Trump team and Pennsylvania election officials clash in federal court filings

ALEX HOSENBALL and MATTHEW MOSK
·3 min read

Lawyers for President Donald Trump and those representing the Pennsylvania Secretary of State filed sternly worded arguments in U.S. District Court Thursday, with each seeking a quick end to the legal battle over the state's handling of the 2020 elections.

"The voters of Pennsylvania have spoken," Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in her request to have the Trump case dismissed. "The counties are busy finishing the tabulation of those votes and the Secretary is preparing to certify the results. The Court should deny Plaintiff's desperate and unfounded attempt to interfere with that process."

Boockvar's motion to dismiss came as the Trump campaign asked U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann, an Obama appointee, to impose a temporary restraining order "barring (the state) from certifying the results of the November 3, 2020 General election."

PHOTO: Monroe County municipal workers count ballots as vote counting in the general election continues, Nov. 5, 2020, in Stroudsburg, Pa. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
PHOTO: Monroe County municipal workers count ballots as vote counting in the general election continues, Nov. 5, 2020, in Stroudsburg, Pa. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The Trump campaign said it needs to halt the certification process to give the court time to rule before the state hits the deadline of Dec. 8 to present its results to Congress. They argue that if the vote count continues, the results will be certified before the court can rule.

"Plaintiffs could lose their opportunity for meaningful relief entirely if the vote total is certified, since it is not clear what remedies would remain after that point," Trump campaign lawyers write in their memo.

Biden leads the vote count in Pennsylvania by more than 53,500 votes -- outside the margin that would permit a recount.

MORE: Election 2020: A look at Trump campaign election lawsuits and where they stand

The competing filings arrived in one of the most closely watched cases in the nation as the Trump campaign has sought to undo the results of the 2020 vote based on unfounded allegations that irregularities and fraud marred the process. The Trump case asks the court to invalidate mail-in ballots in the state's heavily Democratic urban jurisdictions on the grounds that state elections officials treated mail-in voters differently than those who cast ballots in person.

"Nothing less than the integrity of the 2020 presidential election is at stake in this action," the Trump campaign argued.

PHOTO: A Republican observer, center, watches as Lehigh County workers count ballots as vote counting in the general election continues, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Allentown, Pa. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
PHOTO: A Republican observer, center, watches as Lehigh County workers count ballots as vote counting in the general election continues, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Allentown, Pa. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

A succession of civil rights and public interest legal groups have lined up to fight against the president's suit, calling it an unjust attempt to deprive voters of their rights. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told ABC News Thursday that the president is simply trying to sow doubt in the election process.

"I can tell you that there's a pattern of behavior which is typically some outrageous claim, followed up by a presidential tweet, sometimes followed up by a filing in court, and always filed followed up by a defeat for them in court," Shapiro said.

In the Trump campaign filing Thursday, there was far less emphasis on fraud than in initial filings. The president's team instead focused its argument on the assertion that poll watchers were unable to "meaningfully observe" the count​ and therefore 600,000 ballots in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties should be invalidated. They said that claim -- though it has been widely refuted -- throws the vote counts in all 67 counties into question because tens of thousands of technically deficient ballots, which could have been spotted by observers, should never have been counted.

Boockvar, by contrast, argued Thursday that the court should dismiss the case because they say it is comprised of generalized grievances, built on conjecture and require "multiple leaps of logic." Boockvar's filing says claims that the polls were "over-run with fraud has already been rejected as purely speculative and legally unsupportable."

MORE: Judges want more evidence from Trump campaign as election cases get tossed

"Plaintiffs' suggestion that there is a federal constitutional due process right for a political representative to stand a certain number of feet away from government employees counting ballots is unsupported in the law and would transform the role of the federal judiciary in monitoring state-run elections," Boockvar's filing argued.

Boockvar said that the Trump campaign's request to completely stop certification of the election is "substantially disproportionate" to its allegations and that it would result in the disenfranchisement of "nearly 7 million Pennsylvanians."

Trump team and Pennsylvania election officials clash in federal court filings originally appeared on abcnews.go.com