Kenneth Starr, former Whitewater independent counsel, and Laurence Tribe, constitutional law professor at Harvard, sparred on Sunday over President Trump’s legal challenges in several battleground states, with Starr wanting to allow the “litigation to run its course” and Tribe arguing that “it’s time to move on.”
The Trump campaign is filing legal challenges in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan, and it has asked for a recount in Wisconsin. Georgia began recounting its 5 million ballots by hand on Friday.
Tribe, a fierce critic of President Trump, told “Fox News Sunday” that he thinks Trump’s “overall effort is dangerous, even though we know it’s going to fail.”
He went on to say that if Trump’s claims were true, Republicans who claimed victory in the 2020 election “would have been elected fraudulently or mistakenly because they were on the same ballots.”
Tribe then asked, “If we know that Trump is going to lose in the courts, and we do, why should we care?”
“The reason we should care is that he is undermining democracy, because there are millions of people who will believe him even though there is nothing in his arguments and no evidence to back them,” he said.
Host Chris Wallace pointed to a joint statement issued on Thursday by the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating executive committees saying this year’s election marked “the most secure in American history.”
In regards to recounts and uncalled races, the committees said that it is not unusual for states to recount ballots during close elections – but added that there is no evidence any voting system “deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Trump has yet to concede to President-elect Joe Biden, and has repeated unfounded claims about fraud and that the election was “rigged.”
Wallace asked Starr, a Fox News contributor, on Sunday what he thinks “of the president’s effort to hold up the transition while he litigates the election vote counts?”
“It’s a very important process,” Starr said in response.
He then said that Tribe’s comments give “new meaning to rhetorical hyperbole.”
Starr stressed that “our system is designed to check,” saying, “Let’s check it out.”
“In the United States, we allow the jury to hear all the evidence, and that’s what’s happening right now,” he added. “Don’t rush to judgment. It’s important, especially given the fact that so many tens of millions of Americans feel right now disenfranchised.”
“So let’s get the facts in, allow this litigation to run its course just as in Bush v. Gore, it ran for 37 days,” Starr continued.
The fight over the 2000 presidential election in Florida went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and ended when the high court ruled that George W. Bush defeated then-Vice President Al Gore in the state by just 537 votes out of nearly 6 million cast, which was enough to award Bush all of Florida’s electoral votes, sending him to the White House.
Wallace asked Starr, “What is the best single case that you think the Trump legal team has out there and … would it switch enough votes in that one state to overturn the vote count and the electoral vote in that state?”
He noted that “Georgia itself has a state audit underway.”
Starr then cited those two states, as well as the allegations in Pennsylvania and the reported Friday ruling by a California judge that Gov. Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority when he issued an executive order requiring vote-by-mail ballots sent to all registered voters, as reasons why the results of the 2020 election should be checked.
In response, Tribe said there is “absolutely” no legal merit to what Starr said.
“There’s nothing in any of these lawsuits,” Tribe shot back. “He [Starr] says, let the jury speak. The jury of an unprecedented magnitude, 160 million Americans, has spoken.”
“You can file lawsuits till the cows come home and there’s no end to it,” Tribe continued. “But it’s nothing like Bush v. Gore.”
He noted that in that case, “they were recounting, not just counting,” adding that “there was a 537-vote margin.”
“And when the U.S. Supreme Court said, ‘It’s time to stop the recounting in accord with the law of Florida,’ I didn’t agree with that, but that at least was a legal judgment,” Tribe continued.
He went on to say that in contrast, “What’s being asked for now, is simply to undermine the belief of tens of millions of people in the conclusion that President Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security reached after looking more closely than any of these courts possibly can at all the ballots, all the processes, and concluded that it was the most secure election in American history.”
“It’s time to move on,” Tribe said, adding that “we know that Trump won’t.”
“He’s going to be out there yelling and screaming and complaining,” Tribe continued.
Trump attempted to sow doubt about the security of the mail-in voting process in the run-up to Election Day, since an extraordinary number of absentee and mail-in ballots were expected.
But voter turnout also appears to have hit a multi-decade high.
Fox News’ Brittany de Lea and the Associated Press contributed to this report.