President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to block millions of votes from four battleground states that voted for President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump’s request came in a filing with the court asking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking to invalidate millions of votes cast in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The President is being represented by a new attorney, John Eastman, who is known for recently pushing a racist conspiracy theory questioning whether Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was eligible for the role because her parents were immigrants.
The move from Trump comes just a day after the high court denied a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to block certification of the commonwealth’s election results. The one-line order was issued with no noted dissents or comment from any of the nine justices.
The President for weeks has pushed increasingly desperate appeals and baseless conspiracy theories about his second term being stolen.
“Our Country is deeply divided in ways that it arguably has not been seen since the election of 1860,” the petition states. “There is a high level of distrust between the opposing sides, compounded by the fact that, in the election just held, election officials in key swing states, for apparently partisan advantage, failed to conduct their state elections in compliance with state election law.”
Echoing arguments made by Texas, Trump says the battleground states used the pandemic “as an excuse” and “ignored or suspended the operation of numerous state laws designed to protect the integrity of the ballot.”
He asks the court to block the states from using “constitutionally infirm 2020 election results” unless the legislatures of the states “review the 2020 election results.”
He stressed that if any of the states have “already appointed electors to the electoral college using the 2020 election results,” the legislatures have the authority to appoint “a new set of electors.”
Or the election could go to the House, where Trump would presumably win.
“Defendant States’ electors will determine the outcome of the election,” the President states. “Alternatively, if Defendant States are unable to certify 38 or more electors, neither candidate will have a majority of the total number of electors in the Electoral College, in which case the election would devolve to the House of Representatives under the Twelfth Amendment.”
Paxton – who was indicted on for securities fraud charges in 2015 and seven top aides in October accused him of bribery and abuse of office – is expected to be at the White House on Thursday, a day after Trump’s request was filed at the court, CNN has learned.
He will be in Washington for a lunch with other attorneys general that a White House official said had been previously scheduled. The lunch with the attorneys general is on Trump’s public schedule. An official confirmed separately that Paxton is expected to attend.
Not all of the contested states’ attorneys general are on board with the Texas effort.
Wednesday night, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Trump warned Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, not to rally other GOP officials against the lawsuit in a telephone call. Carr’s office had called the lawsuit “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong” earlier in the day, the newspaper reported, but the state’s two incumbent US Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are running for reelection, have publicly supported the effort.
Carr told Trump it wasn’t true that he was urging other AGs to stand against the challenge, the AJC reported, according to a person on the call, who described it as cordial.
The White House declined to comment on the report to CNN. CNN has reached out to Carr’s office and the campaigns for the two senators with no response.
Republicans mixed on lawsuit
Trump has been rallying support from fellow Republicans in Washington, with mixed results.
Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, a close ally of Trump’s, sent an email from a personal email account to every House Republican soliciting signatures for an amicus brief in the long-shot Texas lawsuit. The email said Trump is “anxiously awaiting the final list” to see who signs on to the amicus brief.
One House Republican told CNN he was put off by the Johnson email. “Are we the party of list-making now?” the member asked.
Attorney George Conway, once a candidate for solicitor general for the Trump administration before becoming a prominent critic, said Tuesday that there was no merit to the Texas-led suit and described the effort as “the most insane thing yet.”
“For a member of the Supreme Court Bar to do this in the Supreme Court of the United States is absolutely outrageous,” Conway said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” in reference to Paxton seeking to block election results.
“It’s absurd and an embarrassment. And for a public official, let alone any lawyer, let alone any member of the Supreme Court Bar, to bring this lawsuit is atrocious.”
Sen. John Cornyn, the senior Texas Republican, told CNN that “I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it. Number one, why would a state, even such a great state as Texas, have a say-so on how other states administer their elections? We have a diffused and dispersed system and even though we might not like it, they may think it’s unfair, those are decided at the state and local level and not at the national level.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, called the Texas lawsuit “simply madness” and “dangerous and destructive of the cause of democracy.”
“It’s just simply madness. The idea of supplanting the vote of the people with partisan legislators is so completely out of our national character that it’s simply mad.”
Lawsuits from the Trump campaign and GOP allies have been dismissed or dropped at a furious pace.
Still, the President’s staunchest defenders on Capitol Hill are urging him not to concede even after Biden wins the Electoral College vote next week, calling on him to battle it out all the way to the House floor in January.
The four states have until 3 p.m. ET Thursday to respond to the lawsuit.
This story has been updated with more details and background.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.