Biden adds top lawyers to teams preparing for election legal battles

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Michael Martina

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has added top lawyers to his staff and launched a “special litigation” team as his campaign braces for potential legal fights over the outcome of the Nov. 3 U.S. election against President Donald Trump.

Biden’s campaign for months has been ramping up what it calls the largest voter protection program in presidential election history, after Trump repeatedly has suggested without evidence that the election could be “rigged.”

The campaign said on Monday that Bob Bauer, a New York University law school professor and former Obama administration counsel, had joined as a full-time senior campaign adviser working on voter protection efforts with campaign General Counsel Dana Remus.

Marc Elias, a top elections lawyer at the firm Perkins Coie, was running a team focused on “protecting voter access to the polls and a fair and accurate vote count” state by state, the campaign said.

Former Solicitors General Donald Verrilli and Walter Dellinger have been brought on to run a national special litigation unit, and former Attorney General Eric Holder will play a leading role in communicating with “all stakeholders in voting rights,” the campaign said.

Reuters reported in July that the Biden campaign was preparing for a contested election outcome, and that Bauer and Elias were involved in the contingency planning.

Together, the teams are providing legal, communications and political strategies for administering the vote at a time when the coronavirus pandemic and an expected surge in voting by mail have raised concerns that the outcome could be delayed well beyond the Nov. 3 election.

The campaign said the teams would respond aggressively to voter suppression activities, as well as identify and counter “foreign interference and misinformation from foreign or domestic sources.”

Biden on Monday told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, that the American people would insist that all votes be counted come November.

“I have confidence that Trump will try to not have that happen, but I’m confident the American public is going to insist on it,” Biden said after casting an early vote ahead of Tuesday’s primary election in his home state.

Trump has cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which have been used in far greater numbers in primary elections amid the pandemic.

He has refused to say he would accept official election results if he lost and has suggested at times that the election be postponed, something he does not have the power to do.

The Republican Party also has a substantial legal effort underway focused on blocking some states from mailing absentee ballots to all registered voters. It argues the U.S. election system is not ready for the vote-by-mail changes hastened in many places by the coronavirus and could be overwhelmed.

(Reporting by Michael Martina in Detroit and Trevor Hunnicutt in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)