Lies, lawsuits, and recounts: Trump's latest plan to try to steal the election


Experts say his efforts are unlikely to work.

As election officials across the country count the ballots cast in the 2020 election, Donald Trump and his campaign are trying to swing the election his way — using the courts, recounts, and misinformation in a scorched earth effort to sway public opinion his way.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Trump campaign falsely declared he had won the state of Pennsylvania, even though nearly 1 million votes have not yet been counted. The remaining ballots are likely to favor Democratic nominee Joe Biden, with political handicappers saying the outstanding vote could likely lead Biden to a comfortable victory in the state.

The Trump campaign has also said it is filing a lawsuit in Pennsylvania claiming a lack of "transparency" in order to stop ballot counting.

The campaign announced it is holding a rally outside of the building where votes are being counted in Philadelphia, with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani tweeting that he is "en route to Philadelphia with legal team," falsely accusing Democrats of "massive cheating."

There has been no reporting or evidence of any cheating.

The Trump campaign, however, declared on Wednesday afternoon that Trump had won the state of Pennsylvania. This is not true. No outlet has yet called the race because state election officials are still counting the legally cast absentee ballots. In many states with GOP-controlled legislatures, those officials were prevented from counting ballots prior to Election Day. It was part of the massive GOP effort to try to make it hard for people to cast ballots or to invalidate absentee ballots altogether.

The Trump campaign said it will file a similar lawsuit in Michigan to halt ballot counting, with Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien claiming that the campaign "has not been provided with meaningful access to numerous counting locations to observe the opening of ballots and the counting process, as guaranteed by Michigan law."

It's unclear why the campaign wants the state to halt ballot counting now.

As of the time this article published, Biden led the state by 37,350 votes — far more than the 10,704 votes Trump carried Michigan by in 2016.

Shortly after the campaign announced its intention to file a lawsuit, both CNN and NBC projected Biden will win Michigan.

Ryan Jarvi, press secretary for the Michigan attorney general, pushed back on the lawsuit, saying in a statement that "Michigan's elections have been conducted transparency and with access provided for both political parties and the public."

The Trump campaign also said it plans to ask for a recount in Wisconsin, where Democratic nominee Joe Biden has a more than 20,000-vote lead and multiple outlets have called the state for Biden.

A recount is costly — estimated around $3 million, according to the New York Times, given that the margin separating Biden and Trump is greater than the .24% that triggers a free automatic recount.

However, even Trump allies like former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker say that a 20,000 vote lead is impossible to overcome in a recount.

Meanwhile, as the campaign looks to recounts and legal challenges, Trump himself has spent the day on Twitter sowing doubt in the vote counting and saying that there is something nefarious going on when there's not — even spouting rhetoric that could be seen as inciting violence from his supporters.

Ultimately, Trump's strategy is unlikely to work.

Biden's leads in the states adding up to the 270 Electoral College threshold are too big to be overcome by recounts.

What's more, election experts say there's no legal basis to stop counting the votes.

"There’s no indication yet that there have been any meaningful violations of any statute or the Constitution," Justin Levitt, a constitutional law scholar at Loyola Law School, told Vice News. "There’s nothing for the courts to decide."

Further, if vote counting was halted now, Biden would win the Electoral College.

"Worth mentioning that if you stopped counting ballots *right now*, Biden would win with this map," FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver tweeted. "So Trump is reliant on ballots counted after Election Day for his comeback chances."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.