Trump’s Legal Team Sets a Precedent for Lowering the Bar

In some ways it is, though, at least in the client’s worldview. As has been said on many occasions, Mr. Trump has treated his entire public life — certainly his presidency — as a chaotic and unfolding reality show, and this postelection period has been no different.

He would appear to have no concern for the solemn legal, civic and political leaders who have bemoaned his conduct. “It’s concerning to see not just the president but a lot of other elected officials treating democracy so cavalierly,” said Benjamin Geffen, a staff lawyer at the Public Interest Law Center, who is also involved in the continuing Pennsylvania case against the Trump campaign.

For as much as Mr. Trump has any grand strategy, Mr. Levitt said, it appears less geared to litigation than to public relations. The president’s overriding goal seems to be to simply throw out as many claims as possible, no matter how outlandish or baseless, in an effort to sow public doubt about Mr. Biden’s victory.

Even if this might fail to convince judges or persuade some unlikely amalgam of Republican officials, legislatures and electors to take extraordinary measures on the president’s behalf, it would at least propel a narrative that Mr. Trump has been denied a rightful win.

One of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Sidney Powell, went so far as to claim this week that the president had in fact won the election “not just by hundreds of thousands of votes, but by millions of votes.” However, she added, votes that were cast for Mr. Trump had been nefariously shifted to Mr. Biden by a software program “designed expressly for that purpose.”

Ms. Powell also said that the C.I.A. had previously ignored complaints about the software. She urged the president to fire Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director.

As the past four years have shown, Mr. Trump’s say-anything style has been mimicked by his minions, like Ms. Powell, and can prove brutally effective in certain political and media settings. But it has limits in more rigorous and rule-oriented places, like court.


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