Trump campaign mounts legal effort as race favors Biden

President TrumpDonald TrumpMajority of Americans in new poll say it would be bad for the country if Trump ran in 2024 ,800 bottle of whiskey given to Pompeo by Japan is missing Liz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party MORE’s campaign is taking a series of steps to challenge the election results or halt the vote tabulation process in a number of states as the incumbent’s path to reelection narrows. 

Hours after Trump prematurely declared victory and voiced his desire for legal action, his campaign announced it would sue to stop ballot counting in two key battlegrounds — Michigan and Pennsylvania — that have not yet been called for either Trump or Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden nominates Mark Brzezinski to be U.S. ambassador to Poland 10 dead after overloaded van crashes in south Texas Majority of New York state Assembly support beginning process to impeach Cuomo: AP MORE

The Trump campaign also pledged to demand a recount of the race in Wisconsin, citing reports of “irregularities,” as Biden was projected to win with a slim lead of roughly 20,000 votes. Presidential recounts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania did not change the results of those races in 2016. 

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And the campaign Wednesday evening joined Georgia Republicans in a lawsuit seeking to sequester absentee ballots in Chatham County, Ga., as the race there tightened to within 45,000 votes. Chatham County includes the city of Savannah, which is expected to favor Biden.

Trump spent the day Wednesday on Twitter engaging in baseless attacks on the integrity of the election, suggesting that Democrats were trying to use illegitimate mail ballots to erode his lead in key states. Twitter subsequently added warning labels to several tweets, alerting the public that they contain misleading information. 

On a call with reporters shortly after the campaign announced lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Trump campaign manager Bill StepienBill Stepien'Just say we won,' Giuliani told Trump aides on election night: book Some RNC staffers did not vote for Trump in 2020, book claims Trump adds veteran organizer to help run political operations: report MORE claimed victory in the Keystone State, despite no outlets calling the race for either candidate. Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller also demanded that Fox News and The Associated Press retract their calls that Biden will flip Arizona blue. 

The efforts come as Biden appears to be edging Trump out in the presidential race. His victories in Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan — three states that Trump won in 2016 — significantly narrow the president’s path to reelection. 

Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia and North Carolina remain too close to call, with officials continuing to count ballots in those states. Pennsylvania legally could not count mail ballots — expected to significantly favor Biden — until after the in-person vote, suggesting that Biden will make significant gains as the remaining votes come in. 

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Speaking in Delaware on Wednesday afternoon, Biden expressed certainty he would be declared the winner once the votes are tallied. 

“I'm not here to declare that we won, but I am here to report that when the count is finished, we will be the winner,” Biden said.

The president’s campaign has maintained that it will be victorious so long as every “legally cast ballot” is counted. The campaign, however, has not taken questions or provided answers on why it would consider some ballots illegal, instead lobbing vague allegations that Democrats are disenfranchising Republicans.

But it was the Trump campaign that on Wednesday sought to halt the tabulation process. The campaign sought to intervene in a case before the Supreme Court seeking to invalidate mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania that arrive after Election Day, challenging an existing policy that would count ballots received by Friday.

In both Michigan and Pennsylvania, the campaign said it would ask for a temporary stop to counting votes until Republican observers were granted greater access to watch the opening of ballots. 

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The Georgia lawsuit sought to collect Chatham County absentee ballots received after 7 p.m. on Election Day and store them separately while awaiting a court ruling. The complaint centered on 53 ballots, and the campaign is likely to argue those ballots received after polls closed should not count.

“What makes these charades especially pathetic is that while Trump is demanding recounts in places he has already lost, he's simultaneously engaged in fruitless attempts to halt the counting of votes in other states in which he's on the road to defeat,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. “This is not the behavior of a winning campaign. Plain and simple, Donald Trump has lost Wisconsin, he is losing Michigan, and he is losing the presidency.”

Trump has long signaled that he would take any close election result to the courts and had even said he hoped his Supreme Court nominee would be confirmed in time to be on the bench for any election-related disputes. Trump claimed earlier this year at his campaign rallies that the only way the Democratic ticket would win the election is if it were “rigged.” 

The campaign has indicated it is geared up to drag out the legal battle around the election, lining up a team of lawyers and blasting out fundraising requests to supporters throughout the day on Wednesday to fund what could become an expensive endeavor.

Biden campaign attorney Bob Bauer told reporters on a zoom call Wednesday that campaign was prepared to fight any legal battles brought by Republicans but doubted any such challenges would be effective. 

“We’re fully prepared for it because it’s almost as if they handed their strategic playbook to us and read it to us out loud,” Bauer said. 

Updated at 7:28 p.m.