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Trump’s post-election marching orders: Dispute ballots, contest results

Nancy Cook and Gabby Orr –

On Twitter, Trump was more blunt.

“How come every time they count Mail-In ballot dumps they are so devastating in their percentage and power of destruction?” he asked in one tweet.

In another, he falsely claimed the ballots still being counted were “surprise ballot dumps,” saying it was “VERY STRANGE.” Twitter flagged the tweet for sharing “disputed” information that “might be misleading.”

On a late morning call with surrogates, Stepien likewise said the campaign felt good about Georgia and Nevada, noting that if Trump can those and add Pennsylvania and Arizona, he will hit 270 electoral college votes. One that same call, deputy campaign manager Justin Clark said he expected more litigation in places like Pennsylvania, but noted the campaign was comfortable with the “legal posture in North Carolina and Georgia.”

One Republican close to the White House said the lack of a clear victory either way gives Trump an opening — even if insiders wish Trump had not falsely declared himself a winner in the middle of the night at the White House on Wednesday.

“This election was supposed to be won hands down by the Democrats, but they did not do this,” the Republican said. “We’re at a point where both sides are positioning themselves to be the winner.”

Others in the president’s orbit were less optimistic.

One senior administration official said the states Trump still needs to add to his column — namely Georgia and North Carolina — are subject to ballot rules that could delay the outcome long past states like Wisconsin and Michigan, where votes were being tallied in rapid fashion Wednesday morning.

For example, North Carolina can count ballots received up to nine days after the Nov. 3 election as long as they were postmarked by Election Day, the Supreme Court decided last week.

“The states we need to have called for us have delays, and the states Biden needs called for him, I would expect will have results by the end of Wednesday,” the official said. “If we’re able to win either Nevada or put Arizona back in the undecided column, then we’re still in play.”

As of Wednesday morning, Biden retained a narrow lead in Nevada with 86 percent of the votes reported.

The president’s reelection team has already hinted at robust legal challenges if the ultimate vote counts don’t match what they claim to see in their internal numbers, or if Biden wins Wisconsin with a margin of victory at or below 1 percent.

Stepien said the president is prepared to enter “recount territory” in Wisconsin and wants to ensure “that illegally cast ballots are not counted.”

“We are in for a long ride. They will fight this thing until the death,” said a second Republican close to the White House. “The question now is: How many lawyers do they deploy? Are they in the right areas?”

Should the Trump campaign find itself waging a legal battle over the election outcome or statewide results, several allies said it will have to beef up its team of attorneys in the next few days. One former Trump campaign official said the president’s aides “have worked aggressively” to assemble a legal infrastructure in the last month or two, but still has work to do.

“They will have to build up the legal infrastructure significantly,” added the senior administration official.

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