U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond suggested each party be allowed 60 observers inside a hall at a downtown convention center where the final ballots are being tallied. As the hearing unfolded Thursday evening, President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden were locked in a tight battle for the 20 electoral votes in Pennsylvania.
Diamond, an appointee of President George W. Bush, chastened the lawyers as both sides bickered about who was following the rules and reminded them they are officers of the court.
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"Really, can't we be responsible adults here and reach an agreement?" the exasperated judge asked. "The whole thing could (soon) be moot."
Republicans went to court Thursday afternoon to complain that election officials in the Democratic-led city were ignoring a state court order they'd won earlier in the day to give them a closer view of ballot processing.
The Philadelphia City Commissioners released this statement on the judge's ruling:
"The federal court denied the Trump campaign's motion. The City Board of Elections agreed to keep the barrier for all observers where it is - at 6 feet for now, and to continue to admit observers in compliance with the law, but no more than 60 per side. The President and his campaign representatives had falsely claimed throughout the day that their representatives were not allowed in the room. But their counsel admitted at the hearing, after questions from the court, that they had several representatives in the room. In fact, they had at least 19 party representatives as observers in the Convention Center this afternoon, and more than 15 in the room while the case was being heard this evening. These representatives were already allowed to view the canvas from a close distance, and nothing changed in that regard as a result of this hearing. We currently await a decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on this exact issue.
"The Board of Elections will oppose efforts to slow down the ongoing count in court and will continue to treat all parties equally. The Board has been completely transparent in its election process and the Trump campaign has had certified canvas observers in the Convention Center to view the counting operation all day long today as it has since the pre-canvas began on Tuesday at 7:00 a.m."
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-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.