Donald Trump's legal team stages press conference to make unsubstantiated accusations of vote rigging

Ben Riley-Smith
·4-min read
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump - AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump - AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Donald Trump’s legal team led by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani gave a remarkable press conference on Thursday afternoon making sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations of election corruption.

Addressing the media for more than an hour, Mr Giuliani and his fellow Trump legal representatives made a slew of outlandish claims while providing little evidence to back them up. 

At one point Mr Giuliani alleged - without proof - that Joe Biden, the former Democratic presidential candidate now US president-elect, had known of a plot to steal the election from Mr Trump. 

At another attorney Sidney Powell claimed US adversaries from Venezuela, Cuba and China had meddled in the election through a voting system that, she alleged, systematically robbed Mr Trump of votes.

Ms Powell went as far as claiming the president, who clearly lost the election on current vote counts, had actually won a “landslide” but the result had been reversed by nefarious forces.

There were also repeated, heated attacks on the media for not passing on the claims to the American people, with Mr Giuliani alleging an “outrageous iron curtain of censorship”.

The press conference at times tipped into the comic, with a sweating Mr Giuliani at one point wiping away a drip of what appeared to be his hair dye from his face.

But the blizzard of unproven claims were no laughing matter, being made by the US president’s legal representatives in the headquarters of the Republican National Committee in Washington, DC. 

Many figures in the US political and media establishment expressed shock at the breadth of the allegations being made with such little evidence presented to back them up.

Critics have framed the Trump team’s claims as an assault on the act at the heart of US democracy, voting, while the president’s supporters argue the opposite, that he is in fact defending that act. 

The press conference, which comes more than two weeks after election day, escalates Mr Trump’s refusal to concede to Joe Biden despite the latter's leads in battleground states.

Mr Biden was pushed over the all-important 270 electoral vote line by multiple states with winning vote margins of thousands or tens of thousands of votes.

That is very different from the infamous contested 2000 US election where the two presidential candidates were separated by just around 500 votes in a single state, Florida.

Throughout the press conference Mr Giuliani, now in charge of Mr Trump’s legal team contesting election results, spoke of “fraud”, “corruption”, “mass cheating” and “crooks” who got “caught”.

US Election Scrolling Results
US Election Scrolling Results

"I know crimes, I can smell them. I don’t have to smell this one. I can prove it in 18 different ways,” Mr Giuliani, a former prosecutor, claimed at one point.

Amid the flurry of allegations, most unprovable in the immediate aftermath of the press conference, a few claims which have already been discussed were aired.

One was that close to 700,000 ballots cast in Pennsylvania, a swing state which Mr Biden won, were invalid because Republican poll watchers had not been able to see them being counted.

That line of argument, that poll watchers were not given full access to counts, has been disputed in places. It is also not evidence of the mass voter fraud being alleged.

Mr Giuliani claimed “logic” showed that alleged evidence of wrongdoing in different states was part of a wider coordinated election conspiracy.

No proof for that claim was offered. He also provocatively alleged that Mr Biden was aware of the plot, a serious allegation to make about a president-elect.

Again, no proof was offered to support it. Ms Powell, a lawyer for Mr Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn, went further, claiming the voting system Dominion was rigged to add votes for Mr Biden.

Ms Powell claimed: “President Trump won by a landslide, we are going to prove it.” 

She also claimed Dominion executives were linked to figures in Venezuela, Cuba and even China, indicating - without offering evidence - that those countries somehow meddled in vote counts.

A Dominion representative last week said the company “categorically denies any claims about any vote switching or alleged software issues with our voting systems”. 

US government officials involved in election security recently released a statement saying this year's vote was the "most secure" in US history, a conclusion Mr Trump has contradicted. 

On Thursday, it also emerged that Mr Trump directly called a Republican official on an election board in a county in Michigan after she initially refused to certify the result.

The Trump campaign, with many of its early election lawsuits rejected by the courts, appears to be putting focus now on local officials who can stop certification of results.