The campaign of President Donald Trump said Tuesday it is suing Michigan in federal court in an effort to prevent final certification of the state’s election results, as Trump continues to refuse to concede to Joe Biden or accept the outcome of the race for the presidency.
The allegations of election misconduct are similar to those outlined in other lawsuits in Michigan and additional states. These lawsuits have largely not succeeded; some incorporate allegations that have been debunked or refuted, either by the Free Press or elections officials.
Attorneys for the Trump campaign said the new lawsuit would be filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan. Although the bulk of the allegations appear to focus on Detroit, located on the other side of the state, the seat of state government in Lansing is located in the Western District.
As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, the lawsuit was not available in the federal court’s online document system.
While the campaign and its attorneys called for patience and said the lawsuit would instill confidence in the electoral process, no one would commit to the lawsuit changing the outcome of the race in Michigan or nationally, where Biden has a sizeable advantage.
“We do not think we are going to eat the apple in one bite. But a large part of these lawsuits is to gather further information,” campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.
“Every time we file one of these, and every action that we’re taking since the close of Election Day, is an effort to get us closer to the election. We do believe that ultimately, President Trump will be declared the winner of this election.”
Trump trails Biden by more than 146,000 votes in Michigan, according to unofficial vote totals. There is no evidence or proof of widespread election fraud, and campaign leaders have not outlined any strategy that would result in a change in the outcome of the race, either in Michigan or nationally.
That has not stopped Trump from lying about election proceedings in Michigan, going so far as to recently claim on national television that he won the state.
Attorneys Matt Morgan and Thor Hearne outlined the allegations they say are in the lawsuit. They say they have many affidavits outlining alleged harassment of Republican poll challengers, improper birthdates incorrectly entered by elections workers, and numerous problems associated with the counting of absentee ballots at TCF Center in Detroit.
The counting of absentee ballots in Detroit, a longstanding Democratic stronghold, has been the focus of the campaign, national Republicans and conspiracy theorists. On Tuesday, Hearne said there were “tremendous irregularities” with the counting of absentee ballots at the site.
“I don’t care if you’re the Republicans or the Democrats, that is not a way to restore confidence in the election process,” Hearne said during a media call Tuesday.
“This lawsuit asks the federal district judge … to review this and order the canvassers to make sure they do their job and allow, with observers and challengers present to monitor the conduct of the canvass, to make sure it’s done fairly, honestly and under the provisions of Michigan election code.”
Right now, as is the case after every election, local officials throughout Michigan are canvassing results. That’s essentially a review of the unofficial vote count to ensure processes worked and they did not make any mistakes.
Hearne and Morgan said the lawsuit both seeks to stop this process and to ensure the process is conducted legally.
The call came after several efforts by the Trump campaign and supporters sputtered in courts, both in Michigan and across the country.
A Michigan Court of Claims judge denied a campaign request last week to stop counting votes, while a judge in Detroit ruled on Friday against supporters in a separate lawsuit. Similar lawsuits in Georgia and Pennsylvania have also not been successful.
Meanwhile, national Democrats are vying to intervene in an appeal the Trump campaign plans to file in Michigan.
“The Trump Campaign seeks to cause confusion about ballots that were duly cast in the November election, despite that the process is all but complete,” reads a motion, filed Tuesday by the Democratic National Committee, in the Michigan Court of Appeals.
“Its requested relief threatens to disrupt the state’s election results at this late date —when voting concluded a week ago, counting is complete, and major news outlets have called the election for Vice President Joe Biden in not only Michigan, but nationally.”
On Friday, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel made vague allegations of misconduct in Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan. Several of those allegations were debunked within hours of her press conference. The Michigan native called on supporters to report any information to the Republican Party, but did not commit to any additional lawsuits or a request for a recount in Michigan.
Biden won enough states to secure more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. The Electoral College will formally select Biden in December, and he will assume office in late January.
Last week, the Trump campaign sought a temporary delay in counting votes through a lawsuit filed in the Michigan Court of Claims. The lawsuit outlined a series of allegations — a poll watcher in Oakland County was excluded from viewing absentee ballots, Benson violated the constitution by not releasing video footage of people putting ballots in drop boxes, and poll workers in Detroit were inappropriately backdating ballots.
Beyond affidavits, no proof was provided in the lawsuit to substantiate the allegations. Elections officials later refuted some of the accusations, notably the backdating of ballots.
Judge Cynthia Stephens denied the Trump campaign’s request for emergency relief. She said some of the evidence provided was hearsay, vague and equivocal. The request to stop counting ballots at that point was also moot, Stephens said, since almost every ballot had been counted by the time the lawsuit was filed.
The Trump campaign attempted to appeal the ruling. But this week, the Michigan Court of Appeals sent the campaign a letter, saying it needed to file additional documents if it wanted to proceed with the appeal. The documents requested, including a copy of Stephens’ order, are routine and necessary in any appeal.
Hearne told the Free Press on Monday he planned to provide those document as soon as they were available, but the court’s order garnered some snickering on Twitter by attorneys and others who oppose Trump’s legal efforts.
On Tuesday, attorneys for the DNC asked the Michigan Court of Appeals to allow it to intervene in Trump’s lawsuit in the state. When Stephens denied the campaign’s request for emergency relief, she also denied a DNC motion to intervene.
In the filing with the appellate court, the DNC argues it has standing in this case and should be allowed to have a formal legal role in battling the president.
“The Trump campaign’s suit is simply one more distraction, a vain effort to sow doubt and disrupt the orderly completion of the democratic process,” part of the request states.
“The people of Michigan have made their preference clear. The Trump campaign might not be happy about their choice, but that does not give them license to interfere with the results.”
Despite the president’s ongoing assertion there is widespread misconduct, no compelling evidence of fraud has been presented in any state. That has not prevented Republicans on a state and national level from echoing the president’s comments.
On Monday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a memo, authorizing federal prosecutors across the nation to pursue “substantial allegations” of voter fraud. Prosecutors already had the authority to investigate such crimes, but longstanding policy precluded launching any probes until election results were certified.
The memo prompted the resignation of a top official in the Department of Justice and criticism from around the country.
“Given the timing of this memo and the current atmosphere surrounding the recent election, the intention is clear. This change in policy is not intended to better serve the people of the United States by ensuring that justice is done, but rather to signal to the President that his irresponsible and unsupported insistence that he won his race for reelection is taken seriously,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement issued Tuesday evening.
“There have not been an unusual number of credible claims of voting irregularities this election, and there have been no credible claims of vote tabulation irregularities, such as would justify an abrupt change in a longstanding policy.”
Michigan’s election results are expected to be certified Nov. 17