Words by Aiala Suso
Donald Trump has directed his team to coordinate a formal transition with president-elect Joe Biden, three weeks after the US election on 3 November. However, Trump still considers himself as a legitimate winner claiming widespread electoral fraud and refuses to concede. While the core of the Republican party is worried about his unfounded claims damaging the party, Biden has appointed his cabinet picks counting with long-term Democratic loyalists and excluding left-wing candidates.
Joe Biden announced first cabinet posts for his administration on 24 November, after the General Services Administration (GSA) declared him as winner the previous day and Trump allowed transition to begin. It includes several members of Barack Obama’s administration for which Biden was vice-president, like long-time Democratic loyalist Anthony Blinken, as Secretary of State. It excludes the so-called progressive faction of the party, namely Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Biden’s cabinet includes a Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, who would become the second person appointed to the role in US history after Carol Browner during the Obama era.
Trump’s tentative move towards leaving the White House in January is a matter of concern for the GOP. Despite the GSA confirming that Joe Biden was the winner of the US elections, the strong-headed Republican insists in fighting the results with unfounded claims of widespread electoral fraud for which he has presented no proof. Most Republicans fear, for instance, that his actions will result in losing control of the senate in the historically red state of Georgia.
The outgoing president has filed over 40 lawsuits since election day, of which 26 have been denied, dismissed, settled or withdrawn. So far, all battleground states have certified their results in favour of Biden. In Wisconsin, the latest state to share its results in favour of Biden, the recount process ordered by Trump cost his party $3 million.
Trump’s litigation actions are varied. A few of them were issued in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, where voters can fix issues with their ballots after the polling date, for instance if their required identification was missing. The local secretary of state, Kathy Boockvard, extended the deadline to fix ID issues until 12 November, three days after the deadline under state law. Trump sued this attempt and the state judge granted the request.
Trump also sued Boockvard at federal level, claiming that the whole electoral process in the county was unconstitutional. The case was dismissed on Sunday 22 November, due to lack of proof, by US District Court Judge, Matthew Brann, who compared Trump’s legal case to “Frankenstein Monster”.
Trump also sued against COVID-19 social-distancing measures at the Pennsylvania Convention Centre in Philadelphia, where votes were counted. The state high court ruled against Trump’s request for observers to stand 6-feet-away. In that state, Trump also tried to halt the count, while votes were counted, claiming that observers weren’t allowed in the room. The case was settled after the campaign’s lawyer admitted in an emergency hearing that, in fact, observers were present.
US states must resolve any election-related disputes and complete their vote count by the so-called ‘safe-harbour’ date on 8 December. That is six days before the Electoral College meets to vote for the winner on 14 December. Trump has said that, if he loses the Electoral College vote, he will finally concede and leave the White House for good.
While Trump’s allegations of election fraud don’t seem to stand in court, the fervent supporters of his administration see in the litigation process, evidence that the election was rigged.
At the same time, Trump’s now former attorney Sidney Powell contributed to the political upheaval with a conspiracy theory. She claimed, at their ‘Path to Victory’ press conference on 19 November, to have evidence of the “massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China”, that allegedly interfered in the results of the 2020 US election.
Even though Trump’s campaign has distanced from Powell and the Republicans are pressuring Trump to drop his fight, some experts are concerned. They warn that recent events could potentially lead to some people losing faith in democracy, and not consider Joe Biden a legitimate president.
Alex Woodward wrote for The Independent: “Even if the president’s lawsuits are shot down in court, the damage is done – he has sown enough doubt among his supporters to construct the lie of a stolen election, giving Republicans a political legitimacy to challenge the results.”
Picture Credit: Gage Skidmore