By Delphine Luneau | The Center Square
Media reports Wednesday morning indicate that President Donald Trump might accompany his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to a hearing of the Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee in Gettysburg.
A CNN report, citing “two sources familiar with the plans,” said the president’s attendance was not guaranteed and that the current travel plans could change.
The hearing, set to take place starting at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Wyndham Gettysburg, was organized by the committee’s chairman, state Sen. David Argall, R-Mahanoy City, at the request of state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Chambersburg.
The topic of the hearing is one that has consumed Trump’s and Giuliani’s attention in the weeks since the Nov. 3 election – accusations of irregularities in the vote count. Trump and his campaign allege that the widely declared victory of presumed President-elect Joe Biden was the result of widespread voting fraud.
Pennsylvania has become a flashpoint in Trump’s legal efforts to hold onto the presidency. His legal team, led by Giuliani, has alleged that the mail-in ballots that provided Biden his more than 80,000-vote margin of victory should be thrown out. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected those arguments, as did a federal judge.
The case brought before the federal judge has been appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting permission to amend and refile the case.
The Majority Policy Committee operates somewhat like a typical legislative committee, holding hearings and calling witnesses to testify. But it is a purely partisan body made up solely of Republicans – just like its equivalent on the Democratic side, the Minority Policy Committee. The policy committees also do not have any role in voting on or advancing specific pieces of legislation.
Trump has endorsed a strategy that would see state lawmakers in key states vote to throw out the results in the presidential race Nov. 3 and instead pick their own slate of electors. Pennsylvania, with 20 electoral votes, is the largest prize of the states targeted by the effort, though it alone is not sufficient to bring him victory. According to unofficial tallies, Biden leads in the race for electoral votes 306-232, well above the 270-vote threshold needed to clinch the presidency.
Trump met Nov. 20 with the Republican leaders of the Michigan Legislature at the White House, a meeting that critics described as an attempt to sway lawmakers there into throwing the state to his candidacy. Thus far, however, there is no indication that Pennsylvania’s Republican legislative leaders have any plans to make a similar visit with the president.
Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff have both insisted repeatedly that they do not see the Legislature getting involved in deciding this year’s presidential election, although they have voted for bills that would look into the state’s election procedures.
Neither Benninghoff nor Corman were scheduled to attend Wednesday’s policy hearing. State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Greensburg, is the highest ranking state lawmaker listed as attending. She is due to succeed Corman as majority leader next year after he ascends to the position of Senate president pro tempore.
The electoral college is scheduled to gather Dec. 14 to formally select the next president. In the meantime, federal officials have already begun to allow the Biden transition team to access federal funds designated for that purpose and to reach out to agencies to begin the transfer of power process.