U.S. President Donald Trump pushed ahead Thursday with his long-shot effort to upend his reelection loss to President-elect Joe Biden, meeting at the White House with Republican state attorneys general who are supporting a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas at the Supreme Court to attempt to invalidate millions of votes in states won by Biden.
Several legal experts were dismissive of the lawsuit’s chances of success, but Trump said on Twitter, “The Supreme Court has a chance to save our Country from the greatest Election abuse in the history of the United States.”
Twitter said Trump’s “claim about election fraud is disputed,” along with another contending the November 3 vote was the “Most corrupt Election in history, by far. We won!!!”
But Trump, after losing dozens of court challenges to Biden victories in political battleground states, has focused his bid to retain power on the Texas case, which was brought to the country’s top court by one of his supporters, state Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Paxton’s suit seeks to throw out the results in four key states that Biden won — Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin —with a total of 62 electoral votes. The Electoral College, not the national popular vote, determines the winner in U.S. presidential elections, with 270 electoral votes needed to secure a majority.
If current results stand, Biden will be elected by 306-232 on Monday when the electors meeting in 50 state capitals across the country cast their votes. Congress must review and certify the Electoral College outcome on January 6 in what is normally a routine function.
Trump, however, has been calling some Republican lawmakers to gauge whether any might contest the list of electors from states that narrowly supported Biden. If a House member and a senator challenge a state’s results, the whole Congress would vote on whether to certify any individual state’s electors.
That would force Republican lawmakers — many of whom have avoided taking a stand on the election for weeks — to acknowledge the voting results or side with Trump’s effort to overturn the outcome.
Republican Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama has said he will challenge the Biden victory, but it is unclear whether any senator will join his challenge.
Should any challenge in Congress come to a vote, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives would certainly vote against Trump, dooming his last chance at retaining power.
If Congress certifies the Electoral College outcome, Biden’s inauguration is set for noon January 20 on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Trump has neither conceded to Biden nor said whether he plans to attend his successor’s swearing-in ceremony.
In a brief order Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Pennsylvania Republicans to overturn Biden’s 81,000-vote victory in that state, marking the first time the country’s top court had weighed in on the election.
The ruling was the latest of dozens of legal losses across the country for Trump and his campaign as he tries to stay in office for another four years.
Seventeen states, all of which voted for Trump, expressed support for Paxton’s lawsuit in a court filing on Wednesday.
Paxton’s suit is based on a collection of claims of voting and vote-counting irregularities that have already been largely rejected in separate cases brought in state and federal courts. But Trump has persisted in his claims.
“There is massive evidence of widespread fraud in the four states (plus) mentioned in the Texas suit,” Trump contended on Twitter. “Just look at all of the tapes and affidavits!”
Trump said, “We will soon be learning about the word ‘courage,’ and saving our Country. I received hundreds of thousands of legal votes more, in all of the Swing States, than did my opponent. ALL Data taken after the vote says that it was impossible for me to lose, unless FIXED!”
Paxton claimed that election officials in the four states he sued used the COVID-19 pandemic as an unconstitutional justification to circumvent their state legislatures in setting election rules, “thereby weakening ballot integrity.”
Paxton’s complaint asks the court to extend the deadline for the Electoral College vote beyond Monday and to disallow electors from the four states, who are pledged to vote for Biden because he won the popular vote in these states. Paxton asked the Supreme Court to instead allow the state legislatures to appoint electors, presumably ones favoring Trump.
The Supreme Court gave the four states until Thursday to respond to Paxton’s suit, but their state attorneys general disparaged Paxton’s legal effort as misguided.
“With all due respect, the Texas attorney general is constitutionally, legally and factually wrong about Georgia,” said a spokeswoman for Chris Carr, Georgia’s Republican attorney general.
Attorneys General Dana Nessel of Michigan, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Josh Kaul of Wisconsin — all Democrats — called Paxton’s lawsuit an attempt to “mislead the public and tear at the fabric of our Constitution.”
“It’s well past time for the president and our fellow states and elected officials to stop misleading the public about this year’s election and to acknowledge that the results certified in our states reflect the decisions made by the voters in a free, fair and secure election,” they stated.
Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas, said of Paxton’s legal effort on Twitter, “It looks like we have a new leader in the ‘craziest lawsuit filed to purportedly challenge the election’ category.”
Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California-Irvine, called Paxton’s suit a “news release masquerading as a lawsuit,” in a blog post explaining his view of why the suit would fail.