WASHINGTON (AP) – Monday seemed to be the end of President Donald Trump’s relentless election challenges after the federal government acknowledged that President-elect Joe Biden was the “apparent winner” and Trump cleared the way for co-operation cooperation.
But his baseless claims have a way to return. And back. And back.
On Thursday, after a White House Thanksgiving conversation with troops stationed overseas, Trump suddenly set off and angrily claimed – still without any evidence – that there was “huge fraud” behind his defeat.
Trump reported on officials on the battlefield states that had been lost as communists and enemies of the state, speaking to news teams gathered to watch the traditional festive conversation with the military. Trump also announced that he will travel to Georgia to join tens of thousands of supporters on Dec. 5, before two runs there that will likely determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate.
The 2020 presidential race will become a zombie election that Trump simply won’t let die. Despite dozens of legal and procedural failures, his campaign continues to pose new challenges that have little hope of success and new, unfounded fraud claims.
But that’s the point. Trump’s strategy, his allies, agreed in private, was not to change the outcome, but to make fantastic claims about the 2020 presidential race that will doubt infect the nation and remain faithful to its foundation, even though the winner – Biden was clear and there is no evidence for mass electoral fraud.
“The zombies are the dead who walk among the living – this lawsuit is the same.” said Franita Tolson, a professor at the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California. “As for the lawsuits that could change the choice, these cases are basically dead people.”
This is a strategy that is tolerated by many Republicans, notably Senate Majority Leader Kentucky Mitch McConnell, who insists on Trump as he faces the test of retaining his own power in Georgia in the form of two run-down elections in January.
“This is truly a version of the polite coup,” said Thomas Mann, a senior resident scientist at the Institute of Government Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. “This could end quickly if the Republican Party recognizes what is happening. But they oppose Trump contacting the base.
A day after Trump said his administration needs to start working with Biden’s team, three more lawsuits were filed by Allies trying to stop certification in two more battlefield states. In Minnesota, a judge did not rule on the lawsuit, and the state verified Biden’s findings. Another document was filed in Wisconsin that only certifies on Tuesday. Arizona Republicans filed a complaint against the vote; state certification is due on Monday.
According to the campaign’s legal team, state legislators in Arizona and Michigan are holding meetings in the election “to make sure all legal votes were counted and illegal votes were not counted in the November 3 election”.
In Pennsylvania, where Republican state lawmakers met in Gettysburg on Wednesday to investigate election-related complaints, attorney Rudy Giuliani Trump attended in person and Trump dialed from the Oval Office.
“We have all the evidence,” Trump said. “All we need is for some judges to listen properly without political opinion.”
But the strongest legal reprimand still came from a conservative Republican judge in Pennsylvania federal court who on Saturday dismissed a Trump team lawsuit aimed at throwing election results. The judge warned the Trump campaign in a probative judgment over a lack of evidence. The campaign appealed.
Trump’s allies recognized him privately their plan will never overturn the results, rather it could provide Trump with a loss he doesn’t have and offer an opportunity for his base to stay true to anything.
“And then our governance and policy will be hell because it will continue from its own perch what it does,” Mann predicted.
Emily Murphy, Chief Executive of the General Services Administration, Biden declared this procedural, yet critical, step on Monday as a clear winner that allowed the transition to begin in earnest. He then decided that Trump’s efforts to destroy the vote in battlefield states had failed. He cited “recent developments that have brought legal challenges and justification of election results”.
Michigan confirmed Biden’s 154,000 victory on Monday, despite Trump calling on GOP members to stop voting to allow audit forms to be audited in Wayne County, where Trump claims to have been a victim of fraud. Biden crushed the president there by more than 330,000 votes.
“The role of the board today is very clear,” said Aaron Van Langevelde, the Republican vice president. “It is our duty to justify the election on the basis of these declarations.”
Nevertheless, Trump’s legal team rejected the rating as “simply a procedural step” and insisted on continuing to fight.
Trump and his allies have filed at least four cases in Michigan that, unsuccessfully, the state wanted to block, in whole or in part, the verification of election results.
In Pennsylvania, after being certified as a winner by Governor Tom Wolf, the appellate court judge instructed state officials to take further steps to verify the election results. The state filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
In Arizona, when a woman’s attorneys in the Phoenix area rejected a claim that the equipment couldn’t pick up her ballot because she added a county-issued Sharpie pen, Trump’s campaign sparked her own lawsuit, echoing the same complaints. As this lawsuit was soon dismissed, the woman’s lawyers opened a new case in which they revived the claims and demanded that her vote be released. Now all three cases have been dismissed.
“The legal process seems to be unfolding in the usual way, but the Trump campaign has clearly expressed a desire to throw wrenches into the system wherever possible,” said Lisa Marshall Manheim, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law.
Richer reported from Boston. Associated Press writers, Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Jacques Billeaud in the Phoenix and Steve Karnowski in St. Paul, Minnesota, contributed to this report.