PHILADELPHIA – During a Pennsylvania court hearing this week on one of the many election lawsuits brought by President Donald Trump, a judge asked a campaign lawyer whether he had found any signs of fraud from among the 592 ballots challenged.
The answer was no.
“Accusing people of fraud is a pretty big step,” said the lawyer, Jonathan Goldstein. “We’re all just trying to get an election done.”
Trump has not been so cautious, insisting without evidence that the election was stolen from him even when election officials nationwide from both parties say there has been no conspiracy.
On Wednesday, Trump took aim at Philadelphia, the Democratic stronghold that helped push President-elect Joe Biden over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the race. The president accused a local Republican election official, Al Schmidt, of ignoring "a mountain of corruption & dishonesty.” Twitter added a label that said the election fraud claim is disputed.
Trump loyalists have filed at least 15 legal challenges in Pennsylvania alone in an effort to reclaim the state’s 20 electoral votes. There is action, too, in Georgia, Arizona, Nevada and Michigan.
In court, his lawyers must walk a precarious line between advocating for their client and upholding their professional oath.
Legal ethicists and pro-democracy activists have questioned the participation of lawyers in this quest, as Trump clings to power and President-elect Joe Biden rolls out his agenda.