- On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down a case filed by the Trump campaign alleging that Republican observers were forced to stand too far away from ballot counting in Philadelphia. The court argued the 15-18 feet they were given was enough to do their job.
- Separately, Trump’s team also experienced another loss in Michigan after Republicans on the election board in Wayne County reversed an earlier decision to not verify ballots after massive backlash.
- Despite these and other recent losses, the Trump campaign is still moving forward with other highly questionable cases.
- After the Pennsylvania ruling, Trump’s team filed a suit in Nevada asking officials to reverse the will of the people and give the state’s electoral votes to the president.
String of Losses
After numerous legal losses in the last few days alone, President Donald Trump and his campaign are moving forward with new dubious legal challenges aimed at overturning the result of the election.
However, the president’s legal strategy of throwing everything against a wall to see what sticks is not working out too well.
“There have been something like 30 or 40 of these lawsuits filed in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and so on,” Harvard Law School professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos told CBS News on Monday. “To this point, dozens of defeats have piled up for the Trump campaign.”
Not only have major losses been piling up, but the Trump campaign has also been dropping some cases too because they have next to no chance of standing up in court
Meanwhile, lawyers and even entire law firms that have been bringing these suits for Trump are withdrawing from the legal fights, leaving the campaign scrambling to fill the spaces in key cases with the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The Trump campaign took yet another hit in the keystone state this week after a series of defeats in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona on Friday.
On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled 5-2 to strike down a lawsuit brought against Philadelphia’s county election board. In it, the Trump campaign alleged that Republican observers watching ballots being counted in Philadelphia were kept 15-18 feet away from the election workers, which they claimed was too far away to see if there were irregularities in the process.
A lower court denied that request, the campaign appealed it, and an appeals court ruled in their favor on Nov. 5, allowing observers to stand six feet away as long as they abided by COVID-safe guidelines like wearing masks.
The election board then appealed that decision to the state’s Supreme Court, which ultimately upheld the first court’s decision and ruled that Philadelphia’s election protocols were set up with, “careful consideration of how it could best protect the security and privacy of voters’ ballots, as well as safeguard its employees and others who would be present during a pandemic for the pre-canvassing and canvassing process.”
The court also noted that observers were simply directed to observe the process — not audit the ballots for irregularities — and that they were very much able to observe election workers “performing their duties” as required at the safe 15-18 foot distance.
That ruling was also significant because of how it could play into the other lawsuits the campaign has brought in Pennsylvania, which has seen the most single filings of any state.
In fact, at the same time that Pennsylvania’s highest court made that ruling, Giuliani had just finished giving highly unusual opening arguments in a federal court case elsewhere in the state in what marked his first appearance before a judge in decades.
The case that Giuliani was arguing — though at times he appeared confused as to which of the many lawsuits he was talking about — was narrowly focused on whether election officials in Pennsylvania should have given voters the ability to fix issues with their mail-in ballots after submitting them.
Some counties in the state did allow voters to fix the issues, but others did not. The Trump campaign has argued that that is unconstitutional and is attempting to block Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State from certifying the election results.
Or at least, that’ was what they were supposed to be arguing. Instead, in his court appearance Tuesday, Giuliani made a number of wildly baseless claims entirely unrelated to the lawsuit, saying, without any evidence, that there was a massive conspiracy behind former Vice President Joe Biden’s victory.
“It’s a widespread, nationwide voter fraud,” he claimed, accusing local election officials of being part of a “little mafia.”
The president’s lawyer also claimed Republican observers had been prevented from watching the ballot counts, though he later acknowledged that the president’s legal team had dropped that claim in the lawsuit because they knew it would not hold up.
When questioned by U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann as to whether Giuliani was bringing new claims of fraud that were not mentioned in the suit at hand, he admitted that it was not a fraud case, but continued to complain about the “fraudulent process.”
“So you are alleging a fraud,” Brann responded, adding such claims would need a higher standard than just baseless suspicion to make a real case.
The Trump campaign also saw another major upset Tuesday, though this one did not stem from a legal case, but rather from a decision made by an election board in Wayne County, Michigan, which is home to Detroit.
There, the two Republican members of the election board, Monica Palmer and William Hartman, refused to certify the election results. They argued that in some precincts in the county, and specifically in Detroit, the number of recorded votes did not line up with the number of voters who were listed as having shown up to vote.
However, many people pushed back heavily against this objection, including the Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and other top officials, who pointed out that most of the discrepancies at the precincts involved a very small number of ballots.
Officials noted that these small blips likely just stemmed from easily explained situations like a voter leaving a long line, or an absentee ballot kicked out of a tabulator because a voter decided to cast their ballot in person.
Benson, who agreed to a comprehensive audit of the Detroit precincts, also specifically said that all the evidence they currently have shows that the election had been run cleanly, that there was no evidence of fraud, and that these discrepancies were just due to clerical errors.
She added that it was irresponsible for the Republicans to refuse to verify these legal votes over such a minor and normal election occurrence.
That point was echoed by other voters, activists, and community members, many of whom pointed to the fact that Palmer even argued at one point that the results should be certified in one of the predominantly white suburbs outside of the majority-Black Detroit, even though it had an even bigger variance in ballots cast to voters who turned out.
Following the massive outcry, Palmer and Hartman reversed their decision and agreed to certify the results.
New Lawsuit in Nevada
Notably, all of campaign’s many recent losses have not stopped team Trump from filing more questionable lawsuits.
Following the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday, the campaign filed another lawsuit in Nevada asking that Trump “be declared the winner of the Election in Nevada,” or for the results to at least be annulled so that no winner is certified by the elections board.
In the lawsuit, the campaign claimed, again without evidence, that “fraud and abuse renders the purported results of the Nevada election illegitimate.” Trump’s team also argued in the suit that a signature verification machine in Clark County, the most populous county in Nevada, was flawed, and that poll watchers were denied meaningful access to the ballot counting process.
A Clark County election official pushed back, and said that the Trump campaign inaccurately described both claims.
“On both of these issues, state and federal courts have already rejected their allegations,” the official said.
While the cascade of lawsuits might seem endless, there is an end in sight: Dec. 8.
Also known as the safe harbor deadline, Dec. 8 is the date by which all legal challenges and recounts must be settled and electors must be solidified by states.
Technically, Trump could still file a lawsuit after that, though it would almost certainly be tossed out immediately.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Los Angeles Times) (CBS News)
Ron DeSantis Faces Lawsuit, Investigation for “Human Trafficking” of Migrants
A woman only known as “Pearla” allegedly lured the desperate migrants onto planes with monetary incentives and false promises.
A Political Stunt Blows Up in the Governor’s Face
After unexpectedly flying some 50 mostly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is staring down a class action lawsuit, a local investigation, and a potential probe from the Justice Department.
On Tuesday, Lawyers for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the nonprofit Alianza Americas filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of the migrants. The filing names DeSantis, the state of Florida, Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue, and their accomplices as defendants.
It alleges they fraudulently induced the migrants to cross state lines to Martha’s Vineyard, where shelter and resources were not prepared.
According to several accounts, the migrants were falsely promised work, free rent, and immigration assistance in exchange for taking the trip.
The migrants are seeking unspecified damages on top of the cost of their legal fees for emotional and economic harm.
On Monday, Texas Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced that he was opening an investigation into the migrant flights and DeSantis’s role in the scheme, which he called an “abuse of human rights.”
“They feel that they were deceived in being taken from Bexar County — from San Antonio, Texas — to where they eventually ended up,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “That could be a crime here in Texas and we will handle it as such.”
Salazar also said in a statement that his office was working with private attorneys representing the victims and advocacy organizations and that he was prepared to work with “any federal agency with concurrent jurisdiction, should the need arise.”
Since making the announcement, the sheriff’s office has been bombarded by threats via phone and email, according to a statement by a spokesperson.
Dylan Fernandes, a Massachusetts state lawmaker representing Martha’s Vineyard, called on the DoJ to launch a human trafficking probe into DeSantis Sunday.
He wrote on Twitter about the “inhumane acts,” saying, “Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking.”
A Mysterious Woman Named Pearla
Several migrants have told reporters, and claimed in the class action lawsuit, that they were lured onto the planes by a tall, blonde woman calling herself Pearla.
She reportedly approached them outside the San Antonio shelter, on the street, and in a McDonald’s parking lot, talking to them in broken Spanish.
Eduardo Linares, a migrant who said he rejected Pearla’s offer, told The Boston Globe that she promised them a free trip to Massachusetts and guaranteed work.
Another migrant named Alejandro told the outlet she offered him three months of free rent, job placement, and help with his immigration case.
The San Antonio Report interviewed a migrant named Emmanuel who said Pearla paid him $200 to recruit other migrants for the flights.
Tuesday’s lawsuit filing elaborates on their claims, saying that they were enticed with $10 McDonald’s gift cards to fly to Boston or Washington.
It alleges that the migrants were rounded up in hotel rooms while the scheme’s organizers gathered enough people to fill two planes, with them sequestered so they could not discuss the plan with anyone else.
“Once the individual Plaintiffs and class members landed, it became clear that the promises made to induce them on the planes were in fact bold-faced lies,” the filing says.
DeSantis defended himself on Fox News Monday night, saying, “They all signed consent forms to go and then the vendor that is doing this for Florida provided them with a packet that had a map of Martha’s Vineyard, it has the number for different services that are on Martha’s Vineyard.”
The brochures given to the migrants, however, listed services for refugees, not asylum seekers, and some migrants have said they weren’t aware of this fact. If the migrants were misled, the participants in the scheme could be criminally liable.
Who Pearla is and who employs her is still unknown, but DeSantis has publically taken credit for chartering the flights.
The League of United Latin American Citizens is offering $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of Pearla.
Two days after arriving in Martha’s Vineyard, the migrants voluntarily took shelter in a Cape Cod military base, which is designed for such emergency purposes.
See what others are saying: (NPR) (Vice) (The Boston Globe)
Is The Pandemic Really Over? Experts Bristle at Biden’s Declaration
Top Republicans took the president’s words as a signal not to approve any more funds for COVID relief.
The Pandemic’s End
“The pandemic is over,” declared President Joe Biden in a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday night.
“We still have a problem with COVID,” he said. “We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.”
“If you notice, no one is wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape, and so I think it’s changing, and I think this is a perfect example of it,” he added, gesturing around at last week’s Detroit Auto Show, where the interview took place.
The president’s remarks turned many heads among public health experts, who have pointed out that 400 to 500 Americans continue to die from COVID-19 every day.
“We’ve had two million cases reported over the last 28 days, and we know underreporting is substantial,” Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times.
“COVID-19 continues to be the number four cause of death in the country,” he added.
Others argued that the U.S. president does not have the authority to declare a pandemic over. Only the World Health Organization, which first declared the coronavirus a global pandemic in early 2020, holds that power.
“We are not there yet,” WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week. “But the end is in sight.”
To Care or Not to Care: That is the White House’s Question
Biden’s relatively relaxed attitude toward the virus on “60 Minutes” contradicted his administration’s official policy, which aids have been quick to clarify remains the same. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the government’s declaration of a COVID-19 public health emergency, which enables it to waive or modify requirements for health-related programs like Medicare and Medicaid, remains in effect. That designation, however, will be up for renewal on October 13.
The White House has also been pushing Congress to allocate another $22 billion toward fighting the pandemic, but top Republicans said Monday that Biden’s comment declaring the pandemic over essentially shuts the door on further aid.
“If it’s over, then I wouldn’t suspect they need any more money,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx.) in response Monday.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, added, “I don’t think they were going to get any Covid money through anyway.”
The Biden administration continues to encourage Americans to get the newly authorized “bivalent” COVID-19 booster shot, which provides protection against both the original strain and the omicron subvariants.
The booster shot could prevent as many as 10,000 deaths and 137,000 hospitalizations in the coming months, according to one estimate by Matthew Daley, a physician at Kaiser Permanente Colorado.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everybody over the age of 12, and those who are older, pregnant, immunocompromised, or have a chronic illness, in particular, get the booster as soon as possible. But while most Americans have been vaccinated at least once, less than half have gotten their first booster shot, according to CDC data.
New York Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday that vaccine mandates for private employers will end in November, though public employees will still be required to have a vaccine. The day prior, Starbucks also lifted some COVID policies, announcing that its workers will no longer get two weeks of sick pay for coronavirus infections starting on October 2.
In its statement, the company described the pandemic as entering the “endemic” phase.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNN) (The Washington Post)
Trump Plays QAnon Music During Conspiracy-Ridden Speech in Ohio
In recent weeks, the former president has made explicit gestures to QAnon on Truth Social.
The One-Finger Salute Becomes Trump’s Latest Rallying Symbol
In one of his clearest endorsements of the conspiracy theory yet, former president Donald Trump played a QAnon theme song during a rally in Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday.
Trump was there to support Senate candidate JD Vance ahead of November’s midterm elections. As the night’s rally came to a close, the former president delivered an eight-minute monologue while dramatic string music provided ambiance.
Experts identified the song as “WWG1WGA,” an acronym for the QAnon slogan “Where we go one, we go all.”
But Trump aids who spoke to The New York Times claimed it was in fact a song called “Mirrors” by film and TV composer Will Van De Crommer.
“The fake news, in a pathetic attempt to create controversy and divide America, is brewing up another conspiracy about a royalty-free song from a popular audio library platform,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich, told the outlet.
When Trump posted a video to Truth Social containing the same music last month, however, music professor David Dominique told Vice the two songs were indistinguishable.
“I have listened to both [‘Mirrors’ and ‘WWG1WGA’] closely several times now,” he said. “And I have 100% professional confidence these recordings are identical, not even a reinterpretation of a composition, but the same recording.”
Media Matters also analyzed the songs using the software Audacity and found their audio profiles to be “virtually identical.”
When the song played on Saturday, dozens of people in the audience saluted with one finger extended in the air, a gesture Trump aids told The Times they have never seen at one of the former president’s rallies before.
The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, who has a book about QAnon coming out next year, called the salute “curious” in a Twitter thread.
“Some on Twitter are calling it a QAnon salute, with 1 finger for ‘Where we go 1,’ and Trump is playing a pro-Q song as he talks,” he wrote. “I’ve never seen this happen before, though, so if it’s a Q thing it’s new.”
He added the caveat: “The one finger thing might also be for ‘America First.’ The white nationalist groypers, for example, do a one finger salute for that reason.”
Trump Warms to QAnon
QAnon is a conspiracy theory encompassing a wide range of beliefs, but the most common iteration posits that Trump is locked in a secret struggle against a global cabal of Democratic elites and satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles.
The Trump administration generally kept its distance from the movement throughout most of his term, then the former president began to signal his sympathy for it as the 2020 election drew closer.
He congratulated Marjorie Taylor Greene, a prominent politician who has expressed belief in QAnon, for winning Georgia’s GOP primary.
When asked about QAnon a few days later, Trump told the press corps, “I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.”
One reporter followed up by asking him specifically about the idea that he was serving as a warrior against a satanic cabal of pedophiles and cannibals, to which Trump replied, “If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it.”
Late last month, the former president created and shared a flurry of posts on Truth Social that were explicitly related to QAnon.
In one, he reposted the slogan “Where We Go One We Go All,” and in another, he reposted a 2017 message from “Q,” the anonymous persona at the center of the conspiracy theory, criticizing the intelligence community. The string of posts came one day after he demanded to be reinstated as president, and just weeks after the FBI executed a search warrant on his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Last week, Trump posted a meme of himself wearing a Q lapel pin with the words “The storm is coming” superimposed over it. In QAnon lore, “the storm” refers to the imminent return of Trump to the White House and subsequent mass arrest of the deep-state cabal.
In May 2021, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) conducted a survey of Americans’ belief in specific QAnon-related conspiracies.
Around 15% of respondents, equivalent to nearly 50 million people if extrapolated to the general population, agreed with the statement: “The government, media and financial world in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”