The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, saying the case must first wind its way through lower courts.
The legal defeat was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.
Trump had asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.
Trump had wanted the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, saying there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting first with a lower court given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes. But attorneys for Gov. Tony Evers and the state Department of Justice argued the law required the lawsuit to start with lower courts.
Attorney General William P. Barr told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” undercutting claims that President Trump and his allies have made — without evidence — of widespread and significant voting irregularities.
In an interview, Barr suggested the FBI and Justice Department have looked into some fraud claims, and seemed to take particular aim at one, by attorney Sidney Powell, who alleged a grand conspiracy involving election software changing voting tallies.
“There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that,” Barr told the Associated Press, referring to the departments of Homeland Security and Justice.
Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer who has led the most extensive efforts to damage his client’s political rivals and undermine the election results, discussed with the president as recently as last week the possibility of receiving a pre-emptive pardon before Mr. Trump leaves office, according to two people told of the discussion.
It was not clear who raised the topic. The men have also talked previously about a pardon for Mr. Giuliani, according to the people. Mr. Trump has not indicated what he will do, one of the people said.
Mr. Giuliani’s potential criminal exposure is unclear. He was under investigation as recently as last summer by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for his business dealings in Ukraine and his role in ousting the American ambassador there, a plot that was at the heart of the impeachment of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Giuliani did not respond to a message seeking comment. Christianne Allen, his spokeswoman, said, “Mayor Giuliani cannot comment on any discussions that he has with his client.”Mr. Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, said, “He’s not concerned about this investigation, because he didn’t do anything wrong and that’s been our position from Day 1.”
President Trump on Wednesday announced he had pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, ending a three-year legal saga that saw Flynn seek to withdraw a guilty plea for lying to the FBI and a controversial reversal by the Justice Department on his case.Flynn pleaded guilty to a felony in December 2017, admitting that he had misled investigators about details of his conversations with the Russian ambassador during Trump’s presidential transition.His plea was one of the first major courtroom victories for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who had been appointed seven months earlier.But this spring, Attorney General William P. Barr and the Justice Department declared that prosecutors should not have brought the case against him and sought to have it dismissed. That request has been pending before a federal judge, who has been reviewing the case.
The 1992 treaty allows the 34 member countries to conduct short notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the other countries to collect data on their military forces and activities.
The Trump administration has cited Russian restrictions on Open Skies flights as the reason why it sought to exit the treaty, accusing Moscow of imposing limits on flights near its exclave of Kaliningrad, an area between Poland and Lithuania where the Russian military maintains a robust presence.
The US has also accused Russia of denying flights within 6.2 miles of the Georgia-Russia border, and denying a previously approved flight over a major Russian military exercise.