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UPDATE 3-U.S. judge calls Trump claim challenging Biden win in Pennsylvania 'Frankenstein's monster'

22 Nov 2020 / 10:15 H.

    (New throughout; adds Giuliani statement, details from judge's ruling)

    By Jan Wolfe and Tom Hals

    Nov 21 (Reuters) - 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 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.

    U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, described the case as "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations."

    Brann added 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 U.S. Supreme Court," he said.

    The campaign will ask the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to review the ruling on an accelerated timetable, according to Giuliani.

    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.

    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.

    The campaign also had sought to amend the suit to claim violations of the U.S. Constitution. It 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.

    As part of his ruling, the judge denied the campaign's request to update its lawsuit.

    Trump has filed at least five lawsuits in the state, without any impact on the outcome on the election. Most of the cases have sought to invalidate thousands of mail-in ballots in various counties for minor defects such as missing addresses. (Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Raphael Satter and Aram Roston; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Dan Grebler and Noeleen Walder)

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