By now, it’s well established that most of the arguments put forward by US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign in its challenge of the results of the 2020 election are baseless and highly speculative.
Even Trump allies, as The Washington Post reported, acknowledge the apparent futility of the effort.
Others have reasoned that there’s no harm in going through the motions, with one anonymous Republican official asking: “What’s the downside for humouring him” for a little while?
But as scenes in courtrooms across the country in recent days have shown, there is indeed a downside for those tasked with actually pursuing these claims. Repeatedly now, they have been rebuked by judges for how thin their arguments have been.
The most famous scene came in Pennsylvania, where a Trump lawyer strained to avoid acknowledging that their people were, in fact, allowed to observe the vote-counting process in Philadelphia.
As The Washington Post reported: “At the city’s federal courthouse on Thursday evening, attorneys for Trump asked a judge to issue an emergency order to stop the count, alleging that all Republican observers had been barred.
“Under sharp questioning from Judge Paul S Diamond, however, they conceded that Trump in fact had ‘a non-zero number of people in the room’, leaving Diamond audibly exasperated.
“‘I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?’ asked Diamond, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W Bush. Denying Trump’s request, Diamond struck a deal for 60 observers from each party to be allowed inside.
“At one point on Friday afternoon, 12 Republican observers and five Democrats were watching the count, according to a ballot counter who was working.”
After that “non-zero” answer, Diamond pressed the Trump campaign lawyer to be more explicit – and he suggestively invoked their standing with the bar. “I’m asking you as a member of the bar of this court: Are people representing the plaintiffs in the room?” The lawyer responded more directly: “Yes.”
The lawsuits are propaganda, not actual serious litigation. They are being laughed out of courts everywhere and none of them are remotely capable of changing the result in a single state, let alone the overall result.
Another of the Trump team’s claims crumbled rather quickly in Georgia.
In Chatham County, as in Michigan, the Trump campaign cited supposed evidence that 53 late ballots might have been predated so they could be counted.
Except two witnesses they called acknowledged under oath that they didn’t know whether the ballots were received after the deadline. And two others for the local board of elections testified that they were, in fact, received on time.
Judge James Bass dismissed the case in a one-sentence, eight-word ruling, saying: “I’m denying the request and dismissing the petition” and abruptly adjourned the hearing.
He then elaborated in a written opinion: “The Court finds that there is no evidence that the ballots referenced in the petition were received after 7pm on election day, thereby making those ballots invalid. Additionally, there is no evidence that the Chatham County Board of Elections or the Chatham County Board of Registrars has failed to comply with the law.”
The common thread running through all of these is that Trump’s lawyers are regularly offering a significantly more watered-down version of Trump’s claims about rampant voter fraud – because they, unlike Trump, actually have to substantiate their claims.
And as these exchanges show, it’s a rather thankless task that can rather quickly land them on a judge’s bad side.
So not only was the claim without evidence, it was over a paltry 53 ballots.
Here’s the leads Biden has in each “contested” state:
- Arizona 11,635
- Georgia 14,057
- Wisconsin 20,546
- Nevada 36,870
- Pennsylvania 53,244
- Michigan 148,645