A group of former U.S. attorneys working under Republican administration issued a joint statement on Thursday night, criticizing President Donald Trump’s false allegations of election fraud and recent efforts to stop the counting of ballots in Pennsylvania and other key combat zone states.
The statement, signed by 19 former federal law enforcement officials, came just before Trump’s first public statements since early Wednesday morning when he prematurely declared himself the winner of the general election.
The incumbent GOP candidate and his re-election campaign announced several lawsuits aimed at stopping the counting of votes in all states of the United States during the following day, as Trump repeatedly claimed that some votes had been cast or counted illegally. Many critics underscored the lack of evidence to support his claims, while Twitter and Facebook worked to prevent the spread of false statements by the president and his supporters.
Those who drafted Thursday’s statement said they felt “compelled to speak out against President Trump’s hasty, unfounded and ruthless statements about the vote in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,” noting the way his actions undermine civil procedure and, by extension, American democracy.
“Unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and threats of legal action to stop the vote count are clearly inappropriate and have the potential to undermine the rule of law as it applies to our electoral process,” the statement said.
“Furthermore, it is unwise and irresponsible for a candidate, let alone the President of the United States, to unjustly claim victory before every single vote has been counted,” it continued. “Therefore, we hereby call upon the President to patiently and respectfully allow the legitimate counting of votes to continue in accordance with applicable federal and state laws and to avoid any further comments or other actions that can only serve to undermine our democracy.
Trump’s Thursday night press conference sparked a broad backlash, even from conservative colleagues, after he renewed unfounded proposals about “election fraud” and the Democrats’ plan to “steal the presidency. He again claimed to have won Tuesday’s election, although the race had not yet been declared and officials in several contested states were still tabulating ballots at the time of his conference. Nevertheless, “If you count the legal votes, I [the election]win easily,” Trump insisted. “If you count the illegal votes, they may try to steal the election from us.
In nearly two dozen U.S. states, it is possible to tabulate ballots received by mail after election day and add them to the final vote count. In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign is pursuing a lawsuit aimed at stopping the tabulation of ballots and invalidating postal ballots by various means. A legal attempt is being made to challenge a state law that allows voting departments to accept and count votes received by mail for 72 hours after election day. Both legal experts and political leaders have found that the Trump campaign is unable to pursue its claims in connection with illegal election procedures. His claims about election fraud are generally unfounded.
Washington Newsday asked the Trump campaign for comments, but did not receive a response in time for publication.