WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s campaign pushed ahead on Wednesday with its long-shot litigation strategy to try to upend Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 U.S. election by filing a lawsuit in Michigan even as the former vice president focused on laying the foundation for his incoming administration.
The Republican president’s team went to federal court to try to block Michigan, a Midwestern battleground state that he won in 2016 but lost to Biden in media projections, from certifying the election results. Trump trailed by roughly 148,000 votes, or 2.6 percentage points, in unofficial Michigan vote totals.
Trump has declined to concede the election to the Democrat Biden, instead lodging a flurry of lawsuits in pivotal states to try to back up his unsupported claims of widespread voting fraud. The Michigan lawsuit also made allegations of misconduct in the voting.
Jake Rollow, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of State, said in a statement the Trump campaign was promoting false claims to erode public confidence in Michigan’s elections.
“It does not change the truth: Michigan’s elections were conducted fairly, securely, transparently, and the results are an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Rollow said.
Prominent Republican lawmakers and other Trump allies have backed the president’s strategy, saying he has the right to contest the election results. The suit was filed one day after Biden called Trump’s failure to concede an “embarrassment.”
Judges have tossed out several of the Trump lawsuits, and legal experts say the litigation has scant chance of changing the election outcome.
Biden last Saturday clinched victory in the election as he won a series of battleground states to exceed the 270 electoral votes needed in the state-by-state Electoral College. Biden was winning the national popular vote by at least 5 million votes, with some states still counting ballots.
Biden and his wife Jill visited a war memorial in Philadelphia to mark Veterans Day on Wednesday.
Trump placed a memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, outside of Washington. It was his first public appearance, other than two golf outings, since a White House news conference last Thursday in which he made unsubstantiated election fraud claims.
In Twitter posts on Wednesday, Trump kept up his narrative of voter fraud, referring to “a mountain of corruption & dishonesty” while also assailing pollsters.
“We win!” Trump wrote.
Biden has a narrower lead in Georgia, another state Trump won in 2016, with the result heading toward a recount. The Trump campaign also released what it described as evidence of a handful of dead people had been used to cast illegal votes in Georgia.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told a news conference that the state would conduct a hand recount of all ballots, which was expected to begin this week. He said the results would be certified by a Nov. 20 deadline.
Nearly 80% of Americans, including half of Republicans, say Biden is the rightful winner of the election, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
Trump’s refusal to accept defeat, even as world leaders congratulate Biden and look to their future relations with the United States, caps a tumultuous four years in office with the nation deeply polarized and facing a sharp resurgence in coronavirus cases.
Trump, who has attracted support among a dedicated base of supporters with his right-wing populism, has delighted his admirers with his combative style and the shattering of norms. He has eschewed a public concession or the pledge of cooperation typically offered by outgoing presidents. Biden is due to be sworn in on Jan. 20.
PREPARING TO GOVERN
Biden plans to meet with advisers on Wednesday who are helping him prepare to take office.
He has tapped finance, trade and banking regulation experts for his transition team who range from mainstream Democrats to progressive activists, reflecting ongoing debate within his party about how to address climate change, wealth inequality and other issues.
Biden, who served as vice president under former President Barack Obama, is also tapping people who crafted tougher environmental rules while serving in the Obama administration.
The outcome in a small number of states remained undecided with Trump holding a lead in North Carolina and Biden ahead in Arizona in addition to Georgia. Recounts are unlikely to change the outcomes.
To remain in office, Trump would need to win all three undecided states plus overturn the results in one or more states in Biden’s column, a highly unlikely prospect.
The Trump administration is not cooperating with Biden’s team, which has been unable to move into federal government office space or tap funds to hire staff.
Trump also has installed loyalists in top positions at the Pentagon this week, after firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, which could potentially make it easier to use U.S. troops to respond to potential domestic protests.
Reporting by Andy Sullivan; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel, Jan Wolfe and Jeff Mason; Writing by Daniel Trotta and Paul Simao; Editing by Ross Colvin and Will Dunham