Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's personal lawyer, appeared in court in Pennsylvania on Tuesday to fight a long-shot legal challenge to block President-elect Joe Biden from being certified as the victor in the must-win state.
The campaign and Trump supporters have filed lawsuits in several states challenging the November 3 election result but have yet to overturn any votes. Any hope of reversing the outcome hangs on Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes the president could not afford to lose.
Mr Trump has alleged Democratic-leaning counties unlawfully identified mail-in ballots before Election Day that had defects so that voters could fix, or "cure", them.
Mr Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and prosecutor who has not represented a client in federal court since 1992, was drafted at the last minute on Tuesday morning to put the campaign’s case to Judge Matthew Brann in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania after three law firms dismissed themselves.
Mr Giuliani, who needed permission from the judge to appear in the case as he is not currently admitted to practice law in a Pennsylvania federal court, made a series of unsubstantiated claims of "widespread, nationwide voter fraud" in the election.
In a dramatic opening statement, he used quotes from former president Jimmy Carter from 40 years ago to support his argument that mail ballots are more susceptible to voter fraud, calling him a “prophet”.
The 76-year-old argued that the expansion of mail-in voting this year is an example of officials taking advantage of a crisis, namely the pandemic.
He went on to allege that 1.5 million votes had been illegally counted, without explaining how he arrived at that number.
Mark Aronchick, the lawyer representing Pennsylvania counties being sued by Mr Trump, tore into Mr Giuliani, saying he was ignorant of the law, living in "some fantasy world" and was pushing wild allegations that are "disgraceful in an American courtroom".
"Dismiss this case, please, so we can move on," Mr Aronchick pleaded to the judge. "There are no specifics. There are no numbers in here,” referring to Mr Giuliani’s freewheeling claims.
He said that the case had turned into some sort of "lifeline" for the Trump campaign. "We need to move on,” he said. “We need to get this election certified."
Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania's Secretary of State, is due to certify the election results next Monday, meaning Judge Brann is expected to rule quickly.
Mr Biden, due to take office on January 20, is projected to have won the state by more than 70,000 votes, giving him 49.9 per cent of the state's votes to 48.8 per cent for Mr Trump.
A loss in the Pennsylvania case would likely doom Mr Trump's already-remote prospects of altering the election's outcome.
As Tuesday's hearing unfolded, Pennsylvania's highest state court issued a ruling against Trump's campaign in a separate lawsuit that could hobble his case before Judge Brann.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the elections board in Philadelphia, the state's largest city, acted reasonably in keeping Republican observers behind barricades and 15 feet away from counting tables.
The Trump campaign has so far been dealt more than 24 consecutive losses in court - prompting a shake up in its legal team - as they tried to claim voting fraud to prevent Mr Biden being declared the winner.
Over the weekend, Mr Giuliani and his own team of lawyers attempted what was described to ABC News as an internal campaign "coup" - a bid to wrestle power away from the longstanding campaign leadership.
The New York Times reported that Mr Giuliani, a long-time friend and attorney for the president, was asking for a fee of $20,000 a day.
“I never asked for $20,000,” Mr Giuliani responded to the paper’s claims, saying Mr Trump volunteered to make sure he was paid after the cases concluded. “The arrangement is: we’ll work it out at the end.”