MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Donald Trump is threatening to make good on a strategy he telegraphed in the weeks leading up to the election – taking the battle for the presidency to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kendall Coffey, a former federal prosecutor and a key member of the Gore-Lieberman team in the 2000 presidential recount litigation, joined Eliott Rodriguez and Lauren Pastrana to share some perspective.
Q: Now, we’re having flashbacks to 2000. I’m sure you’re feeling like this is a similar situation to one you’ve been in. The president is threatening all kinds of legal action here. Does any of it have merit?
A: Well, it’s literally to see exactly what the big battlefield is going to be. We kind of know it’s not going to be in Florida this time. I mean, Florida’s system seemed to work pretty well. And the margin, although it was small, was decisive enough that it’s hard to see that Florida is really going to be disputed as a statewide presidential state. But, I think we’re going to see a couple things to look for. One is you’ve got an election and the Electoral College that may be almost dead even. It may be that Biden simply gets the magic number of 270, in which case, any state that Trump could turn around through a litigation process could change the election and could change history. So assume that they’re going to be aggressive recount campaigns in states such as Wisconsin, such as presumably Nevada, although we don’t know what the final numbers are. And if Pennsylvania becomes the key to the White House, then I think you’ll see a fight that may go to the U.S. Supreme Court on whether or not Pennsylvania could legally extend the time for accepting mail-in ballots past the election day. That issues been looked at by the Supreme Court, they haven’t intervened yet. But if Pennsylvania’s the key, then expect Pennsylvania to be back before the Supreme Court.
Q: We’re looking at Pennsylvania, specifically Philadelphia, where they’re counting ballots. Have you seen anything that is being done potentially illegal that would be grounds for any kind of legal action? They’re simply counting the ballots. The president said stop the voting. The voting stopped on Election Day. Do you see anything potentially illegal here in what they’re doing now?
A: No, I don’t think you can justify a challenge to stop counting ballots, which have never been counted before. You could go through the count. You could recount. A lot of things you can do. But one of the most basic things in our society is if it’s a legal ballot, you got to count it. And even the president of the United States can’t prevent that from happening.
Q: I know you don’t have a crystal ball, but how do you foresee all this ending?
A: Well, I think it’s going to come down to Nevada, believe it or not just because this is going to be so close. And those handful of votes may decide it. So you may have to say this time, ‘What happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas.’ What happens in Vegas could decide the presidency of the United States.
Q: President Trump sent out a Tweet that his campaign has claimed, for Electoral purposes, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan. It doesn’t quite work that way, of course. But what happens if these votes are certified, and the president still refuses to concede the selection?
A: Well, there’s only so much he can do to not move out of the White House, if in fact the results are certified. There’s a process. The Electoral College meets and it’s got to be certified until you get to the final finish line. But if they reach that final finish line, and I expect that they will, then the president and all of us will have to accept the decision of the voters.