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Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's frantic post-election challenges are having the opposite effect of what he intended: He's documenting his demise through a series of court fights and recounts showing Joe Biden's victory to be all the more obvious and unassailable.

Why it matters: The president’s push to overturn the election results is dispelling the cloud of corruption he alleged by forcing states to create a verified — and legally binding — accounting of his election loss.

  • "Each loss further cements Biden's win," says election law expert Richard Hasen.
  • "History shows that any leader who constructs a major myth, that is later shown to be false, will eventually fall," says Harvard science historian and "Merchants of Doubt" author Naomi Oreskes. "The risk is that he takes his country down with him."

Reality check: In Georgia, the largest hand recount in U.S. history is underway, with some counties finding exactly the same vote tallies they reported two weeks ago.

  • In Michigan, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified Detroit's election results on the last day possible, after initially deadlocking in a party-line vote.
  • In Wisconsin, the Trump campaign paid $3 million this week for recounts in two counties. State law required it to pick up the tab because Biden’s overall winning margin was greater than one-quarter of a percentage point.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Philadelphia did not violate the law by restricting poll observers’ proximity to ballots.
  • Last week, the law firm Porter Wright announced it was dropping representation of the president in Pennsylvania after his team had heralded its hiring.
  • In Arizona last week, the campaign's lead lawyer acknowledged the vote count was not affected by fraud but "good-faith" errors, and the tally did not approach Biden's 11,000-vote margin of victory.

The big picture: Defeats have been so clear that none of the cases is on a path to reach the president's preferred venue, the Supreme Court.

  • The smooth election has also prompted praise for the work of local election officials amid the pandemic — and for those state officials and national figures who have protected election integrity and placed public service above partisan pressure.

Be smart: Al Gore’s magnanimity is still cited today, 20 years after he conceded to George W. Bush when the Supreme Court let stand a Florida recount showing the Texas governor ahead by 537 votes.

  • A private recount later found Gore had lost by an even larger margin than it appeared on Election Day, but that's not what many people remember most when they think back to 2000.

Go deeper

Trump campaign, RNC have raised $207.5 million since Election Day

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee said Thursday they have hauled in $207.5 million since Election Day.

Why it matters: The funds have been largely raised through President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. Trump has refused to concede to President-elect Joe Biden. His campaign's slew of lawsuits and recount efforts have seen little success.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
7 hours ago - Technology

TikTok gets more time (again)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more to satisfy national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to resolve issues raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.