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Federal Judge Casts Doubt On Trump's Wisconsin Lawsuit; State Case Hearing Pushed To Friday

Tasos Katopodis
Getty Images
US President Donald Trump greets the crowd before he leaves at the Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit on Dec. 8 in Washington, DC.

Updated 2:15 p.m. CST

A federal judge Thursday cast doubt on President Donald Trump's lawsuit that seeks to overturn Joe Biden's win in Wisconsin, saying siding with Trump would be “the most remarkable ruling in the history of this court or the federal judiciary.”

Trump is pursuing extraordinary attempts to overturn Biden's win with a pair of lawsuits in Wisconsin, in federal and state courts. In the state case, Trump wants to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots and in the federal case he wants to give the GOP-controlled Legislature the power to name Trump the winner.

U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig, a Trump appointee, marveled at the president's request at the start of Thursday's hearing.

“It’s not lost on me that this is a political case, obviously, and that the relief that’s been requested, if that relief were granted, this would be a most remarkable proceeding and probably the most remarkable ruling in the history of this court or the federal judiciary," Ludwig said.

Ludwig had previously called the Trump request “bizarre” and “very odd.”

Trump’s attorney Bill Bock argued that the election wasn’t run properly and that the risks of voter fraud were increased because ballot drop boxes were not staffed, voting by mail was widely used and voters who said they were indefinitely confined were allowed to cast absentee ballots without showing a valid photo ID.

“In what area of American life is it more important that the rules be followed and the playing field be level than in an election for president of the United States?” Bock said.

Trump's attorneys are urging the courts to act quickly so he can appeal any adverse ruling before members of the Electoral College meet on Monday and cast Wisconsin's 10 votes for Biden. Attorneys for Gov. Tony Evers and the bipartisan state elections commission say the cases are without merit and should be dismissed.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Wisconsin dismissed another lawsuit filed by the chairman of the La Crosse County Republican party that argued there was massive fraud that warranted the court declaring Trump the winner. Similar lawsuits, all filed by Trump’s former campaign attorney Sidney Powell, have been dismissed in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan.

Powell appealed the Wisconsin ruling on Thursday to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Trump's state lawsuit made Wisconsin the only state that missed Tuesday’s safe harbor deadline, which means Congress has to accept the electoral votes that will be cast Monday and sent to the Capitol for counting on Jan. 6. Missing the deadline won’t deprive Wisconsin of its 10 electoral votes.

A hearing in that case, originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon, was pushed until Friday morning because the arguments in federal court had not concluded. Noting the Monday Electoral College vote, Judge Stephen Simanek said the hearing will happen Friday, come “hell or high water.”

Biden won Wisconsin by about 20,600 votes. Those certified results, which came after a Trump-ordered recount in the state’s two largest Democratic counties, were then challenged by Trump in the two lawsuits he filed in Wisconsin.

Out of the roughly 50 lawsuits filed around the country contesting the Nov. 3 vote, Trump has lost more than 35 and the others are pending, according to an Associated Press tally.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court already refused to hear Trump's lawsuit once, saying it must first go through lower courts. But the court is likely to soon have the case before it again.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is controlled 4-3 by conservative justices. One of them, Justice Brian Hagedorn, has three times joined liberals in deciding against taking the Trump lawsuit and two others filed by Trump allies seeking to overturn the election.

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