Rudy Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, appeared in a Pennsylvania courtroom on Tuesday to make outrageous and evidence-free voter fraud claims, invoking Mickey Mouse and JFK in a wild conspiracy rant that another attorney denounced as “disgraceful.”
The one-time New York City mayor, who is President Trump’s personal lawyer, took over the federal lawsuit from Pennsylvania attorneys and got permission to represent the campaign at a hearing in Williamsport—where his first act was to ask Judge Matthew Brann if he could remove his mask.
From there, he announced he’d be tossing the campaign’s previous legal strategy for its effort to block the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state, as laid out in an amended complaint the campaign filed on Sunday.
Instead of focusing on whether Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar usurped the state legislature’s authority with her guidance to county election authorities—an argument Giuliani said he planned to “save for appeal”—he claimed instead that the decision of some counties not to comply with her guidance had created a violation of federal equal protection law, as defined in the infamous Bush v. Gore case.
“It’s a big word, your honor.”
— Rudy Giuliani
But he diverged even further by launching into a tirade against mail-in voting and the major cities of every swing state that Trump lost. Echoing his client, Giuliani alleged that authorities in every one of those jurisdictions had participated in a vast concerted effort to deliver the election to Biden.
“It’s widespread, nationwide voter fraud, of which this is a part,” he said. “This is not an accident. You’d have to be a fool to think this is an accident. You’d have to be a fool to think that somebody woke up Philadelphia, and in Pittsburgh, and in Milwaukee, and in Detroit, and in Phoenix, and all the way in Las Vegas, and way back in Atlanta, and said ‘I’m going to shut out all the Republicans today.’”
Lacking evidence of specific wrongdoing in Pennsylvania, Giuliani cited everything from a county commissioner race in Las Vegas to dubious historical claims that late Chicago Mayor Richard Daley manipulated returns in 1960 to help elect John F. Kennedy. During the course of oral arguments, Giuliani offered varying estimates of 680,000 to 770,000 to 1.2 million ballots cast in the Keystone State that he claimed were illegal.
“As far as we’re concerned, your honor, those ballots could’ve been from Mickey Mouse,” Giuliani declared.
At times, Giuliani even seemed unfamiliar with the campaign’s legal filings: in the midst of reading the word “opacity” from the Trump camp’s complaints, he admitted he did not know what it meant.
“It’s a big word, your honor,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani confessed to Brann under questioning that the campaign’s complaint presented no specific evidence of fraud. But he claimed that the complaint’s attacks on COVID-19 restrictions in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that kept campaign observers at a distance from the tabulation of votes were in fact allegations of a “planned fraudulent process,” and he further asserted that mail-in votes are “inherently fraudulent.”
Earlier, he had volunteered the information that he had frequently voted absentee in the past himself.
“This stuff is disgraceful, in an American courtroom, in any place.”
— Mark Aronchick, counsel for Philadelphia
In the middle of the federal hearing, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against the campaign and determined that Philadelphia’s pandemic-related distancing protocols during the tally had not violated state law.
An attorney for the Democratic National Committee noted that the Trump campaign had acknowledged in other Pennsylvania venues that they made no claim voter fraud had occurred. The president’s lawsuits in other states have similarly failed to provide hard evidence of widespread forgery or falsification of ballots.
Mark Aronchick, counsel to Philadelphia and several neighboring counties named in the complaint, went further. Over a distorted video connection, the lawyer railed against Giuliani’s “fantasy world” of accusations not even substantiated in his own team’s complaint.
“This stuff is disgraceful, in an American courtroom, in any place,” Aronchick said. “Can you imagine anybody understanding a court order cancelling 680,000—or, I think now, according to Mr. Giuliani—1.2 million votes, based on nothing in this amended complaint.”
The judge concluded by giving both teams time to file additional paperwork, including another amended complaint, before he renders a decision on whether to dismiss the case outright. He expressed skepticism, however, over the request he should stop the certification of the entire state’s election.
“You’re asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the Commonwealth,” he said.
Although Giuliani officially replaced attorney Linda Kerns, who has also represented Trump’s campaign in county and state court, she remained at his side and supplemented his argument. The president’s other new lawyer, Marc Scaringi—who has admitted on Facebook and radio that Biden won the election—hardly spoke. The previous campaign lawyers, affiliated with the firm Porter Wright, dropped the campaign as a client last week. Giuliani claimed that the prestigious outfit “made” the attorneys do it.