Trump asked Pennsylvania House speaker about overturning his loss

By Trip Gabriel

Intensifying his efforts to undo his loss to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump twice called the Republican speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in recent days to encourage challenges to the official results in the state.

Trump pressed the speaker, Bryan Cutler, on how Republicans planned to reverse the results of an election that Biden was certified to have won by more than 80,000 votes, a spokesman for Cutler, Michael Straub, said Monday night.

“He did ask what options were available to the legislature,” Straub said, referring to the president.

A series of lawsuits by the Trump campaign and its allies claiming widespread voting fraud in Pennsylvania have been tossed out of state and federal courts.

Supporters of Trump’s baseless fraud claims have called on Republican-led legislatures in several states to overturn the results, although Pennsylvania’s General Assembly is out of session and cannot be called back except by Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

“Cutler made it very clear what power the legislature has and does not have,” said Straub, who characterized the president’s calls as seeking information rather than pressuring the speaker.

The calls were reported earlier by The Washington Post.

Pennsylvania is the third state in which Trump is known to have reached out to top elected Republicans to try to reverse the will of voters. He earlier summoned Michigan legislative leaders to the White House, and over the weekend he pressed Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia to call upon that state’s legislature to reverse the election.

At a rally in Georgia on Saturday, Trump said Kemp “could stop it very easily if he knew what the hell he was doing.” But Kemp has repeatedly declined to call for a special session of the legislature, and state election officials recertified Georgia’s results Monday after another recount again showed that Biden had won the state.

Nearly every state has certified its results, and Biden has officially secured more than the 270 Electoral College votes needed to become president.

In Pennsylvania, Biden was certified the winner last month by the Department of State, and Wolf signed a “certificate of ascertainment” for Biden’s slate of electors to be appointed to the Electoral College, which votes Dec. 14.

Nonetheless, 64 Republicans in the General Assembly, including Cutler and other members of the leadership, called Friday for Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to reject the electoral votes for Biden when Congress meets Jan. 6 to confirm the Electoral College results. The effort is highly unlikely, not least because the Democratic-led House of Representatives would need to agree to it. Pennsylvania’s most senior congressional Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey, has said through his office that he “will not be objecting” to Biden’s 20 electoral votes from the state.

Trump’s personal attacks on the few top Republicans who debunk his fraud claims, such as in Georgia and Arizona, as well as his efforts to enlist allies in the party in his brazen effort to reverse the will of voters, such as in Pennsylvania, are likely to make the issue crucial to elections next year and in the 2022 midterms. Republican primaries could become contests of who stood behind Trump in his baseless claims that undermined faith in democracy.

State Rep. Joanna E. McClinton, the minority leader of the Pennsylvania House Democrats, called Republican assertions of widespread fraud, which have echoed Trump’s descent into conspiracy theories and disinformation, “outrageous.”

“We are seeing extremists who claim they love the Constitution,” she said, “but who want to throw the Constitution away just because the president lost his bid for reelection.”

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