Trump wanted U.S. Supreme Court to order new election in Pa., other states

By: - June 15, 2021 8:46 pm

State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks during a Capitol news conference on Wednesday, 5/12/21 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

By Jeremy Duda

Documents obtained by the U.S. House Oversight Committee showed that former President Donald Trump wanted his Justice Department to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to order a half dozen states, including Pennsylvania, to hold new presidential elections and to bar them from casting their electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden.

On Dec. 29, Trump assistant Molly Michael emailed several Justice Department figures, including incoming acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, a copy of a complaint the president wanted filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. The complaint asked the court to nullify the electoral votes of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and to order all six states to hold special elections to appoint presidential electors. 

Trump also wanted the court to order the states to conduct audits of their election results that would be supervised by court-appointed special masters. 

The proposed complaint, which was never filed by the Department of Justice, featured a number of complaints about the conduct of the election in each of the six disputed states.

It was made public Tuesday as part of a cache of documents released by the House Oversight Committee and Government Reform Committee.

At the heart of the complaint are allegations that “non-legislative officials” in Arizona and the other five states used the COVID pandemic “as an excuse to unconstitutionally revise or violate their states’ election laws.” The complaint argued that the changes violated Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which grants legislatures the power to select the manner of choosing presidential electors, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by using different standards for the treatment of ballots within the same state.

In Arizona, Trump’s complaint focused on a federal judge’s ruling that briefly extended the voter registration deadline for people who wanted to cast ballots in the general election, which was later reversed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A U.S. District Court judge extended the statutory deadline of Oct. 5 to Oct. 23, ruling that the COVID-19 pandemic had unconstitutionally hindered the ability of two liberal advocacy groups to register voters. The 9th Circuit later reversed that ruling, but granted Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’s request for a “grace period” that would allow two additional days of voter registration.

Judge Steven Logan also agreed to allow voters who registered between Oct. 5 and the end of the two-day grace period to cast ballots in the Nov. 3 election. GOP Attorney General Mark Brnovich, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee opposed Hobbs’s request for a grace period — the judge gave her two days instead of the five she asked for — but agreed that the roughly 35,000 voters who registered under the extended deadline should be allowed to vote in the general election.

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“As a net result, the deadline was unconstitutionally extended from the statutory deadline of October 5 to October 15, 2021, thereby allowing potentially thousands of illegal votes to be injected into the state,” the complaint read.

Trump’s proposed complaint argued that the extended deadline warranted the nullification of Arizona’s electoral votes and the holding of a new election for president. Biden defeated Trump by 10,457 votes in Arizona, winning its 11 electoral votes and becoming the first Democrat since 1996 to carry the traditionally Republican state.

The complaint notes that Hobbs and Brnovich did not request “retroactive relief” that would bar voters who registered under the extended deadline from casting ballots, though it doesn’t note that the NRSC and RNC, which was run by Trump’s handpicked chair, didn’t make any such requests either.

Arizona Republican U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko both cited the judicially extended registration deadline when they voted against certification of their state’s electoral votes on Jan. 6. Like Trump, neither representative raised objections in court at the time. 

Of the 35,000 or so voters who registered under the deadline, 10,922 registered as Republicans compared to 8,292 Democrats, 15,422 independents and 498 Libertarians. It’s unknown how many of them voted. 

The proposed Supreme Court complaint also noted that the Arizona Senate had subpoenaed ballots, tabulation machines and other materials used in the general election in Maricopa County, which at the time was the subject of ongoing litigation between the Senate and the county, which challenged the validity of the subpoenas. It noted that then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Eddie Farnsworth, who issued the original subpoenas, said there was evidence of tampering and fraud in Maricopa County.

Earlier this month, a trio of Pennsylvania lawmakers, including Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, visited the Arizona audit. The lawmakers said their trip was not paid for with taxpayer money, but they declined to explain who financed the trip.

Trump has pressured senior Pennsylvania Republicans, including Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Senate State Government Committee Chairman David Argall, R-Schuylkill, to conduct an audit, the Capital-Star previously reported.

Argall, whose committee has oversight of election issues, has said he’s open to an audit. House State Government Committee Chairman Seth Grove, R-York, has said his panel will “will not be authorizing any further audits on any previous election.”

Jeremy Duda is a reporter for the Arizona Mirror, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared. Capital-Star Editor John L. Micek contributed additional reporting. 

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