Former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman told CNBC on Thursday that President Donald Trump’s campaign had the right to file lawsuits against the results of the state elections. However, the former Connecticut U.S. Senator hopes Trump will learn lessons from how Al Gore dealt with the hotly contested 2000 election that went to the Supreme Court if the legal battle doesn’t go its way.
“You have the right to bring your case to court. Let the judges decide. But above all, like Al Gore in 2000, it has to end for the good of the country at some point,” Lieberman said on Squawk Box. “You have to have a transfer of power and pull together.” Lieberman supported Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 race against incumbent Trump.
The Trump campaign is pursuing legal action over vote counting in a number of closely watched states, including Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania. NBC News predicts Biden to be the Michigan Presidential Contest winner but hasn’t made a call for Georgia and Pennsylvania yet. The Trump campaign also wants a recount in Wisconsin, where Biden is the obvious winner, according to NBC News.
According to a tally by NBC News, Biden has 253 votes compared to Trump’s 214 in the battle for the 270 votes needed to win the presidency.
Lessons from the Bush Gore elections in 2000
Lieberman was Gore’s supporter in the 2000 election, in which Bill Clinton’s vice president stood against the Republican challenger, then Texas Governor George W. Bush. The race between Gore and Bush ended in Florida with a wafer-thin margin of voice. There was a protracted legal battle over recounting efforts in the state. It was more than a month after election day for the Bush Supreme Court v. Gore to overturn a Florida Supreme Court ruling that ordered a recount of votes.
The nation’s Supreme Court decision effectively gave Bush a 537-vote victory in Florida and, more broadly, enough votes to become president. “Although I totally disagree with the court’s position, I accept it,” Gore said at the time, according to The Associated Press.
On Thursday, almost two decades later, Lieberman remembered what happened next. “After the decision that night, our lawyers had a disagreement. Some of them said, ‘That’s it. No more legal roads open.’ And some said, “You can go back to the Florida Supreme Court and ask them to do the national recount they ordered a few days ago.”
While Lieberman described the Supreme Court’s decision as “very painful, shocking, disappointing,” he said Gore was deeply concerned at the time about the implications of further drafting the litigation and a possible complication of the timing for the change of power. Gore officially gave Bush the election on December 13, 2000.
“I tell President-elect Bush that what is left of the partisan rancor must now be put aside and may God bless his administration of this country,” Gore said, according to a New York Times transcript.
“I hope the litigants, the candidates and the parties now remember this lesson. It’s a very strong one, really from Al Gore. I give him the honor,” Lieberman told CNBC on Thursday.