The morning after one of the closest presidential elections in the history of the United States, President Trump’s campaign aides hurled lawsuits against controversial states and expressed their confidence with optimistic clichés. The White House and the election campaign still insisted that the president was on the road to victory despite the backlog in the critical states of the Midwest, Michigan and Wisconsin. As a staffer who was not authorized to speak on the record told Washington Newsday, the campaign’s legal strategy in several states could allow them to “pull a rabbit out of the hat” – while the recognition of the efforts was a “Hail Mary”.
At noon, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, along with Campaign Director Bill Stepien and other top officials, gathered at the campaign’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and played out what the future holds. The campaign filed a complaint in Michigan for an immediate halt to the vote count, claiming that Republican campaign observers were not sufficiently represented in the vote count.
“We are also calling for a review of the ballots that were opened and counted while we had no meaningful access,” Stepien said.
The president’s campaign used similar allegations of lack of access to the ballot counting process in his petition to stop the counting of votes in a reliable blue district in Nevada.
Trump agents vowed to file a petition for a recount in Wisconsin, which is permitted under state law if the margin is less than one percent. The current margin between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is 0.6 percent. Re-counts rarely reverse presidential votes; Wisconsin, after Trump’s narrow victory in 2016, conducted a recount that changed just over 300 votes.
Late Wednesday, the campaign sent a high-profile group led by Eric Trump and Rudy Giuliani to a press conference and warned Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor Frank Wolf to allow “magic ballots,” as senior campaign consultant Jason Miller called them, to deprive the president of what the campaign declares to be a state victory.
Although a significant number of postal votes have still not been counted in Philadelphia and Montgomery County, both Democratic strongholds, the President’s campaign insists that votes not counted from Trump-friendly counties will bring victory to Trump.
“The margin will not be tight,” says Stepien. “We’re going to declare victory in Pennsylvania.”
A Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision late last month allowed postal votes to be counted until three days after the election without requiring signatures on the ballots. The Trump campaign could argue, as previously the state GOP, that only the legislature, currently controlled by Republicans, can change such laws. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear the earlier case because there was not enough time before the election. However, three conservative judges said the court could hear the case after the election.
The campaign could push the state government to re-submit a petition to the Supreme Court. And since Amy Coney Barrett is now on trial, it is plausible that a conservative majority could vote to decide the case on the merits. This could possibly invalidate the postal votes counted after election day and would probably end the hopes of the Biden campaign in the state.
“We are suing to prevent Democratic election officials from hiding the counting and processing of ballots from our Republican election observers – observers whose sole job it is to make sure that every valid ballot is counted and one is counted,” says Justin Clark, Deputy Campaign Manager for Trump’s re-election campaign.
“What are you supposed to make of all these activities? One is to slow down the election in places where Trump’s campaign is lagging behind so that these states aren’t called to Biden,” Rick Hasen, a voting rights analyst and professor of law at the University of California-Irvine, wrote in a blog post Wednesday afternoon. “In addition, there is hope that these legal Hail Mary pieces could lead to judicial intervention to throw out votes and help Trump capture one of these states.
Trump’s senior campaign staffers claim that Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania was in addition to his victory in the state of