Trump suit challenging PA votes dismissed

U.S. President Trump delivers update on so-called Operation Warp Speed coronavirus treatment program in an address from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A federal judge over the weekend threw out a Trump campaign lawsuit seeking to block certification of Pennsylvania’s election results, paving the way for vote totals to be finalized this week, possibly as early as Monday.

President Donald Trump’s attorneys, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, had argued that his campaign had been treated unfairly, mainly because election officials in some Republican-leaning counties did not allow voters to “cure” their ballots.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar issued guidance just before Election Day instructing local officials to give mail-in voters a chance to correct their ballot if it was disqualified for a technicality.

Some places, including Philadelphia, did allow people to cure ballots, while others did not give voters that option.

Trump’s team also argued that their poll watchers had not been able to properly observe the vote-counting process.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann, who is based in Williamsport, dismissed the claims, writing in his opinion Saturday that the campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.”

The lawsuit was filed by the campaign along with two residents whose votes were disqualified. Both live in counties that did not conduct ballot curing.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to President Donald Trump, holds up documents as he speaks about the 2020 presidential election results during a news conference in Washington. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Brann said he did not have the power to strip a single resident of their voting rights, let alone disenfranchise the 6.8 million Pennsylvanians who voted in the presidential race.

“Rather than requesting that their votes be counted, they seek to discredit scores of other votes, but only for one race,” he wrote. “This is simply not how the Constitution works.”

Trump’s lawyers vowed to quickly take the case to the Philadelphia-based Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

State officials are scheduled to certify the results of the election Monday. Biden is ahead by 80,818 votes, according to unofficial results uploaded to the state’s website.

The City Commissioners said Saturday that they might not be able to finalize the city’s tally until Tuesday night, due to a separate case in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over 8,000 disputed ballots, according to the Inquirer.

Following the decision, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey congratulated President-Elect Joe Biden, becoming one of the few Republican senators who have publicly recognized the Democrat’s victory.

The ruling, Toomey said in a statement Saturday, means “Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania.”

While praising Trump’s record in the White House, Toomey said “he should accept the outcome of the election and facilitate the presidential transition process.”

Another Republican, Trump adviser and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, said the president should drop the court cases. He called the conduct of Trump’s legal team a “national embarrassment.”

“Elections have consequences, and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn’t happen,” Christie said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “You have an obligation to present the evidence. The evidence has not been presented.”

Trump has yet to concede, and his attorneys attempted to spin Brann’s ruling as a positive development in their quest to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Although we fully disagree with this opinion, we’re thankful to the Obama-appointed judge for making this anticipated decision quickly, rather than simply trying to run out the clock,” said Giuliani and campaign advisor Jenna Ellis in a statement.

The pair alleged, without evidence, that 682,777 votes had been cast illegally in Pennsylvania.

Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter, where he targeted Brann, who was nominated by President Barack Obama on the recommendation of Toomey.

Toomey characterized Brann as a “longtime conservative Republican” and a “fair and unbiased jurist.”

Giuliani and others affiliated with Trump have pointed to Philadelphia as a hotbed of election fraud, even though election officials, including City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, have said there were no problems.

Mayor Jim Kenney, speaking on Twitter, said he couldn’t agree more with Brann’s ruling, and that “the opinion speaks for itself.”

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro called Trump’s torrent of election-related legal actions “baseless” on social media.

Trump’s campaign and supporters have brought lawsuits in several swing states, with little success.