Rudy Giuliani came off a bizarre, sweaty, fact-free press conference Thursday with a legal play just as wild: Instead of providing a speck of evidence for the Trump campaign’s claims of voter fraud, he’s now calling on Pennsylvania to prove the ballots it counted were legal.
It’s a desperate gambit to solve the problem that has bedeviled the president and his team since before the election: a lack of concrete documentation of any wrongdoing. Despite Giuliani’s rants in federal court on Tuesday about “widespread, nationwide voter fraud,” the campaign’s lawsuits have focused on obscure technical matters or oft-recanted innuendo about allegedly suspicious activities at vote-counting sites.
The strategy of hurling legal Hail Marys into the electoral end zone has this far failed. So now Giuliani and co-counsel Marc Scaringi are arguing in a new brief filed in federal court on Thursday that they don’t have to prove anything at all.
“In this situation, Defendants should have the burden of proving the mail votes were legal,” the document posits.
The defendants in question are Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar and several county boards of election, including those covering Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and several suburbs that overwhelmingly supported President-elect Joe Biden. Boockvar’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
At the core of Giuliani and Scaringi’s challenge is that COVID-19 restrictions deprived observers associated with President Donald Trump’s campaign of the opportunity to sufficiently review ballots. On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that these protocols did not violate regulations the rights afforded to such overseers under state law. The new Trump legal brief attacks this decision as “partisan” and “inexplicable,” and asserts that it violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.
“Defendants excluded Trump and Republican watchers from meaningfully observing the canvassing, thereby ensuring that Plaintiffs would not have immediate means of showing the legal vis-à-vis illegal votes,” the brief says.
The brief further requests “a short period of time to gather evidence about the magnitude of the violations.” However, the deadline for the certification of the election results is this coming Monday. An extension Judge Matthew Brann granted Thursday permits the campaign to submit additional paperwork through Saturday.
The legal team for several of the counties declined to comment. However, in their own brief, they noted that previous courts had determined that the burden of demonstrating electoral malfeasance falls on the plaintiff.
The counties also argued the Trump campaign as an organization lacks standing to bring the suit, since it is primarily a fundraising vehicle and not an organization representing voters or even the candidate himself.
Giuliani filed his latest brief hours after he helmed a press conference in which he sweated so much that hair coloring ran down his face as he dished up his latest conspiracy theory: an alleged plot to rig voting machines involving billionaire George Soros and late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. In its only display of consistency, the Trump legal team supplied no evidence at the event.