The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A trio of brutal rulings for Trump’s voter fraud push

Attorney Sidney Powell speaks at a news conference on election results in Alpharetta, Ga., last week. (Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters)

Time is running very short on attempts by President Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In many ways, it’s already too late. Electors are required to cast their votes for president in each state on Dec. 14, and the “safe harbor” law means states have to resolve any outstanding issues by six days before then. That would be Tuesday.

If the last three days are any indication, the Trump team is about to go out in a blaze of not-exactly-glory.

Key rulings in Georgia and Michigan are the latest setbacks for the efforts, with judges in three cases issuing significant rebukes — a couple of which were scathing. In Georgia, the legal team representing Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and other top officials, including Kemp’s fellow Republicans, filed a brutal response to the continued litigation.

Kemp has been under fire from Trump, including receiving a call from Trump this weekend in which Trump again pressured him to do something to help overturn the state’s election results. The call came shortly before Trump appeared at a rally in the state for the upcoming Senate runoff elections.

Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, all Republicans, have repeatedly rebuked the claims made by Trump and his allies. But in a filing the same day as Trump’s rallies, their legal team went quite a bit further.

It described those continuing to contest the election results as “disappointed Republican presidential electors” and took a swing at former Trump attorney Sidney Powell’s repeated allusions to the “Kraken” she was unleashing with her litigation:

Plaintiffs, a group of disappointed Republican presidential electors, filed a Complaint alleging widespread fraud in the November general election in Georgia, weaving an unsupported tale of “ballot stuffing,” the switching of votes by an “algorithm” uploaded to the state’s electronic voting equipment that switched votes from President Trump to Joe Biden, hacking by foreign actors from Iran and China, and other nefarious acts by unnamed actors.

The filing then notes the extraordinary relief sought by the lawsuit: the decertification of the election results and replacing the state’s electors for President-elect Joe Biden — “who were selected by a majority of Georgia voters by popular vote as provided by state law” — with Trump electors.

Then comes the pièce de résistance:

Their claims would be extraordinary if true, but they are not. Much like the mythological “kraken” monster after which Plaintiffs have named this lawsuit, their claims of election fraud and malfeasance belong more to the kraken’s realm of mythos than they do to reality.

They even appended a footnote, which reads: “A ‘kraken’ is a mythical sea monster appearing in Scandinavian folklore, being ‘closely linked to sailors’ ability to tell tall tales.’”

Again, this is the legal team representing the state’s top Republican officials.

The legal challenge was dismissed Monday by Judge James Hatten, who said “the plaintiffs essentially ask for perhaps the most extraordinary relief ever sought in any federal court in connection with an election.”

“They want this court to substitute its judgment for that of two and a half million Georgia voters who voted for Joe Biden,” Batten said, "and this I am unwilling to do.”

Another Georgia lawsuit filed by pro-Trump lawyer L. Lin Wood was also cut short Saturday — thanks in part to two judges Trump has promoted as possible Supreme Court picks.

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit was written by Judge William Pryor, who was on Trump’s shortlists of possible justices, and joined in by Judge Barbara Lagoa, who emerged as a finalist for the seat that went to Justice Amy Coney Barrett. They ruled that Wood lacked standing in the case. What’s more, they said that even if he had standing, the case was moot because the state had already certified its election results.

“Wood’s arguments reflect a basic misunderstanding of what mootness is,” Pryor wrote.

Last is a case in Michigan, in which U.S. District Judge Linda Parker issued a scathing denial of a last-ditch effort by the state’s Republicans to decertify that state’s certified results.

Parker noted that the lawsuit could have been filed much sooner than it was, and then goes so far as to suggest it was never meant to succeed — only to undermine faith in the election.

“In fact, this lawsuit seems to be less about achieving the relief Plaintiffs seek — as much of that relief is beyond the power of this Court — and more about the impact of their allegations on People’s faith in the democratic process and their trust in our government,” Parker wrote.

The judge also said the plaintiffs’ case consisted of “nothing but speculation and conjecture that votes for President Trump were destroyed, discarded or switched to votes for Vice President Biden.”

“This case represents well the phrase: ‘this ship has sailed,’ ” Parker wrote.

Then, at the end of her ruling, she says simply: “Plaintiffs ask this Court to ignore the orderly statutory scheme established to challenge elections and to ignore the will of millions of voters. This, the Court cannot, and will not, do.

“The People have spoken.”

As a coda to the Trump team’s fanciful and almost universally failed election challenges, that’s pretty apt.