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Trump appeals after court throws state ballot challenge out

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US President Donald Trump is appealing a federal judge’s dismissal of his campaign’s effort to block the certification of votes in Pennsylvania.

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The president and other plaintiffs filed notice of appeal to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday, a day after the judge issued a scathing order shooting down claims of widespread irregularities with mail-in ballots.

The case was always a long shot to stop President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration but given Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes at stake, it was the campaign’s best hope to affect the election results through the courts.

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, appeared in court for the first time in decades to argue the case this past week.

US District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote in his order that Trump had asked the court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters.

In seeking such a “startling outcome,” he said, a plaintiff could be expected to provide compelling legal arguments and “factual proof of rampant corruption” but “that has not happened”.

It came as Michigan Republican lawmakers insist Trump did not ask them to “break the law” or “interfere” with the election during a meeting at the White House, a day before canvassers plan to meet about whether to certify Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory in the battleground state.

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield was among seven Republican legislators who met Trump for about an hour on Friday amid his long-shot efforts to block Biden’s win with unfounded claims of widespread vote fraud.

“There was this outrage that the president was going to ask us to break the law, he was going to ask us to interfere and that just simply didn’t happen,” he told Fox News on Sunday about the highly unusual meeting.

He did not elaborate on what was discussed, except to say the delegation asked for additional federal aid to help Michigan’s coronavirus response.

Michigan’s elections agency has recommended that the November 3 results – including Democrat Biden’s 2.8-percentage point victory – be certified by the Board of State Canvassers.

The Republican National Committee and the state Republican Party want the board to adjourn for 14 days to investigate alleged irregularities in Wayne County, the state’s largest and home to Detroit.

Staff for the state elections bureau said claimed irregularities, even if verified, would not significantly affect the outcome.

If the board does not confirm the results on Monday and the Michigan Supreme Court does not order it to do so, Chatfield said “now we have a constitutional crisis”.

He and other Republicans, however, have indicated they will not undermine the voters’ will.

Experts say the state board’s authority is limited and it must certify the results now all 83 counties have reported theirs to the state.

-with AAP

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