‘An embarrassment’: Trump ally fed up
One of Donald Trump's oldest political allies has labelled his legal team's efforts to overturn the election result a "national embarrassment", and urged the President to concede.
Chris Christie, a former prosecutor and governor of New Jersey, was the first mainstream Republican politician to endorse Mr Trump during his longshot 2016 campaign.
His decision came as a surprise to pretty much everyone. And it gave Mr Trump, then known as a reality TV host and real estate developer, a welcome boost in credibility at a time when the party establishment was still trying to stop him from winning the nomination.
Mr Christie also nuked his own career in the process, alienating his constituents in the Democratic-leaning state of New Jersey.
In the subsequent months, he was reportedly on Mr Trump's shortlist of potential vice presidents, but that job eventually went to Mike Pence.
And following Mr Trump's victory over Hillary Clinton, Mr Christie initially led the president-elect's transition team.
We're not talking about an anti-Trump Republican here.
Today Mr Christie appeared on This Week, one of the US networks' Sunday panel shows. As a former prosecutor, he was mainly there to discuss the President's legal efforts.
I need to give you a bit more context before we jump into Mr Christie's comments.
His appearance came the day after a federal court in Pennsylvania dismissed the Trump campaign's biggest remaining post-election lawsuit.
Mr Trump's legal team, led by Rudy Giuliani, was attempting to stop the certification of Pennsylvania's election results. Judge Matthew Brann issued a scathing judgment, concluding the campaign's arguments were "without merit".
"Plaintiffs ask this court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters," he said.
"This court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated.
"One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.
"That has not happened. Instead, this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.
"In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more."
Pennsylvania's Republican Senator Pat Toomey responded to the ruling by saying Mr Trump had "exhausted all plausible legal options" to overturn Joe Biden's lead in the state.
"With today's decision by Judge Matthew Brann, a longtime conservative Republican whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist, to dismiss the Trump campaign's lawsuit, President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania," said Mr Toomey.
"I congratulate president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris on their victory.
"Make no mistake about it, I am deeply disappointed that President Trump and Vice President Pence were not re-elected. I endorsed the President and I voted for him.
"President Trump should accept the outcome of the election and facilitate the presidential transition process."
I'm giving you that rather long preamble because ABC host George Stephanopoulos referred to Mr Toomey's statement in his first question to Mr Christie.
"There have now been 34 court cases the President has lost. We saw Pennsylvania last night. We saw Pat Toomey, the Senator from Pennsylvania, say it's time for the President to enable this transition, it's time for the President to concede," Stephanopoulos said.
"The President's response was to attack Pat Toomey on Twitter. Is it finally time for this to end?"
Thanks Mark. It’s all a continuation of the never ending Witch Hunt. Judge Brann, who would not even allow us to present our case or evidence, is a product of Senator Pat “No Tariffs” Toomey of Pennsylvania, no friend of mine, & Obama - No wonder. 900,000 Fraudulent Votes! https://t.co/17rk2KsUPs— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2020
"Yes," Mr Christie said.
"And here's the reason why. The President has had an opportunity to access the courts. And I said to you (right after the election) George, if you've got the evidence of fraud, present it.
"And what's happened here is, quite frankly, the content that the President's legal team has presented has been a national embarrassment.
"Sidney Powell accusing (Georgia Governor) Brian Kemp of a crime on television, yet being unwilling to go on TV and defend and lay out the evidence that she supposedly has."
In an interview with the right-wing network Newsmax over the weekend, Ms Powell - one of Mr Trump's lawyers - claimed Mr Kemp and his fellow Republican, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had taken money in return for letting Dominion, the company behind the electronic voting system in some of Georgia's counties, rig the election.
You can read more about Ms Powell's debunked Dominion conspiracy theory in our broader summary of the campaign's various fraud claims.
Mr Kemp and Mr Raffensperger have drawn the President's ire, even though both of them hail from his own party, because they've both vouched for the election result in Georgia and certified Mr Biden's victory there.
The state completed a full recount by hand and discovered no evidence of fraud, nor any proof that Dominion's system had changed a single person's vote from Mr Trump to Mr Biden. That recount confirmed Mr Biden had won the state by about 12,000 votes.
Anyway, Ms Powell didn't provide any evidence to back up her accusations, but did promise it was on its way any day now.
"We've got tons of evidence. It's so much, it's hard to pull it all together," she said.
"Hopefully, this week we will get it ready to file, and it will be biblical."
"This is outrageous conduct by any lawyer," Mr Christie said of Ms Powell.
"And notice, George, they won't do it inside the courtroom. They allege fraud outside the courtroom, but when they go inside the courtroom, they don't plead fraud and they don't argue fraud.
"Listen, I've been a supporter of the President's. I voted for him twice. But elections have consequences, and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn't happen.
"You have an obligation to present the evidence. The evidence has not been presented. And you must conclude that if you're unwilling to come forward and present the evidence, it must mean the evidence doesn't exist.
"The country is what has to matter the most. As much as I'm a strong Republican and I love my party, it's the country that has to come first."
Originally published as 'An embarrassment': Trump ally fed up