US President Donald Trump is refusing to throw in the towel in his bid to cling to power, even as legal efforts to overturn his loss in the presidential election continue to founder.
He is currently trying to persuade Republican state legislators to intervene in battleground states won by Democratic rival Joe Biden in the election.
The new strategy is being pursued even as Georgia completed a painstaking recount on Thursday (local time) that affirmed Mr Biden’s victory there, and as Mr Trump’s campaign said it was withdrawing a lawsuit challenging Mr Biden’s win in Michigan.
Mr Biden has captured 306 electoral votes to Mr Trump’s 232 in the state-by-state Electoral College that determines the winner of the election, well above the 270 needed for victory.
In remarks on Thursday after a call with 10 state governors, the president-elect called Mr Trump’s attempt to reverse the results “totally irresponsible”
“It sends a horrible message about who we are as a country,” said Mr Biden, although he expressed no concern that the gambit would succeed in preventing him from taking office on January 20.
“What he is doing now is really going to be another incident where he will go down in history as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history,” he said.
“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks. I’m confident he knows he hasn’t won. It is just outrageous what he is doing.”
Mr Trump’s campaign has filed at least nine lawsuits challenging the results since the November 3 election, with scant success so far.
Judges in Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania separately dealt Mr Trump more courtroom setbacks on Thursday, rejecting claims of vote-counting improprieties.
The Trump campaign has already asked a judge in Pennsylvania, where Mr Biden won by 82,000 votes, to declare Mr Trump the winner and said its Republican-controlled legislature should choose the state’s 20 Electoral College voters.
While legal experts see Mr 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.
At a news conference on Thursday, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he planned to file more lawsuits and that Democrats had engaged in a “national conspiracy” to manipulate vote totals, although he admitted he did not have any evidence.
Other members of the legal team floated a theory involving Venezuela and George Soros, a bogeyman of conservatives, although they said they would probably not pursue it in court.
Mr Giuliani said accounts of suspicious activity would ultimately overturn the election, which Mr Biden won nationwide by 5.9 million votes.
Some of those accounts have already been thrown out of court.
“We cannot allow these crooks – because that’s what they are – to steal this election. They elected Donald Trump. They didn’t elect Joe Biden,” Mr Giuliani said.
“What I’m describing to you is a massive fraud … this is enough to overturn any election.”
Mr Giuliani alleged widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan, saying that more cases would be brought to the courts.
In keeping with previous claims, he did not provide evidence to back up his allegations.
Mr Giuliani’s agitated performance, featuring rivulets of hair dye running down his face, was widely mocked by Democrats. Others expressed alarm.
“That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history,” tweeted Christopher Krebs, who headed up the US government’s efforts to combat election disinformation until he was fired by Mr Trump earlier this week.