(POLITICO) – President Donald Trump made explicit Saturday the strategy his legal team has been hinting at for days: He wants Republican-led legislatures to overturn election results in states that Joe Biden won.
“Why is Joe Biden so quickly forming a Cabinet when my investigators have found hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes, enough to “flip” at least four States, which in turn is more than enough to win the Election?” Trump said, despite refusing to produce any such evidence either publicly or in court cases filed by his attorneys.
“Hopefully the Courts and/or Legislatures will have the COURAGE to do what has to be done to maintain the integrity of our Elections, and the United States of America itself,” Trump said.
Trump’s comment came after a string of legal defeats, including a rejection by a federal judge in Pennsylvania Saturday who said the Trump team presented no evidence of election fraud or misconduct, despite seeking to invalidate millions of votes. Trump’s lead lawyer in the case, Rudy Giuliani, said he intends to appeal the case to the Third Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court.
But with few cases pending in courts, Trump’s options have narrowed and he is becoming increasingly reliant on longshot scenarios where election results are not certified and Republican-controlled statehouses in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Georgia intervene to declare him the winner.
GOP legislative leaders in those states have not endorsed this approach. Trump summoned Michigan legislative leaders to the White House on Friday, but they later issued a statement indicating they had not seen any reason to intervene on Trump’s behalf.
To succeed, Trump’s plan would require several unprecedented legal steps. First, Republican-led legislatures in states Biden won would need to move to overturn their state’s popular vote and appoint a slate of Trump electors when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14. In Pennsylvania and Michigan, such maneuvers would be certain to meet vetoes from Democratic governors, so the lawmakers would also need to secure a legal determination that they hold the sole power to appoint electors — a disputed legal premise that has never been tested.
Trump’s call for lawmakers to hand him the election is the most overt call he’s made yet for state lawmakers to overturn the election results. But it also underscores his dwindling options: Michigan is due to certify its vote totals on Monday, as are Pennsylvania counties, which would hand the statewide certification duty to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat. On Friday, Georgia certified Biden’s victory.
As of Friday evening, Pennsylvania’s GOP leaders said they had not received an invitation to meet Trump at the White House, but last month, they said they would not step in to alter the election results.