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The Trump campaign just gutted its own high-profile legal challenge to the 2020 election result in Pennsylvania.
Lawyers for the campaign on Sunday abandoned a core component of their lawsuit, which seeks to delay certification of the state’s electoral results. The slimmed-down suit now zeros in on a much smaller number of mail-in ballots, which contained technical errors that voters were allowed to fix before they were counted.
The embarrassing climb-down marks just the latest self-own for Trumpworld lawyers, who have struggled to bridge the gap between the president’s overblown public allegations of electoral fraud and the kind of evidence necessary to actually win in court.
Trump’s legal assault on the 2020 election is now rapidly degenerating into theater of the absurd. Judges have repeatedly demolished his legal team’s arguments. Some lawyers walked off the job after his campaign provoked ridicule for staging a press conference in the parking lot of a Philadelphia landscaping business. The Trump team has suffered a string of defeats in federal and state courtrooms across the country.
Sunday’s about-face represented another example of the widening chasm between what Trump and his allies say on Twitter, and what their lawyers feel they can substantiate in a courtroom. And it signaled, once again, that Trump’s Hail Mary attempt to reverse his 2020 election defeat in court appeared to be stumbling toward collapse.
Legal experts said the Trump campaign’s hopes of winning in court appear increasingly distant, and said that continued courtroom sparring might represent attempts to keep raising campaign contributions while furthering a PR campaign falsely alleging that the election was stolen from Trump.
“What are they doing? Fundraising,” Justin Levitt, an election law expert at Loyola Law School, told VICE News. “And continuing to flail.”
Trump’s allies still insist that more than 680,000 ballots should be considered illegal because Trump campaign watchers weren’t allowed to watch the counting up close. And the amended filing still takes that position in an introductory passage.
But his campaign’s revised complaint removed the allegation that the campaign’s constitutional rights were violated because its representatives were barred from close observation, and backed away from asking the judge to block statewide certification of the results on that basis.
Instead, the remaining text of the lawsuit now takes a narrower focus. The filing now focuses on questions about a much smaller number of mail-in ballots that were submitted with technical errors which were allowed to be fixed before the ballots were processed.
The number of such so-called “cured” ballots remains uncertain. But most observers believe there are too few of them to actually swing the election in Trump’s favor, even if they were all tossed out by a judge. During a recent state court hearing on the same topic, one local electoral official testified that he was aware of only 96 such “cured” ballots in his county.
Trump’s opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, leads in the crucial swing-state by over 70,000 votes.
The Associated Press called Pennsylvania for Biden on Nov. 7.