Video: Trump’s Pennsylvania Legal Challenge Likely to End Up at Supreme Court: Rita Cosby
Back on December 12, 2000, Rita Cosby reported live from the steps of the Supreme Court when the Court called for a full stop of manual recounts, effectively awarding Bush the 25 electoral votes from Florida that he needed to win.
In this episode, Cosby, an Emmy-Winning TV host and longtime political reporter, gives her take on the 2020 election, the parallels to Bush v. Gore, and how allegations of fraud and irregularities may ultimately play out.
This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Rita Cosby, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Rita Cosby: Great to be with you, Jan. Thank you.
Mr. Jekielek: Rita, you’ve been a political reporter. You were a political reporter for decades. In fact, from what I understand, you were actually on the steps of the Supreme Court back in 2000 when the Bush-Gore decision came down. Tell me what are you seeing right now?
Ms. Cosby: I’m seeing a lot of flashbacks, first of all, because there is a chance that this could go to the Supreme Court. Of course, we’re still far away from that but if things move quickly and should something go in the Trump team’s favor, it could end up likely in the Supreme Court. There’s a chance of that, for sure. Nobody knows.
Again, it’s very premature. We’ll see where everything goes. But when I think back to that time in December, December 12, 2000, I remember the night and obviously the gravity of the night. Here’s the Supreme Court deciding on the presidency of the United States, and they had already gotten involved prior to that moment where they essentially said, “OK, there will be a temporary stay of the recount,” and this was focused all on Florida and particularly in Palm Beach County.
They finally made the decision that day and this, again, was a month past the election. That’s why people go, “Oh, wait, wait, wait! People should accept it and wait a minute.” This was well over a month after the election, after election eve back then in 2000, when the Supreme Court then ultimately stepped in [with] their decision and said, “We will stop the recount, thereby giving the presidency to George W. Bush.”
It was a monumental moment, and a lot of people did not know where it was going to go. I think so much now of the nature [of it], hearing all the different sides, and particularly, I’ve heard on the Democratic side that people are saying, “Well, OK. Well, let’s move on. Let’s do this.”
They were not moving on back in 2000. There were still a lot of questions back then, and I think this is a fascinating time in the sense that there are similarities from some of the legal maneuvers and some of the rhetoric that we’re hearing. On the flip side, there’s some differences because we’re talking about multiple states this time and the Trump legal team coming at it from multiple states as they have to, because they would have to change the decision in multiple states.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s start with that. Where are you seeing some similarities and where might this end up based on those similarities?
Ms. Cosby: I think one of the things the Trump legal team—and obviously they’ve zeroed in on this in the Pennsylvania case, and that was actually an interesting constitutional issue because the highest court in the land always sort of looks at the constitutionality of it.
There are certainly going to be cases of fraud that come up, whether it’s isolated, a dead person voting, I’m sure that has happened for years. We always hear about cases of that. There will be a number of these different things. But the high court really looks at something that’s sort of systematic. It also looks at these constitutional fundamental issues.
In the Pennsylvania case this time around, what’s interesting is that we know that the Pennsylvania Court made a decision essentially to override what the state legislature has been saying for many, many years there in Pennsylvania.
We know in the constitution that the decision usually always goes—and you look at the rhetoric right there, it’s very clear as day, the language in the constitution says it should go—to the state legislators to determine how elections [go] and the timing and so forth. And the state legislature there had always held to where the election and the votes would be counted on election night.
So now, here in the state of Pennsylvania, we know that then, the Pennsylvania court came in and said, “We will allow for votes to be counted, mail-in votes to be counted, after 8 p.m., after the polls closed in Pennsylvania for a number of extra days.” And those three days may have made the difference.
Now, we still don’t know what happened, how many of those votes are in there—that’s a whole other question too. But we do know already, what I thought was so interesting, is that a Justice of the highest court, Samuel Alito, stepped in and made the decision on Friday night, and he basically was enforcing what some in Pennsylvania said was being done.
But if you listen to the Trump legal team, they said that they didn’t get a satisfactory answer from all the different polling places, all the different counties, and that’s why they petition and that’s why they were going to the Supreme Court. But we know that Justice Alito already came in and essentially said, “Those votes that came in after 8 p.m., after the polls closed on election eve, specifically in Pennsylvania, first of all, they have to be checked, they have to be secured.”
He used some interesting language, “They have to be set aside and if counted, they have to be counted separately.” Now, he didn’t say, “The whole court is going to be looking at this case.” He didn’t go that far but I thought it was really interesting, someone who has covered the Supreme Court and follow the Supreme Court for a long time, and obviously been there for a number of big historic cases, I thought it was very interesting that on a Friday night, Justice Alito came in and made that decision.
It was the right decision to do because if it does go further, from a legal perspective, you suddenly can’t say, “I didn’t tell them to isolate those votes. I don’t know where those votes are.” Now, the counties have to be very, very careful to make sure that those votes, those particular ballots, are set aside that they’re in a carefully marked place, that they are, again, “secure.”
But I thought that was very interesting, and it open the door, and again, stress, open the door. He didn’t make the decision by any means but he did open the door that there could at some point be a possibility, and that would happen very soon because the clock is ticking here as we know, where the whole court could actually look at that, and where the court could come in and say, “Let’s look at the merits of this particular case.”
That I thought is really interesting, and no surprise, that of course, the Trump legal team is looking at that avenue. They’re looking at a whole bunch of other things about just extending and the whole issue of mail-in ballots in general. But that particular case, I think, could be very appealing to the Supreme Court, as someone who has covered the Supreme Court.
Looking at it and even prior to [the election], remember, it was tossed up to the Supreme Court prior to, and they basically punted, they basically deferred it prior to the election. But also, at that point, even kind of left open. They didn’t say, “No.” They just said, “We’re deferring this. We’re punting it on,” and now here, it may come back to them likely, I think, where they actually will look at it potentially.
Again, we don’t know, but I think it’s interesting that they’ve been toying around that area. The issue for the Trump legal team, and it’s a high bar that they have to go legally is, first of all, we don’t know how many votes are there. That’s the other thing—we don’t know. They have to believe that they are secured, that they are set aside.
Would all those votes, when we know the number of all those votes, could they potentially change the outcome in Pennsylvania? That’s a key question. We don’t know that yet.
As we know, just changing the results in Pennsylvania is not enough to change the election results, so that’s why they’ve got to get legal teams, as we are seeing, it’s almost like a SWAT team. It’s like a huge team of—we have to get this group here in Pennsylvania, we have to get this group here in Georgia, we have to get this group in Nevada, obviously, Wisconsin, looking at Arizona too, as well, Michigan.
They’ve got a full court press and all these different directions because they’ve got to simultaneously try to work each different state and see what they come up with.
Mr. Jekielek: Looking at Pennsylvania, let’s say that the Supreme Court does decide that these ballots that came in afterwards were unconstitutional, so what would happen after that? Does that just mean that those ballots wouldn’t be used or are there other scenarios that could be in play?
Ms. Cosby: You can bet there’s such different divisions and of such an adversarial nature on both sides that there’s such great suspicions on the Trump side of the Democrats, particularly in Philly, and some of the comments that even came from a number of the people there.
So we know that some of those votes that came in were from these heavy urban areas, in particular Philly and Pittsburgh and some of the others. But you can bet that they’re going to be making sure, indeed, were those the ones? So then it gets to an interesting question that you just brought up, Jan, what are the options?
That’s a great question and it may get into again. They’re going to have to look at those ballots. First of all, it has to somehow be verified. There are a lot of questions if that does come down, in terms of which ones can we prove for sure, which ones came in afterwards? Were they separated? Were they set aside as the order is asking? Can that be verified?
You can bet that, especially, the Trump team is going to say, “How do we know that they came in? Where’s the evidence that that came in?” So there’s a lot of different steps, and different states have different procedures, but how can they actually make sure that those are indeed the ballots? Is that the exact number?
The high court could say, “Stop. Any of those ballots that happened after them, that indeed were set aside, what are the numbers?” They could also look at the numbers of those, make sure that those are verified, what are the steps that would have to be agreed to, also in terms of verification.
You could bet at that point, they’re going to be looking at every little thing. It may even open up the door to something that could be on the border: How can you prove that this did come in beforehand versus this after? Let me see. Where’s the postmark? Is that an authentic postmark? If it’s in question, should that be thrown out?
If you thought hanging chads was crazy in 2000, this could just be [worse]. You think about all the different things, not just the postmark. Who handled it? How can you prove that that person handled it? And how can you prove that? So there could be different variations where they throw out all of those potentially.
They first get the number, first of all, maybe to know if it even could have an impact or not. But they could also decide, how can you prove it? Could there maybe be more in the batch? Could there be less in the batch? There’s going to be a lot of back and forth as we saw constantly.
Remember how many days and how many times we saw Katherine Harris who became the most well known Secretary of State at that time. Everybody was talking because she was constantly talking about the updates of the hanging chad versus the partial chad versus the daylight, you could see through this one or that one. There will be so many different manual things well beyond anything computerized.
So there’s a lot of different variations that could come about. But what the Trump team is looking for is just to get that foot in the door with a high court would even consider that case. It is a very interesting case and I think something that the Supreme Court very well may possibly take up.
Mr. Jekielek: So we’re talking about these dates. Of course, November 3 being the magic date here. There is a sworn affidavit in this new lawsuit that was filed very recently in Michigan that basically a postal worker was instructed to backdate ballots so that they would fit. What do you make of this?
Ms. Cosby: I think that’s really interesting. All of the different sides and particularly, of course, the Trump side and the Democrat side, I think about this as a journalist. We sometimes hear of isolated cases, of course, and even the Trump team signaled that they thought there’s going to be problems with this mail-in voting, and we’ve never done this in American history where there’s been such a huge degree.
You think about here in modern times where we have seen this enormous amount of mail-in votes. Some states have done it better than others because they’ve had experience at it, but there’s a lot of states for which this is new territory. That’s why the Supreme Court may get involved just for the whole issue too. There’s so many different things.
I think the American public has had so many questions about just the whole process in general. But that particular case is very interesting. Again, the question is, how many votes would that have changed? How many votes did that individual do? Can we prove that an individual is telling the truth? Is there something to back up that individual’s statements? Are there other individuals that could come forward?
Where I think some of these things could go, it could turn out to be where there’s a whole bunch of individual cases of fraud. Is there any doubt in my mind that there has been fraud in the system just in general in the election process and that’s probably been going on for decades? I’m sure there has.
We’ve always heard of these stories. As a journalist, we always hear of these stories of somebody who’s been dead, or somebody who definitely didn’t live in the state, or whatever the case was, or filled it in. The question is were these individuals, first of all? And if there is a case, whether it’s even one individual, they should absolutely be prosecuted to the fullest.
This will be an opportunity now that we know that Bill Barr has instructed the Department of Justice to look into it. They should absolutely throw the book at any individual or organization. That’s where there’s two different levels here, whether it’s an individual who committed a crime, or whether it turns out that they were asked by some organization or some group.
And that’s where it gets into these interesting areas because some people are saying, “Oh, there’s just this one case, there’s just one case.” That may very well turn out [to be], at the end of the day, where it’s isolated to a couple of people who are instructed by an individual saying that their supervisor asked them to back data, or these allegations of these different things, or I filled out my dead grandmother’s ballot.
They should go after these individuals to the fullest to set examples of them, I think every single one of them, because we cannot have inequities and fraud in our system. The question is, again, is it enough to turn it?
But where it gets interesting, and as someone who’s also covered so many criminal cases through the years, Jan, sometimes you start with one particular individual or a few different individuals in different places, and how interesting is it often that we see in criminal cases where finally you say, “Bob, we’ve got your signature here, and this looks an awful lot like your signature on your dead grandmother’s ballot. Who in the household signed this? Bob, we’ve got your signature, we’re about to throw you in jail for 10 years of fraud, and it’s a federal crime. These are serious things.”
Suddenly, if there is a greater effort behind it rather than individuals having their only preconceived notion and trying to cheat the system, if there is something, sometimes you can get to the next level, and we often see this in cases where it looks like it’s one or two individuals and guess what?
When suddenly, they realized that they could be facing some serious time and this is nothing to mess with, when you’re messing in especially a federal election, maybe if there is something greater behind this and some of these allegations are widespread, or somebody helped them to do it, or was part of an organization, some effort that somebody got paid to do certain things, “This guy came to my house, and he said he had 5000 other signatures like that.”
I’m just making this up obviously at this point but I’m just hypothetical, that it turns into something beyond just individuals and their own personal cheating scandals. You never know where this could lead.
So I think it’s a really interesting avenue right now where the Department of Justice will be looking into it and whatever the Trump team uncovers, whether enough to change the election in Pennsylvania or in some of these other states.
By the way, if it turns out that there was some sort of fraud, it might even help other candidates on the state level as well. There’s so many different things that could come out. The election system has never sort of been under the microscope like this to such a degree. So we’ll see what happens and what gets uncovered, and beyond even what happens in this particular election, there may be something that turns out of this, that changes the whole process for the future.
Also, Jan, I feel very strongly. My history, as you know, my father was a freedom fighter in Poland. My father went through very difficult times when the Germans invaded, and then of course, the communists took over. I speak now as an American too, not just as a journalist, but all Americans have to feel good about the election process.
We can’t be a third world country. We have to be a first rate nation that believes in the process, that believes it’s free, that believes it’s fair, no matter who the outcome. But the American public has to feel good that the integrity of our election process is done fairly, that it’s not an authoritarian process that’s behind closed doors, and because this particular election was such an unusual one.
As someone who’s covered elections for so many decades now, Jan, I think back, I’ve never seen where suddenly there were such huge dramatic swings in so many states, and some votes were stopped, voting count was stopped in the dead of night, and then there was such a huge dramatic change.
Of course, the Democrats will say that was because the mail-in votes, and many of those mail-in votes, of course, as we know, substantially did go for Joe Biden. But it was a very, very unusual election because of the coronavirus and everything that we’re going through. If there’s ever a time to put it under the microscope, I think it’s a really interesting time, and there could be some huge changes that come out that give everybody a sense of assurance that the process is fair for all sides.
Mr. Jekielek: We also saw that, in a sense, the Democrats and the Biden campaign seem to be moving on. You see Joe Biden with President-elect banners. I saw an article in The New York Times, we could talk about the media in a moment after this, basically saying how Joe Biden won the election, and then of course, there’s a lot of people saying this was premature. I’m remembering this very iconic photo of President Truman holding up the [Chicago Daily Tribune] front page saying, [“Dewey Defeats Truman,”]. Is it premature to be calling this election both for the Biden campaign and for the media? That’s the question.
Ms. Cosby: Of course, who could forget the [“Dewey Defeats Truman,”] that famous headline. I think it’s interesting because the shoe was on the other foot, as we saw in 2000. There was no question. If you look back, and as someone who lived through all of that and covered it intimately, there is no question that the Democrats at that moment were saying, “No, this is not a fair election.”
Gore conceded and then withdrew his concession, and we’re saying there needs to be a free election, there needs to be a fair election, questions of corruption left and right. So now, when I see the Democrats saying, “Oh, well, let’s move on. This is ridiculous,” basically, this is, “How dare you allege fraud. Give me a break,” because definitely when the shoe was on the other foot, the Democrats were going full throttle.
I also see, prior to even President Trump, when he even took office, I covered so much of the election in 2016, I was there at the inauguration too, and I remember on Inauguration Day, there were Democrats saying he’s an “illegitimate president.” There were always these allegations on the other side.
So I always laugh when I hear the Democrats saying, “Let’s move on,” and “Let’s do this,” and “Let’s have unity,” and “Don’t worry about the votes. C’mon, let’s keep going,” because believe me, if the shoe was on the other foot and you just switch the names out, believe me, if Biden were in this situation, they would be raising holy heck. There is no doubt in my mind.
You even heard Hillary Clinton prior to this election was saying, “Under no circumstances should Joe Biden concede,” this even before election day. So it’s very unrealistic for one side to be saying, “This is ridiculous. Let’s move on.” So I think that everybody has to have a sense that the process is fair, and it should go on both sides.
But I think a lot of people are doing some soul searching and especially a lot of, particularly, pollsters because sometimes a number of media organizations did seem more anxious to call things, I did feel, for Biden than for President Trump, but there was some that called it early that was a favorable one way or the other.
I speak about that, again, as an American. I’m a registered independent. So I’m a big believer that the process should be independent of politics because I think the American people need to feel good about where the process is going.
I do think, obviously, there’s a lot of politics involved and certainly, I do believe, had President Trump had the shoe but on the other foot right now, President Trump would move far ahead, would keep going, continue with everything that he’s doing in the White House, and act [like] all these are just lawsuits, they can try whatever they want, they can do it. So it absolutely is politics.
Do I think, though, this is a unique moment? For sure, because of all the mail-in votes and because of the way that this election just suddenly changed. You could just see it even in the media coverage as the night was going on, and even as the races were being called, and who was calling the races versus some who were not calling the races.
This was such an unusual time during the pandemic and so many factors that have never come in, this certainly created a breeding ground for some people, at least at minimum, individuals to take advantage of the system, and the mail-in ballot different standards, and the other thing too that’s very fascinating is that different standards of verification.
I voted in New York, and they didn’t ask me for ID. I signed it in two seconds. I remember thinking, “That was way too easy.” Could they even read that signature? The person next to me, I looked at their signature, I couldn’t read their signature. I remember walking away thinking, “That was a little easy and that was in person.” I voted in person.
When you see these different layers and different standards, imagine much more lax when you’re sending it in. You’re not watching the person sign, and in some states, they allow for the ballot harvesting. There’s a lot of these layers here.
To answer your question, Jan, on the media, I think even prior to the media, if you look at just a number of the polls that happened, boy, were the polls wrong. Boy, were the polls so off and so inconsistent with the sentiment of the American people. That’s why I say, wherever this process now goes, you have 71 million people in this country who are saying, “What happened?”
And maybe even some Democrats privately saying, “What happened?” Maybe they wouldn’t say it publicly but going, “That was an interesting election. What happened in the middle of the night or what happened?” So I think that it’s important to make sure we get it right, not just for this election but for future elections.
It was interesting to watch how sometimes within an hour or two, there are different calls. There’s such a competitive nature but there’s also a nature, obviously, to make sure, first and foremost, you get it right. The stakes are so high, but I’ve never seen where it was such a division of, one day, one is calling, and the others, some didn’t call for days, as we know.
But sometimes they based it on the polling that they get too as well. I think the whole system of evaluating votes is so far off and sometimes you can only do the best with what the information is you’re getting and what the pollsters are telling, what the trends are telling you.
I think what we learned a lot in this particular election, and I always felt the polls were off in this election prior to even the election. I really always thought no matter where it was going to go that it was going to be really tight. I did not predict it was going to be like switching such dramatic wild swings but I always thought that it was going to be a very tight, not like a quick landslide, election.
People were asking me prior to [the election], even on November 3, “Do you think it’ll be called on November 3?” and I said, “I don’t know. I don’t think so.” I thought it would be a tight one either way but I definitely did not think it was going to be a Joe Biden landslide as the polls were saying days before.
Mr. Jekielek: Rita, this reminds me of a note that a viewer wrote to us. We’ve actually been inviting our viewers to actually write into us if they have seen or heard of any evidence of voter fraud or some irregularities in voting. We’re actually inviting all viewers to write to [email protected].
So one of our viewers wrote in and actually described a situation she was aware of where someone that was actually underage, ineligible to vote, was offered a ballot or her parent was actually offered a ballot. I have a quick question. The Attorney General William Barr getting involved basically saying now that there are credible allegations of fraud, does that change the equation? Previously, the response to the allegations and the suits were, “This is conspiracy theory. This is untrue. It’s clear.” Does Bill Barr being involved change the equation?
Ms. Cosby: I think it does. If you talk to the Democrats, they’ll say no, they’ll just kind of continue on the path that you just talked about before, Jan, talking about the transition proceeding as the President-elect. So proceeding in that format, you’ll see that the Biden team will try to ignore, I’m sure, almost everything that they can, or challenge whatever they can along the way too as well.
But I think it does change from a legal perspective, and what it says is that we are at least going to look at these allegations seriously, and that Bill Barr himself believes [in] looking at the evidence.
Again, we don’t know if it’s a series of isolated incidents like you talked about, or somebody saying, “My underage daughter,” or “My dead grandmother,” or any of these things, if it’s a whole bunch of those things that they’re looking at, or if what he uncovers will create a systematic rippling effect which needs to take place for something to happen in this particular case, for something to change the process for the president to remain the president after January 20. So that’s where the question is.
But I do think it changes from a legal perspective because Bill Barr, and of course you’ll hear Democrats and everybody say different things, but he will look at things. I think if he felt that it’s just a few very small things or it’s something like that, he may not look at it. Or he might say, “I’m going to look at it quickly,” or whatever. But the fact that it’s come out and it was a fairly substantial release and statement that this is taking place now, shows that he thinks there’s at least something credible and something serious there.
What it also signals, what we talked about a little bit ago, is that when he finds people that are individuals that committed it, it shows that this is not just Donald Trump’s legal team saying that there’s something here. This says that the Department of Justice is suddenly knocking on your door and saying, “We found out that you sign this,” or talking to the worker who you mentioned, who says that he was asked to change the date so they came in earlier, those ballots and those things.
Suddenly, the top law enforcement officials are representing the American people knocking on your door and saying, “Here is the time that you could face. You realize that election fraud is a very serious offense,” and it shows that it is rising to the level of that.
And that will probably put some pressure on individuals to either admit to what happened, to cooperate if there is something else there beyond their own, or in the case of the worker who says, “I changed the dates,” who asked you to put it in? When did they ask you? Give me the names of all those people. It’s time to cooperate, it’s time to tell me, do you know of other colleagues who were asked to do the same ones?”
They can also subpoena videos. They can ask for a whole bunch of other things so it actually gives a lot more weight to the investigation and it gives a lot more weight to the enforcement, and it’s the right thing, actually, to do, because I think it’s important that we look at all these cases. Again, let’s see where it goes.
Of course, if you listen to Rudy Giuliani and you listen to a number of the attorneys on the Trump legal team right now, they say that they have found a number of things that are quite significant. They’ve talked even about a whole bunch of individuals but they’ve also talked about some big number of votes that they believe [are invalid].
And one of the things that I was hearing: even attorney Sidney Powell, who of course was working with General Michael Flynn, brought up an allegation, I think it’s well over 100,000 votes at least, where she says that only Joe Biden was filled out, that none of the other down ballot, or senatorial races, or house seats, or any of those were filled out in a whole bunch of ballots. That could be the case that is legitimate but it does sound kind of interesting.
If I’m on the Trump legal team, I’d go, “That’s an interesting group. Did they all suddenly come in at once? What was the timing of all those?” There’s still a lot of unanswered questions but when you suddenly have the Department of Justice stepping in, they have a big reach, they have a lot of agents out there, and they do take election fraud very seriously.
So there’s some, I think, really fascinating avenues that, again, we’ll see if it rises to the level of where it can change the election, but it may change the way we vote in the future. There may be some interesting things that come up that have never really been looked into in the electorate, and as we heard even from the Senate Majority Leader, we heard from Mitch McConnell recently where he said, “President Trump has the right to look into it and he should look into it.” I think it’s important that everybody feels good about this process, or at least the best they can, or at least it’s been investigated to the best of everybody’s ability.
It’s much easier if you can get, obviously, all these things and as soon as possible, from the Trump team perspective, and certainly Barr’s team will try to do the same, but they’re not up against the same clock. They don’t have technically the same objective.
What’s interesting too, Jan, the date with the Barr investigation with the DOJ, their objective is to look into the processes and to look into the steps. There is not necessarily a deadline for their investigation, so that also needs to be kept in mind. Of course, the Trump team is looking at the clock and looking at, of course, when the electors [vote], all the different steps that take place in December, and for it to be certified, and all these things.
Their objective is to look at the election process in general, and the Trump team, of course, is up against the clock trying to get it in as soon as possible, obviously, before some of these things are certified, and before some of these steps happen, and certainly before Inauguration Day, but obviously all those different dates in December that are so key for them. Barr’s team could be looking at this, of course, as long as they’re in the position to do that.
Mr. Jekielek: Rita, I want to switch gears ever so slightly because you did mention General Flynn, of course. I saw something really interesting today. I saw that a former, I believe, NSC [National Security Council ] staffer, Ben Rhodes, on a TV program talking about how someone from the Biden transition team, presumably, has been speaking with, or perhaps even Joe Biden himself, speaking with foreign leaders about the future, so to speak. It just struck me as this is something like what General Flynn actually was prosecuted for under the Logan Act. Any thoughts on this, Rita?
Ms. Cosby: It’s an interesting question, because I’ve heard some of the same things too that, of course, already a number of Republicans have even brought in like, “Wait a minute. Is there sort of hypocrisy here?” Of course, remember the other allegations were that he did not, and as he’s even said, he did not make correct statements to the FBI and a number of other things along the way. But you’re right, that’s where the thing started.
If you look at all of the things that happened leading up to the whole efforts that happened as soon as President Trump had won in 2016, not just obviously what happened to General Flynn and this quick targeting of General Flynn, and this quick targeting of so many other individuals tied to the soon-to-be Trump administration at that point in their transitional moments, but you’re right—they were looking for anything they could find.
They were looking for obviously anything during the campaign trail, but as soon as he won on election day, there were people who were saying that it was illegitimate. There were people who were trying to discredit all the people who would be in his cabinet. There were so many of these layers and so many of those things, and General Flynn was the prime case of it.
If you look at where it’s going now, the allegations, again, of Ben Rhodes talking, but there were also the the stories of, remember, Secretary Kerry also having those discussions with other individuals. That’s why there’s so much politics involved here.
Again, there’s so much going on at this time that I think there’s such a focus on the election itself, that I don’t know how much more focus will go into the Logan Act and some of those things, but it certainly provides some grounds and some interesting things for Sidney Powell, his attorney who’s representing him to be able to say, “Wait a minute. Look how he was targeted at this time. Look at all these other things that have come about since then, how the case still has this continuing even though the DOJ was looking into it, and there’s been so many twists and turns in that case from the very, very beginning.”
But it certainly gives something else for Sidney Powell to be able to say, “Wait a minute. Look at what we’re hearing about with Ben Rhodes,” and there may be other individuals between now and Inauguration Day as well too. It would certainly be something that she can present also in his case.
Mr. Jekielek: Rita, of the different allegations that you’ve seen, and there are multiple states in play, there are three lawsuits that I know that have been accepted that are in play in different states. Which are the ones that you see most likely to have some sort of systemic element? I guess that that’s my question.
Ms. Cosby: That’s a great question. I think some of it goes to this issue of allowing the dates to extend, how long the counting is. So that’s why the Pennsylvania one is kind of interesting. Obviously, we’re talking about, can the court override the legislature in that particular case, but it could open the door to whether those ballots [are] allowed after the polls have closed. The ones that have come in the mail-in ones, would they be allowed?
It could set a standard if it goes in the Trump team’s favor. If it does get to the Supreme Court—again, we don’t know, but if it does—it could maybe set a standard that could be looked at or that they would use for other locations as well. The other thing too is will there be some recount? We’re waiting to see where some of these other states—but you look at Georgia and you look at a number of these other locations where there could be some recounts conceivably.
It has to be pretty high standards for it to be a recount. It has to be very close, obviously, but let’s look and see where some of the numbers bear out. That might also put some of these things under the microscope. But if it turns out that some things were done inappropriately or there was a computer glitch, that’s the other thing too. We’ve been hearing these stories of a computer glitch, again, right now, we don’t know. It’s just allegations at this point.
As we know, quite a bit of votes that were supposed to be in a Republican leaning county, that was supposed to originally go for one candidate, went instead for the Democrat. And then it turns out, I’ve been hearing stories: one person saying that it was computer error, one was that it was human error. If it turns out that there’s something of that nature, that could open the door because that’s a systemic thing.
Again, that’s a big if. We don’t know if there’s any proof of that at this point but if that opens up the door. When I heard the idea of a computer glitch or something like that because that was a system that’s in a number of states apparently, and certainly in a number of counties in Michigan. Again, we don’t know if it was just a human error—it was a very isolated case—then that would not have any bearing, but it’s still early, and that’s what I tell people too.
It’s interesting because you look right now, it has not been that long since Election Day. I’m sure it’s been many long days since Election Day for the Trump team in particular, but it hasn’t been that many days, and it hasn’t been that long since the media announced that Vice President Biden is going to be the President-elect, again, when the media called it. Again, it has not been certified yet. There’s all these different steps, but there’s still some time for them to discover and see where some of these tentacles lead.
If I were the Trump team, I would get so many different attorneys, the best you can find, and have them track down. But now they also have the effort of the DOJ and the federal government looking into it because again, whether that person violated, whether it’s a Republican or Democrat on the vote, it’s still fraud. If somebody individually did fraud, it could lead to some really interesting avenues that could shine a huge light on the whole election process. There may just be so many things that come out of this.
Whether it changes the process or not, we don’t know, but my gut tells me that at some point, it probably will go to the Supreme Court in some form, from one of the states. I think that there’s a good chance it could come from Pennsylvania. Again, it’s a big “if.” But it’s not that big of an “if” if you look at Alito coming down and making the decision, you look at the history of this particular aspect, that aspect.
But the Trump team is also going to be working in many different directions. They could be seeing multiple cases before this is all done, because even though the highest court of the land is reluctant to get involved, they did get involved in 2000 as we know. If you look in this particular case, there’s some interesting constitutional issues and it could open the door to possibly other states too as well, and that’s where the floodgates could open up.
Mr. Jekielek: Rita, any final thoughts before we finish up?
Ms. Cosby: Yes. I just think, pray for America, Jan. This is such a crazy time but I think there could be a lot of twists and turns in the next few weeks. I do think that I would much rather be in the position, of course, of Joe Biden because if you look at all the electoral votes that he has right now and being called, of course, the winner from the media, he’s certainly in a greater position of strength.
It’s a very high bar for the Trump team to be able to change after the media has come out and after you look at the vote so far. But if you look at history too, and you brought up the Dewey-Truman time, you also go all the way back to the 1800s with Hayes, and that went on, and on, and on. So there could be a lot of twists and turns between now and then, and who knows what’s going to come up.
We don’t know, and I think the American public and the 71 million Americans who voted for Trump have to feel good about the process, and the American public needs to be behind a free and fair election wherever it goes at the end of the day.
Mr. Jekielek: Rita Cosby, so great to have you on.
Ms. Cosby: Great to be with you, Jan.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.