Judge throws out Trump bid to stop Pennsylvania vote certification

Supporters of Donald Trump host a Stop the Steal protest outside of the Georgia State Capital building on November 21, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (AFP)
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Updated 22 November 2020

Judge throws out Trump bid to stop Pennsylvania vote certification

  • Judge calls Trump claim challenging Biden win in Pennsylvania ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ A federal judge on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit critical to President Donald Trump’s long-shot bid to overturn his Nov. 3 election loss to Democratic President-elect
  • In the US, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter

WASHINGTON: A US federal judge on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit critical to President Donald Trump’s long-shot bid to overturn his Nov. 3 election loss to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, calling his legal claim a “Frankenstein’s Monster.”
The Trump campaign had sought to prevent state officials from certifying the results of the election in the state.
US District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, described the case as “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”
Brann, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, said that he “has no authority to take away the right to vote of even a single person, let alone millions of citizens.”
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in a statement that he was disappointed with the ruling. “Today’s decision turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the US Supreme Court,” he said.
The campaign will ask the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to review the ruling on an accelerated timetable, according to Giuliani. A majority of that circuit’s judges were nominated by Republican presidents. Four were nominated by Trump.
The lawsuit before Brann was filed on Nov. 9 and had alleged inconsistent treatment by county election officials of mail-in ballots. Some counties notified voters that they could fix minor defects such as missing “secrecy envelopes” while others did not.
“This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together,” wrote Brann.
For Trump to have any hope of overturning the election, he needs to reverse the outcome in Pennsylvania, which is scheduled to be certified by state officials on Monday.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for the rule of law, and for the voters of Pennsylvania, whom the Trump campaign sought to disenfranchise on the flimsiest legal theory imaginable,” wrote election law scholar Rick Hasen on Twitter.
The Trump campaign and its supporters have filed dozens of lawsuits in six closely contested states. The campaign’s only victories extended the Election Day voting hours at a handful of polling places in Nevada and set aside some provisional ballots in Pennsylvania, according to court records.
Attempts to thwart the certification of the election have failed in courts in Georgia, Michigan and Arizona.
In the Pennsylvania case, Brann also denied a campaign request to amend the suit to claim violations of the US Constitution. The campaign wanted Brann to allow Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state legislature to appoint electors who would back for Trump at the Electoral College vote on Dec. 14.
Under Pennsylvania law, the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all the state’s electoral votes.
A presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the election, and Biden leads in the electoral vote count by 306-232.
Electoral votes are allocated among the 50 states and the District of Columbia based roughly on population.


Lockerbie bomber appeal starts in Scotland

A total of 270 people from 21 countries were killed — 243 passengers, 16 crew, and 11 people on the ground — in what remains Britain's deadliest terrorist attack. (File/AFP)
Updated 17 min 18 sec ago

Lockerbie bomber appeal starts in Scotland

  • Convicted bomber Al-Megrahi's family claim the US and UK governments have “lived a monumental lie for 31 years.”
  • It has been widely claimed that the bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by a Syrian-based Palestinian group

GLASGOW: The family of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Mohmet Al-Megrahi on Tuesday began a posthumous appeal in Scotland hoping to overturn the former Libyan intelligence officer’s conviction for downing a Pan Am flight in 1988, killing 270 people.
Lawyer Claire Mitchell told five judges in Edinburgh that “no reasonable jury, properly directed, could have returned the verdict that it did.”
The case was referred to Scotland’s highest criminal court by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) in March on grounds a possible miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
The SCCRC said there were grounds an “unreasonable verdict” was returned in that it could not be proved Megrahi bought the suitcase containing the bomb that was loaded onto the flight.
It also highlighted “non-disclosure” of evidence to Megrahi’s defense team.
Megrahi is the only person convicted of bombing Pan Flight 103, which was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie as it flew from London to New York on December 21, 1988.
Three Scottish judges sitting at a special court in the Netherlands jailed him for life in 2001, recommending he serve at least 27 years.
He was released from a Scottish prison on health grounds in 2009 and returned to Libya, where he maintained his innocence until his death in 2012.
A total of 270 people from 21 countries were killed, including 11 people on the ground, in what remains Britain’s worst terrorist attack.
But Megrahi’s family maintain there are widespread doubts about his conviction.
A successful appeal would vindicate their belief the US and UK governments had “lived a monumental lie for 31 years” by imprisoning an innocent man and punishing Libya’s people, they said.
Lawyer Aamer Anwar said before the appeal began that he had spoken to Megrahi’s son, Ali, who was eight years old when his father stood trial.
“The Megrahis regard their father as the 271st victim of Lockerbie,” he said.
“Finally there is hope that we are coming to the end of a very long journey in nearly 32 years of their struggle for truth and justice.”
Megrahi’s first appeal was dismissed in 2002 and a second abandoned after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Five judges including Scotland’s most senior jurist, Lord Justice General Colin Sutherland, are hearing the case, which is due to last until Friday with a ruling at a later date.
The family’s legal team are taking part remotely from Glasgow.


It has been widely claimed that the bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by a Syrian-based Palestinian group in retaliation for a US Navy strike on an Iranian Airbus six months earlier in which 290 people died.
Late last Friday, the High Court upheld a secrecy order signed in August by UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab to withhold intelligence documents related to the case on grounds of national security.
The documents are thought to allege a Jordanian intelligence agent within the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) built the bomb.
The PFLP-GC has been designated a terrorist group by several countries, including Britain and the United States.
Lawyers acting for the Megrahi family believe the documents are central to their appeal, which is backed by some of the victims’ families.
They also said they would disclose “significant material about the role of individuals, nations and their politicians” at the end of the appeal.
“There can never be a time limit on justice or the truth emerging,” said Anwar.
In 2008, then-foreign secretary David Miliband also refused to release the papers before Megrahi’s second appeal.