US President Donald Trump plays golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia.(REUTERS)
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President Donald Trump drops key claim in Pennsylvania lawsuit over US election result

The campaign had in an earlier lawsuit sought to block the state from certifying its election result and asked for setting aside 682,479 ballots that it alleged had been counted “illegally, in secret” as its poll watchers were not allowed to observe the counting
By Yashwant Raj | Hindustan Times, Washington, DC
UPDATED ON NOV 16, 2020 10:48 PM IST

US President Donald Trump’s campaign has dropped a significant portion of its lawsuit in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state that gave the White House 2020 race to Joe Biden, once again reflecting the weak legal case he has made to overturn the outcome of the election.

The campaign had in an earlier lawsuit sought to block the state from certifying its election result and asked for setting aside 682,479 ballots that it alleged had been counted “illegally, in secret” as its poll watchers were not allowed to observe the counting.

An amended lawsuit filed on Sunday in a federal court still aimed at blocking the certification, but dropped the demand for setting aside those nearly 700,000 ballots.

President Trump and the campaign pushed back aggressively in tweets and statements on Monday. “We are still arguing that 682,479 ballots were counted illegally, in secret,” said Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director. “Our poll watchers were denied meaningful access to watch the vote counting and we still incorporate that claim in our complaint.”

Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to the president who is not the point person for the legal challenges, said, “It’s routine for attorneys to file amended complaints to tighten the claims. We simplified the suit, so it is more focused and narrowed. This is part of the process.”

The case is up for hearing on Tuesday.

The Trump campaign and the president’s allies in the Republican Party have filed multiple lawsuits - 18, according to one count - seeking to challenge the outcome in key states that were won by Biden: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

But they mostly haven’t had real impact. And, in fact, judges dealing with them have responded with mounting frustration. “At what point does this get ridiculous?” Andrew Gordon, a judge in Nevada, had asked Republican lawyers who challenged the counting saying their observers were not able to hear everything ballot counters were saying.

Trump’s legal challenges faced a severe setback last week when a law firm representing him in a lawsuit in Pennsylvania withdrew saying it did not represent the campaign any longer.

Trump’s allegations of fraud have been debunked by election security officials of his own administration who said last week that the November 3 voting and the counting of votes has been the “most secure in American history”.

Trump has continued to press his case undeterred. Though he acknowledged on Sunday that Biden has “won” the election, he has still not conceded it.

On Monday, Trump tweeted, saying, “I won the election.” The post was summarily flagged by Twitter and a warning was placed under it.

President-elect Biden has sought to move on seemingly undistracted by Trump’s efforts to challenge the election outcome.

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