President Trump called the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives twice during the past week to make an extraordinary request for help reversing his loss in the state, reflecting a broadening pressure campaign by the president and his allies to try to subvert the 2020 election result.
The calls, confirmed by House Speaker Bryan Cutler’s office, make Pennsylvania the third state where Trump has directly attempted to overturn a result since he lost the election to President-elect Joe Biden. He previously reached out to Republicans in Michigan, and on Saturday he pressured Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in a call to try to replace that state’s electors.
The president’s outreach to Pennsylvania’s Republican House leader came after his campaign and its allies decisively lost numerous legal challenges in the state in both state and federal court. Trump has continued to press his baseless claims of widespread voting irregularities both publicly and privately.
“The president said, ‘I’m hearing about all these issues in Philadelphia, and these issues with your law,’ ” said Cutler spokesman Michael Straub, describing the House speaker’s two conversations with Trump. “ ‘What can we do to fix it?’ ”
A White House spokesman declined to comment on the calls to Cutler, and a Trump campaign spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Cutler told the president that the legislature had no power to overturn the state’s chosen slate of electors, Straub said.
But late last week, the House speaker was among about 60 Republican state lawmakers who sent a letter to Pennsylvania’s congressional representatives urging them to object to the state’s electoral slate on Jan. 6, when Congress is set to formally accept the results.
Although such a move is highly unlikely to gain traction, at least one Pennsylvania Republican, Rep. Scott Perry, said in an interview Monday that he will heed the request and dispute the state’s electors….
Trump stoked those flames Saturday at a rally for two Republican Senate candidates in Georgia, where he ranted for an hour and 40 minutes almost exclusively about fraud.
“We will find that hundreds of thousands of ballots were illegally cast in your state and all over the country, by the way, more than enough to give us a total historic victory,” Trump said. “This is our country . . . they are trying to take it from us through rigging, fraud, deception and deceit.”
He added, “Hopefully, our legislatures and the United States Supreme Court will step forward and save our country.”
Trump’s continued embrace of such rhetoric has prompted fresh alarm among Democrats and some Republicans, who fear that the president is inciting violence. And while his efforts to overturn the result are widely viewed as fruitless, many officials said they are distressed at the lasting harm they believe he is doing to public faith in U.S. elections….
“When it comes to lawsuits, we’re one for 33. All I can say is time is ticking,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally who has promoted the president’s false accusations of fraud, said in an interview last week. “I told the president to keep fighting, but time matters. You’ve got to have a very coherent theory of the law. The burden of the proof is on the plaintiff.”
The outlook is similar inside the White House, where administration officials have begun discussing who will stay until Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration to help with the transition and who will leave before that date, according to people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private discussions….
One official involved in the campaign said Trump spends almost all of his days obsessing over voter fraud and searching for ways to reverse his defeat. He has asked Giuliani and one of his campaign lawyers, Jenna Ellis, for more names of lawmakers he should be calling.
“He’s going to keep doing this until the 14th at the least,” one Republican involved in the operation said. “The president sees no advantage to stopping this.”