U.S. President Donald Trump‘s lawyers mixed up two states while trying to claim he should’ve won a third this week, in an unforced bungling of an affidavit filed in court.
The error played out in the middle of the outgoing president’s increasingly desperate attempts to overturn the results of the election he lost to president-elect Joe Biden. Trump’s team has claimed widespread voter fraud in various battleground states, without evidence, and has been fighting an uphill battle against Biden’s upcoming inauguration in January.
Trump lawyer Lin Wood claimed in a Georgia court filing on Wednesday that more people had voted in various Michigan counties than actually lived there. He made the claim to bolster his allegations of widespread voter fraud in Georgia, and cited an analysis by Republican Russell Ramsland, a self-declared election fraud expert.
There was just one problem: Ramsland was comparing Michigan voter numbers to Minnesota populations, as the conservative legal blog Powerline first reported.
The filing claimed irregularities in the supposedly “Michigan” townships of Monticello, Albertville, Lake Lillian, Houston, Brownsville, Runeberg, Wolf Lake, Height of Land, Detroit Lakes, Frazee and Kandiyohi.
All of those townships are in Minnesota, as Powerline writer and veteran litigator John Hinderaker pointed out.
The MAGA-backed lawyers appeared to mix up MI and MN, the short forms for Michigan and Minnesota, according to Hinderaker’s analysis.
“This is a catastrophic error, the kind of thing that causes a legal position to crash and burn,” he wrote in the piece. “Credibility once lost is hard to regain.”
A judge tossed Wood’s case in Georgia on Thursday, the same day two other Trump lawsuits were rejected in Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Wood and Ramsland did not respond to the New York Times‘ requests for comment.
The Georgia bungling was another black eye for the Trump legal team, which has alleged widespread voter fraud in public while failing to prove anything in court that might significantly change the election result.
Trump’s chief legal defender has been Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who pushed a wide range of baseless claims and falsehoods at a press conference on Thursday. Joined by other members of the Trump team, Giuliani spoke at length about all the evidence he claimed to have, but did not present any of it for public scrutiny.
“I know crimes, I can smell them. You don’t have to smell this one, I can prove it to you, 18 different ways,” he claimed on Thursday, without proving his allegations in any one particular way.
Speaking at the same 90-minute press conference, Trump lawyer Sidney Powell dredged up several QAnon conspiracy theories without providing any evidence to back them up.
Powell has publicly supported the fantastical QAnon hoax, which imagines Democrats and celebrities are Satan-worshipping cannibals who prey upon children as part of a vast international cabal. She has also previously represented disgraced Trump aide Michael Flynn in court.
On Thursday she appeared to borrow from the QAnon playbook as she alleged a vast cabal of communists, socialists and Democrats had conspired to steal the election from the president.
She did not provide any evidence to support her claims.
Several high-profile firms have abandoned the Trump campaign’s bid to overturn Biden’s election victory, while the likes of Giuliani and Powell have taken over the fight.
Giuliani famously appeared at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Pennsylvania on Nov. 7 to argue Trump’s case, on the same day the election was called for Biden. Giuliani appeared in the landscaping company’s parking lot, beside an adult bookstore, to argue his client’s case.
Trump has blocked efforts to begin the peaceful transition of power to Biden, while alleging a wide range of conspiracy theories and voter fraud schemes that he has not been able to support.
He has also appealed to Republicans at the state level in an effort to override the will of the voters and declare him the victor instead.
U.S. government officials stated last week that the election was the “most secure in American history,” and that there is “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Trump fired the government’s head of election cybersecurity shortly after that statement went out.
The president had also claimed widespread fraud in the 2016 election he won, after losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by about three million.
Trump alleged at the time that three million people had voted illegally, but a commission to find that fraud turned up nothing.
“It’s just a lot of noise going on, because Donald Trump is a bull who carries his own china shop with him,” Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University, told The Associated Press.
“Once the noise recedes, it’s going to be clear that Biden won a very convincing victory.”
Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20. Trump, as loser of the election, will be expected to vacate the White House at that time.
—With files from The Associated Press