The Biden campaign has brought in an army of lawyers, including former President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, in anticipation of a brawl in the courts with the Trump campaign over the “unique challenges” that voting in 2020 entails.
The New York Times reported on Monday that “hundreds of lawyers”—including Holder, two U.S. solicitors general from the Clinton and Obama presidencies, the former general counsel for Obama’s campaigns and the DNC law firm Perkins Coie that has been on the front lines of various voting-related cases—have joined Joe Biden’s so-called “special litigation” unit.
It’s unclear what truly lies ahead in the debut season of Law & Order: Special Litigation Unit, but based on what we have seen so far we can surmise that Trump campaign challenges to vote-by-mail expansion and vote counting methodology will be a feature rather than a bug. The Trump campaign has filed suit in multiple states over vote-by-mail expansion, which, it says, invites “fraud” to benefit the Biden campaign. But vote-by-mail itself is far from the only issue that may arise in the coming weeks and months.
A federal judge in Georgia recently gave voters extra time to return absentee ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic, reasoning that the “risk of disenfranchisement is great.” Expect this, and any other extensions of time like it, to be challenged in court.
Then there is the issue of the election itself and the rhetoric surrounding its legitimacy.
The Trump campaign and Attorney General Bill Barr have argued against universal mail-in voting, saying that logic suggests the vote could be manipulated both domestically and by foreign bad actors. Barr even cited a false example of ballot fraud on CNN to make his case. The Biden campaign may argue, on the other hand, that the Trump campaign is sowing distrust in the legitimacy and accuracy of the eventual 2020 election both in order to suppress the vote and as a pretext to any potential challenge over which votes should and should not be counted. Will we see a 2020 version of the Brooks Brothers Riot?
The DOJ has stepped in, in at least one instance, to support Alabama’s witness requirements for absentee ballots. On the other side, there have been multiple lawsuits over the changes made at the Post Office in the lead-up to the election.
We have even seen Kanye West booted from state ballots after challenges led by Perkins Coie and Mark Elias, one of the lawyers working for the Biden campaign.
It is against this bizarre backdrop that Biden’s campaign has ramped up its legal operation, which Dana Remus is heading. Remus is a Yale-educated lawyer, law professor and general counsel at the Obama foundation. Obama was actually the officiant at Remus’s wedding.
Remus told the Times that the goal for 2020 is to have a “free and fair election” with results that can be trusted. Former Obama White House counsel Bob Bauer, a senior adviser on the campaign, said that the Biden legal team, due to the “unique challenges” of this year, will be “far more sophisticated and resourced” than other campaigns.
To the end, the campaign has added Obama-era U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Bill Clinton-era acting U.S. Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, along with hundreds of other lawyers, to the fold. The Times described Eric Holder’s involvement as “something of a liaison between the campaign and the many independent groups involved in the legal fight over the election, which is already raging in the courts.”
[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
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