Kamis, 10 Desember 2020

Wild theory behind Texas lawsuit that seeks to overturn election result -

The US politician at the centre of an audacious bid to help Donald Trump remain President may not just have the commander-in-chief’s future position in mind.

According to one wild theory, he could be angling for a presidential pardon following allegations of bribery.

Texas Attorney-General Ken Paxton yesterday announced his intention to sue Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the US Supreme Court. Joe Biden won all four states in November’s election.

“Paxton’s lawsuit won’t overturn the election,” wrote website Slate. “But it just might succeed in keeping him out of federal prison”.

Mr Paxton has denied talking to the White House about a pardon. But the White House has noticed his court case.

In his lawsuit, Mr Paxton has argued that changes made in the key states to voting procedures to expand mail-in voting were unlawful. It asks electoral college voters in the four states to be chosen not based on the election results but instead picked by the Republican legislatures.

There have been many allegations emanating from the Trump camp but there remains no evidence of widespread fraud at the US election. Multiple court cases on the matter have failed to get any traction.

RELATED: Stunned experts describe US election lawsuit as ‘dumbest’ ever seen

It was notable that the Texas lawsuit came from Mr Paxton and not the state’s top lawyer, Kyle Hawkins, who would ordinarily have defended the state’s cases.

There has been much speculation that Mr Hawkins is trying to distance himself from a case that has been labelled by some as the “dumbest” and “craziest” they’ve seen of the many and various legal avenues team Trump has attempted to use to overturn the election result.

However, one suggestion has emerged as to why Mr Paxton might be keen to bring the case – to curry favour with Mr Trump in the hope he’ll get a pardon when the President finally leaves office.

Mr Paxton is said to be under investigation by the FBI after allegations of bribery and abuse of office were raised.

The Associated Press reported in November that claims Mr Paxton used his office to benefit a wealthy donor are being examined.

“Paxton is accused of using his position as Texas’ top law enforcement official to benefit (a real estate developer) in several ways, according to seven senior lawyers in the lawyer general’s office and the agency’s head of law enforcement,” the AP said.
Several staff have said they have had to leave their positions after raising their concerns.

The full details of the allegations have not been released.

Mr Paxton has said the allegations from former staff are “overblown, based upon assumptions, and to a large degree misrepresent the facts.” He has denied any wrongdoing.

RELATED: 17 US states support new election lawsuit from Texas

Talking to news agency Reuters, Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Ohio, said it was possible that the case was just a way for Mr Paxton to gain the President’s attention and shut the charges down.

“It is fairly clear that one way you get a pardon is you rally to the president’s defence,” Mr Adler said.

And Mr Trump is undoubtedly pleased at the Texas case. In a tweet on Thursday he said “this is the big one. Our country needs a victory”.

Texas TV station NBC-KXAN reported that Mr Paxton has pushed back against the theory.

“I’ve had no discussions with anything about … anything like that,” Mr Paxton said.


US presidents are able to offer complete pardons or clemency to any individual charged or convicted with federal crimes.

So far, Mr Trump has issued 29 pardons. These have included pro-Trump commentators and supporters as well as friends and colleagues. A number of Republican politicians and lawyers have been among them.

Late last month, he pardoned his ex-national security advisers Michael Flynn who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Since his pardon, Mr Flynn has argued for a form of martial law to be imposed and the Constitution to be temporarily suspended in order to re run the election.

Mr Trump is still far below the 212 pardons former President Barack Obama exercised during his two terms in office.


Most legal minds see Mr Paxton’s lawsuit as a long shot. For a start it aims to bypass the lower courts and go straight to the Supreme Court where several justices nominated by Mr Trump sit.

Normally cases must be heard by a lower court before they can go to the Supreme Court. That is unless one state sues another, which is what Texas is doing. But the court does not have to accept this argument and could throw out the case.

If successful, Mr Paxton would want the Supreme Court to order that all four states in question ignore their popular vote totals, which show Mr Biden winning, and choose their electors via their respective state legislatures instead.

All these state legislatures are controlled by the Republican Party so theoretically could elect pro-Trump loyalists.

Mr Paxton said “trust in the integrity of our election processes is sacrosanct”.

“Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin destroyed that trust and compromised the security and integrity of the 2020 election.

“The states violated statutes enacted by their duly elected legislatures, thereby violating the Constitution.

“By ignoring both state and federal law, these states have not only tainted the integrity of their own citizens’ vote, but of Texas and every other state that held lawful elections,” he said.

“Their failure to abide by the rule of law casts a dark shadow of doubt over the outcome of the entire election. We now ask that the Supreme Court step in to correct his egregious error.”

But legal experts are doubtful how successful the Texas suit will be.

Professor Rick Hasen, an election law expert from the Irvine School of Law, called Mr Paxton’s lawsuit “the dumbest case I’ve ever seen filed on an emergency basis at the Supreme Court”, “a press release masquerading as a lawsuit” and “utter garbage”.

Professor Steve Vladeck, from the University of Texas School of Law, said it was “insane”, “offensive” and “wasteful”.

“It looks like we have a new leader in the ‘craziest lawsuit filed to purportedly challenge the election’ category,” he quipped, going on to describe Mr Paxton’s arguments as “utter and indefensible nonsense”.

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2020-12-10 13:15:16Z

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