12/3 Daily Update: Barr Has Spoken

President Trump continues to escalate his attacks on democracy from within the White House, reportedly even contemplating dismissing Attorney General Bill Barr over Barr’s acknowledgement that the Department of Justice has found no evidence of widespread election fraud.

Following Barr’s statement Tuesday, the nonpartisan Voter Protection Program released an ad featuring Barr’s comments and affirming the integrity of the election. The ad will run on national television for the next week, and digitally in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. You can watch the ad here: “Barr Has Spoken.”

In case you missed it: VPP outside counsel Norm Eisen described Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis’s claim that the U.S. Constitution permits state legislatures to hijack the popular vote as “constitutional disinformation that has no basis in law.” Read more in the Washington Post here.

Here’s your update:

National Update

Barr’s Uncertain Future: Trump has allegedly weighed firing Barr in recent days, seething about the Attorney General’s statement this week that the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election. Firing Barr would be unprecedented. Read more here.

Giuliani Strikes Out: Seated in front of Michigan state lawmakers and a largely unmasked audience on Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, waved binders, floated baseless conspiracy theories, and urged lawmakers to stop what he falsely called the “theft of an election.” Michigan lawmakers were unreceptive to the claims of a stolen election, including the Republican legislators who had invited Giuliani to make his case. Read more here.

State Updates

Georgia: After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump’s narrow election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state’s vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Read more here.

Michigan: In total, 15,302 absentee ballots were rejected in Michigan’s November 3 election, according to figures released Wednesday by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “I am extremely proud of the 1,600 clerks across the state who embraced the record setting turnout including more than double the number of absentee ballots ever cast in a Michigan election and vigilantly ensured that all valid ballots were counted,” said Benson. Read more here.

Legal Corner

The board got a little bit clearer today, as the Wisconsin Supreme Court – one of Trump’s few remaining chances to overturn the popular will and seize a state that he lost – declined to hear two election-related cases brought by Trump and his supporters. Arizona and Nevada, too, took steps toward eliminating frivolous litigation aimed at stealing the election from President-elect Biden.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Defends the Rule of Law: In two cases decided today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to hear election complaints aimed at overturning the popular vote and throwing Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes to Trump. Joe Biden won the state by 20,695 votes.

In Trump v. Evers, 2020AP1971-OA, the court refused to hear Donald Trump’s petition trying to throw out 221,323 absentee ballots cast in the state’s presidential election. Trump says that election officials issued absentee ballots without receiving written applications; inappropriately filled in missing information on ballot envelopes; inappropriately held a mass “Democracy in the Park” voting event; and allowed voters who were not “indefinitely confined” to cast absentee ballots without showing ID.

But a four-justice majority of the court was not interested in helping Trump overthrow the rule of law, with a concurring justice noting that state law requires Trump to start his case in a lower court. Even the three dissenters, who wanted to hear the case, did not suggest that Trump would win on the merits, with two of them explicitly questioning whether – even if Trump were correct – the court could possibly throw out hundreds of thousands of votes cast in good faith.

Later today, the same four-justice majority declined to hear a Trump supporter’s claims, in Mueller v. Jacobs, No. 2020AP1958-OA, that the state’s use of ballot drop boxes somehow invalidated the results of the election.

Election Contest Hearings: Election contest hearings in Arizona and Nevada began today. The Nevada hearing concluded this evening, with a decision expected as soon as tomorrow. The Arizona court will continue taking evidence tomorrow.

President-elect Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes. After the count was finalized, the failed slate of Republican electors sued, asking a state court to shift the state’s electoral votes to Trump or else void the election altogether. Today, the judge sampled the plaintiffs’ Viennese table of bizarre allegations, conspiracy theories, and unsupported assertions. He is expected to rule tomorrow. The case is Law v. Whitmer, No. 20-OC-00163B (First Judicial District Court, Carson City).

In Arizona, the contest opened this morning with the judge granting a defense motion to dismiss claims relating to alleged problems observing voting and counting. The court noted that the plaintiff should have raised those claims earlier, when the court could do something about them, rather than trying to overturn the election. The testimony was largely given over to a tedious and questionably relevant claim that about 28,000 ballots in Maricopa County might have been affected by inadvertent processing errors that – in the worst case scenario – could have swung about 100 votes from Trump to Biden. Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes. The hearing is expected to conclude tomorrow in Ward v. Jackson, 2020-15285 (Az. Sup.).

Key Events and Deadlines

For ongoing tracking of progress in battleground states, check our resource here. For a calendar of key upcoming events, check out our timeline here.

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