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2 more defeats, a case withdrawn; Trump's fight to keep presidency narrows

A judge in Arizona tossed a Republican suit seeking a fresh audit of the vote in pivotal Maricopa County, which largely delivered that state to Biden

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US Presidential elections 2020 | Donald Trump

David Voreacos Erik Larson & Josh Wingrove | Bloomberg 

Attorneys L Lin Wood (C) and Mark Stephen (L). Photo: Bloomberg
Attorneys L Lin Wood (C) and Mark Stephen (L). Photo: Bloomberg

President Donald Trump’s fight to overturn the election has narrowed after two more legal defeats and a case withdrawal, as states prepare to certify their results.

US District Judge Steven Grimberg on Thursday evening rejected a suit by conservative lawyer and Trump ally L. Lin Wood, who had sought to prevent Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger from certifying the vote tally. Raffensperger did so on Friday, saying President-elect won Georgia and its 16 electoral votes by more than 12,000 votes. Trump won the state in 2016.

“To halt the certification at literally the 11th hour would breed confusion and potential disenfranchisement that I find has no basis in fact or in law,” Grimberg, a Trump appointee, ruled from the bench.

Grimberg’s decision came on a day when Trump’s legal team alleged widespread voter fraud while refusing to provide evidence to support their claims. A judge in Arizona tossed a Republican suit seeking a fresh audit of the vote in pivotal Maricopa County, which largely delivered that state to Biden. Earlier in the day, the Trump campaign pulled the plug on its own suit seeking to block Michigan’s voter certification, falsely claiming that it had already succeeded in stopping it.

But Trump’s legal team was busy pitching another reality at an off-the-rails press conference on Thursday, at which lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell claimed they were on the verge of winning the election for Trump by demonstrating a vast conspiracy involving widespread voter fraud abetted by Democratic leaders, a corrupt software company and deceased Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.

“President Trump won by a landslide,” Powell said at the press conference. “We are going to prove it.”

They are running out of time. Pennsylvania and Michigan are expected to follow Georgia in certifying their results on Monday or shortly thereafter. Trump needs to flip at least three states that voted for Biden to keep the White House. He’s pushing Republican state legislators to overrule voters, but most have rejected those overtures so far.

In the Atlanta suit, Wood had claimed Georgia state election board members violated the constitutional rights of voters through the way they allowed election officials to process defective absentee ballots. Wood had sought an injunction and a hand recount in Georgia’s 159 counties. The allegations were broadly similar to those brought by the Trump campaign in federal court in Pennsylvania seeking to block that state’s certification of its election results.

No Standing

Grimberg ruled that Wood lacked legal standing to bring his lawsuit and said he failed to show he was harmed. Pennsylvania is also moving to dismiss the campaign’s suit in that state for lack of standing and failure to allege a viable constitutional claim. The campaign claims voters in Republican-leaning counties were deprived of due process and equal protection because Democratic-leaning counties had different procedures for accepting or rejecting ballots.

In a Thursday response to the Trump campaign’s latest filing, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar slammed its effort to “fabricate a criminal conspiracy between the Secretary and certain Pennsylvania counties to steal the election -- an outrageous charge that has no basis in fact.”

Grimberg’s decision in the Georgia case came after Trump’s campaign said it was dropping its Michigan election lawsuit, falsely claiming it succeeded in halting certification of election results in Detroit and surrounding Wayne County, which were certified Tuesday evening.

The Trump campaign’s assertion is based on the attempt by two Republican canvassing board members to rescind their Tuesday votes in favor of certification. Democrats say it’s not possible for the two Republicans to walk back their votes.

In Arizona, the dismissal on Thursday ended a Republican effort to force a re-do of a ballot audit despite having no evidence of voter fraud or software errors. Democrats had accused the state GOP of intentionally trying to make Maricopa County miss the state’s Nov. 30 deadline for certifying results.

But Giuliani and Powell didn’t discuss those cases at their press conference, instead focusing a good deal of their time on Dominion Voting Systems Inc., which provided software to a number of states for the election. Powell falsely claimed Dominion’s software was created in Venezuela at the direction of Chavez, who died in 2013. She said her claim was backed by an affidavit filed in Wood’s lawsuit in Georgia.

Dominion, which has offices in Denver and Toronto, said it has no connection to Venezuela.

“The latest flood of absurdities is deeply concerning,” the company said in a statement issued Thursday, “not just for Dominion but also for our dedicated state and local partners and the electoral process on whole.”

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First Published: Sat, November 21 2020. 08:22 IST