With Donald Trump’s legal appeals stalled after the election, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, yesterday took over the reins.
Mr Giuliani filed a last-minute request to appear on behalf of the Trump campaign in a pivotal lawsuit in Pennsylvania.
In short, the issue is about mail-order ballot papers, and how various counties across the state have dealt with it.
Large, democratic counties, such as those that include Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, gave voters a chance to “fix” their problems with ballot papers. For example, if the ballot does not arrive in the correct envelope, the voter is notified.
Boycotts in Republican-leaning regions did not give voters this opportunity. The Trump campaign claims that “disenfranchised” people were more inclined to support the president. And their right to equal protection under the law was violated.
Two of the plaintiffs participating in the lawsuit are from Pennsylvania and their votes were not counted, because the counties in which they voted did not notify them of technical problems.
The campaign is escalating this argument in an attempt to prevent the state from certifying election results.
You might be wondering why Pennsylvania is so important. Among the states in which Mr. Trump has initiated legal proceedings, it has the largest number of electoral votes, at 20. This makes it an essential part of his strategy.
If the president fails to beat Joe Biden’s lead of 70,000 votes there, his hopes of overturning the broader election result – something most legal experts believe is impossible – will be diminished even further.
Hence Mr. Giuliani’s keen interest in this particular case.
RELATED: Legal experts say Trump’s lawsuits are not going anywhere
These days, Giuliani is a lot known for his politics. He was once a famous mayor of New York City, and he’s one of Trump’s most ardent advocates in the media.
Decades ago, he was a brilliant pretender. Yesterday, in his first federal court appearance since 1992, Mr. Giuliani tried to use his old rhetorical skills.
In his opening argument, he repeated many of the president’s repeated allegations of widespread voter fraud, for which the campaign has still failed to provide any evidence.
“This situation is best described as nationwide massive voter fraud, which is part of it,” Giuliani told Judge Matthew Bran.
This is not an isolated case. This is a case that recurs in at least 10 other jurisdictions.
If this is allowed without serious penalties, it will become an epidemic.
“It all happened in the big cities that were controlled by the Democrats.
“You have to be a fool to think this was an accident.”
Mr Giuliani said the Democrats “stole the election” and claimed that there were 1.5 million illegal votes. He did not explain how he came to this number.
The first problem here is that the Trump campaign lawsuit in Pennsylvania does not, in fact, contain allegations of voter fraud.
“This is not a fraud case,” Mr. Giuliani later admitted under questioning from Judge Bran.
The lawsuit does not contain allegations that Republican ballot observers were not permitted to monitor the approximately 680,000 Philadelphia ballot papers. She says that may have allowed the fraud to occur.
In its original complaint, the campaign paid to revoke 680,000 ballot papers, but that request was removed as part of the amended filing on Sunday.
The new version of the complaint did not ask for any legal recourse whatsoever to respond to the issue with the observers, instead focusing on the things I mentioned earlier about the handling of the ballot papers.
Incidentally, while Mr. Giuliani was in court yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled, by a 5–2 majority, that Philadelphia election officials had granted Republican observers adequate access to vote counting.
Nevertheless, the topic featured prominently in Giuliani’s arguments.
He once said, “As far as we’re concerned, these cards could be Mickey Mouse.”
“The attorney at the side of the corridor focused on allegations not in the complaint,” one of the opposing lawyers, Daniel Donovan, said during his hearing.
Judge Bran told Mr. Giuliani that the campaign will need to submit a request to amend its complaint again and re-enter some of the things it took a few days earlier.
“You have to write this down. This is what the lawyers do. They write things down.”
In any case, Judge Bran’s questions did not give the impression that he was sympathetic to Giuliani’s argument.
You’re asking this court to nullify more than 6.8 million votes (that is, every vote in Pennsylvania), thereby denying every elector the right to vote in the Commonwealth. Can you tell me how this finding can be justified? ” Asked.
Mr. Giuliani responded that the conduct of election officials was “atrocious,” which is why a “draconian” remedy was necessary to prevent the entire country from certifying his results.
Mark Arunchik, one of the opposition lawyers, got angry.
“The idea that you are being asked to do this – I don’t use that word often. He told the judge: It’s shameful.”
Mr. Giuliani also covered the substance of the actual case before the court, arguing that the two joint plaintiffs I mentioned earlier “had lost their right to vote.”
The men in question are from Fayette and Lancaster counties, both of which vote for the president. Instead of suing these two counties for failing to allow voters to process their vote, the campaign is suing Democratic-leaning counties that have done so, because that’s where the bulk of Biden’s support came from.
This fact was not overlooked by Judge Bran’s notice.
“In the amended complaint, you said your customers tried to vote in Lancaster and Fayette County. So why didn’t you sue the counties responsible for your customers’ injuries?” He asked.
It was a federal issue, said Linda Kerns, attorney for Mr. Giuliani, and the election result would have been “very, very different” if all provinces handled mail ballots in the same way.
Once again, the judge’s questions did not reflect sympathy for the Trump campaign.
“How does it make it easy for some people to vote a burden on the right of claimants to vote?” Judge Bran asked.
When it was over, he said he would give both sides a few more days to present more arguments before the ruling, and proceeded to give the attorneys some friendly dinner recommendations.
It is fair to say that different observers have different opinions about how Mr. Giuliani appeared in court. For example, Jenna Ellis, the chief legal advisor for the Trump campaign, has been affected.
Others, less than that. Among the legal experts who have criticized Giuliani’s performance is law professor Rick Hasen.
“I spent the whole afternoon listening to that hearing, and that was embarrassing. This was probably the worst lawyer I’ve ever heard from a lawyer arguing in an electoral case in my life,” Mr. Hassan told CNN.
He mocked Mr. Giuliani for slaughtering the legal conditions under Judge Bran’s questioning.
“At one point, the judge was asking some kind of basic election-related question, which was, ‘Am I ruling this under strict scrutiny or rationale? “It is a kind of Law 101 question, and it seems that Rudy Giuliani did not know what these terms meant.”
I’ll freely admit that I don’t know what these terms mean either, so I guess I’ll take the word expert here.
MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, attorney Ari Millber, was similarly scathing.
“These kinds of false allegations are worse in court than on Twitter,” said Milber of Giuliani’s speech on voter fraud.
“We are seeing the last embers of the garbage fire that is Trump’s 2020 legal strategy. I say the garbage fire because the legal claims were, to a large extent, rubbish. That is why the judges were fired.
“And I say shot because with the other attorneys leaving the project, we were left in a hot mess like Rudy Giuliani, who is now playing a bigger role.”
There was a lot of mockery from the legal experts online, too. This is a sample.
Finally, Giuliani also faced some criticism from one of Trump’s political allies, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.
“I’m still a little concerned about Rudy Giuliani’s use,” Mulvaney told Fox Business. “It amazes me that this is the most important lawsuit in the history of the country, and they are not using the most famous election lawyer. There are people who do this all the time. This is a specialty.”
This is not a TV show. This is the real thing.
“On the one hand, I think he should go forward. He definitely does. I just hope he will be prosecuted more efficiently.”