Trump calls into Pennsylvania meeting to renew election claims

President Trump phoned into a meeting arranged by Pennsylvania Republicans in Gettysburg on Wednesday to renew his unsubstantiated claims that the election was stolen from him, telling participants that they needed to “turn the election over.”

Trump’s remarks came two days after his administration began cooperating with President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team in order to facilitate a transfer of power, a step Trump appeared to back in remarks on Twitter.

Trump called his campaign legal adviser, Jenna Ellis, who was present at the meeting, and spoke from her speakerphone for several minutes Wednesday afternoon. He doubled down on his unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the election and falsely claimed that he won the presidential race against Biden “by a lot.”

“This election was lost by the Democrats. They cheated. It was a fraudulent election,” Trump told the group, prompting widespread applause. “I want to thank everyone for being there.”

“We have to turn the election over,” Trump said, claiming that he had the evidence needed to change the election result. “All we need is some judge to listen to it properly.”

In fact, Trump’s legal efforts to challenge voting procedures in Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states have been dismissed or withdrawn. His campaign has not produced evidence to back up claims of widespread electoral fraud, though they continue to do so. At the hearing, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said Trump had possibly won the state of Virginia. According to the state’s vote count, Trump lost to Biden in Virginia by more than 10 percentage points and more than 450,000 votes.

Over the weekend, a federal judge in Pennsylvania issued a scathing opinion rejecting the campaign’s efforts to block the certification of votes in the Keystone State. U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote in the opinion issued Saturday that the court had been presented with “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” and that their complaint was “unsupported by evidence.”

States where the Trump campaign has contested the results — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada — have all moved to certify their results in the past week, further cementing Biden’s victory.

The General Services Administration on Monday ascertained Biden as the apparent winner of the election, freeing up federal resources to support the transition and allowing his team access to federal agencies.

Trump on Tuesday also signed off on sharing the presidential daily briefing, the daily classified intelligence brief, with Biden.  

But while Trump said earlier this week that he approved of his administration cooperating with the transition, he has made clear he does not intend to formally concede even as a growing number of Republicans recognize Biden as president-elect.

Trump initially intended to attend the meeting in person but canceled those plans Wednesday morning. The meeting was never listed on the president’s official schedule.

The president called into the meeting just as Biden was taking the stage in Wilmington, Del., to deliver his own address in which he implored Americans to unify in the fight against the coronavirus. 

“I know the country has grown weary of the fight. We need to remember we’re at war with the virus, not with one another, not with each other. This is the moment where we need to steel our spines, redouble our efforts, and recommit ourselves to the fight,” Biden said. “We are all in this together.”

Tags 2020 election Donald Trump Joe Biden Michigan Pennsylvania Rudy Giuliani Virginia Wisconsin

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