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From the archives 2020

As he seeks to overturn Pa.’s election, Trump invites GOP senators to White House lunch

by Angela Couloumbis of Spotlight PA |

President Donald Trump is still seeking to overturn Pennsylvania’s election results in the courts.
TIM TAI / Philadelphia Inquirer

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HARRISBURG — As he seeks to overturn Pennsylvania’s election results in the courts, President Donald Trump invited Republican members of the GOP-controlled state Senate to a Wednesday lunch at the White House.

The invitation for the luncheon was sent to all GOP lawmakers in the chamber, said Jennifer Kocher, a spokesperson for the caucus.

No agenda was included, she said, and it was not immediately known how many senators were attending.

The top Republican in the state Senate, Jake Corman of Centre County, had other commitments, Kocher said, and was not planning to go. Aides to newly elected Majority Leader Kim Ward (R., Westmoreland) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At least one Republican senator, Doug Mastriano of Franklin County, had made arrangements to attend, a legislative source said. Mastriano organized a hearing last month in Gettysburg on unfounded claims of widespread election fraud.

Mere hours after the hearing, Mastriano, one of the chamber’s most conservative members, tested positive for COVID-19. He received his results when he and a small group of people traveled to the White House that day to meet with Trump, the Associated Press reported. Guests are tested for the virus and Mastriano was forced to leave after testing positive that day.

Mastriano could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The White House luncheon comes two days after Corman announced that he will push a measure to create a special committee to “conduct an exhaustive review” of all aspects of last month’s election. “Far too many residents of Pennsylvania are questioning the validity of their votes or have doubt that the process was conducted fairly, securely, and produced accurate results,” he said in a statement.

Trump’s Department of Justice as well as state and county officials have said there is no evidence of widespread fraud that would alter the election’s results.

Republican leaders including Corman, however, have accused the state Supreme Court of usurping the legislature’s powers by extending the deadline to receive mail ballots. They have also criticized the Department of State for issuing guidance to counties on “curing,” or fixing, mail ballots that were deficient in some way.

Trump is also continuing efforts in the courts to challenge Pennsylvania’s election results.

This week, the president’s campaign filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to reverse decisions made by Pennsylvania’s highest court regarding a 2019 state law that created no-excuse mail voting.

The president is asking the justices to throw out Pennsylvania’s results and allow the General Assembly to pick a slate of electors.

Pennsylvania, however, has already cast its 20 electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The electors met earlier this month near the state Capitol.

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