Why Trump’s lawyers keep targeting Pa.

The Trump campaign has filed numerous lawsuits aiming to stop Pa. from certifying its votes. WHYY reporter Ryan Briggs explains the suits and where they are going.

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President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A full two weeks after the election, the Trump campaign is still challenging the Pennsylvania vote. Today, a federal judge will listen to the campaign’s arguments at a hearing in Western Pennsylvania.

But legal experts say Trump’s barrage of lawsuits doesn’t have merit. In addition, President-Elect Joe Biden won the state by 70,000 votes, and that 1% margin means those lawsuits won’t win the commonwealth for Trump. 

But Trump is forging ahead anyway.

Ryan Briggs of WHYY’s PlanPhilly explains Trump’s legal challenges and why he’s suing.


Hear the whole story on The Why

Interview highlights

On the lawsuit alleging Trump campaign observers were too far away to watch ballot counting

 The crux of the argument is that the Trump campaign wanted to have poll watchers inside of the ballot counting area. And although the president has falsely stated that his campaign observers were not allowed in, what was actually going on is that they had been given entry to the ballot counting area, but campaign lawyers were disputing how close they were able to get to the actual ballots and election workers. They were originally something like 25 feet away. The Trump campaign filed a complaint saying that was too far to be able to meaningfully observe the counting of individual ballots. And at some point, the courts sided with the campaign, which led to kind of dramatic scene on the steps of the convention center where Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared with a copy of the court order in hand and said they had won this legal victory.

 So ultimately, the campaign was allowed to get within 6 feet of the ballot counting. And the campaign has continued to insist that, even that wasn’t close enough, but also that not being physically close enough to the election workers beforehand may have spoiled some of the votes that were counted. But the issue is that the campaign has struggled to actually come up with tangible evidence of voter fraud, which is what it is alleging.

A  closer look at the lawsuits

Last week, the campaign filed a federal lawsuit that includes a number of its past complaints about how the election played out in Pennsylvania. So this is sort of one omnibus piece of federal litigation that aims to block Pennsylvania from certifying its vote and throw a wrench into the entire election. There’s been a lot of volatility around that. And the suit has seen attorneys come and go and has been recently amended over the weekend to focus less on the observation issue and more on the voting process itself. They’ve also continued to challenge a number of ballots on technical issues. Some of these efforts were successful, and a number are still pending. And in addition to that, that larger omnibus suit is in court right now and should even be having a hearing today. The issue is that the campaign has struggled to actually come up with tangible evidence of its biggest claim, which is that there was mass voter fraud.

The takeaway

 It can be really overwhelming for voters, especially in the wake of the election, to be left in this kind of limbo where they’re just constantly hearing a back and forth about voter fraud and voter fraud and voter fraud. The important thing to keep in mind is that, despite essentially months of lawsuits like these, there’s still not good hard evidence that anything like mass voter fraud occurred anywhere in the nation. And that, fundamentally, despite the efforts of attorneys to try to cast doubt on that system with these lawsuits, so far, they have not succeeded in doing that. As far as international observers and independent observers can surmise,  the election was secure and fair.  




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