BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Donald Trump's presidential campaign said Monday it plans to challenge Louisiana's electoral delegate selection, a day after the GOP candidate threatened to sue over the possibility that the state's uncommitted delegates could back his rival, Ted Cruz.
Trump adviser Barry Bennett said that the campaign intends to file a complaint with the Republican National Committee protesting how the state's delegates were chosen.
"The problem we're having here is there was a secret meeting in Louisiana of the convention delegation, and apparently all the invitations for our delegates must have gotten lost in the mail," Bennett said in an interview on MSNBC. After meeting with the campaign's legal team most of the morning, he said they planned to move forward with "a complaint to decertify these delegates."
While he did not provide a timeline on when the complaint would be filed, he said: "We're going to protect our rights to the fullest extent possible."
A day earlier, Trump shared his frustration with the process via Twitter, warning: "Lawsuit coming." His threat serves as a taste of the kind of backroom procedural wheeling-and-dealing that could come to define the Republican convention if Trump, facing deep resistance from many in his party, fails to lock down the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination outright.
Trump had not offered any details on the grounds of his proposed lawsuit, but Bennett later said Trump has been referring to the planned complaint.
"It's not something you file with the court, it's something you file inside the party," he said. "That is the lawsuit that he talked about."
Under RNC rules, Trump's campaign can contest the seating of the state's delegates by filing a complaint directly to the committee. If the campaign is unsatisfied with the outcome, it can file a complaint with the credentials committee, which meets at the national convention.
Trump won 41 percent of the vote in Louisiana's March 5 primary, versus 38 percent for Cruz. But the process of allocating the state's 46 delegates isn't a matter of simple proportion.
After the primary election, Trump and Cruz each had 18 committed delegates, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has since dropped out of the race, had five. Under state party rules, those delegates became free agents after Rubio suspended his campaign. Another five delegates also begin uncommitted.
Jason Dore, executive director of the Republican Party of Louisiana and one of the state's uncommitted delegates, said he hadn't yet decided whom to support. But he said that Cruz's campaign has been working more aggressively than Trump's to attract delegates since the beginning of the race.
As for Trump's threat, Dore said: "I don't know who he'd be suing because these 10 delegates are free to support whoever they want under the rules. The party or I can't force them to vote any way."
Dore added that Bennett appeared to be referring to a mandatory delegation meeting, held immediately following the state convention, which he said that Trump staffers in the state had attended.
Trump slammed the idea that a candidate who won fewer votes could end up with more delegates in an interview with ABC on Sunday, panning the process as a "crooked" and "rotten political system."
Meanwhile, Cruz downplayed Trump's threats before a campaign stop in Altoona, Wisconsin, telling reporters: "You know what? Who cares?"
Colvin reported from Jersey City, New Jersey. Associated Press writers Stephen Ohlemacher in Washington and Scott Bauer in Altoona, Wisconsin contributed to this report.