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Political Notebook

Federal appeals court rejects Trump request for emergency injunction to overturn certification of Pennsylvania vote

A federal appeals court on Friday rejected President Trump’s request for an emergency injunction to overturn the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals said in a scathing 21-page opinion that the Trump campaign’s challenge of a U.S. District Court’s decision had “no merit.”

“Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” the court said.

The opinion was written by Judge Stephanos Bibas, who was appointed to the court by Trump. Bibas was joined by two other Republican-appointed judges in a unanimous 3-0 panel.

“Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” Bibas wrote.


Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser to Trump’s campaign, said after the decision that the case would be taken to the Supreme Court. “On to SCOTUS!” Ellis said on Twitter.

Trump’s campaign appealed to the Third Circuit after the district court last weekend dismissed its federal lawsuit against Pennsylvania election authorities and rejected the campaign’s request to be allowed to revise the suit to add more allegations.

The lawsuit sought to halt certification of Pennsylvania’s results on the grounds that Republicans were illegally disadvantaged as some Democratic-leaning areas allowed voters to fix administrative errors on their mail ballots.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar certified the results on Tuesday, making official Trump’s defeat to President-elect Joe Biden in the state. Biden beat Trump by more than 81,000 votes.

But Bibas noted in his decision on Friday that Trump’s campaign “never claims fraud or that any votes were cast by illegal voters.” He pointed to a remark made during a hearing on the lawsuit by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, that it was “not a fraud case.”

The court ruled that granting Trump’s “grossly disproportionate” request to throw out the results would be “drastic and unprecedented, disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races too.”


Friday’s decision by the appeals court technically dealt with the Trump campaign’s challenge of the lower court’s refusal to allow it to amend its lawsuit. Giuliani wanted to refile the suit, adding allegations that official Republican observers were not allowed to watch votes being counted. (Trump’s lawyers had previously said in court that some were allowed to observe.)

But the appeals court’s opinion went further, stating in stark terms that Trump’s legal effort had no chance of succeeding. “The campaign cannot win this lawsuit,” it said.

The court’s decision came on a day that Trump began by repeatedly tweeting falsehoods about the election results and insisting anew that he had won. Official results show Biden defeating Trump by more than 6.1 million votes nationally - more than 80 million to just under 74 million - and leading in the electoral college 306 to 232.

“Biden can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous ’80,000,000 votes’ were not fraudulently or illegally obtained. When you see what happened in Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia & Milwaukee, massive voter fraud, he’s got a big unsolvable problem!” Trump falsely asserted.

Washington Post

Calif. Republican claims win in US House race

FRESNO, Calif. — Republicans have picked up their 11th seat overall in the US House and the third seat in California, as Republican David Valadao reclaimed the seat he lost in the farm belt two years ago.


The former congressman defeated Democratic Rep. TJ Cox, who ousted Valadao in the 21st Congressional District two years ago by 862 votes.

Valadao endorsed President Trump after withholding his backing in 2016 — a risk in a swing district the president lost by 15 points four years ago.

But he also stressed his independence, criticizing the Trump administration for family separations at the border and promoting his willingness to work across party lines.

On paper, the 21st District looks like it should be a Democratic stronghold: The party holds a nearly 17-point registration edge. But California’s agricultural centers have long been known for Republican residents who vote reliably and Democrats who often do not.

Valadao proved tough to beat after he was first elected in 2012, fending off Democratic challengers by focusing on water for agriculture and other local issues.

That changed in 2018, when Democrats captured seven GOP-held House seats in California as voters rejected the Trump agenda. The 21st was among them, though the results weren’t settled until weeks after Election Day.

While Valadao has tried to distance himself at times from the Trump administration, the president has called the former congressman “an incredible guy” he wants back in Washington.

Valadao declared victory on Wednesday, before The Associated Press had called the race. In his statement, he made it clear his first priority is delivering help for the coronavirus pandemic, the Fresno Bee reported Friday.

“This Thanksgiving, as the coronavirus continues to spread and our community and nation struggle, we desperately need relief,” Valadao said. “The only way we will get through this is by sticking together as Americans, not divided by political parties. When I head back to Washington every resident of the Central Valley has my word that I will continue to always put this community first.”


Cox has not yet conceded the election. He said in a Facebook post on Thursday that he wouldn’t make a statement on the election results until every vote is counted.

Associated Press

Georgia recount is proving costly

ATLANTA — Counting and recounting ballots in the presidential race in Georgia is costing taxpayers in some metro Atlanta counties hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Though the full cost is not clear, Fulton County officials said Wednesday that the combined price tag for last week’s hand count and this week’s machine recount will approach $400,000. Among other things, that includes staff time and rent through January for the Georgia World Congress Center, where counting takes place.

DeKalb County believes the hand recount alone will cost $180,000. Other counties have not yet released cost estimates. But it’s clear taxpayers will pay a steep price for recounts that state officials say will not change the outcome of the presidential race.

While some states require candidates to pay for recounts, in Georgia taxpayers pay the bill.

Last week Georgia officials certified Joe Biden the winner in the state by 12,670 votes out of some 5 million ballots cast. The certification followed a hand recount that closely mirrored the initial machine tally of votes.


President Trump last week requested the latest recount, which Georgia law permits because Biden’s margin of victory was less than half a percent.

That recount must be completed by midnight Dec. 2.

In Fulton County, about 50 workers tallied ballots Wednesday at the GWCC. They were scheduled to work through 5 p.m., then take a break for the Thanksgiving holiday before resuming the count on Saturday morning.

Chairman Robb Pitts said the county hopes to finish counting Saturday so Fulton can shift its attention to next week’s special elections for the 5th Congressional District and state Senate District 39.

“The eyes of the world are focused on Fulton County, Georgia,” Pitts said at a press conference Wednesday. “Believe me, we accept that challenge.”

Counting was also underway in other metro Atlanta counties. Cobb County officials say they did not plan to work this weekend, although that could change. DeKalb will work through the weekend. Gwinnett County planned to see how much progress it makes before determining whether it will count this weekend.

Cox newspapers