Trump campaign escalates legal offensive as vote count continues

Donald Trump’s campaign has laid the groundwork for a multi-state legal challenge to the election results, firing off lawsuits in several closely watched states as the president’s path to victory narrowed with more votes being counted.

The cases in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia came as Mr Trump on Thursday called for all vote counting to halt, and signalled that more legal challenges would follow.

“All of the recent Biden claimed States will be legally challenged by us for Voter Fraud and State Election Fraud. Plenty of proof — just check out the Media. WE WILL WIN! America First!” Mr Trump tweeted.

The Trump campaign touted an early victory in a ruling in Pennsylvania that allowed its observers closer access to watch the tallying of ballots in the swing state. Democrats have appealed that to the state’s supreme court.

The action succeeded in temporarily halting the count in Philadelphia, where Joe Biden is hoping that votes still to be tallied will swing the state for him.

“The count is going forward. There was a brief pause today, in light of the ongoing litigation. But it has resumed, in accordance with the law,” said a spokesperson for the Philadelphia city commissioners.

The lawsuits filed since the polls closed on Tuesday night could lay the foundation for weeks of protracted litigation, but their ultimate significance will come down to whether the eventual vote margin is very close.

Mr Trump has also filed to intervene in a case pending before the US Supreme Court concerning late-arriving ballots in Pennsylvania. It is unclear how many such ballots exist and whether they would change the ultimate outcome.

The legal strategy has also suffered setbacks. In Georgia, a judge dismissed the Trump campaign’s case on Thursday morning for lack of evidence.

The Georgia lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign did not seek to halt the counting in that state, which is still too close to call. Instead, it complained about 53 ballots that a poll watcher claimed may have arrived after the deadline and been mixed with other votes.

The poll watcher at a hearing on Thursday admitted he did not know whether the ballots had arrived late.

Trump campaign officials also said on Thursday they would seek a court order to stop counting “improper” votes in Clark county in Nevada, where Las Vegas is located.

The state has still not been called for either presidential candidate, but the latest tally has showed Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, with a small lead over the president.

In Michigan, Mr Trump had sought on Wednesday to halt the counting of mail ballots, which favour Mr Biden, because his campaign had allegedly not been provided with video surveillance footage of ballot drop boxes.

A hearing is set in that case for Thursday. The Associated Press has already called Michigan for Mr Biden, who appears to have a comfortable margin of victory of more than 100,000 votes.

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