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Trump campaign loses 3 cases challenging ballots after dropping its lawsuit in Michigan

  • November 20, 2020

Michigan is one of several battleground states that Trump narrowly won in 2016 — delivering his victory in the Electoral College over Hillary Clinton — and which Biden won this year. Ballot tallies in the Wolverine State show Biden beating Trump by more than 150,000 votes.

The county’s board of canvassers has become a major focus ahead of the national certification of election results next month. Two Republican members of the board initially refused to certify Wayne County’s vote, before reversing themselves earlier this week following widespread criticism.

Shortly thereafter, both members reversed their positions again. As of Wednesday, the canvassers were calling to rescind their votes to certify, and signed affidavits that were included in the Trump campaign’s notice of withdrawal Thursday.

Media outlets reported that the canvassers had been contacted by Trump directly on Tuesday evening.

One of them, Monica Palmer, told NBC News that she and Trump did not discuss her decision to rescind her vote “or anything like that.”

“My conversation with the President was about threats coming from the public and my safety — not about rescinding my vote,” Palmer told NBC.

The other GOP canvasser, William Hartman, in his affidavit wrote that he was “enticed to agree to certify based on the promise that a full and independent audit would take place.”

“I would not have agreed to the certification but for the promise of an audit,” Hartman wrote.

Palmer wrote in her own affidavit, “I fully believe the Wayne County vote should not be certified.”

A spokeswoman for Michigan’s secretary of state Jocelyn Benson, however, said the fight is over.

“There is no legal mechanism for them to rescind their vote. Their job is done and the next step in the process is for the Board of State Canvassers to meet and certify,” press secretary Aneta Kiersnowski told NBC News.

The City of Detroit filed a motion later Thursday to strike from the court record the GOP officials’ affidavits, “as well as the immaterial, impertinent and false language in the Notice itself.”

The Trump campaign’s notice “falsely claims that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers ‘met and declined to certify the results of the presidential election,'” the city’s motion said.

“In fact, as has been reported publicly, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted to certify the election results, and there is no legal mechanism for that action to be rescinded by affidavits.”

The city’s lawyers went on to say, “The affidavits and the impertinent text in the Notice were submitted for an improper purpose: to make a gratuitous, public statement about their purported reason for voluntary dismissal, before the Court could reject their baseless claims of election fraud.”

A similar federal lawsuit challenging the vote counting in Wayne County, which was filed by two women, Angelic Johnson and Sarah Stoddard, was voluntarily dismissed by those plaintiffs on Thursday, according to court records.

Ian Northon, a lawyer for Johnson and Stoddard, told CNBC that “we voluntarily dismissed because there was similar action filed by the Trump campaign, making similar accusations, in the same court, with the same judge.”

“As a practical matter … we have limited sources. We pulled that case to focus on a different” lawsuit, which Northon said he expects to file soon.

When told that the Trump campaign had dismissed its own lawsuit on Thursday, Northon said, “That’s news to me.”

Fink, the lawyer for the city of Detroit, said, “It is not surprising that all of these case are being voluntarily dismissed. Every time one of their cases has gotten to a judge, their baseless conspiracy theories have been rejected.”

Fink added, “With the margin of over 150,000 votes in Michigan they still have not documented a single vote that was fraudulently cast.”

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