Both the Trump and Biden campaigns seem to know what many of us have already figured out: We will not know who the next president will be on Election Day and the results are likely to be contested. According to recent news reports, each campaign is gearing up for a vicious legal battle over the outcome of the election, and the nation could be in for a raucous confrontation in the courts.
Politico reported on Monday that “Biden officials are holding calls with big fundraisers to prepare for the possibility of lengthy, expensive legal fights after Election Day.” The campaign’s fundraising efforts have pivoted to raising money for legal fees it will incur due to the upcoming battle.
During the calls, Biden’s donors talked about preparations to push back against potential lawsuits coming from the Trump team. According to Politico, “If vote totals are close or contested, the funds would support the efforts of dozens of lawyers working for Biden’s campaign, including some who have already deployed to key battleground states as part of voter protection programs.”
In one of the calls, Biden aides indicated that litigation could begin “hours and days” after the election and stressed the need for a continuous flow of donations to support the effort. There seems to be an overall feeling among donors that the fundraising would continue into November.
“These lawsuits are going to cost money. Some of it is pro bono legal work. But there are the filing fees, the service fees. You need money for all of that,” said Joe Cotchett, a California attorney and Biden donor. “Unless Joe Biden wins big … those lawsuits will go on for perhaps a month. …There are going to be individual lawsuits in each state, I guarantee you.”
During another call, attorneys working with the Biden campaign explained that while they “have the funds to start a legal battle,” they believed that the process would be lengthy, requiring “a fundraising apparatus like never before” to fund it. The Biden officials insisted that they would only use the funds if the Trump campaign contested the results in some of the states.
On the other hand, the Trump campaign is also getting ready for a prolonged legal conflict. The New York Times reported that “President Trump’s campaign is raising money for a prolonged political and legal fight long after Nov. 3 and recently began automatically checking a box to withdraw additional weekly contributions from online donors through mid-December — nearly six weeks after Election Day.”
Of course, the Times’ piece spends much of its time whining about how the Trump campaign is using the “opt-in” model in which users have to uncheck a box to decide not to do weekly contributions. But the important part of this story is that team Trump also anticipates a brutal legal fight after Election Day.
“This race will be very close, and it is possible that multiple states will require recounts and potential additional spending from our campaign,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign. “The election process this year is under extraordinary circumstances, and we are also anticipating that Silicon Valley will attempt to interfere with our online fund-raising efforts post-election.”
Murtaugh also assured people that nobody would get a “recurring charge without their knowledge” and that donors could choose to opt out of recurring contributions before and after donating. “Three days before each recurring charge, donors are emailed a reminder that the charge is about to occur,” he said. “There is a one-click link inside this email for donors to cancel if they wish. Our process is extremely transparent.”
The spokesman also explained that when the litigation ends, so will the recurring payments.
People on both sides have predicted a landslide victory for their preferred candidate — but that’s wishful thinking. Trump and Biden are in a dead heat in each of the battleground states, and with mail-in ballots still being counted, the results will likely be difficult to determine. It’s hard to tell who will file the first lawsuit contesting the count of votes, but it is still apparent that we have a ways to go before this election is decided.
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