“Trump campaign deploys Giuliani to assist flailing legal effort”

Josh Gerstein for Politico:

Giuliani’s presence amped up the drama of the hearing and briefly displaced the predominant narrative that the president’s legal challenges have thus far been almost completely unsuccessful. However, it was less clear whether his presence would bolster the campaign’s legal record.

When Brann asked technical legal questions about whether “strict scrutiny” or “rational basis” tests applied to the case, Giuliani struggled to answer. At times, his arguments sounded more like legal commentary from a TV talk show than what lawyers typically argue about in court.

Giuliani referred to alleged fraud or irregularities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Nevada, although the relevance of those to the pending suit in Pennsylvania was unclear. He also struggled to explain how Boockvar was legally responsible for the treatment of observers in some counties or how various counties handled flawed ballots. Giuliani eventually said she was a proper defendant because nonbinding guidance she issued to county election officials caused “mass confusion.”

Brann’s first question after initial presentations from lawyers on various sides of the case suggested the Trump campaign faces long odds in its question to block certification of the statewide results based on alleged exclusion of observers in some Pennsylvania cities.

“At bottom, you’re asking this court to invalidate more than 6.8 million votes, thereby disenfranchising every single voter in the commonwealth. Can you tell me how this result can possibly be justified?” the judge asked.

Although the suit does ask to block certification of the statewide results, Giuliani focused on the 680,000 votes he said were counted in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh while Republican observers were excluded or were too far away to see the ballots.

“The remedy … is draconian because the conduct was egregious,” Giuliani said. “As far as we’re concerned, Your Honor, those ballots could have been for Mickey Mouse.”

Despite opening his remarks with sweeping claims of fraud, Giuliani acknowledged later in the session that the complaint in the case didn’t directly allege fraud.

Another ominous sign for the Trump campaign: Brann canceled an evidentiary hearing he had set for Thursday where the Trump lawyers could have called witnesses to complain about the access issues.

A lawyer for several counties that were sued in the case, Mark Aronchick, warned that such a hearing could become a “circus.” He was evidently disdainful of Giuliani’s arguments, particularly the call to throw out nearly 700,000 ballots.

“The idea that you’re being asked to do that, I don’t use this word very much … it is disgraceful,” Aronchick said.

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