the national interest

Trump’s Election Challenges Keep Getting Laughed Out of Court

Photo: OLIVIER TOURON/AFP via Getty Images

If you stopped following President Trump’s legal strategy to overturn the results of the election after Rudy Giuliani showed up with a sex offender at the parking lot of a landscaping company that shares a name with a famous hotel, you probably have a decent grasp of his likelihood of success. His cases are going about as well as if you took a third-grader’s book report and submitted it for a tenured faculty position at an Ivy League school.

This afternoon, a Michigan judge dismissed a Republican lawsuit to delay the certification of that state’s vote count. Actually, “dismissed” undersells the sheer contempt displayed by the court for the claims made on Trump’s behalf. The judge noted that the ballot observers alleging fraud lacked an elementary understanding of the process. The judge, Timothy Kenny, says the lawsuit “asserts behavior with no date, location, frequency, or names of employees.” He notes that, while witnesses claim that a rental van bearing out-of-state plates was used to transport ballots, “There is no evidentiary basis to attribute any evil activity by virtue of the city using a rental truck with out-of-state license plates.” He gently observes that they might have understood that the activity they were witnessing is normal and legal, not a massive plot to manufacture votes, if they had bothered to attend the walk-through:

Verdict: The court awards you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

The most promising case Trump has ginned up involves an affidavit signed by Richard Hopkins, a postal employee in Pennsylvania, who claimed to have witnessed ballots being backdated before the election. Even though the affidavit was produced by Project Veritas, a right-wing organization with a rock-bottom level of credibility, its allegations were trumpeted by the likes of Senator Lindsey Graham and Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire.

The charges were investigated by the USPS inspector general, whereupon the witness quickly reeled back his charges. “I didn’t specifically hear the whole story. I just heard a part of it. And I could have missed a lot of it … my mind probably added the rest,” he conceded. A recording of his interview showed Hopkins “repeatedly expressed regret for signing the initial affidavit because it overstated what he knew and witnessed,” and “said he was not fully aware of its contents because he was in “so much shock I wasn’t paying that much attention to what they were telling me.”

The general pattern is that they allege misconduct nowhere near pervasive enough to reverse the vote total in a state Biden won, and then fail to substantiate even that. In Philadelphia, the suit complained that Trump’s observers were being denied access to ballot-counting, then conceded there were in fact “a nonzero number of people in the room,” causing the judge to ask, “I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?”

Some of the suits don’t even allege fraud, but merely promise that they will allege fraud at some point in the future:

So far, zero of Trump’s lawsuits have succeeded. Trump has retreated to making wild claims about a massive computer-based vote-stealing scheme. But he isn’t charging this in court, because courts require “evidence,” and the part where you need to provide evidence has not gone well for him.

So far, two of the law firms representing Trump’s campaign have quit. Trump’s campaign has attributed those decisions to the insidious threat of left-wing mobs. “Cancel Culture has finally reached the courtroom,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh in a statement. “Leftist mobs descended upon some of the lawyers representing the President’s campaign and they buckled.” He promised, however, that Trump “will move forward with rock-solid attorneys.”

This much is true: Trump’s legal representation definitely shares some qualities with rocks.

Update: Trump’s campaign lost another lawsuit in Pennsylvania that, if successful, still would have come nowhere close to flipping the state’s result.

On the positive side, maybe Trump’s lawyers have gone one-for-17 because they’re intentionally tanking for next year’s draft?

Trump’s Election Lawsuits Keep Getting Laughed Out of Court