President Donald Trump is seeking to intervene in a Supreme Court case brought by the Texas attorney general that tries to toss the results in a handful of battleground states that Trump lost — the president’s latest, and potentially last, long-shot legal avenue to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
After weeks of sowing misinformation about the results of the election, Trump argues in a 39-page filing that the ensuing division among Americans is comparable to the climate in the U.S. on the eve of the Civil War.
The case, which originated with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, tries to block Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin from having their electors vote in the Electoral College on Monday, ultimately seeking to punt the decision to each state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
“This is the big one,” Trump declared about the case, hours before intervening.
The Texas case argues that the aforementioned states took “non-legislative actions to change the election rules,” and ought to have their results thrown out.
Paxton’s original filing also presents outlandish and untrue claims of fraud, citing a so-called expert witness who claimed that Biden had “less than one in a quadrillion” chance of winning each of the four states based on an early lead he built up, ignoring how ballots are actually counted and making flawed comparisons with 2016 vote totals.
Trump’s filing seemingly waves away the necessity of actually proving that a massive amount of electoral fraud actually happened, as the president has repeatedly and falsely claimed. In fact, the president has adopted a legal theory in which the absence of measurable fraud essentially proves that it occurred.
“The media has consistently proclaimed that no widespread voter fraud has been proven,” Trump’s filing reads. “The constitutional issue is not whether voters committed fraud but whether state officials violated the law by systematically loosening the measures for ballot integrity so that fraud becomes undetectable.”
Claims of widespread electoral fraud have been rejected by every credible authority in America — county, state and federal courts; election security officials in Washington and the states; election administrators in both parties tasked with overseeing the election process; and the Department of Justice.
Trump’s filing also presents an unsupported claim that states adjusted their election policies for “apparent partisan advantage,” omitting the fact that in one of the challenged states, the election processes were overseen by Republicans, who have since certified the results. And even in states overseen by Democrats, there is no evidence of widespread fraud.
Trump’s brief was submitted by John Eastman, a law professor and former dean at Chapman University School of Law in California.
“I’m honored that the President asked me to represent him in this matter,” Eastman said in a statement. “I think his intervention in this case strengthens an already very strong original action by the state of Texas.”
Although Eastman is listed as the only counsel for the president on the brief, metadata attached to the brief indicates that it was prepared or originated by Lawrence Joseph, an attorney reportedly hired by Paxton’s office to work on the case.
Eastman and Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A longtime lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, has said repeatedly in recent weeks that he expected to be involved in any Trump-led electoral challenges that reach the Supreme Court. However, he’s not on the brief.
Sekulow said on Wednesday that his absence was because the filing was neither personally by Trump nor on behalf of the Trump campaign, but by Trump individually as a candidate.
“This is John Eastman’s baby,” Sekulow said. “He put this together.”
Republican officials — from the halls of Congress to state capitals — have backed the president’s attacks on the democratic process. Seventeen Republican attorneys general, led by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, signed a friend of the court brief arguing that the Supreme Court should take up the case.
However, the brief did not make clear whether they were endorsing Texas’ argument that it has the standing and right to police other states’ electoral processes.
Another lawyer for Trump, Jenna Ellis, said Trump’s filing at the Supreme Court reflected his belief that last month’s election was hopelessly tainted by bias and corrupt activity.
“President Trump is fully committed to ensuring election integrity and fulfilling his oath to defend and protect the United States Constitution against state officials’ misconduct and violations of law that irredeemably compromised this election,” Ellis said in a statement. “We look forward to the Supreme Court resolving these important issues of election integrity that ultimately affect all Americans, and providing a remedy to the corruption that occurred.”
The Supreme Court has ordered the states Texas is suing to respond by Thursday afternoon to Paxton’s request for emergency relief.