Trump suffers key setbacks in bid to overturn Biden victory

Jordan Fabian and Ryan Teague Beckwith

President Donald Trump’s long-shot bid to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory suffered major setbacks on Friday, with news networks calling Georgia for the Democrat and legal challenges crumbling in three other key states.

North Carolina was called for Trump by four networks. ABC and CNN projected a Biden win in Georgia, which would give him 306 electoral votes, far above the 270 needed to win, leaving Trump with 232 electoral votes. All 50 states’ presidential races have been called.

President Donald Trump attends a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, July 9, 2020, in Washington.

The networks called Georgia for Biden and North Carolina for Trump with an estimated 99% of the vote counted, meaning that they believe there are not enough votes left that would change the projected outcome of the race. The Electoral College will meet on Dec. 14 to officially cast their votes for Biden, and Congress is scheduled to accept the results on Jan. 6.

Later Friday, the president appeared to acknowledge that he had a “very close loss” in Arizona, reversing his previous claim that he had won the state. He sought to blame software made by Dominion Voting Systems Inc., which some of his supporters have said without evidence resulted in thousands of votes being miscast for Biden.

Trump’s campaign and Republicans experienced a series of setbacks in court as well on Friday. The day started with news that the campaign’s law firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, was withdrawing as counsel in a federal suit seeking to block Pennsylvania from certifying its vote. The surprise move came days after the firm was targeted by the Lincoln Project – a group of Republicans who oppose Trump – for its work on lawsuits challenging the election results.

Later in Michigan, a judge rejected a suit by Trump supporters seeking to block certification of the election results in Detroit and surrounding Wayne County, ruling that the claims that ballot-counting there was plagued by widespread fraud were groundless. And in a federal appeals court, four Pennsylvania voters and a GOP candidate lost their challenge to the state’s extended mail-in ballot deadline after the court held that changing the rule now would do “more harm than good.”

In Arizona, the campaign abandoned a lawsuit alleging widespread irregularities involving a green error button on voting machines in Arizona’s biggest county – one day after state evidence presented at a hearing revealed only 191 ballots were affected. The lawyer for the campaign conceded the number of affected votes was too small to matter.

Taken together, the developments on Friday significantly narrowed Trump’s options to swing the race back in his favor. While the president has repeatedly argued the election results have been tainted by widespread fraud, his legal teams have failed to produce evidence of that, and federal and state officials have called the contest the most secure in the nation’s history.

Trump nonetheless has refused to concede the race. The president has largely remained out of public view since last Saturday, when the race was called for Biden. But he is expected to speak on Friday for the first time in more than a week during a Rose Garden event about coronavirus vaccines.

“Never bet against me,” Trump said in an interview with the conservative Washington Examiner published Friday, adding that he expects to turn the race around in “probably two weeks, three weeks.”

Trump routinely promises a two-week deadline for major initiatives.