Politics

'Disgraceful!' — Lawyer blasts Trump attorney Giuliani for seeking to toss Pa. votes to reverse Biden win

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Tuesday argued to a federal judge in Pennsylvania that there had been "widespread national voter fraud" in the presidential election that led to Joe Biden's projected victory.
  • But a lawyer for several Pennsylvania county election boards called Giuliani's effort to have a judge invalidate hundreds of thousands of ballots cast in the state was baseless and "disgraceful!"
  • Giuliani's last-minute request to have a federal judge admit him to the case came hours before a hearing in the matter, and after two sets of lawyers for Trump's reelection campaign quit the case over the past week.
  • A newly retained lawyer asked the judge to delay the hearing. The judge denied the request.
Attorney for the President, Rudy Giuliani speaks to the media at a press conference held in the back parking lot of landscaping company on November 7, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Chris McGrath | Getty Images

President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, on Tuesday argued to a federal judge in Pennsylvania that there had been "widespread national voter fraud" in the presidential election that led to Joe Biden's projected victory.

But a lawyer for several Pennsylvania county election boards called Giuliani's effort to have a judge invalidate up to 700,000 mail-in ballots cast in the state baseless and "disgraceful!"

Giuliani's claims, which echoed those made by Trump, came at a hearing in Williamsport, where state lawyers argued to U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann for the dismissal of the Trump campaign's lawsuit seeking to stop Pennsylvania from certifying its election results.

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The Pennsylvania case is just one of a number of similar cases filed by the campaign and Trump allies in several battleground states in an effort to reverse Biden's win.

Those cases to date have failed to convince judges, and failed to produce evidence of fraud to such a degree that could overturn Biden's victory in a single state, much less the several states that Trump would need to flip to win a second term.

"The best description of this situation is widespread, nationwide voter fraud," Giuliani said during the hearing.

He also reportedly claimed that this purported fraud occurred in "big cities, controlled by Democrats."

"You'd have to be a fool to think this is an accident," said Giuliani, who argued that hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots in Philadelphia should be invalidated because observers from the Trump campaign could not examine them as they were being counted.

But lawyers for Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and a number of Pennsylvania county election boards pushed back, at times fiercely, against Giuliani's claim.

Mark Aronchick, an attorney for some of those election boards, accused Giuliani of talking about "some fantasy world."

"This just is disgraceful!" Aronchick said of Giuliani's arguments.

Aronchick, referring to the Trump campaign's request that Brann invalidate hundreds of thousands of ballots cast in the state because of alleged fraud, said, "It's disgraceful that you are being asked to do that."

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"Dismiss this case," Aronchick urged the judge.

During the hearing, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign's argument that its election observers were improperly denied access to closely watch the counting of ballots in Philadelphia. The Supreme Court ruled, in what could be a crippling blow to the federal case, that county election officials had the right to determine how far away to keep observers from ballot counting areas, as long as those observers were allowed to be in the room where the counting was being conducted.

Brann and some attorneys, including Giuliani, appeared in the courtroom in person, but others, including Aronchick, appeared remotely. And reporters were barred from the physical courtroom because of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two phone lines opened so that the media and members of the public could follow the proceedings at one point or the other failed, denying up to 8,000 people who had called in access to the hearing. The phone lines later were restored.

Giuliani earlier in the day adamantly denied a report in The New York Times that he had asked Trump's campaign to pay him a whopping $20,000 per day for his legal work.

"I never asked for $20,000," Giuliani told The Times, saying that Trump offered to "work ... out" any payment to him at the end of the legal process.

The Wall Street Journal later matched The Times story about Giuliani's request, which the newspaper noted was "an unusually high fee." The Journal reported that the Trump campaign did not agree to Giuliani's request, but noted that it could not be determined whether the campaign will pay Giuliani at all.

Giuliani, who was not originally directly involved in the case, made a last-minute request Tuesday to have Brann admit him as a member of the campaign's legal team.

That move came after two sets of other lawyers for Trump's reelection campaign quit the case over the past week.

It also came after Brann denied a request by another new attorney for the campaign to postpone the hearing.

The slapdash nature of the Trump campaign's case in Pennsylvania was underscored by Giuliani's statement to Brann on Tuesday that a claim made in the originally filed lawsuit, which alleged a violation of due process, was mistakenly removed from an amended lawsuit.

A former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor, Giuliani is not admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania federal court, so he needed permission from Brann to appear in the case.

Giuliani's application said that he is "currently a member in good standing" of a number of state and federal courts, and of the District of Columbia Bar.

However, a check of the DC Bar's registry shows that Giuliani's admission there is administratively suspended because of nonpayment of fees. That suspension likely would have no affect on his admission to the Pennsylvania case.

On the same day that Biden was projected as winner of the election, Giuliani led a widely derided news conference about the vote-counting process outside of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a small business in Philadelphia located between a crematorium and a sex shop.

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Trump originally announced that the presser would be held at the "Four Seasons," the name of an upscale hotel, before pointing out the actual location in a subsequent tweet.

Speaking at a lectern set up in the rear parking lot of the landscaping business, Giuliani assailed the city of Philadelphia for having a "sad history" of voter fraud, and scoffed at journalists when they told him that news outlets had called the race for Biden.

Trump last week said that New York-based Giuliani would lead his campaign's efforts in multiple states to challenge ballots and reverse Biden's victory.

Next Monday is the deadline for Pennsylvania county boards of elections to file their returns with the secretary of state.

During an interview Tuesday on Fox Business, Giuliani claimed that the Pennsylvania case hinges on 700,000 ballots that he alleged "were counted surreptitiously."

"Frankly, that is a case that we would like to see get to the Supreme Court," he said.

Giuliani also said "we're probably going to sue in at least eight or nine" states where Republican ballot watchers allegedly were blocked from observing the vote-tallying process.

"The only remedy the court has is to just cancel out those votes," he said.

"I believe we have amassed more than enough evidence in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, and Georgia," he said when asked if there are enough questionable ballots to overturn Biden's victory.

"I believe we're very close in Nevada." 

Poll worker Angela Steele mans the check-in desk near rows of empty ballot boxes at the Allegheny County Election Warehouse after the election in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 6, 2020.
John Altdorfer | Reuters

But another new attorney for Trump's campaign in the Pennsylvania lawsuit, Marc Scaringi, who is also a talk radio host, had said on his show on Nov. 7 before joining the team that attempts to reverse Biden's projected electoral victory "will not work."

That was the same day that NBC News and other media outlets called the national election for Biden, after they projected he would win Pennsylvania's 20 Electoral College votes.

The lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleges that a number of counties evaluated mail-in ballots on an "entirely parallel track to those ballots cast in person."

It also claims that a number of Democrat-heavy counties illegally reviewed mail-in ballots earlier than they should have, which gave voters there extra time to "cure" problems with their ballots.

On Sunday, the Trump campaign amended its complaint, abandoning a claim that election officials in certain counties had blocked some observers from watching ballots being counted.

Less than a week before Tuesday's hearing, lawyers on the Trump campaign's team from Porter Wright Morris & Arthur had withdrawn from the case.

"Plaintiffs and Porter Wright have reached a mutual agreement that plaintiffs will be best served if Porter Wright withdraws," those lawyers said in a court filing.

On Monday, three more lawyers asked the judge to let them leave the case.

The judge, Brann, granted the request for two of them — John Scott and Douglas Hughes, both of whom are based in Texas.

But the judge was silent on the request to withdraw by Linda Kerns, a Philadelphia-based attorney whose practice previously specialized in family law matters.

Scaringi, the attorney who also has a radio show, then joined the Trump campaign's legal team.

Hours later, Scaringi asked Brann to reschedule Tuesday's oral arguments, as well as an evidentiary hearing set for Thursday.

"Having only been retained today, Plaintiffs' new counsel need additional time to adequately prepare this case for the upcoming oral argument and evidentiary hearing," Scaringi wrote in a court filing.

"Furthermore, this is a case of significant complexity and importance to the people of the United States of America," Scaringi wrote.

Brann promptly denied the request.

"Counsel for the parties are expected to be prepared for argument and questioning," the judge wrote in an order Monday night.