U.S. President Donald Trump’s hopes of reversing his election loss hung by a thread on Monday as Michigan and Pennsylvania looked to push ahead with certifying results.
Trump, a Republican, lost both battleground states in the Nov. 3 election, but he has refused to concede defeat to Democrat Joe Biden and is fighting a legal battle to overturn the results there and in other close races across the country.
Trump’s effort to prevent Biden from taking office on Jan. 20 likely will be doomed if officials confirm the Democratic challenger as the winner of the votes in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Biden beat Trump in Michigan by more than 150,000 votes, or almost three percentage points, and the election canvassing board is required to validate the count. But it’s unclear whether the process will work as the law dictates when the board meets on Monday.
A Republican on the board, which is evenly split between the parties, has suggested he favours delaying certification because of technical irregularities that may have affected a few hundred votes in one county. The Trump campaign has suggested without evidence the irregularities point to widespread fraud.
A deadlock would likely force the matter into state appeals courts, where an order would be sought to compel the board to perform its duty. If the members refused, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has the authority to replace them.
WATCH | Trump team keeps up legal challenges over election:
Monday is also the deadline in Pennsylvania for counties to report their certified tallies to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat. Boockvar likely would then certify the results on behalf of the state in a matter of days. Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.
Electors in each state will convene as the electoral college on Dec. 14 to formally select the next president. Biden won 306 electoral votes, 36 over the 270 threshold needed to win.
More Republicans speaking out
Biden, working in his home state of Delaware, has pushed ahead with his transition plans despite the lack of co-operation from the current administration. Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of state, said on Sunday that Biden will announce his first cabinet picks on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign’s focus remains on an increasingly desperate quest to delay certification of the election results in several states, an effort that has mostly met with failure. It suffered another blow on Saturday when a federal judge in Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit, saying it was not in the court’s power to violate the U.S. Constitution.
Trump’s campaign has also filed a petition for another recount in Georgia, which on Friday certified results showing Biden had narrowly won that state, a longtime Republican bastion in presidential elections.
While most Republicans continue to either publicly back Trump’s efforts or remain silent, a growing number are imploring him to concede the election and assist with the transition to Biden’s administration.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told CNBC that the idea of a sitting president pressuring lawmakers to disregard the will of voters by selecting their own group of electors was completely inconsistent with a democratic society.
“I can assure you that I’m not alone in this view among Republican senators,” said Toomey, who has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2022.
More than 100 former Republican national security officials demanded in a published letter on Monday that party leaders denounce Trump’s refusal to concede the election, calling it a dangerous and anti-democratic assault on U.S. institutions.
“By encouraging President Trump’s delaying tactics or remaining silent, Republican leaders put American democracy and national security at risk,” said the group, which included officials from the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Trump.