Trump campaign works to block certification of vote count
The eyes of the nation were glued to Williamsport Tuesday as the President Donald J. Trump campaign took its legal fight to federal court to try to block the certification of the state vote count.
The state remains in play despite the unofficial vote count going to Democrat Joe Biden. That would be 20 electoral votes, not enough to unseat the president-elect, but Trump has lawyers throughout the nation filing lawsuits to stop vote counts.
Following five hours of testimony, including an hour delay due to telephone breakdown about two hours into the hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew W. Brann had no ruling for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lead counsel representing the campaign, and Daniel Donovan, lead attorney for state Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar.
Outside for nearly the entire hearing, which stretched into the evening, scores of supporters for Trump shouted “four more years” and held signs up such as “Dead People Can’t Vote,” “Stop the Fraud” and “Stop the Steal,” and other signs alleging voter irregularity in the commonwealth as well as the nation.
Rather than make a ruling on the motion to dismiss after the arguments, Brann kept the matter going, giving deadlines to the attorneys.
He asked Giuliani and his team to file a brief in opposition to the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The president’s lawyers have until 5 p.m. today.
Meanwhile, Donovan and his team have until noon Thursday to file a reply to the plaintiff’s new motion to dismiss.
Brann also suggested to Giuliani to consider a new motion regarding a request for a preliminary injunction and gave his team until 5 p.m. today to have it done.
Finally, Brann gave Donovan until 5 p.m. to reply to Giuliani’s motion on the injunction.
“I would think there is a desire to file a second amended complaint,” Brann said to Giuliani.
The courthouse perimeter was lined with security, including state police and extra police patrol. The surrounding streets were blocked off to traffic with metal fences and patrol officers.
Giuliani offered a thumbs up to supporters upon his arrival to the federal building.
The hearing began shortly after 1:30 p.m. with Giuliani’s opening argument.
The amended lawsuit claims some 680,000 ballots were counted in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties, where no observation was allowed by poll watchers.
However, during the hearing it was read to Brann that the state Supreme Court ruled 5-2 over the ballot observer issue, a loss for the Trump campaign which made that argument moot in the hearing.
The amended lawsuit maintains its claim that Democratic voters were treated more fairly than Republican voters. They are claiming their rights under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment were violated.
Mostly, Giuliani argued for the judge to deny the request from defendants to dismiss the case in order to allow them to gather and present evidence.
Donovan argued that allegations made by the Trump campaign concerning poll watchers were removed in the amended complaint and were not relevant to the case.
Pennsylvania election officials contend that those claims are unfounded and that poll watchers from both parties were given access. The description of the election problems were given the term “garden variety irregularities” by the defense.
But Giuliani presented a scathing report on widespread voter irregularities, particularly in Democratic strongholds of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
Giuliani alleged 60 years of voter fraud occurring in the Democrat machine city of Philadelphia.
Giuliani argued the mail-in votes were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that former Secretary of State James Baker III and former President Jimmy Carter in 2006 said absentee and mail-in votes are the largest source of voter fraud.
“Baker and Carter were prophets,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani drew similarities in what happened in Pennsylvania to the highly contested presidential race between Democrat Al Gore and George W. Bush, which came down to hanging chads in Florida, and a decision by the Supreme Court that resulted in Bush elected president.
Once Election Day ballots were counted, Giuliani likened extra days to count mailed-in and absentee votes to a “candy store to make up the deficit.”
“You have to be a fool to think that this is an accident,” Giuliani said, arguing that in some instances, large cities did not allow poll watchers to see a single absentee ballot.
“Witnesses described corrals or cages,” he said, adding these alleged problems were not isolated to Pennsylvania and that he had proof it happened in at least 10 other jurisdictions.
Giuliani alleged that, with encouragement from Boockvar, the state prepared and planned that Democratic controlled cities would permit those alleged infractions and gave folsom opportunity to cure or fix ballots that were not done in error.
“I don’t understand why the president has no legal standing, that’s the equal protection claim,” Giuliani said. “We had to amend it (the complaint) because we have twice as much evidence. Not only in Pennsylvania, but in Clark County, Las Vegas, Nevada.”
In one case, Nevada election officials revised the election of a Democrat candidate, he said.
Donovan argued there was no standing and the Trump campaign presented a frivilous argument. He noted how there is potential for the state court to hear the cases but not the federal jurisdiction because it is state election law.
Giuliani took offense to that counter argument.
“The federal court is the right court because the court protects voters who had their votes stolen,” Giuliani said. “And a candidate who has alleged election fraud.”
“We have election fraud,” Giuliani said. “It happened. We have illegal ballots not inspected.”
Giuliani said if there is a hearing, there are about 700,000 votes he said that were not inspected.
While not specific to the dismissal case at hand, Rudy presented an exhibit showing a Republican inspector in Philadelphia having to use binoculars to see the vote counts.
Again, Donovan and other attorneys argued there was no standing for the federal case but it does have standing possibly for state court.
“They can challenge in the state, as Attorney Linda Kerns is doing,” Donovan said. “It boils down to allegations of election code.”
Additionally, Donovan said “all candidates were subject to state and federal rules.”
The case on docket focuses on stopping vote certification and prohibiting ballots that they see were counted in some counties but would be in others, he said.
Biden won the state by more than 74,000 ballots.
“There will be no motion to dismiss the case Thursday,” Donovan said, adding a plea to Brann: “Judge, we really want a motion to dismiss. There is a need to certify the election.”