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Investigation found no evidence to charge officer with Rioter’s death on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON – A preliminary investigation has not found enough evidence to indict the U.S. Capitol Police lieutenant who killed Ashli ​​Babbitt, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol last month, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation.

But officials warned on Monday that the investigation by the city’s police, the Metropolitan Police Department, was not completed and that no recommendation had been made to the US attorney’s office in Washington, which would prosecute. the officer.

Ms Babbitt, 35, was involved in one of the few mob attacks that nearly reached members of Congress during the hour-long siege on Capitol Hill on January 6. She and other rioters hammered on the doors separating them from the House chamber as lawmakers evacuated.

As Ms Babbitt attempted to jump a barrier and enter the speaker’s lobby through a broken window, the Capitol Police lieutenant shot and killed her. Although authorities did not provide a full account of Ms Babbitt’s fatal meeting, it was filmed and widely shared on social media.

But the images, combined with the testimonies, appear to show the lieutenant, who has not been named, was left alone to face a crowd. The lieutenant was on administrative leave pending the results of the shooting investigation and was questioned by investigators last week.

The preliminary results were reported earlier by the Wall Street Journal.

Dustin Sternbeck, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department, said “it would be premature” for the department “to make any comment that a conclusion has been drawn.” The Justice Department and Capitol Police said their agencies had not commented on ongoing investigations.

Civil rights attorneys at the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched a formal federal investigation into excessive force into Ms. Babbitt’s death in the days following the Capitol Riot, a “routine standard procedure whenever an officer deploys lethal force, ”a spokeswoman for the Justice Department said when an investigation was announced.

Lethal force is considered legally justified if an officer has an “objectively reasonable” fear of suffering serious harm to himself or to others. Two people familiar with the lieutenant’s account suggested he would argue that he acted to protect lawmakers from harm. Five people died in the assault on the Capitol and immediately after.

In death, Ms Babbitt has become a martyr figure for extreme right-wing extremist groups that have long supported former President Donald J. Trump, many of whom came to Capitol Hill to prevent official certification of President Biden’s victory in the electoral college, including white nationalists. and members of the militia. She could continue to serve as a rallying cry for supporters of Mr. Trump if the officer is not charged.

Ms Babbitt, who served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for more than a dozen years, was seen on video in the moments before her death wearing a Trump flag as a cape.

His social media accounts were filled with messages of support for Mr. Trump, as well as QAnon conspiracy theories.

“Nothing will stop us,” she said on Twitter the day before as she and Mr. Trump’s supporters attack Congress. “They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it’s coming down to DC in less than 24 hours…. dark to light!

Adam goldman contribution to reports.

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Man who sat on death row exonerated after questioning bite evidence

After years of fighting a murder conviction that relied heavily on questionable evidence, a Mississippi man who has spent more than a quarter of a century behind bars got his case dismissed last week.

The man, Eddie Lee Howard, 67, remained on death row even though his conviction was based on little more than bite marks on a murder victim, which were presented as evidence at his trial by an expert whose testimony has since been called into question. .

Mr. Howard’s capital murder conviction was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court last year and he was released in December. Last week, a judge approved a motion from the Lowndes County District Attorney’s Office to dismiss the case.

“I agree with the Supreme Court that the bite evidence has been scrutinized,” said District Attorney Scott Colom. “Other than this evidence, nothing else put Mr. Howard at the scene of the murder.”

Mr Colom added that the DNA of a weapon at the scene of the crime had been shown to belong to someone other than Mr Howard. “It could be considered as an exculpatory matter,” he said.

In 1994, Mr. Howard was convicted of the 1992 murder of Georgia Kemp, 84, who was found dead at her home in Lowndes County, Mississippi. Kemp also had injuries consistent with rape – but no visible bite marks.

The expert testimony on bite marks came from Dr. Michael West, a Mississippi dentist who was approached by prosecutors across the country in the 1980s and 1990s. He said the bite marks on the body of Mrs. Kemp, which he had found using ultraviolet light, matched Mr. Howard’s teeth.

But attorneys representing Mr. Howard argued that the bite marks were not a reliable form of forensic evidence.

“The reality is that there has never been any evidence against Eddie Lee Howard,” said Chris Manufacturer, attorney for Mr. Howard and director of strategic litigation with Project Innocence. “It’s amazing.”

Bite evidence has played a role in hundreds of cases, and its use in Ted Bundy’s 1979 trial propelled them into the public spotlight.

“As it began to be accepted into the courtroom, no one was really disputing its scientific validity,” said Mary Bush, a professor at Buffalo School of Dentistry, an expert in forensic dentistry and analysis. bites. was an expert witness for Mr. Howard in 2016.

But in the years since, the method has been criticized by experts who find it ineffective.

Because human skin is elastic, bite marks can easily warp, Dr Bush said. “Unless you have DNA, you really can’t use a bite to identify someone,” she added.

Even Dr. West seems to have questioned their value. Court documents show that in a 2012 deposition for a different case, Dr West said he didn’t think bite mark analysis should be used in court.

But when Mr. Manufacturer asked him about this statement in 2016, he did not deny his testimony during Mr. Howard’s murder trial. “I can make mistakes,” he says. “Do I think I made any mistakes in this case?” No.”

Attempts to reach Dr West for comment by telephone on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

At least 26 people in the United States have been wrongfully convicted following evidence of bites, according to Project Innocence.

Mr. Howard was locked up in Parchman, a top security prison in the Mississippi Delta. Built on the grounds of an old plantation, the establishment is renowned for its difficult conditions and violent outbreaks.

Mr. Howard has been convicted of the same crime twice. His first capital murder conviction, in 1994, was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1997. But he was tried again in 2000 – when prosecutors brought in Dr. West – and convicted.

At the time, Forrest Allgood was the Lowndes County District Attorney. He also pursued the cases of two other men – Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer – whose convictions were based on a bite analysis. Dr. West also testified in these cases, and those convictions were ultimately quashed.

Mr Allgood did not immediately return a message requesting comment on Wednesday.

Mr. Colom became the county county prosecutor in 2015. When Mr. Howard’s case came to his office, he said dismissing it was not a difficult decision.

“This is a great example of why we need to have the capacity in the criminal justice system to look back and correct mistakes,” said Colom, who called for the creation of a unit. wrongful convictions at the state level.

Mr Manufacturer said Mr Howard’s wrongful conviction resulted not only from prosecutors’ reliance on flawed forensics, but also deep-rooted structural inequities.

“It’s a story about junk science, but it’s really about the American criminal justice system,” he said. “This is a racist and one-sided prosecution based on the story of an elderly and vulnerable white person attacked by a black man, who was sentenced without due process and sent to a former slave plantation to await execution. .

Mr. Howard, he said, was doing his best to readjust to life outside of prison, taking advantage of things he had no access to before – fresh linens, hot baths – and working in the kitchen of a restaurant.

Mr. Howard was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. But in a statement provided by Mr Manufacturer, Mr Howard thanked those who had fought for his release.

“Without your hard work on my behalf,” he said, “I would still be confined to this terrible place called the Mississippi Penitentiary Department, in the death row, waiting to be executed.

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Pompeo says Iran is new base for Al Qaeda, but offers little evidence

WASHINGTON – Al Qaeda’s new base of operations is in Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday, using his last days on office to link two of the world’s biggest terrorist threats, but not offering no underlying intelligence as evidence.

Its findings were quickly tempered, and even contradicted, by some current and former US officials who said there was little new information to suggest that Iran was some sort of active headquarters, let alone a hub where Al Qaeda leaders can run operations with the support of the government in Tehran.

Mr. Pompeo, who was President Trump’s first CIA director for a year, called Iran the “new Afghanistan” for Qaeda militants. He described the ties between the leaders of Tehran and Qaeda in much clearer terms than what most counterterrorism officials consider to be a very complicated relationship.

“They are partners in terrorism, partners in hate,” Pompeo said during a hearing at the National Press Club in Washington, where he did not answer reporters’ questions afterwards.

“The time has come for America and all the free nations to crush the Iran-Al-Qaeda axis,” he said, grateful to the Trump administration for making progress on this front.

Mr. Pompeo spoke in turn of Al Qaeda’s “new home port” and a “new operational headquarters” in Tehran, baffling counterterrorism officials, who said he did not There was no evidence for his claims. Some said his comments appeared to represent his own analytical findings, rather than those of the US intelligence community.

Pompeo referred to a “radical change” in the ties between Sunni-led Al Qaeda and Shiite Iran after 2015, when he said Tehran’s clerical government allowed senior terrorist network officials to shut down. centralize within their borders.

He said Iran had given Qaeda militants travel documents, identity cards and passports and allowed them to move freely around the country. He also first confirmed a New York Times report in November that Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, who bore the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was assassinated in Tehran in August.

At some point before Mr. al-Masri’s death, the CIA concluded that he and another top Qaeda leader in Iran, Saif al-Adl, had reorganized al-Qaeda’s global management structure and granted a renewed priority to planning attacks, according to a top State Department. official who briefed journalists after Mr. Pompeo’s speech. The official did not give a date or approximate time frame for the CIA’s assessment, only saying it happened after 2015 and was sent to the State Department last week.

Other US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence said confirmation of al-Masri’s assassination was central to any new or specific information Mr. Pompeo revealed on Tuesday.

But it gave the secretary of state another platform to criticize Iran – a pillar of his policy. This prompted a swift reaction, especially from Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, who on Twitter accused Mr Pompeo of “pathetically ending his disastrous career with more hawkish lies”.

Much of Mr. Pompeo’s speech, some US officials cautioned, represented an over-repeating of information about long-known Al Qaeda-Iran ties.

“The relationship between Al Qaeda and Iran is far more complicated than the picture presented by Secretary of State Pompeo,” said Colin P. Clarke, counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consultancy based in New York.

Mr Clarke said Mr Pompeo’s characterizations obscured important details about differences in ideology, target preferences and other critical factors between Iran and al Qaeda.

Analysts also pointed out that even as Pompeo heralded a new dawn for Al Qaeda in March, he dismissed the importance of Al Qaeda in explaining why the United States should support a peace deal with the Taliban who called for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

“Al-Qaeda is a shadow of itself,” Pompeo said at the time.

It is true that Iran has systematically and half-heartedly denied housing Qaeda officials.

Terrorism experts suggested that Tehran allowed Qaeda officials to stay in Iran after the September 11, 2001 attacks, as an assurance that the group would not conduct operations in the country. U.S. counterterrorism officials believe Iran may have allowed them to stay and conduct operations against the U.S., a common adversary.

Bahram Ghasemi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry at the time, said in 2018 that due to Iran’s long and porous border with Afghanistan, some Qaeda operatives had entered Iran, but they had been detained and returned to their country of origin.

Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden and other members of his family were released from Iran in 2011 in exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Pakistan. White House officials said last year that Hamza bin Laden was killed in a counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Mr. al-Masri was one of the few high-ranking members of the organization to survive the US hunt for the perpetrators of 9/11 and other attacks. When he and other Qaeda leaders fled to Iran, they were first placed under house arrest.

In 2015, Iran announced a deal with al-Qaeda in which it released five of the organization’s leaders, including Mr. al-Masri, in exchange for an Iranian diplomat who had been kidnapped in Yemen.

In his speech, Pompeo said that surviving deputies of al-Qaeda’s spiritual leader Ayman al-Zawahri “were leading normal lives” in Tehran. He said the Iranian government allowed Qaeda militants to communicate with each other, raise funds and perform other operational functions that were previously carried out from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

He announced new sanctions against two Iran-based Qaeda officials – Muhammad Abbatay, also known as Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi, and Sultan Yusuf Hasan – and three leaders from a Kurdish branch of Al -Qaida which operate on Iraq-Iran. border.

Mr. Pompeo also announced a reward of $ 7 million for the information leading to the arrest of Mr. al-Maghrebi, who is Mr. Zawahri’s son-in-law. State Department officials have not commented on Mr. Zawahri’s whereabouts, or his presence in Iran.

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A day after the Justice Department found no evidence of widespread electoral fraud, Trump released a video filled with lies.

Increasingly isolated in the White House, President Trump on Wednesday released a lie-filled 46-minute video speech in which he spoke angrily about a “rigged” election even though his own attorney general and election officials across the board. the country have attested to its loss.

Mr Trump posted a short two-minute version of the speech on Twitter, recorded in the White House diplomatic room and delivered behind a lectern bearing the presidential seal, with a link to the full version on his Facebook page.

Saying that his remarks “are perhaps the most important speech I have ever given,” the president again refused to concede defeat in his reelection bid almost a month after election day. Instead, he repeated a long series of false claims about voter fraud, accusing Democrats of conspiring to steal the presidency.

Twitter quickly called the post “contested.” Facebook added a note that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who received nearly 81 million votes and 306 electoral votes, is the expected winner of the election.

The video, which a White House official said was recorded last week, was the in-person embodiment of Mr. Trump’s staccato tweets over the past three weeks: Lies about voting irregularities in swing states , democratic conspiracies, attacks on state officials. and signature checks.

The president’s rambling claims in the video were significantly denied on Tuesday, when Attorney General William P. Barr told The Associated Press that despite investigations by the Department of Justice and the FBI, “ to date, we did not see fraud on a scale that could have produced a different result in the election.

Mr Trump continued to rage over voting irregularities in the video, a day after a Republican election official in Georgia criticized him, claiming the president inspired violence and was responsible for a wave of death threats.

“Sir. Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,” said Gabriel Sterling, head of voting systems in Georgia. “Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.”

At the end of the video, Mr. Trump improbably described himself as the defender of the US electoral system, saying he was told that the most important achievement of his presidency would be to protect the integrity of the electoral system.

It was unclear why Mr. Trump waited until Wednesday to release the video. But he made it public after a series of reprimands from members of his own party who increasingly abandoned him as he clings to power by making baseless claims about electoral fraud that have been adamantly rejected.

The president’s legal team, led by his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, has lost dozens of lawsuits across the country while making far-fetched claims without any evidence to back them up.

Some of the president’s main Republican allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have urged him to move on in recent days. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, this week referred to the “new administration” that would take over next year, a clear signal to Mr. Trump that his term is drawing to a close.

Lawmakers on both sides have also signaled that they may be ready to challenge his veto threat on the military spending bill unless Congress removes a legal provision that offers protection against corporate liability. social media.

These social media platforms remain the President’s preferred method of disseminating false and misleading information. Within hours, his tweet had been “liked” by nearly 134,000 Twitter users and his Facebook video had been shared 93,000 times.

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Coronavirus immunity may in recent years, new evidence of data

“Immunity sterilization doesn’t happen very often – it’s not the norm,” said Alessandro Sette, immunologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology and co-lead of the study.

More often than not, people are infected a second time with a particular pathogen, and the immune system recognizes the invader and quickly quenches the infection. The coronavirus in particular is slow to damage, which gives the immune system enough time to kick in.

“It can be stopped quickly enough so that not only are you free of symptoms, but also contagious,” said Dr. Sette.

Dr Sette and his colleagues recruited 185 men and women, aged 19 to 81, who had recovered from Covid-19. The majority had mild symptoms that did not require hospitalization; most provided a single blood sample, but 38 provided multiple samples over several months.

The team tracked four components of the immune system: antibodies, the B cells that make more antibodies when needed; and two types of T cells that kill other infected cells. The idea was to paint a picture of the immune response over time by examining its constituents.

“If you only look at one, you can really miss the full picture,” Dr Crotty said.

He and his colleagues found that the antibodies were long lasting, with modest drops six to eight months after infection, although there was a 200-fold difference in levels among participants. T cells have only shown a slight, slow breakdown in the body, while B cells have increased in number – an unexpected finding that researchers can’t quite explain.

The study is the first to map the immune response to a virus in such detail, experts said. “Of course, we don’t have a prior here,” Dr. Gommerman said. “We are learning, I think for the first time, about some of the dynamics of these populations over time.”

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There is no evidence to support claims that election observers were prevented from counting rooms.

On Twitter and in interviews, President Trump and his supporters have alleged that his campaign observers have been blocked from counting rooms, hampering their ability to testify and report multiple cases of what the groundless Trump campaign has claimed to be a widespread electoral fraud that marred the results.

“OBSERVERS HAVE NOT BEEN PERMITTED IN COUNTING ROOMS,” Trump said in a tweet on Saturday. “BAD THINGS HAPPENED THAT OUR OBSERVERS DID NOT ALLOW TO SEE.”

The accusation was unfounded in fact and was, in fact, contradicted by several of Mr. Trump’s own legal filings.

In the cases his campaign brought to Nevada and Pennsylvania – one rejected, the other pending – he admitted that his observers were indeed present in the counting rooms. Rather, his lawyers have asked the courts to force election officials to allow Mr. Trump’s watchers to gain an even more precise view of the counting activity.

A judge in the Nevada case rejected the offer, ruling that Trump’s lawyers “had failed to prove” that local election officials “had interfered with any rights that they or anyone else had. another had an observer. In the case of Philadelphia, the Trump campaign was successful in forcing municipal election officials to allow observers to be up to six feet from the count tables, as opposed to the roughly 20-foot observation line that the officials had previously established. But during a hearing for a federal version of that lawsuit Thursday, Judge Paul Diamond of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asked a lawyer for Mr. Trump whether campaign observers actually had access to the installation. . The lawyer said, reluctantly, that there was “a non-zero number” of people in the room. (In the interest of speeding up the case, Judge Diamond pushed the Philadelphia board of directors to accept more observers.)

A case the Trump campaign brought in Chatham County, Georgia was actually based on an allegation by a Trump watcher that he saw workers count 53 ballots that were invalid – a small accusation that the observer could not support in court. ; the judge dismissed the trial on Thursday.

Mr Trump and his allies seized photographs of election workers at one point using cardboard to block the windows of a large counting room inside the TFC center in Detroit, alleging workers were covering up nefarious activity there .

In fact, according to The Detroit Free Press, the cardboard was intended to block the view of loud protesters outside the hall who were trying to photograph and film workers handling ballots with sensitive personal information about the preferences of the people. voters. At the time, The Free Press reported, there were 134 Republican observers inside the counting area, along with a similar number of Democratic observers.

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There is no evidence to support claims that election observers were prevented from counting halls.

On Twitter and in interviews, President Trump and his supporters have alleged that his campaign observers have been blocked from counting rooms, hampering their ability to testify and report multiple cases of what the groundless Trump campaign has claimed to be a widespread electoral fraud that marred the results.

“OBSERVERS HAVE NOT BEEN PERMITTED IN COUNTING ROOMS,” Trump said in a tweet on Saturday. “BAD THINGS HAPPENED THAT OUR OBSERVERS DID NOT ALLOW TO SEE.”

The accusation was unfounded in fact and was, in fact, contradicted by several of Mr. Trump’s own legal filings.

In the cases his campaign brought to Nevada and Pennsylvania – one rejected, the other pending – he admitted that his observers were indeed present in the counting rooms. Rather, his lawyers have asked the courts to force election officials to allow Mr. Trump’s watchers to gain an even more precise view of the counting activity.

A judge in the Nevada case rejected the offer, ruling that Trump’s lawyers “had failed to prove” that local election officials “had interfered with any rights that they or anyone else had. another had an observer. In the case of Philadelphia, the Trump campaign was successful in forcing municipal election officials to allow observers to be up to six feet from the count tables, as opposed to the roughly 20-foot observation line that the officials had previously established. But during a hearing for a federal version of that lawsuit Thursday, Judge Paul Diamond of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asked a lawyer for Mr. Trump whether campaign observers actually had access to the installation. . The lawyer said, reluctantly, that there was “a non-zero number” of people in the room. (In the interest of speeding up the case, Judge Diamond pushed the Philadelphia board of directors to accept more observers.)

A case the Trump campaign brought in Chatham County, Georgia was actually based on an allegation by a Trump watcher that he saw workers count 53 ballots that were invalid – a small accusation that the observer could not support in court. ; the judge dismissed the trial on Thursday.

Mr Trump and his allies seized photographs of election workers at one point using cardboard to block the windows of a large counting room inside the TFC center in Detroit, alleging workers were covering up nefarious activity there .

In fact, according to The Detroit Free Press, the cardboard was intended to block the view of loud protesters outside the hall who were trying to photograph and film workers handling ballots with sensitive personal information about the preferences of the people. voters. At the time, The Free Press reported, there were 134 Republican observers inside the counting area, along with a similar number of Democratic observers.

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In the absence of evidence of fraud, Trump fails to make progress in court cases.

President Trump’s belligerent promise to fight the election outcome in court on Friday crashed into skeptical judges, disheartening mathematics from the Electoral College and a lack of evidence for his fraud claims.

On a day that began with the vote count in Georgia and Pennsylvania shifting in favor of Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Trump campaign said, “This election is not over,” as the Republican National Committee announced that it had activated “court challenges teams.” in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Trump’s forces have also appointed a new general to lead the effort, hardened conservative political fighter David Bossie.

But none of the dozens of lawsuits they had filed in battlefield states seemed to be gaining ground in court. And none seemed likely to give Mr. Trump the edge he would need in the vote count in the states that will determine the outcome.

In seeking to sow widespread doubt about the legitimacy of the election, Mr. Trump and his surrogates seemed less focused on substantive legal arguments that might hold in court, and more on strengthening the president’s political narrative, unsupported by the facts, that he was somehow being deprived of a second term.

The most high-profile milestone of the day came when Republicans in Pennsylvania asked the United States Supreme Court to step in and demand state election officials to separate ballots that arrived after the day. of the ballot and not to include them for the moment in the totals of the votes in the largest. and the most critical of swing states.

On Friday night, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. accepted the request.

But the decision was almost entirely for the show: Pennsylvania is already separating those ballots, by counting them separately and without including them in the announced vote totals. The secretary of state, despite objections from Republicans and Mr Trump, said they could be counted if they arrived at 5 p.m. on Friday, in accordance with a state court ruling that the Supreme Court left open the opportunity to reconsider again.

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Without evidence of fraud, Trump fails to make progress in legal affairs

President Trump’s belligerent promise to fight the election outcome in court on Friday crashed into skeptical judges, disheartening mathematics from the Electoral College and a lack of evidence for his fraud claims.

On a day that began with a vote count in Georgia and Pennsylvania that shifted in favor of Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Trump’s campaign said, “This election is not over,” as the Republican National Committee announced that it had sparked a “teams court challenge” in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And Trump’s forces have appointed a new general to lead the effort, hardened conservative political fighter David Bossie.

But none of the dozens of lawsuits they had filed in battlefield states seemed to be gaining ground in court. And in any case, none seemed likely to give Mr. Trump the edge he would need in the vote count in the states that will determine the outcome.

In seeking to sow widespread doubt over the legitimacy of the election, Mr Trump and his surrogates appeared less focused on substantive legal arguments that might hold in court than on strengthening the president’s political narrative, unsupported by the facts. , that he was somehow stolen from a second term.

The most high-profile milestone of the day came when Republicans in Pennsylvania asked the United States Supreme Court to step in and require state election officials to separate ballots that arrived after the day. of the ballot to prevent them from being counted in the total of critical swing states.

But the decision was almost entirely for the show: Pennsylvania is already separating those ballots, count them separately and do not include them in the announced vote totals. The secretary of state, despite objections from Republicans and Mr Trump, said they could be counted if they arrived at 5 p.m. on Friday, according to a state court ruling. A state official said these ballots numbered in the thousands but not in the tens of thousands.

Their lack of progress in stopping the count or arguing for large-scale electoral fraud has left Mr. Trump and his team increasingly dependent on the political salvation of recounts – which seemed likely to take place in Georgia, in Nevada, Arizona and Wisconsin, but which rarely result in large variations in the number of votes.

Trump’s effort could be boosted by the state legislatures of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, both of which are controlled by Republicans. In Wisconsin, Robin Vos, the speaker of the State Assembly, ordered a legislative committee “to use its investigative powers” to conduct an election review, again raising the specter of fraud election without offering specific evidence.

In Pennsylvania, the two main Republicans in the legislature called on Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, to conduct “an immediate audit” of the election.

At the same time, allies President openly suggested an extreme measure: use baseless allegations of Democratic wrongdoing to pressure Republican-controlled state legislatures in key states to send pro-Trump voters to the Electoral College, regardless the results of the popular vote.

Biden campaign officials have said they will respond to any legal challenges Mr. Trump has brought but said they are confident none of the cases they have seen so far look likely to loosen Mr. Biden’s grip on the presidency.

“The Republican legal claims are absolutely baseless and have failed and will continue to fail in court,” said Bob Bauer, senior advisor to the Biden campaign. “They serve no purpose other than to echo Donald Trump’s discredited and shameful attack on the democratic process.”

In a statement, Republican Party chief counsel Justin Riemer said, “We are focused on protecting the integrity of the vote and making sure all legally cast ballots are counted,” but he didn’t was not made available for further comment on the details of the party’s legal strategy.

Trump’s intensive effort was the end of a long-planned emergency in which the president planned to challenge any possible loss by claiming the voting system was “rigged” against him. The campaign was backed by a strong pro-Trump media ecosystem, with Mr. Trump’s own social media accounts at its center, amplifying his misrepresentation.

As the legal push failed to make any substantial progress this week, it took on an urgent, sometimes desperate tone.

Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons, said on Twitter on Thursday, “I really hope the @ FBI / @ DOJ gets on board immediately.”

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich echoed the president’s son on Fox News, calling for the jail of poll workers and greater involvement of Attorney General William P. Barr.

But in the days following the election, Mr Barr and the Justice Department remained largely silent. After initially echoing Mr. Trump’s warnings about electoral fraud, Mr. Barr hushed up his statements and Mr. Trump complained to aides about the ministry’s lack of action.

But an outside support group, True the Vote – one of the most prominent proponents of the false rhetoric that “voter fraud” is rampant in the United States – has sought to help Mr. Trump build his case. On Friday, he announced that he had formed a $ 1 million “Whistleblower Defense Fund” to “urge” witnesses to move forward with charges of embezzlement.

No state saw more legal activity than Pennsylvania, where the Trump campaign and local Republicans filed at least half a dozen lawsuits just before and after polling day.

The case that had the potential to affect the most votes was the one filed Friday in the Supreme Court seeking an order that would require Pennsylvania election officials to separate ballots arriving after election day from other ballots. In its emergency request, the party acknowledged that the secretary of state’s office had already ordered election officials to do so, but said it had no way of knowing if they had complied.

Republicans fought unsuccessfully against the Secretary of State’s decision to allow Pennsylvania election officials to count the mail-in ballots that arrived at their offices on Friday provided they had postmarks from the polling day or before. The Supreme Court has twice missed opportunities to rule on the dispute, although the case is still technically pending, giving judges a chance to weigh in if they saw reasons to do so.

But even if the court took the case and ruled in favor of the Republicans to erase all the ballots in question – the votes on the mail-in ballots went overwhelmingly to Mr Biden – that would not affect the current vote totals. , which does not include ballots received after polling day. As of Friday night, Mr. Biden had a lead of about 17,000 votes in Pennsylvania.

Other lawsuits in Pennsylvania sought to eliminate votes resulting from a decision by Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to allow county officials to give voters a chance to correct errors in their rejected ballots or to vote. in place.

A federal judge dismissed one of those cases on Friday in Montgomery County, near Philadelphia, two days after hinting in a hearing that he saw the effort as a step to deprive voters who were following the instructions of the state.

But even if this case had been successful, it would only have affected 93 votes. Likewise, in Michigan, a judge dismissed a Republican lawsuit challenging the state’s vote count, noting that the count had already effectively been completed and dismissing some of the evidence as based on hearsay.

Frustrated supporters of the president like radio host Mark Levin have called on Republican legislatures in states, including Pennsylvania, to use their constitutional authority to send a delegation of pro-Trump voters to the Electoral College, regardless of the popular vote .

Asked at a press briefing on Friday whether the state’s Republicans would do so, Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman replied: “We want to stay in the tradition that the winner of the popular vote wins. the election. ”

Even though the state’s Republicans could legally make such a decision – lawmakers “just can’t ignore the popular vote,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said – it was an extreme example of the efforts some supporters were making. of Trump seem ready to go.

In several states, Mr. Trump was challenging state voting rules, effectively seeking to overturn votes cast in accordance with official guidelines.

Nevada Republicans on Thursday night called on the Justice Department to open an investigation into electoral fraud involving 3,000 ballots, a move Democrats said was based on “completely fabricated” claims.

The Justice Department has refused to address the issue publicly, but its guidelines generally prevent criminal investigations into election-related matters until the results are completed.

Local Republicans have included the allegation in a lawsuit they have filed in federal court asking for a change in how Clark County, Nevada conducts its tally. A judge dismissed the case on Friday night, when the vote count showed a 22,000 vote lead for Mr Biden.

Michael S. Schmidt, Katie Benner and Adam Liptak contributed reporting.