All President Trump really wants for Christmas is a delivery from the Supreme Court.
Mr. Trump’s legal team has asked the justices for an order by Christmas Eve to proceed with expedited consideration of the campaign’s long-shot challenge to the election results in Pennsylvania.
Most legal analysts say the chances of a favorable decision from the high court are very remote. The Supreme Court already has rejected without comment two post-election challenges to the results in Pennsylvania.
The president also met at the White House on Monday with a group of conservative House lawmakers who plan to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s electoral votes from contested states when Congress meets Jan. 6.
The president and his top lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, continued to push publicly on Monday their claims for investigations of voting machines and alleged election fraud in swing states won by Mr. Biden.
“Big news coming out of Pennsylvania,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Very big illegal ballot drop that cannot be accounted for. Rigged Election!”
Mr. Giuliani said he wants to “find out, once and for all, did Biden cheat to become president like he cheated to get through law school?” (Mr. Biden long ago admitted he plagiarized a paper in law school in 1965. The faculty allowed him to repeat the course, after initially flunking him.)
Mr. Giuliani said Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin should agree “to let us audit the Dominion [voting] machines.”
“What are they afraid of, if they didn’t cheat?” he said.
But Attorney General William P. Barr again knocked down the president’s claims of widespread election fraud Monday, saying there was “no basis” for a federal seizure of voting machines or appointing a special counsel to investigate purported election fraud.
“If I thought a special counsel at this stage was the right tool and was appropriate, I would name one. But I haven’t and I’m not going to,” Mr. Barr said at a news conference two days before he is leaving office.
Dominion Voting Systems has denied any problems with its machines and has requested a retraction from pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who claims Dominion machines “flipped” votes for Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden. She was seen at the White House on Monday.
Ms. Powell also was seen leaving the White House residence on Sunday night, although she apparently didn’t meet with the president. Asked by a CNN reporter why she was there, Ms. Powell replied, “that would be none of your business.”
Mr. Trump has been considering whether to appoint her as a special counsel to investigate purported voter fraud, an idea that created heated disagreements with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday night.
Patrick Byrne, former CEO of Overstock.com, attended the Friday night meeting and said the president is being “ill-served” by Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Meadows.
“The raised voices included my own,” Mr. Byrne wrote on Twitter. “I can promise you: President Trump is being terribly served by his advisers. They want him to lose and are lying to him. He is surrounded by mendacious mediocrities.”
He tweeted, “For the first time in my life I feel sorry for Donald Trump. He is standing up to his waist in snakes. Trust Rudy and Sidney only.”
Mr. Byrne became involved in the White House discussions after promoting accusations of election fraud on his web site DeepCapture.com. He calls himself a self-funded “free agent” who has described a romantic link with former Russian agent Maria Butina.
In a YouTube video circulating in recent days, Mr. Byrne also claims that the FBI encouraged him in 2016 to bribe presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on behalf of an unnamed country.
“I facilitated a bribe, and she took a bribe for $18 million” in 2016, Mr. Byrne said on the video. “General Barr knows this. I’ve been waiting to say this publicly. I’ve been waiting to say this on mainstream TV, and they will not have me back.”
He said the FBI later “scrubbed” the operation that he called “Snowglobe.”
“This isn’t a theory. I’m the guy in the room,” Mr. Byrne said. “I was helping them set up Hillary Clinton for a Deep State to control her. I’m about as involved in this as you can get.”
Former White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon said he’s also advised Mr. Trump to appoint special counsels to investigate the election.
“As I strongly recommended to the president, we need a special counsel named immediately — a special prosecutor just on election fraud and voter fraud. They’re two different things — election fraud and voter fraud — you need to do that immediately,” Mr. Bannon said during an online event with conservative pastors on Sunday night.
So far, none of the Trump team’s strategizing has produced any significant wins in courtrooms around the country. The Electoral College officially elected Mr. Biden on Dec. 14, by a margin of 306 electoral votes to 232.
Even if the Supreme Court overturned the election results in Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden would still have 286 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed to win the presidency.
The Supreme Court has already rejected two efforts to overturn Mr. Biden’s victory in battleground states. On Dec. 8, the justices turned away a bid by Republican Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania to reverse the Democrat’s victory there. The high court also rejected a bid by Texas to invalidate the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The new Trump appeal at the Supreme Court focuses on the 2.6 million mail-in ballots cast in Pennsylvania. The campaign is challenging an Oct. 23 ruling by the state Supreme Court that said election officials shouldn’t try to verify that the signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes match the signatures on file.
The petition also seeks to overturn a state court ruling that said Pennsylvania officials shouldn’t disqualify ballots for lack of a name, address or date on the envelopes.
The Trump campaign also argues that the state Supreme Court unconstitutionally changed election rules set by the state legislature when it expanded mail-in balloting.
The appeal says action is urgent because Congress is set to vote on states’ presidential electors on Jan. 6, the final legally mandated step before Inauguration Day for Mr. Biden on Jan. 20.
Several House Republicans, including Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama and Matt Gaetz of Florida, plan to object to Mr. Biden’s electors from battleground states. Mr. Brooks, Mr. Gaetz, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona and several other House GOP lawmakers met with the president at the White House on Monday.
Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Republican, has spoken to Mr. Trump and has suggested he will join the effort to block Mr. Biden’s electoral votes.
Both the Senate and Democratic-led House would need to agree to reject Mr. Biden’s slate of electors from a given state. Mr. Brooks has said the courts would need to resolve a constitutional question of whether each state gets one vote in the House — in which case the GOP would hold the advantage — or whether all individual lawmakers get a vote.
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