President Donald Trump
Carlos Barria | Reuters
A federal appeals court on Friday rejected an attempt by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign to keep alive his efforts to undo the result of the Pennsylvania presidential election.
The bubbly opinion of a US Court of Appeals jury for the third circuit, all three of whom were nominated by Republican presidents, said the “Trump campaign allegations have no value.”
The appeals court’s decision upheld a federal judge’s decision a week earlier rejecting the Trump campaign’s request to prevent Keystone State from confirming President-elect Joe Biden won his election.
The statement marks the recent court loss for Trump, who refused to allow Biden to vote and falsely claims he won the race. On Wednesday Trump stated flatly: “We have to turn the election.”
Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani had argued on behalf of the Trump campaign in the case before the U.S. District Court judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Giuliani has led the Trump campaign indictment in the Court of Public Opinion, spreading unsubstantiated allegations of widespread electoral fraud that he claims influenced the outcome of the election.
However, the appeals court found in its 21-page statement that when Giuliani stood in a courtroom in front of Brann, he said that the campaign “does not fraud” in this case.
“Calling an election unfair doesn’t make it that way,” was the opinion of the 3rd Circle. “Fees require specific allegations and then evidence. We don’t have any here.”
Another Trump campaign attorney, Jenna Ellis, tweeted a joint statement with Giuliani later Friday, claiming, “Pennsylvania’s activist judicial machinery continues to cover up allegations of massive fraud.”
Ellis’ tweet adds: “Off to SCOTUS!” with reference to the United States Supreme Court.
Rather than arguing that fraud had been committed in Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign federal lawsuit instead alleged that districts leaning toward Democrats had handled postal ballot papers differently than districts that were more Republican. The campaign also alleged that some observers who observed the counting of votes at polling stations were wrongly restricted.
In his written decision, Brann said the campaign’s lawyers failed to present “compelling legal arguments and factual evidence of rampant corruption” in their unprecedented attempt to invalidate millions of ballots.
In its 3rd circuit appeal, the Trump campaign did not call for Brann’s decision to be overturned. Instead, the campaign requested that it file a modified version of its legal complaint to restore “accidentally deleted claims” from a previous version.
But this reduced argument was also rejected by the appeals court.
“The campaign has a very narrow legal remedy: whether the district court abused its discretion by not letting the campaign change its complaint a second time. This was not the case,” said Stephanos Bibas, who Trump 2017 for the bank had nominated.
The appeals court wrote that “most of the claims” in the Trump campaign’s recent complaint “amount to questions of constitutional law”.
“Pennsylvania law is willing to overlook many technical flaws. It favors the counting of votes as long as there is no fraud,” the statement said.
“The campaign is trying to repackage these state claims as unconstitutional discrimination. However, their allegations are vague and conclusive,” Bibas said in the statement.
“It is never alleged that anyone treated the Trump campaign or the Trump votes worse than the Biden campaign or the Biden votes. And federal law does not require election observers or how they can observe. It says nothing on healing technical government errors from in ballot papers. Each of these defects is fatal. “
Bibas also noted that the proportion of mail-in ballots challenged by the Trump campaign is “far less” than Biden’s profit margin in Pennsylvania.
“In addition, it would be drastic and unprecedented to throw away millions of postal ballot papers, disenfranchise a large part of the electorate and confuse all voting races,” added Bibas, calling this means “grossly disproportionate”.
Biden defeated Trump in the state by more than 81,000 votes and received his 20 votes for the electoral college. Biden is expected to win 306 votes – 36 more than he had to win – compared to 232 for Trump.
Pennsylvania, along with other major swing states like Michigan, Georgia and Nevada, have already confirmed their votes for Biden.
Marc Scaringi, a lawyer and Conservative talk radio host who represents the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania, requested in a letter to the appellate court on Wednesday that Giuliani should be allowed to argue orally on the case. The appellate judges rejected this request for an oral hearing on Friday.
In a footnote to that letter, Scaringi outlined a long-term legal strategy for Trump to overthrow Biden’s victory in the state, although the results have already been confirmed. The legal bank shot would require a federal court to invalidate that certification and then get the Pennsylvania General Assembly to send pro-Trump voters to Electoral College.
“A district court decision that President Trump received the legal vote could have a significant impact on the General Assembly,” wrote Scaringi.
An appeals attorney told CNBC that this strategy was “invented”.