The President’s legal team, ruining time-honored traditions of a peaceful transfer of power, is firing off long-shot court challenges and heaping pressure on state election officials. His aides are stoking a political storm apparently designed to destroy Joe Biden’s presidency before it starts and to shield Trump from the historic humiliation that comes with losing an election after only a single term.
A critical point, however, may be nearing in the confrontation between the administration and the President-elect’s team over Trump’s refusal to initiate a transition, with vote certifications due Monday in Michigan and in most counties in Pennsylvania.
If local officials move ahead despite the interference of a White House flinging baseless claims of mass fraud, they will effectively confirm yet again Biden’s capture of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Trump’s position will therefore become less tenable even if he refuses to back away from false claims that he won on November 3.
Trump’s attempts to throw out millions of lawfully cast ballots in order to win a second term by malfeasance are unfolding as the official leading the Covid-19 vaccine effort warned on CNN Sunday that a proper transition would be preferable, given the vital task of swiftly inoculating tens of millions of Americans.
“What we’re looking for is access to real-time information about what’s being worked on with vaccine distribution and with vaccine development and all the plans for that moving forward,” Jen Psaki, senior adviser for the transition team, told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Trump’s legal team turns on itself
Giuliani on Sunday lodged an ultra long-shot appeal to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in an approach increasingly disconnected from reality. His team is asking judges to effectively disenfranchise millions of Americans without offering admissible evidence of fraud.
In the hall of mirrors in which Trump’s legal team operates, a stinging rebuke from a judge is simply interpreted as validation for a legal strategy steeped in conspiracy theories, lies and paranoia. Giuliani greeted the humiliating put-down by Brann not as confirmation of a laughable case but as a decision that “turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
The outlandish nature of such claims is forcing some high-profile Republicans to say enough is enough for Trump’s destructive, democracy-tainting behavior.
Hours after Trump’s legal defeat Saturday, Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is shielded from being primaried by Trump supporters since he is not running for another term in 2022, said the decision by Brann, “a longtime conservative Republican,” meant the President’s legal options had been exhausted and he congratulated “President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.”
Christie, who helped the President prepare for this year’s debates, said that for all the bizarre claims that Giuliani’s team makes in court, they do not produce evidence of fraud when they come before a judge.
“I have been a supporter of the President’s. I voted for him twice, but elections have consequences, and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn’t happen,” Christie, an ABC contributor, said.
He pointed to Saturday’s statement from third-ranking House Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who said Trump should respect “the sanctity of our electoral process” if he can’t prove his claims in court.
Hogan, a frequent Trump critic, said on “State of the Union” that “it’s time for them to stop the nonsense. It just gets more bizarre every single day. And, frankly, I’m embarrassed that more people in the party aren’t speaking up.” The Maryland governor’s comments earned a tweeted rebuke from the President.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer, a Trump ally, did not openly break with the President, but did say a transition ought to begin. And on “Fox News Sunday,” former Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah said that while he hoped Trump, whom he has staunchly supported, would eventually prevail, the White House should “loosen up that money” Biden needs to run his transition in order to assure the continuity of government.
Michigan, a battleground that went for Trump in 2016 but where Biden won by more than 150,000 votes this year, will be in the spotlight again on Monday with a key Republican on the state’s canvassing board expected to vote against certifying the election.
In Pennsylvania, where Biden’s margin is more than 81,000 votes, most of the county Boards of Elections are expected to meet on Monday to certify their election results. Philadelphia is expected to meet Monday or Tuesday depending on a pending lawsuit filed in state court attempting to delay certification. Counties send results to Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, who will award the state’s 20 electoral votes to the winner.
The cascading certification deadlines and continued reversals in court mean that Trump’s already thin hopes of overturning the election results are becoming more miniscule by the day.