After a painstaking recount, Georgia officials confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden won the battleground state, further narrowing Donald Trump's dubious effort to overturn the election results.
The result of the six-day hand recount of the state's 5 million ballots had been widely expected, despite baseless allegations from Trump and his allies that Georgia's vote tallies were suspect because of widespread fraud.
Amid a series of losses in court, Trump's re-election campaign has shifted to a new strategy that relies on persuading Republican state legislators in crucial states to ignore the election results and intervene on Trump's behalf, according to three people familiar with the plan.
The campaign has filed multiple lawsuits to try to challenge the results in battleground states that Biden won, as election officials across the country have affirmed that there is no evidence of major irregularities. Judges in three states delivered new legal setbacks to the campaign on Thursday, rejecting claims of improper vote counting.
Biden, a Democrat, has captured 306 electoral votes to the Republican Trump's 232 in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner of the election, well above the 270 needed for victory.
Georgia's audit, launched after unofficial results showed Biden leading Trump by about 14,000 votes cast, ended with Biden winning by 12,284, according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office. The state is expected to certify Biden's victory on Friday.
Trump and his allies, including Georgia's Republican U.S. senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who both face runoff elections in January, have accused fellow Republican Raffensperger without evidence of overseeing a flawed election, an allegation Raffensperger has angrily disputed.
In remarks on Thursday after a call with 10 state governors, Biden called Trump's attempt to reverse the results "totally irresponsible."
"It sends a horrible message about who we are as a country," said the president-elect, although he expressed no concern that the gambit would succeed in preventing him from taking office on Jan. 20.
While legal experts see Trump's last-gasp effort as unlikely to succeed, they say the strategy represents an unprecedented assault on the country's democratic institutions by a sitting president.
The Trump campaign has already asked a judge in Pennsylvania, where Biden won by 82,000 votes, to declare Trump the winner, allowing the Republican-controlled legislature to choose the state's 20 Electoral College voters.
Several prominent law firms have pulled out of the campaign's legal challenges, leaving Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to spearhead the efforts.