Over the past week, President Donald Trump has twice attempted to convince the Republican leader of the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives to overturn the presidential election results in that state and reward its 20 Electoral College votes to Trump instead of to the real winner, President-elect Joe Biden.
Biden defeated Trump in the highly sought after state by a margin of more than 81,000 votes. But the president has alleged, without proof of any kind, that election fraud was responsible for Biden’s win.
Trump reached out to state Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler, a Republican, twice in recent days to pressure him to have the Pennsylvania legislature overturn its election results, thwarting the will of the voters.
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Although Cutler is part of a group of 60 Republican lawmakers encouraging the Pennsylvania congressional delegation to dispute the Electoral College results when Congress convenes to approve them next month, he informed Trump that the state legislature does not have the power to reverse the results from November.
Pennsylvania is the third state where Trump has attempted to reach out to Republicans in leadership roles to try and convince them to overturn the will of the electorate. Last month, Trump met with lawmakers in Michigan to try and compel them to reverse his election loss in the state, and just this past weekend he made similar attempts to overturn election results by reaching out to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. In both instances, the president failed at his goal, being told by lawmakers in those states that they were unable to legally do what he was asking.
Trump has made numerous claims of voting improprieties in several states across the country, none of which have held up under scrutiny. In Pennsylvania, his focus has been primarily on allegations of fraud in Democratic cities and strongholds. But all of these allegations have been proven false either by media organizations or in courtrooms where they’ve been brought forward by the president’s legal team.
Trump’s recent attempts with the Pennsylvania state speaker of the house may have been a last-ditch effort to change the results before an important deadline is reached on Tuesday — a day that is colloquially known as “safe harbor day.”
Set in place by a congressional act in the late 1800s, December 8 is the deadline for states to certify their election results, in essence cementing in place the Electoral College votes that candidates for president won in November. Electors are set to meet less than one week from today, on December 14, to officially cast their votes for the presidency, remotely from their home states.
Every state except one so far (Wisconsin) appears ready to meet that deadline. Although challenges still exist within the Badger State, it’s not expected that Wisconsin will alter its plans to give its 10 Electoral College votes to Biden.
After Tuesday, any challenge put forward by Trump will be incredibly difficult to push forward due to the safe harbor deadline, as Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe noted on Twitter.
“Trump may think he can block PA from reaching the Dec 8 ‘safe harbor’ just by tossing a stream of crazy requests at the wall so at least one remains up in the air at midnight tonight. But he’s wrong,” Tribe wrote. “Ever since 1877, federal law has ruled that gambit out.”
The results of the presidential election last month indicate that Biden will win the Electoral College by a margin of 74 votes (306 to Trump’s 232). Biden also won the popular vote in the race, attaining 51.3 percent support among voters across the country, defeating the incumbent president by more than 7 million ballots.