The November US presidential election still hung in the balance on Wednesday, with a handful of close-fought states set to decide the outcome in the coming hours or days. But a possible legal battle between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden is brewing.
With Biden currently leading, although results from critical battleground states have not yet been announced, what was once a nightmare scenario is taking shape.
Critical battleground states including Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania remain without declared winners, leaving both President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden short of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House.
Biden has inched into the lead in Wisconsin and Michigan, and is gaining on the incumbent in Pennsylvania, on the power of mail-in votes that are still being counted.
The mail-in ballots are disproportionately Democratic and have skewed the race in favour of Biden, a scenario which Trump seems to have anticipated for weeks, and pushed against.
As it stands, Biden has said he is on a path to victory and Trump is throwing accusations of voter fraud and electoral theft.
In a speech reacting to the unfolding election results on Tuesday night, President Trump said he’d be going to the US Supreme Court and said of the Democrats: “They knew they couldn’t win, so they said let’s go to court.”
He provided no evidence to back up his claim of fraud and did not explain how he would fight the results at the Supreme Court, which does not hear direct challenges.
During the campaign, Trump has been a vocal proponent of the use of litigation. Speaking at a rally in North Carolina on Sunday he said “we’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers.”
Like Trump, Biden has a legal team on standby, led by former White House Counsel Bob Bauer, and has fundraised in anticipation of a lengthy legal battle.
His campaign called President’s Trump statement “outrageous”, adding: “The counting will not stop.”
Even before Tuesday, the 2020 campaign saw a historic number of lawsuits across dozens of states, as the coronavirus pandemic forced election officials to prepare for an election like no other.
Ahead of the election, Trump had said he wanted his latest US Supreme Court appointee Amy Coney Barrett confirmed by the Senate in case the court had to hear any electoral dispute. Democrats had criticized the president for appearing to suggest he expected Barrett to rule in his favour.