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A lawsuit from President Donald Trump and 18 Republican-led states aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 election is based on dubious legal reasoning, US Senator John Cornyn said Wednesday.
“I read just the summary of it, and I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it,” Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, told CNN’s Manu Raju.
“Number one, why would a state, even such a great state as Texas, have a say so on how other states administer their elections?” he continued. “It’s an interesting theory, but I’m not convinced.”
The lawsuit, filed this week by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, seeks to disenfranchise voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, arguing their votes are “tainted.”
The unprecedented legal push, in which Paxton has been joined by Trump’s legal team and 17 other GOP state attorneys general, would deliver the presidency, if successful, to the certified loser of the election in each of the four states, where even Republican officials have rejected the president’s claims of widespread fraud. It calls for Republican-led legislatures to override the public’s vote and choose pro-Trump presidential electors instead.
Experts have said the push is likely to fail.
“The litigation is legally incoherent, factually untethered and based on theories of remedy that fundamentally misunderstand the electoral process,” Lisa Marshall Manheim, an associate professor at the University of Washington School of Law, wrote in The Washington Post.
Sen. John Cornyn, the senior GOP senator from Texas, is critical of his state’s lawsuit challenging the election results in several battleground states, telling me: “I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 9, 2020
While tepid, the criticism from a sitting US senator is nonetheless a major departure from the stance of many other elected Republicans, such as Cornyn’s fellow Texan, Sen. Ted Cruz. On Tuesday, Cruz, normally an advocate of the state rights vis-à-vis the federal government, agreed to argue the case should it reach the US Supreme Court, The New York Times reported.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has also welcomed the litigation, say it will provide “certainty and clarity about the entire election process,” as the San Antonio Current noted.
In a court filing, a group of moderate Republicans, however, including former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, has urged the lawsuit to be thrown out, The Dallas Morning News reported, characterizing it as an “unprecedented argument that a presidential election dispute is a controversy between two or more states.”
On Twitter, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another Republican, welcomed Cornyn’s remarks. “[T]here is no legal theory,” he wrote, “and the conservative majority Supreme Court will reject it out of hand.”
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr has also dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous, with a spokesperson telling The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it is “constitutionally, legally, and factually wrong.” That earned him a rebuke from the loser of the 2020 election, who in a 15-minute phone call on Wednesday night warned Carr not to rally other Republicans against the effort, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, is also defiant. “Donald Trump will not get away with his attempts to subvert a free and fair election,” the Democrat said Wednesday.
Odds are he’s right: Out of 38 lawsuits filed by the president’s legal team, zero have thus far resulted in a win.
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