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Trump Lawyers Allege Massive Vote Tampering

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

It's been more than two weeks since President Trump decisively lost the popular vote and Electoral College. Still, his campaign is trying to throw out millions of legally cast ballots in pursuit of a second term. That effort comes as states around the country are already certifying their election results. Trump and his allies keep making false claims of election fraud, and they keep failing to prove those allegations in court. Today the campaign said it's challenging the results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. NPR's Pam Fessler is covering this and joins us now.

Hi, Pam.

PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Hey, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Let's talk about Michigan first. President-elect Joe Biden holds more than a 150,000-vote lead there. And there's been a lot of focus on the state this week. Explain what's been going on.

FESSLER: Well, Michigan, like other states, is in the process of finalizing their results. So earlier this week, every Michigan county was supposed to certify their vote count and send it to the state canvassing board, which is meeting on Monday. But things took a twist on Tuesday in Wayne County, which is where Detroit's located. Two Republicans on the canvassing board refused to certify the results at first. They cited discrepancies in the vote tallies. And they - that effectively invalidated tens of thousands of legitimate ballots. It drew such an outcry from local residents that the two canvassers a few hours later reversed themselves and agreed to certify the results. Then last night, after one of those Republicans told reporters she had received a phone call from President Trump, the two canvassers reversed course again, and they signed affidavits saying they wanted to rescind their votes. But the state says it's too late.

SHAPIRO: What's the Trump campaign saying about that?

FESSLER: Well, it's insisting that the Wayne County results haven't been certified, and they'll likely push that case when the state board meets next week. It's not clear that the campaign can do anything to stop the state from approving the results, which Joe Biden won pretty decisively. But it could possibly delay approval and certainly cast doubt on the outcome. And that's something that the Trump campaign clearly wants. It says it has evidence of hundreds of thousands of illegitimate ballots cast in Michigan. Again, they've yet to prove that. But the campaign's made no secret it would like the results invalidated and the Republican-controlled legislature to step in and appoint their own set of electors not only in Michigan, but in other states such as Pennsylvania. Now, Republican legislators in these states have said they're not interested in doing that, but President Trump has reportedly invited Michigan's Republican legislative leadership to the White House tomorrow to discuss the issue.

SHAPIRO: There was a news conference today where members of Trump's team, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, discussed some of their claims. Did they provide any evidence of the sort of conspiracy that they've been claiming?

FESSLER: Well, I've got to say, it was a very bizarre news conference. It was at the Republican National Party headquarters here in Washington. And, you know, they spent - it was Rudy Giuliani and other campaign lawyers. They spent almost two hours with a long list of allegations and conspiracy theories that they said would show that the election was stolen with very few specifics. But Giuliani alleged that it was all part of a conspiracy of voter fraud that involved a number of states.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RUDY GIULIANI: To any experienced investigator, prosecutor would suggest that there was a plan from a centralized place to execute these various acts of voter fraud, specifically focused on big cities.

FESSLER: And, of course, he cited big cities controlled by Democrats. And honestly, Ari, they offered, you know, sort of one far-fetched allegation after another, including many which have already been dismissed by courts as unsubstantiated or disproven by fact-checkers. And they come at a time when both Republican and Democratic election officials all say they saw no sign of widespread fraud or voting irregularities in this year's election.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Pam Fessler.

Thank you.

FESSLER: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.