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U.S. President Donald Trump. (REUTERS)
U.S. President Donald Trump. (REUTERS)
wsj

Trump legal team claims broad conspiracy to manipulate election

  • President-elect Joe Biden dismisses unsupported claims by Rudy Giuliani and others as ‘outrageous’

President Trump’s legal team, facing setbacks in court and a rapidly closing window as states move toward certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, laid out sprawling and unsubstantiated allegations of a conspiracy between Democratic officials and foreign governments to steal the presidential election.

The lawyers, led by Mr. Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, detailed the campaign’s arguments on Thursday at a roughly 90-minute news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters and presented conspiracy theories that have gained traction among some Trump supporters in recent days. The event began with Mr. Giuliani reading from affidavits that he said backed up allegations of election wrongdoing the campaign has raised in its lawsuits, but then moved to claims of widespread voter fraud and international collusion that went well beyond what the lawyers have asserted in court.

Mr. Biden dismissed the unsupported claims as “outrageous" in an appearance in Wilmington, Del., and said the Trump administration’s refusal to accept the election results was hampering his team’s ability to move quickly on matters such as addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest allegations from the president’s lawyers come as Mr. Trump has ramped up his efforts to put personal pressure on lawmakers in key states where his campaign is contesting the results. On Thursday, he invited two Republican legislative leaders from Michigan, where the campaign is trying to stop the state from certifying the vote, to a Friday afternoon meeting at the White House, according to a person familiar with the matter. The legislators, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, plan to make the trip, the person said.

Mr. Biden is ahead in Michigan by nearly 156,000 votes. Michigan’s counties completed their certifications Tuesday, the secretary of state’s office said.

One of two Republicans on the four-member Michigan state canvassing board said Thursday night that he would consider voting not to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election next week if he sees credible evidence of irregularities or misconduct.

The member, Norman Shinkle, said the Michigan Board of State Canvassers will receive evidence and testimony ahead of a vote scheduled for Monday. State law requires three members to vote to approve the vote. The board is split between two Democrats and two Republicans.

“I am not going to make any final decision until I get there and listen to these people talk to us," Mr. Shinkle said. “You can’t make up your mind until the end."

Mr. Giuliani’s news conference came as the Trump campaign moved to end its own court challenge to the Detroit area’s election results and incorrectly claimed the ballot count there wasn’t final; the judge had yet to schedule a hearing. In Arizona, a state court judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Arizona Republican party seeking to halt the certification of election results in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, and force the county to complete a broader quality control audit of some ballots.

Georgia’s secretary of state on Thursday night said Mr. Biden remained ahead in the state after a hand recount of the state’s 5 million presidential votes, maintaining a 12,284 vote advantage over Mr. Trump. With the manual audit complete, Mr. Biden is one step closer to officially winning Georgia. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger still must certify the results, which he is required to do by Friday.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission ordered a partial recount, approving Mr. Trump’s multimillion-dollar effort to recount ballots in two Democratic-leaning counties.

Mr. Trump hasn’t conceded the race since the Associated Press declared Mr. Biden, a Democrat, the winner. States are in the process of certifying results, ahead of a December meeting of the Electoral College to finalize the election.

At Thursday’s news conference, Mr. Giuliani drew on arguments made in several court cases but went a step further to allege foreign interference, something the Trump campaign lawsuits don’t do.

“There was a plan to execute voter fraud in big cities run by Democrats, particularly ones with histories of corruption," Mr. Giuliani said. He held sheets of what he said were affidavits from witnesses to voter fraud, taking directly to the public in a nearly 30-minute soliloquy some of the arguments the campaign has been making unsuccessfully in court.

No evidence of widespread fraud has emerged in the presidential election. Federal security officials have said the election was “the most secure election in U.S. history."

Mr. Giuliani read from an affidavit filed in a Michigan case from Jessy Jacob, who alleged that Detroit employees coached voters to cast ballots for Mr. Biden and that election supervisors instructed her to predate and alter ballots at the city’s absentee ballot-counting headquarters.

Michigan Judge Timothy Kenny in a state court order wrote that Ms. Jacob’s allegations were serious but asserted “behavior with no date, location, frequency or names of employees" and ascribed “sinister motive" to election officials’ directives.

Another claim Mr. Giuliani referenced related to the delivery, in the middle of the night after Election Day, of boxes of ballots to the counting headquarters—several affidavits in the state lawsuit claimed these boxes were unmarked and unsealed. Judge Kenny dismissed those allegations as “generalized speculation."

“It’s going to be another incident where he will go down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents," Mr. Biden said. “It’s just outrageous what he’s doing."

Mr. Giuliani was joined at the news conference by Sidney Powell, an attorney who has represented Gen. Michael Flynn, the former Trump administration national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is now trying to reverse the plea.

Drawing from arguments she has made recently on cable-news shows, Ms. Powell aired accusations of foreign interference in the election, which she also claimed had been rigged by “communist money" from Cuba and China and through a plot concocted by Hugo Chávez, the former president of Venezuela who died in 2013, and financier George Soros.

Ms. Powell hasn’t appeared in court for Mr. Trump’s campaign, and the campaign’s attorneys haven’t alleged foreign influence in courtrooms or in legal briefs.

Ms. Powell turned the microphone over to another Trump legal adviser, Jenna Ellis, who said Thursday’s news conference marked the president’s legal team’s “opening statement" and noted they weren’t in a courtroom or a “Law & Order" episode.

“This is the court of public opinion right now," Ms. Ellis said.

Mr. Giuliani said he had viewed hundreds of affidavits in Michigan and Pennsylvania that proved fraud, though he said he couldn’t reveal most of them because the accusers wanted to remain anonymous.

In a separate Michigan development, the campaign, citing sworn statements from the Republican canvassing-board members that they were rescinding their vote for certification, claimed Wayne County election officials had declined to certify the results.

But a spokeswoman for the Michigan secretary of state said “there is no legal mechanism" for the members to rescind their vote. “Their job is done, and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify," the spokeswoman said.

In a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania, the campaign claimed state election officials violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause by giving voters in some counties the opportunity to fix ballots with minor deficiencies, but not voters in others. Mr. Biden is ahead of Mr. Trump by nearly 82,000 votes.

Mr. Giuliani at a Tuesday hearing in the case claimed the election was marred by voter fraud but said the case alleged unequal treatment of Republican and Democratic voters. “This is not a fraud case," he told the judge.

Separately, a federal judge in Atlanta on Thursday rejected a lawsuit contesting election results that showed Mr. Biden won Georgia and disputing the integrity of the state’s ballot-counting process. The lawsuit by L. Lin Wood, a defamation attorney and conservative activist, claimed the Georgia election results are “suspect and tainted with impropriety" and sought a court order delaying certification of the results. Mr. Trump is trailing Mr. Biden by around 13,000 votes. U.S. District Judge Steven D. Grimberg ruled from the bench that Mr. Wood had no basis to bring his suit and that any last-minute intervention by the courts would “harm the public interest in countless ways."

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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