Donald Trump’s campaign asked to join a Texas lawsuit challenging the president’s election defeat at the US Supreme Court.
The move came as 17 other states filed in support of a case that has been called a publicity stunt.
While presenting no evidence of fraud, the campaign cited the fact that Mr Trump won 12 million more votes than in 2016 with a high percentage of non-white voters in his brief, along with the fact that he won both Florida and Ohio.
“These things just don’t normally happen, and a large percentage of the American people know that something is deeply amiss,” according to the filing on Wednesday.
Mr Trump must get permission from the Supreme Court to be allowed to intervene in the case.
Seventeen other states, led by Missouri, filed a brief on Wednesday in support of the Texas suit, brought by the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton. Texas is seeking to prevent electors from Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania from participating in the Electoral College on December 14. The Supreme Court on Tuesday evening gave the states until 3pm on Thursday to file responses.
Mr Paxton will be among about a dozen Republican attorneys general who are to join Mr Trump for lunch on Thursday, according to White House spokesman Judd Deere. He added that Mr Trump plans to discuss “issues important to their citizens and the country, and ways to continue to advance the shared federal-state partnership.”
A White House official said that the meeting had been scheduled weeks ago.
The suit by Mr Paxton – who has been accused of bribery by some of his own aides – repeats allegations about mail-in voting that have already been roundly rejected in dozens of courts across the nation, and legal experts say it has no chance of being heard by the Supreme Court. Top officials in the states he seeks to sue questioned the purpose of the suit on Tuesday.
“The motion filed by the Texas attorney general is a publicity stunt, not a serious legal pleading,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. “The erosion of confidence in our democratic system isn’t attributable to the good people of Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia or Pennsylvania but rather to partisan officials, like Mr Paxton, who place loyalty to a person over loyalty to their country.”
The Texas suit was filed on the same day as the December 8 “safe harbor” date for states to certify their slates of electors to send to the Electoral College. The passing of that deadline means time is almost certainly up on Mr Trump’s increasingly desperate effort to overturn his re-election defeat, in which he’s sought to pressure state legislatures to override voters and appoint alternative electors who would back him instead of president-elect Joe Biden.
Mr Trump has described this suit as “the big one.” He also noted Wednesday that his campaign wasn’t part of a separate case, brought by a Pennsylvania congressman, that the Supreme Court rebuffed on Tuesday – the first time the high court has weighed in on Republican litigation to try to overturn the election outcome.
In a one-sentence order, the court said Tuesday that it would not grant a request from plaintiffs including Representative Mike Kelly to void Pennsylvania’s election results.