Donald Trump’s presidential campaign would like a federal judge to disenfranchise up to 1.5 million Pennsylvania voters and declare Trump the winner of the commonwealth’s Electoral College votes, despite his loss.
A day after attorney Rudy Giuliani’s disastrous appearance in federal court, the Trump campaign claimed ― with zero evidence ― that Democrats devised and executed a dastardly scheme to process “hundreds of thousands of mail ballots under the cover of darkness in an illegal scheme to favor Joseph Biden over President Donald J. Trump, knowing that mail votes in the Counties at issue would favor Biden.” Somehow, Democrats executed this alleged scheme while still losing two statewide races to Republican candidates.
President-elect Joe Biden received over 80,000 more votes than Trump in Pennsylvania, and would still win the Electoral College vote even without the commonwealth’s 20 electors.
Giuliani, along with attorneys Marc Scaringi and Brian Caffrey, made the extraordinary asks in a series of court filings on Wednesday. The attorneys claimed to show that a “substantial portion of the 1.5 million mail votes received in the Defendant Counties were counted in violation of Pennsylvania law” as part of an “improper scheme to favor Biden over Trump by counting improper votes in violation of the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Electors and Elections clauses under the Constitution” and the Civil Rights Act.
“Ultimately, Plaintiffs will seek the remedy of Trump being declared the winner of the legal votes cast in Pennsylvania in the 2020 General Election, and, thus, the recipient of Pennsylvania’s electors,” reads a motion signed by both Giuliani and Scaringi, a radio talk show host.
Why do you bring a case that’s not going to win? Do you have some other motivation? You’ll have to ask them.
Mark Aronchick, attorney for Philadelphia and other counties
Trump’s team wants to examine the main-in ballots, determine which they think were “illegally counted,” and then use “statistical expert analysis” to determine how many Biden and Trump votes they think should be tossed out.
“This simple exercise will determine whether Plaintiffs can prove their case – that sufficient illegal ballots were counted that changed the result of the election,” they write in one court filing. “For example,” they write in a footnote, “if 10% of the 1.5 million mail ballots were improperly counted because they lacked signatures, dates, or inside security envelopes, 75% x 150,000 votes should be deducted from Biden, and 25% x 150,000 votes should be deducted from Trump, a margin of 75,000 votes for Biden which would be sufficient to overturn reported results.”
Mark Aronchick, who represented Philadelphia and other counties and called Giuliani’s arguments in court “disgraceful,” told HuffPost after the Tuesday hearing that the Trump team’s case was absurd and that they made “deplorable” attacks on elections workers.
“These are upstanding, patriotic citizens who really believe in the elections process, and spend a lot of time trying to get it right,” Aronchick said. “They’re the people that make the wheels of democracy work correctly and properly for everybody. They’re people that we should applaud. To just throw a whole blanket on a whole bunch of people like that is just reckless and wrong.”
The attorney said that while there might be problems here and there with voting in Philadelphia and everywhere else, it was wrong to paint a picture of a broad criminal conspiracy and to smear elections officials of both parties who worked to make the system operate amid a pandemic.
“I really take great umbrage with arguments, with presentations that start off with these big, slashing and deplorable comments about the way our elections are run,” Aronchick said.
“The court process has a very good function in revealing merits and truth,” he added. “It’s different than press conferences at Four Seasons Total Landscaping.”
Aronchick said he didn’t hear anything from Giuliani in court on Tuesday that made it sound like he was actually familiar with the legal arguments. At one point, Giuliani struggled to understand “strict scrutiny,” which is a critical concept that law students learn in their first year.
“I don’t think that he was really steeped in what this case was all about,” Aronchick said. “His presentation was all about another case, or some other place, or some strange world, but it wasn’t what was in this complaint.”
A massive criminal conspiracy to steal the election would require the involvement of a huge number of officials from both parties, and the Trump campaign hasn’t produced a single person who could make such an absurd claim.
Additionally, as Aronchick noted, Republicans won two statewide races over Democrats on Election Day: Republican Stacy Garrity is state treasurer-elect, while Republican Tim DeFoor, the auditor general-elect, is the first Black man elected to state executive office in the history of the commonwealth.
“Giuliani wants to say all these ballots need to be thrown out. So two Republican officeholders are going to watch their ballots thrown out?” Aronchick asked.
He also said it was “absurd” to claim that hundreds of thousands of voters should be disenfranchised because a small number of voters had an opportunity to cure their defective mail-in ballots before Election Day. One of the Trump campaign’s central complaints is that officials in Democratic-leaning counties did a better job than officials in Republican-leaning counties at informing voters of problems with their ballots.
“Let me put it this way: I’ve been involved in election cases for a long, long time, and I would never bring a case like this if this was a case I was trying to win because it’s so defective,” Aronchick said. “Why do you bring a case that’s not going to win? Do you have some other motivation? You’ll have to ask them.”
During the hearing on Tuesday, 71-year-old Aronchick ― who argued remotely due to concerns over COVID-19 ― spoke passionately about what he saw as a scheme to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters.
“To come along if you don’t win and then just castigate the people who voted against you and the system that produced a loss for you, of course I’m going to get passionate about that,” he said.
Aronchick, who previously argued for same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, has been working on elections cases for decades. He’s represented both Democrats and Republicans on such issues. But he considered his argument this week, in support of the “foundational right” of Pennsylvanians, to be among the most important in his career.
“Let me say this. I’ve had the good blessing to be able to argue for fundamental, fundamental things in my day, and the two that come to mind are when I argued for the importance of love in the same-sex marriage case, and [this week] when I argued for the importance of voting in our democracy,” Aronchick said. “Any lawyer who has the opportunity to do that considers themselves blessed.”
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