11/16 Daily Update: Republican Leaders Go On the Record, and More Lawsuits Dismissed
Here we are, 13 days out from President-elect Biden’s decisive win, and President Trump is still falsely tweeting that he “WON THE ELECTION.” (Twitter has put warning labels on many of Trump’s baseless claims of fraud.)
Meanwhile a chorus of prominent Republicans calls out those falsehoods in our latest video, and VPP Bipartisan Advisory Board member Governor Christine Todd Whitman hits the editorial page of USA Today to marshal Republicans in support of a peaceful transfer of power.
Here’s your update:
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Who’s Minding the Shop?: The Washington Post reports that the government’s Chief Information Security Officer, Camilo Sandoval, has taken a break from his government duties to work for the Voter Integrity Fund, a newly formed Virginia-based group that is analyzing ballot data and cold-calling voters in an attempt to find some scrap of evidence to substantiate the President’s outlandish claims about illicit voting.
Transition of Power: The National Security Council is preparing for “a very professional transition,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Monday. O’Brien’s remarks emphasized that it is the great American tradition to ensure peaceful and successful transitions even in the most contentious periods of history. Senate Shenanigans: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that he has come under increasing pressure in recent days from fellow Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham, who reportedly questioned the validity of legally cast absentee ballots, in an effort to reverse President Trump’s narrow loss in the state. The Washington Post has the scoop here. Despite admitting the outcome of the election is unlikely to change, other Republican Senators are shrugging off Trump’s refusal to concede or down-playing the situation. CNN outlined the latest from the Senate GOP leaders in the piece linked here.
Georgia: Today on Fox News Atlanta, Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler said she hasn’t seen anything during Georgia’s manual audit of all 5 million presidential votes that would cast any doubt on the election results and President-elect Biden’s win. Watch the clip here.
Michigan: Today, the Michigan Bureau of Elections responded to a wide-ranging legislative subpoena for documents surrounding the election, providing nearly 1,100 pages of documents to the state legislature to illustrate commitment to transparency and to underscore the fairness of the 2020 election. The Bureau provided the documents despite the questionable legality of the subpoena and the plainly partisan agenda behind it. Read more in Attorney General Dana Nessel’s statement here. Also today, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson shared a new state fact-checking resource to help address election misinformation. This weekend AG Nessel appeared on MSNBC and spoke with Bloomberg to discuss Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud and provide an update on election litigation.
Today was a bad day for baseless lawsuits aimed at stopping or delaying certification of the vote in key battleground states. The Trump campaign’s litigation effort is slowing, and lawsuits brought by Trump supporters aren’t doing much better. Both shed claims, cases, and even counsel throughout the day. Developments included:
They’re Gone So Fast: Last week, conservative activist lawyer James Bopp filed four lawsuits arguing that the purportedly adverse voting experiences of a small clutch of Republican voters somehow showed that all votes from heavily African-American, Democratic areas in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin should be thrown out. The problem: the facts he purported to cite didn’t support the legal claims he made, which in turn had little basis in law or relationship to the relief he sought. This morning, just before walking into court to face a judge for the first time, Bopp dismissed all four suits: Brooks v. Mahoney, No. 20-cv-281 (S.D. Ga.); Bally v. Whitmer, No. 20-cv-1088 (W.D. Mich.); Pirkle v. Wolf, No. 20-cv-2088 (M.D. Pa.); and Langenhorst v. Pecore, No. 20-cv-1701 (E.D. Wis.).
Why would Bopp go through the trouble of filing four lawsuits making highly dubious claims that he withdrew moments before going in front of a judge? It’s a secret no one knows. If only there were an appropriate song with a punny name and unexpectedly deep lyrics about the transience of all things, especially questionable lawsuits.
Downsizing: The Bopp dismissals meant that Trump has only one major federal lawsuit at the trial court level in Pennsylvania. Today, that suit lost most of its claims and, for the second time, its lawyers. The incredible shrinking case is Donald J. Trump for President v. Boockvar, 20-2078 (M.D. Pa.).
Trump started out on November 9 with 86 proud pages, seven counts, and representation by BigLaw firm Porter Wright. On the 12th, Porter Wright withdrew, leaving as lead counsel a Philadelphia solo practitioner, Linda Kerns. On the 13th, the Trump campaign filed a notice acknowledging that some of its claims were barred under relevant Third Circuit precedent. Today, Trump filed a stripped-down amended complaint with only a single live claim that, even if granted, would not disturb President-elect Biden’s lead of more than 65,000 votes. And this evening, Kerns moved to withdraw. Joining the case will be a Harrisburg lawyer and conservative talk show host, Marc Scaringi, who has acknowledged on air that litigation to stop Biden from assuming office “will not work.”
Tonight, Scaringi asked for a continuance of tomorrow’s hearing on the defense’s motions to dismiss. It was denied within minutes. So tomorrow, 11/17, Scaringi (and Kerns, if she is not released from the case) will represent the outgoing President in his sole remaining major Pennsylvania case. The motions to dismiss were filed by, inter alia, law firms Kirkland & Ellis and Covington & Burling; the Pennsylvania Attorney General; the ACLU; and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.