Defense lawyers representing the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office tore into President Donald Trump’s lead lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, during a Tuesday hearing in the Trump campaign’s biggest lawsuit to date related to the 2020 election results.
Mark Aronchick, one of the defense lawyers, described Giuliani as living in a “fantasy world,” called him “really inventive,” and said he was making legal arguments that were “disgraceful in an American courtroom.”
In the federal lawsuit, Trump’s campaign is seeking to block Pennsylvania from certifying its election results and sued seven Democratic counties in the state, alleging unspecified inconsistencies in how different counties counted their ballots. During Tuesday’s hearing before Judge Matthew Brann, Giuliani alleged that “big cities controlled by Democrats” were engaged in a vast election-rigging conspiracy that allowed for 682,770 ballots to be counted illegally.
Giuliani took over as the main lawyer for the Trump campaign in the case after three other lawyers withdrew as counsel on Monday evening. On Tuesday, Giuliani said he determined that nearly 700,000 mail ballots were fraudulent by adding up ballots that were “cured” — a legal process where voters are allowed to fix technical issues with their ballots like a missing signature after casting them — in counties run by elected Democrats.
He said the ballots should not be counted if they were processed in places where Republican election watchers complained that they could not sufficiently observe the ballot-counting process. Giuliani said that based on those alleged issues, the entire state’s election results should not be certified.
The former New York mayor also said that different rules in different counties violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution because they diluted the votes of people who live in counties with more restrictive voting rules.
Daniel Donovan, another defense lawyer in the case, pushed back and reminded the judge that despite Giuliani’s claims of “widespread nationwide voter fraud,” the Trump campaign’s complaint did not include any claim that a qualified Pennsylvania voter cast more than one ballot, that a voter submitted a mail ballot that was wrongly rejected, that someone ineligible to vote actually voted, or that voter fraud took place.
He also said the Trump campaign did not have the “standing” to bring the case because it was not directly affected by any of the issues it raised in the lawsuit. “They are not defendants here” and “they’re not voters” in any of the seven counties they alleged fraud in, Donovan said.
He added that the Trump campaign did not have the grounds to bring an equal protection claim because alleged violations of state laws by state officials or unidentified third parties do not allow for federal constitutional arguments. “Nothing in the Constitution” suggests “that we can micromanage” election administration to the degree the Trump campaign is trying to, Donovan said.
Aronchick didn’t mince words when he spoke after Donovan. He tore into Giuliani for making unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud and prejudice against GOP election observers, saying the issues “can’t be hijacked into an equal protection case.”
“This is just disgraceful,” Aronchick said of Giuliani’s legal arguments. He also criticized the Trump campaign’s claim that Democrats and election officials engaged in election-rigging, and said election workers who came out during the pandemic to make sure the process went smoothly were “patriots.”
Later in the hearing, Donovan emphasized that a judge in a separate Pennsylvania case asked the Trump campaign if it had “any information to suggest that there was fraud in the election” or if it was alleging “that fraud had occurred.” The campaign’s lawyer denied that, saying, “To my knowledge at present, no.”
Before Tuesday’s hearing, Trump’s legal team drastically scaled back its lawsuit, striking out numerous allegations.
But Giuliani repeatedly referenced those allegations on Tuesday and said parts of the lawsuit were “mistakenly removed.” Many of those arguments also appeared in a Pennsylvania state lawsuit that the state Supreme Court rejected earlier Tuesday.
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