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Election officials are facing death threats in key swing states where Trump is trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race

  • State officials are sounding the alarm on an uptick in death threats that they've received since the presidential election.
  • They work in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada — key states where President Donald Trump's campaign is attempting to overturn the results.
  • Deadlines to certify election results are quickly approaching and each state will in the coming days declare President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of its Electoral College votes.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump is fueling a wave of hatred and violent threats toward local officials in key swing states where he's challenging the 2020 election results.

"So this is fun…multiple attempted hacks of my emails, police protection around my home, the threats," Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager for Georgia's Secretary of State, wrote on Twitter on the weekend.

"But all is well," he continued, "following the the law, following the process…doing our jobs."

Sterling, a Republican, shared the social media post one day after Georgia officially certified President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of its 16 electoral votes. Trump's team immediately requested a recount, even though an audit that included a hand recount of more than 5 million ballots cast statewide put Biden in the lead by roughly 12,000 votes. 

A PBS "Frontline" investigation also showed that state officials in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada are facing death threats. Biden is projected to carry each state and the Trump campaign has launched multiple lawsuits to overturn those results, but hasn't won any so far. Still, Trump refuses to concede to Biden and continues to push unfounded claims that fraudulent ballots led to the election being stolen from him.

Local law enforcement officials are investigating the threats that come as poll workers tirelessly tally votes ahead of each state's certification deadline in the coming days. 

Georgia:

Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has voiced concerns about death threats directed at him and his wife. He is a Republican and certified the state's results on Friday.

"The Raffenspergers should be put on trial for treason and face execution," read a text message that his wife received after the election.

Judges previously rejected two of Trump's legal bids in Georgia since there is no evidence of electoral fraud or voting irregularities.

Pennsylvania:

Republican City Commissioner of Philadelphia Al Schmidt disclosed earlier this month that his office got death threats for counting votes, while the Trump campaign was trying to halt the count.

"From the inside looking out, it feels all very deranged," Schmidt said in a "60 Minutes" interview.

Trump's lawyers alleged that Republicans weren't present to watch the vote-counting process. It was later revealed that GOP poll watchers were indeed present, prompting a judge to dismiss the case. The president's legal team has filed 11 lawsuits in the state, losing nine, with two pending.

Pennsylvania is expected to certify its election results on Monday.

Michigan:

Canvassers in Michigan, where Biden is ahead by more than 155,000 votes, are expected to certify the state's Electoral College votes on Monday. 

In the interim, local workers have fended off threats, including during a Zoom meeting when a person interrupted the call with threats of rape and violence, according to PBS. 

The Trump campaign has lost four lawsuits alleging improper counting of ballots and massive fraud in Michigan.

Nevada:

PBS reviewed a police report of a November 6 call to Nevada's Secretary of State Election Division, in which the person said: "You all are lucky there that I am an elderly man that is too old to fight and don't own any guns, but I'll tell you what, you're about to get bum rushed by a bunch of young, 20-year-old boys. You're worthless."

Trump's lawyers have lost two cases attempting to stop the ballot count in the state. Nevada officials are preparing to certify Biden as its election winner on Tuesday.

Read more: 'Threading a needle while riding a bike:' How Republicans with 2024 ambitions are navigating the prospect of another Trump White House campaign"

Arizona:

Arizona's Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said last week that she has faced "ongoing and escalating" threats as did her family and staff. 

"Let's burn her house down and kill her family and teach these fraudsters a lesson," said one social media post aimed at Hobbs, according to the Associated Press. 

Two lawsuits by the Trump campaign have been rejected in Arizona due to baseless assertions that Republican votes were being thrown out and invalidated. Biden's win in the state will be certified next week.

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Trump's Legal Team Tries (and Fails) to Disavow Conspiracy Theorist Attorney Sidney Powell

President Trump’s lawsuit-heavy coup to overturn the election results hit a little snag over the weekend.

Sidney Powell, the very serious attorney who refers to herself as “The Kraken” while promising “biblical” revelations of nonexistent election fraud, went so far off the deep end that even Donald Trump had to disavow her. After a week spent promoting increasingly outlandish conspiracy theories — including that Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp was bribed to rig the election for Joe Biden — the Trump campaign on Sunday released a statement claiming Powell is “practicing law on her own” and “not a member of the Trump Legal Team.”

This is pretty hard to square considering the degree to which Trump, the Republican Party, and the rest of the the president’s legal dream team have rallied behind Powell as a representative of their interests.

Here’s Trump tweeting about her:

Here’s the GOP posting a clip of her appearance during a bizarre press conference held by Trump’s legal team last week. “President Trump won by a landslide,” Powell said before claiming the team was prepared to “reclaim the United States of America for the people who vote for freedom.”

Smiling in the background as Powell cried conspiracy was Jenna Ellis, who has described Powell as a member of Trump’s legal team, and praised her performance at the press conference. Giuliani said that the press conference was “representative of our legal team.”

It was Ellis and Giuliani who signed the statement released Sunday attempting to distance the team from Powell.

So what happened? Spend five minutes perusing Powell’s social media and it isn’t hard to pick up on why she might be a liability. Her Twitter is nearly indistinguishable from a QAnon account. Powell has posted conspiracy theories, grandiose mythological imagery, and vague promises to release incontrovertible proof that Trump actually won the election by millions of votes. As of Monday morning, she’s tweeted over 105,000 times, which is … a lot. This is what she does.

Powell’s latest claim, and possibly the one that led Trump’s team to sever ties, is that Brian Kemp, Georgia’s Trump-loving Republican governor, helped rig the state’s election in favor of Biden is exchange for a monetary payoff from communist-aligned foreign interests. “Georgia is probably going to be the first state I’m going to blow up, and Mr. Kemp and the Secretary of State need to go with it,” she said on Newsmax before describing her forthcoming legal filing as “biblical.”

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that Trump told allies that Powell was “too much” and that he no longer found her “helpful” to his anti-democratic coup to overturn the election results. This may be true, but it’s also true that the president has been gleefully promoting many of the same conspiracy theories as Powell. Going “too far” seems to be the entire point of whatever it is Trump’s team has been trying to accomplish since Biden won the election. As some have pointed out, the real reason for the statement might simply be that Powell crossed a line by going after a Republican as powerful as Kemp.

Regardless of why Trump’s legal team is suddenly trying to distance itself from Powell, it’s hard to argue with Trump’s reported claim that she wasn’t helpful. As Democratic lawyer Marc Elias pointed out on Sunday, Trump and the Republican Party are currently 2-34 in post-election court cases.

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The Trump campaign requested a recount in Georgia one day after the state's election results were certified and showed Biden won by more than 12,000 votes

  • The Trump campaign's lawyers said in a statement Saturday that they requested a recount in Georgia, after the election results showed President-elect Joe Biden won the state.
  • The petition was filed one day after Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, said he had officially certified Biden as the winner of the state's presidential election.
  • The Friday certification came after an audit that included a hand recount of more than 5 million paper ballots, which showed Biden won the state by more than 12,000 votes.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Trump campaign's lawyers said in a statement Saturday that they requested a recount in Georgia, after the election results showed President-elect Joe Biden won the state.

The petition was filed one day after Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, said he had officially certified Biden as the winner of the state's presidential election.

The Friday certification came after an audit that included a hand recount of more than 5 million paper ballots. The final results showed Biden had received 49.5% of the vote to President Donald Trump's 49.3%, with the president-elect winning by more than 12,000 votes.

"Today, the Trump campaign filed a petition for recount in Georgia," the Trump campaign said in a statement. "We are focused on ensuring that every aspect of Georgia State Law and the U.S. Constitution are followed so that every legal vote is counted."

The statement also stressed the importance of signature matching for mail-in ballots, something that is completed upon receipt of the ballot, before it is counted.

Raffensperger, who received threats for his work overseeing the election, has expressed full confidence in the vote count.

"The election appears to be very accurate," the secretary of state told Insider's Grace Panetta. "And as a Republican, I'm disappointed, but as a secretary of state, my job is to report accurate results."

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Saturday he again defended the accuracy of the count, saying, "Georgia's voting system has never been more secure or trustworthy."

Georgia law allows for a candidate to request a recount if the results are within 0.5%. Biden beat Trump by 0.25%.

Georgia flipped for Biden after supporting Trump in 2016, marking the first win for a Democratic presidential candidate in the state since 1992.

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Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan Calls Guiliani’s Bonkers News Conference A ‘Train Wreck’

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan called Rudy Giuliani’s Thursday news conference a “train wreck” and said it only distracted from the real work that must be done as President-elect Joe Biden’s team works on the transition from President Donald Trump. 

Hogan told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd Friday that the news conference by Trump’s personal lawyer — during which some kind of dye ran down Giuliani’s face — was an embarrassment.

“I thought it was a train wreck. … I thought it was absolutely incredible,” Hogan said. “On the one hand, it’s outrageous. On the other hand, it’s really not surprising. … But it’s all a sideshow.”

Hogan said that “real progress” was being made, citing meetings he had with Vice President Mike Pence, the coronavirus task force and members of Biden’s incoming administration.

“When you get away from the sideshows of what’s going on, … people are working together on the important issues in the country,” Hogan said.

Hogan is among a host of GOP politicians — which includes Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott — who have either supported Biden or criticized Trump for trying to undermine the election. 

Hogan wrote a July editorial in The Washington Post decrying the president’s scattershot COVID-19 response and criticizing Trump for calling South Koreans “terrible people” in front of his wife, Yumi Hogan, who is of South Korean descent.

Hogan has also called Trump’s premature election remarks “a terrible mistake” and repeatedly argued that America’s system of democracy is more vital than any one election or person. 

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Can Joe Biden forgive student debt without Congress? Here's what the experts say

  • It's a pressing question for tens of millions of Americans: Can the president forgive student debt without Congress?
  • A lot is riding on that answer. With Republicans generally hostile toward the idea of debt cancellation, the legislative route could prove difficult.

It's a pressing question not just for higher-education experts and legal wonks. Tens of millions of Americans have a lot riding on the answer: Can the president forgive student debt without Congress?

If the president was able to cancel student debt without passing legislation, in theory borrowers could see their balances reduced or eliminated overnight. On the other hand, the chances of Congress agreeing to forgive the loans is, at best, uncertain. Generally, Republicans are not in favor of debt forgiveness.

For now, it's also an open question if President-elect Joe Biden has interest in testing his presidential power in this way.

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During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren vowed to forgive student loans in the first days of her administration, including with her announcement an analysis written by three legal experts, based at the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School, who described such a move as "lawful and permissible."

Biden, however, has not gone as far.

A spokesman for the president-elect wouldn't say if Biden has taken a stance on whether or not he can forgive student debt without Congress, through he pointed to remarks Biden made at a recent press conference after he was asked if he would take executive action to cancel the loans.

"They're in real trouble," said Biden, about student loan borrowers. "They're having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent, those kinds of decisions. It should be done immediately."

Biden has said he would forgive $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers, and the rest of the debt for those who attended public colleges or historically Black colleges and universities and earn less than $125,000 a year. In all, that would slash the country's $1.7 trillion outstanding student loan tab by about a third, according to calculations by higher-education expert Mark Kantrowitz.

Biden is under increasing pressure to go further.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Warren in September called on the next president to forgive $50,000 in student loans for every borrower as soon as he entered the White House. In an interview earlier this month with The.Ink, Schumer said Biden could cancel the debt "with the pen as opposed to legislation."

More than 230 organizations and non-profits, including Americans for Financial Reform, the NAACP and the National Consumer Law Center, signed a letter on Nov. 18, calling on Biden to cancel student loans on his first day as president.

"To minimize the harm to the next generation and help narrow the racial and gender wealth gaps, bold and immediate action is needed to protect student loan borrowers," the groups wrote.

The student loan crisis has been particularly painful to Black borrowers, with nearly 85% of Black college graduates carrying education debt, compared with 69% of White college graduates. And due to racial wealth and income inequities in the U.S., Black borrowers suffer higher default rates and are also stuck in debt much longer than their White peers. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the country's outstanding student loan debt is carried by women.

Even before the pandemic, when the country was in the midst of its longest economic expansion in history and unemployment levels were at half-century lows, more than 1 in 4 student loan borrowers were either in delinquency or default. One survey found that 58% of registered voters are in support of student loan forgiveness and over 820,000 people have signed a Change.org petition titled, "Donald Trump/Joe Biden: Erase Student Loans!"

The legal arguments around whether or not a president can nix the debt get complicated, fast.

CNBC asked Toby Merrill, founder and director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School, how she'd explain to a 15-year-old why she believes it's within the president's power to do so.

"The Constitution gave Congress the authority to control property of the government, like debts owed to it," she wrote.

And Congress, Merrill said, granted the Secretary of Education, who works for the president, "the specific and unrestricted authority to create and to cancel or modify debt owed under federal student loan programs."

The same question was posed to Luke Herrine, a Ph.D. candidate at Yale Law School, who first made the argument in 2017 that the U.S. Department of Education could cancel student debt.

"Basically it's like the power that a prosecutor has to determine whether to bring charges against somebody – the prosecutor might think that a person has committed a crime but decide not to bring a case against them for whatever reason," Herrine said.

In other words: The president could collaborate with the U.S. Department of Education to stop collecting on people's student loans, proponents of the argument say.

Others aren't confident that bypassing Congress to cancel the debt would be successful.

"Using an executive order to forgive federal student loans will likely be met with a lawsuit and preliminary injunction, and eventually fail," Kantrowitz said.

"Also, trying that route immediately upon taking office would block any attempt at working with Congress in a bipartisan manner," he added.

Ryan D. Doerfler, a law professor at the University of Chicago, can also see such a move being met by a myriad of challenges. For example, he said, opponents may say that the U.S. Department of Education can deliver relief to borrowers only in specific circumstances.

Yet those potential obstacles shouldn't prevent the president from trying it, Doerfler said.

"Congress seems wholly uninterested in taking such steps," he said, and so, "better to pursue debt cancellation through executive action than pray for Mitch McConnell to have a change of heart."

Beyond the legal tussle, other critics of a student debt jubilee say it wouldn't significantly stimulate the economy because college graduates tend to be higher earners who would likely redirect their monthly bill to savings rather than spend more.

Merrill disagrees.

Borrowers need help now more than ever, she said.

"People affected by the coronavirus, people whose income has been cut off or are hourly workers, are struggling under the burden of student loan debt," Merrill said.

The U.S. Department of Education offered people the option to pause their student loan payments until January. Almost all borrowers took it: Less than 11% of those with federal student loans are paying their bills during the pandemic, according to data analyzed by Kantrowitz. In a recent Pew survey, 58% of borrowers report that it would be difficult for them to resume making payments in the coming month.

Despite its advantages, some say sweeping forgiveness would spark a backlash among those who didn't attend college, didn't take out loans or have already paid their student debt off. Those borrowers "might feel that their frugality was being punished," Noah Smith, a columnist for Bloomberg, wrote this month.

At that argument, Herrine bristled.

"That's like saying providing a COVID vaccine is unfair to those who caught COVID before the vaccine," he said.

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Trump Fires Election Cybersecurity Official

President Donald Trump dismissed the top election security official who gave a clean chit to the U.S. presidential election contrary to his claims of widespread voter fraud.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) chief Chris Krebs is the latest high ranking official in his administration that Trump fired after losing the election to Joe Biden. Defense Secretary Mark Esper had lost his job last week amid reports that the President doubted the Pentagon chief’s loyalty.

Trump announced his decision to fire such a top official in a statement on Twitter Tuesday. “The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

In an early morning tweet Wednesday, Krebs said, “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow.”

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, under the Department of Homeland Security Agency, had certified in a statement issued last week that the U.S. presidential election was the “most secure in American history.”

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” said the agency, which is tasked with ensuring secure elections.

Trump continued claims of winning the election and voter fraud.

“And I Won The Election. Voter Fraud All Over The Country!,” Trump tweeted, evoking widespread criticism along the thread.

Twitter tagged this statement with the remark, “Multiple sources called this election differently.”

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Georgia Finishes Presidential Hand Tally, Affirms Joe Biden’s Lead

ATLANTA (AP) — A top Georgia election official said Thursday that a hand tally of ballots cast in the presidential race has been completed, and that the results affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump.

The hand tally of about 5 million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request. The state has until Friday to certify results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.

The counties were supposed to finish the hand count by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system, said Thursday evening that the audit was complete and the results would soon be posted on the secretary of state’s website.

Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5%. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, Sterling said.

It was up to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to select the race to be audited, and he said the presidential race made the most sense because of its significance and the tight margin separating the candidates. Because of that small margin, Raffensperger said a full hand recount was necessary.

Votes that hadn’t previously been counted were found in several counties during the audit, which required recertification of the election results in those counties.

In Floyd County, more than 2,500 ballots were discovered during the audit that hadn’t previously been scanned, and the secretary of state’s office had called for the firing of the county’s chief elections clerk, Robert Brady. The county elections board on Thursday voted to issue a written reprimand to Brady and, because it was his second written reprimand within six months, to fire him in accordance with county policy, board member Melanie Conrad said in an email.

Several other counties found memory cards with votes that hadn’t been uploaded and counted prior to the audit.

Going into the hand tally, Biden led Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. The previously uncounted ballots discovered during the hand count will reduce that margin to about 12,800, Sterling said.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner in Georgia, where Biden led Trump by about 0.3 percentage points. There is no mandatory recount law in Georgia, but state law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. It is AP’s practice not to call a race that is — or is likely to become — subject to a recount.

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Trump will lose his 'world leader' Twitter privileges on January 20, Jack Dorsey confirms — meaning he could get banned just like everyone else

  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that once President Donald Trump is no longer president, his tweets won't fall under the company's "world leader" policy. 
  • World leader Twitter accounts are granted certain exemptions when they break Twitter's guidelines, because the platform considers their tweets to be in the public interest.
  • Trump's Twitter account will lose its "world leader" protections on January 20, Twitter previously told The Verge.
  • Once he's no longer president, Trump's account would be subject to suspension and even removal, just like any other account, if he breaks the platform's rules.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has until January to tweet with impunity.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appeared alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a congressional hearing on Tuesday. Responding to questions from lawmakers, Dorsey confirmed that Trump's Twitter account will be stripped of the special protections the platform affords to world leaders.

"If an account suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away," Dorsey said.

The social media giant had confirmed to The Verge a week prior to the hearing that on January 20 — the scheduled day of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration — Trump's personal Twitter account will lose its status as a "world leader" account.

On Twitter, "world leaders" are treated differently. Tweets that would ordinarily be removed or result in sanctions are instead placed behind information cards, informing users that although they break Twitter's rules, the platform has allowed the tweets to stay up.

This is because Twitter believes tweets from world leaders are in the public interest, even when they break its guidelines.

"A critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable," a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider.

"With this in mind, there are certain cases where it may be in the public's interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules."

A spokesperson told The Verge that the policy "applies to current world leaders and candidates for office, and not private citizens when they no longer hold these positions." 

Twitter started taking action against Trump's tweets on May 26, applying fact-checking labels to two tweets alleging California mail-in ballots would be subject to fraud.

Two days later, it took action against a tweet of his about George Floyd protests in Minneapolis for breaking its rules on "glorifying violence."

In the run-up to the election Twitter started applying restrictions to tweets that it deemed to violate its "civic integrity" policy. Many of these tweets detailed the president's unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting would be fraudulent.

Since Election Day, the platform has taken action against numerous Trump tweets. Some simply have fact-checks next to them, while others are behind click-through blocks warning users: "Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process."

It's unclear how long Trump's account might survive after January 20, but if he continues to tweet as he has been doing, it's possible his account would be suspended.

Some groups argue Trump should lose his privileges long before Biden's inauguration.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and political watchdog Common Cause wrote an open letter to Twitter on Thursday asking the platform to suspend Trump's account for undermining the integrity of the election.

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Rudy Giuliani’s ‘Disgraceful’ Arguments To Disenfranchise Pa. Voters Didn’t Go So Well

There’s an old legal saying: “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.”

Rudy Giuliani, at a federal court hearing in Pennsylvania as part of outgoing President Donald Trump’s long-shot legal crusade to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, pounded the table and yelled like hell. Pennsylvania officials, on the other hand, argued both the facts and the law.

While Trump has made absurd and evidence-free claims of mass voter fraud, things haven’t been going well for the Trump campaign in courts, where the candidate who told voters that they’d win so much they’d get “tired of winning” has been on a major losing streak.

One of the last remaining battles is in Pennsylvania, which was a must-win state for the Trump campaign. Trump and Giuliani have said hundreds of thousands of votes should be invalidated in the state because observers were limited in their ability to watch votes being counted, although the Trump campaign effectively scrapped that component of the lawsuit. Biden currently leads in Pennsylvania by more than 73,000 votes.

Giuliani, during Tuesday’s hearing, made broad, sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations of “widespread, nationwide voter fraud.” Giuliani said that Democrats, during the coronavirus pandemic, “were not going to let a serious crisis go to waste,” and decided to use mail-in ballots to steal the election. He said the “Democratic machine” decided to commit voter fraud on a “grand scale.”

At one point, he claimed more than 1.5 million votes were “entered illegally,” and the Trump campaign has claimed they should be tossed out. Mark Aronchick, an attorney for Pennsylvania counties, called Giuliani’s arguments “disgraceful.” Uzoma Nkwonta, an attorney for the Democratic National Committee, pointed out that ― despite Giuliani’s arguments ― Trump campaign lawyers had not actually made substantive claims of voter fraud in court.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann gave Giuliani a lot of leeway to make his argument. But he later pressed the Trump legal team, which he said was asking the court to invalidate more than 6 million votes and disenfranchise “every single voter in the commonwealth.”

“Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?” Brann asked.

Giuliani then went on an extended rant about how the votes “could have been from Mickey Mouse” and said it was wrong for election officials to give voters a chance to correct their ballots.

Brann later got Giuliani to admit that ― despite his claims of mass voter fraud during oral argument ― the Trump campaign’s argument did not “plead fraud with particularity.”

The Trump campaign’s amended complaint focuses on “Democratic heavy counties,” alleging that officials in those jurisdictions did a better job than officials in Republican-heavy jurisdictions of allowing voters to fix, or “cure,” problems with their mail-in ballots before Election Day. The lawsuit claims this alleged disparity denied some Pennsylvanians “the equal protection of law,” and seeks to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the results of the election.

Nevertheless, Giuliani used the hearing to talk a lot about the claim that there was no meaningful access for elections observers in Philadelphia. Unfortunately for Giuliani, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected that argument in a separate case Tuesday afternoon, ruling that the regulations were “reasonable” and did in fact allow candidate representatives to observe the board as it counted votes in Philadelphia.

Republican voters have long been primed to subscribe to the false belief that voter fraud is a significant problem in elections. A number of former Republican-appointed top federal prosecutors spoke out about Trump’s “reckless” voter fraud comments, with one former Republican-appointed U.S. attorney saying his voter fraud campaign “smells of desperation.”

Even some longtime proponents of voting restrictions, like conservative activist and former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams, said that the Trump’s effort in Pennsylvania was a long shot, and that legal claims need to be based on “real evidence,” not made-up evidence.

“There’s no case that ever says not allowing observers in can overturn an election,” Adams said on Fox Business. “That case doesn’t exist. So it’s a heavy-duty ask to ask a federal court to overturn this. I don’t think there’s any chance of that.” (Even so, Adams suggested that Pennsylvania legislators might seek a “political solution” and send Trump electors to the Electoral College, but said there must be a factual predicate that is “reasonable, sound, credible, voluminous.”)

There were some big changes to the Trump campaign’s legal team in the final hours before the hearing. Giuliani, who held a press conference to highlight overblown and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in northeast Philadelphia on the day that networks called the election for Biden, joined the team. 

Another new member of the team, talk show host and attorney Marc Scaringi, previously told his audience that “litigation will not work” and “will not reverse this election,” as The Washington Post reported.

Linda Kerns, a Republican divorce and family law attorney associated with the conservative Federalist Society, sought to be removed from the case, but the judge wouldn’t let her. Kerns previously received an award from the Republican National Lawyers Association, where she told the audience that Philadelphians “treat me like I’m the problem” when she appears in court on elections issues. “But I’m not the problem,” Kerns said.

Kerns previously wrote a letter complaining that voters were dropping off two or three ballots ― presumably from other members of their households ― at Philadelphia ballot box locations, earning a warning from Pennsylvania’s attorney general, who said that the Trump campaign’s initiative of videotaping voters dropping off ballots could be considered illegal voter intimidation.

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Trump asked advisors for options to attack Iran's main nuclear site just days after sacking his Defense Secretary

  • President Donald Trump asked senior advisors to provide him with options for a military strike on Iran last Thursday, according to The New York Times.
  • An array of top advisors persuaded Trump against pursuing such a strike with such a short time left in his presidency, warning the move could spark a broader conflict.
  • Trump pushed the US and Iran to the brink of war at the beginning of 2020.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump last week consulted top advisors on potential options for a military strike on Iran's main nuclear site, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Senior advisors ultimately discouraged Trump from pursuing the strike, arguing that such a move could spiral into a larger conflict with a short time remaining in the president's tenure, four current and former officials told The Times. Though Trump has refused to accept the results and concede, President-elect Joe Biden defeated him in the 2020 election.

Among those who persuaded Trump against moving forward with the strike were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley.

"Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed," Nader Hashemi, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver, told Insider. "A military strike on Iran would deeply destabilize an already unstable Middle East, with ripple effects across the region, especially in Iraq and Lebanon."

Furthermore, "Iran is far away from having enough enriched uranium to build a bomb," Hashemi said. "There is no imminent threat that would warrant a military strike."

The White House did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The reported Oval Office meeting took place just days after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and a day after international inspectors reported a major increase in Iran's uranium stockpile.

Iran's low-grade uranium stockpile is now more than 12 times the limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump controversially withdrew the US from in May 2018.

Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the Obama-era nuclear accord rapidly raised tensions between Washington and Tehran, catalyzing a series of skirmishes in the Persian Gulf. The contentious dynamic was exacerbated in early 2020 after Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Iran's top general, Qassem Soleimani, while he was in Iraq.

The Soleimani strike pushed the US and Iran to the ,brink of war. Iran retaliated with a missile attack on US forces in Iraq that left dozens with serious injuries. The US and Iran avoided a broader conflict in the aftermath of the Soleimani strike, but tensions remained high. The strike also led Iran to effectively abandon the 2015 nuclear deal altogether.

"The only reason Iran didn't want to escalate beyond symbolic attacks at the time was precisely because it feared the US would escalate even further by striking inside the country," Hassan Hassan, program director of non-state actors and geopolitics at the Center for Global Policy, told Insider. "If the US strikes inside Iran, and against nuclear facilities, then the gloves are off."

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