The Trump legal team's move over the weekend to distance itself from attorney Sidney Powell as it seeks to overturn the November 3 election results is a major blow to the president's attempt to win a second term.
Powell, whose 2014 book, "Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice," along with her work as the attorney for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, made her a darling of conservatives. But her assertions that Chinese communists, voting machines once used to flip Venezuelan elections and foreign money were behind Trump's defeat lack as much credibility as Sen. Joseph McCarthy's claim in the 1950s that communists had infiltrated the U.S. State Department.
Last Saturday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann dismissed a lawsuit that attempted to reject some of Pennsylvania's votes for Joe Biden, calling the effort "a Frankenstein monster." The lawsuit, as reported by Reuters, had alleged inconsistent treatment by county election officials of mail-in ballots. Some counties notified voters they could fix minor defects such as missing "secrecy envelopes" while others did not.
The president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat: "Today's decision turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the U.S. Supreme Court."
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia will be asked to expeditiously review the ruling. Giuliani hopes the Republican-dominated circuit court (it includes four judges named by President Trump) will overturn the lower court ruling.
Powell had said she has kept evidence of voter fraud secret for fear of retaliation against the more than 200 poll workers and poll watchers who she alleges witnessed ballot tampering. She says some of them might have to be placed in witness protection. Along with allegations of communist interference it became too bizarre even for a Trump campaign that has often displayed bizarre behavior.
There have been numerous charges of voter fraud over the years, though none have been substantially proven. It was believed that is how Lyndon Johnson stole a Texas Senate seat in 1948. LBJ had first run for the Senate in 1941. He lost by 1,311 votes and blamed voter fraud for his defeat. In 1948, Johnson ran again. On election night in the Democrat Primary runoff against former Texas Governor Coke Stevenson, it appeared LBJ had lost.
Then, as if out of a magician's hat, a box of uncounted ballots was "discovered" in the south Texas town of Alice. By the end of that week, LBJ had "won" by 87 votes, earning him the title "Landslide Lyndon." Each side accused the other of voter fraud.
The 1960 presidential race between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy was another contest in which voter fraud was alleged. Out of 68 million ballots cast (roughly half the number in the Trump-Biden race) Kennedy won by just 112,803 votes. The controversy arose over the Chicago Mafia and the corrupt mayor of the city, Richard J. Daley. They were accused of providing the necessary number of votes for Kennedy to prevail in Cook County and thus the entire state and nation.
Then there was the 2006 Minnesota Senate race between incumbent Norm Coleman and comedian Al Franken, which Franken "won" after numerous ballot recounts that stopped when Franken had acquired enough votes to be declared the winner. Franken's margin was 312 votes. Once again, voter fraud was alleged.
The most recent election presents a much higher mountain for President Trump to climb. His attorneys promise to reveal their evidence of voter fraud this week. We'll soon see if it is credible and whether new judges will be persuaded.
Will the Supreme Court intervene, if asked, as they did in a case involving only a few hundred votes in Florida in the 2000 presidential contest and again decide an election? I'm doubtful, but in this strange and unpredictable year anything seems possible.