January 12, 2021

Trump campaign drops election lawsuit nearly 70 days after election day

Donald Trump’s campaign dropped a lawsuit over the use of ballot drop boxes in New Mexico’s elections—part of the campaign’s nationwide, unsuccessful efforts to overturn election results after he lost his reelection bid. 

The campaign filed the lawsuit in mid-December, weeks after the election and after the state had certified its election results and the same day New Mexico’s electors cast their ballots for Democrat Joe Biden.

The lawsuit centered on the legality of ballot dropboxes for absentee ballots, and echoed a lawsuit filed in state court by the party. The party withdrew that lawsuit ahead of the election after it said the party came to a “consensual resolution” with the Secretary of State.

Like the other lawsuits, dozens of which the campaign had dismissed or lost, the lawsuit was aimed at overturning election results. But unlike in some states with relatively close margins of victory for Joe Biden, Trump lost the election in New Mexico by nearly 100,000 votes and over 11 percentage points.

The dismissal came days after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, with many calling for the death of Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Five people died during the attack, including a police officer. A second police officer who was on duty during the attack died by suicide.

Democrats have started impeachment proceedings against Trump and are scheduled to vote on Wednesday. The articles of impeachment charge Trump with “incitement of insurrection.”

The articles of impeachment say the outgoing president for months “issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials.”

Then, on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 6, Trump gave a speech where the articles say he incited members of the crowd to interfere in the counting and certification of electoral votes.

The Republican Party of New Mexico criticized the impeachment effort in a statement Monday, saying “This kind of rhetoric and action by lawmakers in Washington only pours more fuel on the political fires raging across the nation.”

The party spent the months since the election disputing the results, with the party’s chairman, former U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, even tweeting (then deleting) that Trump would “be our president FOREVER.”

U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell used similar language and told KRQE-TV, “I don’t believe invoking the 25th or even going through a second impeachment is really healthy for the nation, and I think that it still puts fuel on the fire so I’m not in favor of that.”

On Wednesday, Herrell voted against the certification of the results of the elections in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

The Trump campaign had also filed an open records lawsuit.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver welcomed the end of the lawsuit and said she was “pleased that they have sought to withdraw their frivolous lawsuit.”

She also said the facts of the suit show that it was always headed towards this result.

“As no new facts have come to light since they filed this lawsuit and records requests, except the anti-democratic horror show that played out as the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, this withdrawal suggests that the Trump campaign knew from the very beginning that their lawsuit was baseless and that it was simply a political show,” Toulouse Oliver said. “Let me be clear: New Mexican election officials ran one of the safest and most secure elections in our state’s history and yet this lawsuit attempted to throw out the votes of every New Mexico voter who cast a lawful ballot last November.”

Attorney General Hector Balderas called the lawsuit “dangerous.”

“This dangerous lawsuit was a lost cause from the beginning, but Republican leaders should put safety first and admit their loyalty is to Donald Trump over New Mexico and the United States; and I am still demanding that they step up and admit that the lies they continue to spread resulted in the deaths of civilians and law enforcement in a violent attack on our democracy,” Balderas said.

Balderas had earlier called on the party to drop the lawsuit.

Even after the attack by the mob, which caused members of Congress and Pence to go into hiding, some Republicans objected to the certification of the results in two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Most House Republicans voted to uphold the challenge, including freshman U.S. Herrell from New Mexico. But all Democrats voted against this, defeating the proposal. 

A large majority of Senators, in both parties, voted against both objections.

Federal officials have since arrested dozens of people allegedly involved in the riot, many who were caught on camera (sometimes taken by themselves and posted on social media).

The Republican Party of New Mexico did not respond to a request for comment on the dismissal of the lawsuit.

But a day before the Trump campaign dropped the legal challenge, the party vowed to continue the suit, writing on Twitter, “We double-down on our support for the lawsuit.”