Rudy Giuliani Raises Eyebrows with Press Conference Attacking Election After First Court Appearance in Decades

In absence of proof, one Republican strategist said afterward, "the American people will have every reason to question their credibility"

Rudy Giuliani grew hot under the collar — literally, it seemed — during a press conference on Thursday in Washington, D.C., where he assailed the election results showing Joe Biden had triumphed over Giuliani's client, President Donald Trump.

Trump's legal team, led by Giuliani, and their allies have mounted a series of long-shot challenges to vote counts in various key states, such as Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, as every state moves closer to certifying their results ahead of the December Electoral College vote that will almost certainly designate Biden as president-elect.

To try to stop this — a likely doomed effort, given the lack of proof, according to experts, many of whom warn the attempt itself is anti-democratic — President Trump, 74, and his lawyers have adopted various and sometimes contradictory strategies. This was illustrated late in Thursday's press conference, organized by what Giuliani, 76, described as Trump's "senior lawyers."

After campaign legal adviser Jenna Ellis admonished a reporter that it was "fundamentally flawed" to ask "where is the evidence," she went on to say the Trump team's goal was to halt certification in the states in order to give them a chance to gather their proof and present it in court. In fact, some of the Trump-friendly suits have already failed in front of judges.

For some observers, the bizarre nature of the event was heightened by Giuliani's impassioned tone and appearance. They pointed out that he was sweating profusely through much of the press conference, to the point that his hair dye or some other coloring substance appeared to begin dripping down the sides of his face.

Ellis said at Thursday's press conference they had withdrawn a suit in Michigan because certification there had already been halted in Wayne County by two local Republican officials, as Trump wanted.

But when a reporter replied that, in fact, the Michigan secretary of state said certification was proceeding — the local Republicans in Wayne County voted for certification after all, then tried to take it back the next day — Ellis, Giuliani and Trump attorney Sidney Powell reacted dismissively.

"Follow the money," said Powell, who earlier in the press conference alleged the presidential election had been tainted by communist funds from various other countries.

Then Giuliani grew defiant.

"Follow the political party, ma'am. You're actually seriously going to want me to take seriously the secretary of state of Michigan when the secretary of state of Michigan never bothered to find out that the votes in her state were being counted in Germany by a Venezuelan company?" he said, voice rising to a shout. "And you want me to take her seriously or him seriously? I mean, I was in government — if I were the governor of that state, I'd fire everybody that was involved in this election."

His response was representative of the campaign's overall argument, for which they have not presented credible evidence in the eyes of many observers: that many hundreds of thousands of votes, largely in Democratic cities, were so suspect as to render them invalid.

What the campaign has not proven is any specific instance of a vote that was fraudulently cast.

Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani (center) and other Trump campaign lawyers at a November press conference. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty
Rudy Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

Giuliani himself suggested at the press conference Thursday that ballots were funneled through a "centralized" scheme nationwide, which would have had to involve hundreds if not thousands of accomplices at the local and state level, across political parties, given how elections are run in America.

Many on social media, including prominent Republicans, reacted with skepticism — and even alarm.

"These are serious, I think somewhat strange accusations, but serious. And now both Mr. Giuliani and Ms. Powell have an obligation to go to court and prove them," Karl Rove, a former top strategist for George W. Bush, said on Fox News later Thursday. "Because these are questioning the fundamental fairness of our presidential election."

In absence of proof, Rove said, "the American people will have every reason to question their credibility."

Chris Krebs, a former official with the Department of Homeland Security overseeing election integrity whose firing by Trump earlier this week drew bipartisan criticism in Congress, called the press conference "the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history. And possibly the craziest."

(Giuliani previously stirred controversy with an appearance in the Borat prank film sequel and for a bizarre press conference soon after the election in the parking lot of a landscaping company with a similar name to the Four Seasons hotel chain, which many critics said was an obvious scheduling snafu.)

A similar scene played out earlier in the week when Giuliani, a former prosecutor and New York City mayor now acting as Trump's personal attorney, appeared in court for the first time in decades to defend the Trump campaign before a federal judge in Pennsylvania.

While some in the president's circle praised Giuliani's performance, others described him as ill-equipped and unprepared.

For example, in one exchange he said he did not understand the judge's question about what standard of scrutiny should be applied.

In another instance, Giuliani reversed himself under questioning about whether that specific campaign lawsuit was alleging fraud. (It was not, he acknowledged.)

Rudolph Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani. Anthony Devlin/Getty

Elsewhere in the hearing, Giuliani said he wasn't "quite sure I know what 'opacity' means. It probably means you can see, right?

No, the judge said: “It means you can’t.”

“Big words, your honor,” Giuliani replied.

The federal judge sounded skeptical in some ways of the Trump campaign's argument — in particular that they had sought sweeping relief from federal rather than state court, given that the voters in their suit said they were wronged by specific counties. Why not sue those persons, then?

"You're alleging that the two individual plaintiffs were denied the right to vote," the judge asked. "But at bottom, you're asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth. Could you tell me how this result could possibly be justified?"

Afterward, Giuliani reportedly said that the campaign would appeal if needed.

President Trump has not yet conceded he lost to Biden, slowing down the transition to a new administration while many leading Republicans offer support for allowing him to exhaust his challenges to the results.

But Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, sounded less than persuaded by the campaign's suit in federal court.

"I don’t think they have a strong case," he told reporters this week.

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