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'Seditious abuse of judicial process': States fire back at Texas' Supreme Court election challenge

Meanwhile, Biden named his choices for several top administration spots, including Susan Rice as domestic policy adviser and Denis McDonough as VA secretary.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump at a campaign event for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Valdosta, Ga., on Saturday.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file

WASHINGTON — More than two dozen states filed motions with the Supreme Court on Thursday opposing Texas' bid to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden's wins in four battleground states, a long-shot legal move that Pennsylvania blasted as a "seditious abuse of the judicial process."

"Overturning Pennsylvania’s election results is contrary to any metric of fairness and would do nothing less than deny the fundamental right to vote to millions of Pennsylvania’s citizens," the state's Democratic attorney general, Josh Shapiro, wrote in response to Texas GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton's bid to toss out the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan.

Shapiro's filing said, "Nothing in the text, history, or structure of the Constitution supports Texas’s view that it can dictate the manner in which four other states run their elections.

"Nor is that view grounded in any precedent from this court. Texas does not seek to have the court interpret the Constitution, so much as disregard it," the filing continued, urging the court to "send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated.”

The Democratic attorney general of Michigan, Dana Nessel, noted in her filing that the claims in Texas' suit have already "been rejected in the federal and state courts in Michigan" and said the Supreme Court should follow suit or else find itself "the arbiter of all future national elections."

Wisconsin pointed to Texas' argument that the Supreme Court's "intervention is necessary to ensure faith in the election."

"But it is hard to imagine what could possibly undermine faith in democracy more than this court permitting one state to enlist the court in its attempt to overturn the election results in other states," said the state's Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul.

The response from Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, called Texas' action an "attack on Georgia’s sovereignty" that should be dismissed outright.

A coalition of 23 Democratic states and territories also submitted a brief opposing Texas' bid, as did the Republican attorney general of Ohio, Dave Yost, who argued that what Texas was seeking "would undermine a foundational premise of our federalist system: the idea that the States are sovereigns, free to govern themselves."

President Donald Trump met with several state attorneys general backing Texas' unprecedented legal bid at the White House — a move he sought to join Wednesday. The lunch with the attorneys general in the Cabinet Room, which was closed to the media, came a day after Republican attorneys general from 17 states filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Texas lawsuit.

The Texas lawsuit alleges that the four states changed voting rules without their legislatures' express approval ahead of the election, and it makes many of the same claims that have already been dismissed in numerous court challenges as Trump has tried to cling to power.

If the Supreme Court decides to act, it would need to do so soon — electors will officially cast their votes for president and vice president Monday.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., reached out to his GOP colleagues Wednesday on Trump's behalf, as well, asking them to support the lawsuit in an email with the subject line "Time-sensitive request from President Trump.”

“President Trump called me this morning to express his great appreciation for our effort to file an amicus brief in the Texas case on behalf of concerned Members of Congress," Johnson wrote in the email, which was obtained by NBC News and confirmed by Johnson's office.

"He specifically asked me to contact all Republican Members of the House and Senate today and request that all join on to our brief," he continued. "He said he will be anxiously awaiting the final list to review."

His filing with the high court Thursday listed the names of 106 Republican members of Congress.

On Thursday evening, Trump is expected to deliver remarks at a congressional ball being held at the White House.

  • Biden announced Thursday that Susan Rice will head his Domestic Policy Council and that Denis McDonough will serve as his secretary of veterans affairs. Rice was President Barack Obama's national security adviser and ambassador to the United Nations. McDonough was Obama's chief of staff and, before that, his deputy national security adviser.
  • Biden also announced that Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack would reprise that role and that Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, would be his housing secretary, as NBC News previously reported.
  • Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff, is joining the Georgetown University law school faculty in January as a "distinguished visitor from practice," the law school announced Thursday. Emhoff, an entertainment lawyer, will draw on his expertise to teach related coursework, starting with entertainment law disputes in the spring semester, the school said. In addition, as a distinguished fellow at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy, Emhoff will take part in "a new entertainment and media law initiative that will include a speaker series and other projects," the school said.
  • Biden announced that Katherine Tai would be his U.S. trade representative. Tai, who has been the top trade lawyer for the House Ways and Means Committee since 2017, is the chief adviser to House Democrats on international trade issues. She led China trade enforcement at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 2011 to 2014.
  • Biden will travel to Georgia on Tuesday to rally support for Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock ahead of the state’s Jan. 5 runoff elections.
  • Hunter Biden revealed Wednesday that federal officials in Delaware are investigating his taxes. Investigators are looking at his business dealings in China, a source familiar with the investigation confirmed, adding that the inquiry began in 2018, when Jeff Sessions was attorney general.
  • John Kerry wants to strengthen the Paris climate accord, which he helped write, suggesting a pivot for U.S. policy when he becomes the country’s climate czar in January. “It has to be stronger,” he told NBC News’ Geoff Bennett in an exclusive interview Wednesday, stressing that the multinational deal was always intended to be a first step.
  • More than 200 people attended a “Holiday Cheer” reception hosted by the State Department on Tuesday night at Blair House, the presidential guest house, a U.S. official said. The Covid-19 guidance for Washington, D.C., is that indoor gatherings may not exceed 10 people.

Biden and Harris separately received the presidential daily briefing Thursday and were meeting with their transition advisers.

Harris also is meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for the first time Thursday, a congressional aide said, joining lawmakers at one of the group's weekly meetings, which take place virtually.

Geoff Bennett, Josh Lederman, Haley Talbot, Deepa Shivaram and Pete Williams contributed.