruling for being unconstitutional.

‘To count every vote may be a crime, it may even be a crime under federal law, it’s definitely a crime under state law, if that is – and here’s the key word – an illegal ballot,’ he said.

‘It’s shameful that Vice President Biden’s people and the Vice President himself are saying ‘count every vote’ and selling a lot of t-shirts, that is a potential and an invitation for absolute lawlessness.’

Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer and Republican Party official, summed up the strategy to BBC Radio 4, saying: ‘It’s not as if there is one magic bullet here.

‘There are a half dozen states that are still in play or disputed, and the President would need to win, at a minimum, Pennsylvania and two others. We believe that is possible.’

Because Trump needs to win Pennsylvania in order to have a chance of securing a second term, the campaign’s legal efforts are expected to focus there.

Top of the campaign’s hit-list will be a challenge to Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, which ruled that ballots arriving up to three days late can be counted after an appeal by Democrat governor Tom Wolf.

Defiant Trump tweets through the night about his 'legal challenge' to Biden victory

The case is already before the US Supreme Court, alleging that the state court does not have the power to make the change and that it must be passed by the state legislature instead.

Defiant Trump tweets through the night about his 'legal challenge' to Biden victory

Justice Samuel Alito has ruled that late-arriving ballots must be kept segregated and counted separately while the case is ongoing. It is not clear how many ballots have been segregated in this way.

Meanwhile Senator Lindsay Graham, speaking to Fox News, alleged that the Trump campaign has ‘canvassed all early ballots and absentee ballots in Pennsylvania’ and found at least 15 people whose ballots were cast despite the fact that they’re dead.

He said: ‘They’ve found over 100 people they think were dead, 15 people we’ve verified have been dead who voted, six people registered after they died and voted.’ 

Meanwhile Senator Ted Cruz was also on Fox News, raising doubts over software used to count votes in Michigan.

‘We’re hearing one county in Michigan where the election software mistakenly counted 6,000 votes cast for Donald Trump and switched them to Joe Biden.

‘They apparently caught that, but that same software is used in 47 counties throughout Michigan,’ he said.

Adam Laxalt, the former Attorney General of Nevada, also pointed out that machines were used to check the signatures on 200,000 ballots cast in Clark County.

‘No human beings looked at those signature matches to confirm that they were in fact matches,’ he said, without saying what he believes is wrong with the software.

Giving an overview of the situation on Fox News, retired Republican politician Jason Chaffetz said: ‘The President has legal avenues.

Ken Starr, former Clinton prosecutor and now lawyer for Donald Trump, said he expects the US Supreme Court to overturn a ruling in Pennsylvania that allowed ballots received up to three days after the election to be counted

Ken Starr, former Clinton prosecutor and now lawyer for Donald Trump, said he expects the US Supreme Court to overturn a ruling in Pennsylvania that allowed ballots received up to three days after the election to be counted

Ted Cruz

Lindsay Graham

Ted Cruz (left) raised doubts over software used to count ballots in Michigan, while Lindsay Graham (right) said he uncovered 15 ballots in Pennsylvania that were cast on behalf of dead people

Matt Gaetz and Jason Chaffertz (far right) both repeated claims of voting irregularity in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia as they spoke to Steve Hilton on Fox News

Matt Gaetz and Jason Chaffertz (far right) both repeated claims of voting irregularity in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia as they spoke to Steve Hilton on Fox News

‘The strongest are in Pennsylvania where the Supreme Court has said ‘you may not be able to unilaterally change [late ballot] dates’ and in Nevada where you’re having people who don’t live in Nevada anymore vote.’ 

All major cable and broadcast networks, along with major newspapers and international outlets, called the presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor on Saturday after he built up a considerable lead in Pennsylvania.

A win in the state, along with its 20 electoral college votes, put him on 273 electoral college votes – above the 270 needed for a win – without having to take any of the states remaining in play.

Nevada has since been declared for Biden, putting him on 279. Some networks have also called Arizona for the Democrat, which would put him on 290.

Counts are still underway in Alaska, Georgia, and North Carolina. Trump is widely expected to take Alaska, has the lead in North Carolina, but is narrowly behind in Georgia.

The Georgia result will almost certainly go to a recount because of the narrowness of the margin, while a recount is already underway in Wisconsin. 

Celebrations broke out in Democrat strongholds around the country news of Biden’s win spread, with people dancing in the streets of Philadelphia and New York.

But Trump has refused to concede, tweeting on Sunday: ‘Since when does the lamestream media get to decide who our next president will be? We’ve learned a lot in the last two weeks.’

Trump has been whipping up his supporters with claims of votes being stolen

Trump has been whipping up his supporters with claims of votes being stolen

Trump's supporters protest outside the state capital in Lansing, Michigan on Sunday

Trump’s supporters protest outside the state capital in Lansing, Michigan on Sunday

As Trump rallied his troops for a prolonged legal fight over the outcome, Axios reported that his media team will be headed by Tim Murtaugh, a former television reporter in Virginia who joined the Trump campaign in February 2019, and now serves as communications director.

One adviser told the site that Murtaugh’s group will issue ‘regular press briefings, releases on legal action and obviously things like talking points and booking people strategically on television.’

In Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania the Trump team is planning fresh legal challenges – many of those raised so far have already been dismissed. 

More than 90 campaign staff have been redeployed from Florida to Georgia, where former congressman Doug Collins will be leading the campaign’s recount efforts. 

In Arizona, Kory Langhofer, who was the counsel for Trump’s 2016 transition, will serve as lead attorney, Axios said.

And in Pennsylvania, Ronald Hicks, a partner in the Pittsburgh office of the Porter Wright law firm and co-chair of the firm’s election law practice, will lead the Trump campaign’s legal charge.

On Sunday night Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, told 60 Minutes that his office, which runs the vote count, has received death threats as a result of the Trump campaign’s accusation of vote rigging.

‘From the insight looking out, it feels all very deranged,’ he said.

‘At the end of the day we are counting eligible votes, cast by voters. The controversy surrounding it is something I don’t understand.

‘It’s people making accusations that we wouldn’t count those votes, or people are adding fraudulent votes, or – just, coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff.’ 

Bill Stepien (left), Trump's campaign manager, will be heavily involved in the efforts

Bill Stepien (left), Trump’s campaign manager, will be heavily involved in the efforts

Rudy Giuliani, pictured at the Philadelphia press conference on Saturday, will participate

Rudy Giuliani, pictured at the Philadelphia press conference on Saturday, will participate

The Trump’s formal legal team includes 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien, lawyer Justin Clark, and senior advisers Jason Miller and David Bossie.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, who delivered the memorable press conference on Saturday at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Philadelphia, is also fighting Trump’s legal battles.

Biden’s campaign, in turn, has assembled what it described as the largest election protection program in presidential campaign history, with a large team of attorneys ready to fight challenges. 

Bob Bauer, who served as general counsel to the Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012, worked with campaign general counsel Dana Remus on voter protection — an issue that thousands of Democratic lawyers around the country are also engaged in, according to the Biden campaign.

The campaign also created a special national litigation team involving hundreds of lawyers that will include as leaders Walter Dellinger, a solicitor general in the Clinton administration, and Donald Verrilli, a solicitor general under Obama.

Democratic lawyer Marc Elias and a team of lawyers from his firm, Perkins Coie, focused on protecting voter access and ensuring a fair and accurate vote count. 

On Sunday night it emerged that administrator of the General Services Administration, Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee who is in charge of federal buildings, was blocking the release of transition funds until the legal challenges had been resolved. 

‘An ascertainment has not yet been made,’ Pamela Pennington, a spokeswoman for GSA, said in an email to the Washington Post, ‘and its Administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law.’ 

 

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