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Battered Trump persists with fraud claims

President Donald Trump, battered by back-to-back setbacks in his desperate bid to overturn the U.S. presidential election, persists with claims of massive voter fraud, two weeks after Democrat Joe Biden was declared president-elect.

Republican Trump has refused to concede Biden won and is seeking to invalidate or change the results through lawsuits and recounts in several battleground states.

His campaign has not been able to provide any evidence for its claims of widespread and coordinated electoral fraud, however.

His efforts, which critics call an unprecedented push by a sitting president to subvert the will of voters, has so far met with little success in the courtroom or on the ground.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that a manual recount and audit of all ballots cast had confirmed Biden as the winner in the southern state.

He is the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia in nearly three decades.

Two leading Republican lawmakers from Michigan delivered another blow on Friday when they said after a meeting with Trump that they had no information that would change the outcome of the election in the state.

“(As) legislative leaders, we will follow the law and follow the normal process regarding Michigan’s electors,” Michigan Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House of Representatives Speaker Lee Chatfield said in a joint statement.

On Saturday, Trump said the media were misreading the statement, in which the pair also said they have faith in a review of Michigan’s election process being conducted by state lawmakers.

“Massive voter fraud will be shown!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

With the vote certified in Georgia, the Trump campaign now has two business days to request a recount there. Trump’s legal team has already said it plans a lawsuit in the state, but has not provided specifics.

After a series of court defeats, the Trump campaign’s new tactic is to convince Republican-controlled legislatures in battleground states won by Biden to set aside the results and declare Trump the winner, according to three people familiar with the plan.

The long-shot effort is focused on Michigan and Pennsylvania for now, but even if both those states flipped Trump would need to overturn the vote in another state to vault ahead of Biden in the Electoral College.

Some groups were countering with their own legal action.

On Friday, a group of Black voters in Detroit and a voting rights organisation filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Trump and his campaign of breaching the 1965 Voting Rights Act by falsely claiming voter fraud.

Biden, who has denounced Trump’s attempt to reverse the election results as “totally irresponsible”, was planning to spend Saturday meeting with transition advisers.

Trump was scheduled to participate virtually in his last G20 summit.

Senior Republicans have remained largely silent about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud or have defended his right to seek redress, but pressure was building after several voiced doubts on Friday.

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