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Judge throws out Trump bid to stop Pennsylvania vote certification

The United States Courthouse in Williamsport, Pa.
U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann in Williamsport, Pa., has rejected the Trump campaign’s request to block the certification of state election results that show Joe Biden won.
(Mark Scolforo / Associated Press)

Pennsylvania officials can certify election results that show Democrat Joe Biden winning the state by more than 81,000 votes, a federal judge ruled Saturday, dealing President Trump’s campaign another blow in its effort to invalidate the election.

U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann in Williamsport, Pa., turned down the campaign’s request for an injunction, spoiling the incumbent’s hopes of somehow overturning the results of the presidential contest.

In his ruling, Brann said the Trump campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit” and “speculative accusations ... unsupported by evidence.”

“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,” the opinion said. “Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”

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A message seeking comment was left with the Trump campaign.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is also a former federal prosecutor, returned to court for the first time in decades Tuesday to represent the Trump campaign. He appeared rusty as he tripped himself up over the meaning of “opacity,” mistook the judge for a federal judge in a separate district, and provoked an opposing lawyer.

He also repeatedly contended that it was illegal for counties to help people vote. Opposing lawyer Mark Aronchick suggested Giuliani must not know the Pennsylvania election code.

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Trump had argued that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law was violated when Pennsylvania counties took varying approaches to notifying voters about technical problems with their mailed-in ballots before the election.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and the seven Biden-majority counties that the campaign sued had argued that Trump had previously raised similar claims and lost.

They told Brann the remedy the Trump campaign sought — to throw out millions of votes over alleged isolated issues — was far too extreme, particularly after most of them have been tallied.

“There is no justification on any level for the radical disenfranchisement they seek,” Boockvar’s lawyers wrote in a brief filed Thursday.

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Pennsylvania Atty. Gen. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, tweeted shortly after Brann’s ruling, saying, “Another one bites the dust.”

Election officials overseeing the recount of votes in Wisconsin’s largest county say observers for President Trump’s campaign are unduly slowing the process.

“These claims were meritless from the start and for an audience of one,” he said in a statement. “The will of the people will prevail. These baseless lawsuits need to end.”

The state’s 20 electoral votes would not have been enough on their own to hand Trump a second term. Counties must certify their results to Boockvar by Monday, after which she will make her own certification.

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Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf will notify the winning candidate’s electors they should appear to vote in the Capitol on Dec. 14.


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