President Trump and his team are pushing back against reports that his campaign significantly scaled back allegations in a Pennsylvania lawsuit over the 2020 election, although an amended complaint filed Sunday did significantly alter the case's stated goals.
Trump, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh all forcefully rejected reporting from the Washington Post that said attorneys filed a new complaint "removing allegations that election officials violated the Trump campaign’s constitutional rights by limiting the ability of their observers to watch votes being counted." Monday morning, Trump retweeted a message from Murtaugh that said the new complaint "absolutely still makes an issue of" more than 600,000 ballots that were allegedly processed without proper observation.
"The Washington Post forgot to read the complaint," Trump tweeted. "Fake News. Poll Watchers, and the way they were treated, are a very big deal in the complaint!"
Murtaugh had called the Post's report "completely erroneous" and said that "to write that we had scrapped that argument requires not reading the amended complaint."
Similarly, Giuliani said that the authors of the Post report did not read the full complaint, which still references the ballots that allegedly were not observed.
"They didn’t read para 132-150 which repeat all the allegations of the 680,777 mail in votes which were deliberately concealed from Republican inspectors," Giuliani said.
Giuliani also pushed back against a Politico report that said Trump's campaign "dramatically scaled back its federal lawsuit."
Indeed, the campaign's amended complaint does reference those ballots in paragraph 142.
"It is estimated that 680,770 ballots were processed by the Allegheny and Philadelphia County Boards of Elections when no observation was allowed," the new complaint says.
What the Post and Politico reports get right, however, is that the crux of the amended complaint removed claims regarding those allegations. The original complaint included a count of "Invalid Enactment of Regulations Affecting Observation and Monitoring of the Election," referencing the alleged lack of adequate observation in claiming a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's right to due process. The new complaint has that entire section taken out, with no counts listed that reference poll watching or the 680,770 ballots.
Additionally, the original complaint requested relief that included preventing the certification of election results that included the counting of ballots that "watchers were prevented from observing," but the amended complaint does not include this or anything resembling that request.
Instead, where the amended complaint requests relief the only specific ballots mentioned are those that allegedly were "improperly permitted to be cured." This is a reference to allegations that voters in some counties who submitted invalid mail-in ballots were notified before Election Day so that they could cast provisional ballots instead, even though state law says that ballots should not be processed before Election Day.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on Sunday, claiming that the campaign's new filing "adds no new claims for relief and instead materially narrows the pending allegations to a single claim under the same theory alleged in the original complaint."
In a Monday statement, the Trump campaign acknowledged that it "strategically decided to restructure its lawsuit to rely on claims of violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," but said the ballots that were not observed remain part of this.
"Our poll watchers were denied meaningful access to watch the vote counting and we still incorporate that claim in our complaint," Murtaugh said. "Unfortunately, fake news activists rushed to print their clickbait headlines, apparently without even reading the lawsuit. That’s lazy journalism at best, but more likely intentionally misleading."