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Hear It for Yourself: Rudy Giuliani Flubs Law and Facts in Federal Court as Pa. Counties Skewer ‘Disgraceful’ Performance

Outgoing President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has seized every opportunity—whether on TV, Twitter or, uproariously, in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping company—to blast his conspiracy theory that massive voter fraud is the reason his client lost resoundingly to President-elect Joe Biden.

On Tuesday, Giuliani brought those baseless claims to federal court. You can listen to some of those courtroom moments throughout this story. The court released the audio earlier on Thursday.

Giuliani dedicated his opening statement in the U.S. District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania to a rant about Democrats colluding to “steal” the election across the country. That made his 180-degree backflip mid-hearing all the more remarkable. You can listen to these courtroom moments throughout this story.

“This is not a voter fraud case,” Giuliani told U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, using the same phrase, verbatim, that his fellow Trump lawyer Kory Langhofer told an Arizona judge only days earlier.

That wasn’t a slip of the tongue, either.

Right before that remark, Giuliani told the judge a different standard of scrutiny would apply “if we had alleged fraud.”

It was painfully clear from oral arguments that Giuliani, who previously had not registered a federal court appearance in nearly three decades, did not know what those standards of scrutiny were. The former New York City mayor told the judge to use “normal scrutiny,” a standard that does not exist.

In legalese, the three standards are: strict scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny, and rational basis review.

Incensed by Giuliani’s smears of Pennsylvania’s election workers, the counties’ attorney Mark Aronchick slammed the former mayor’s “disgraceful” rhetoric.

“We don’t have an invented story, which Mr. Giuliani came in here with, about 10 other states, about Clark County, Nevada, about something that happened in 1960,” Aronchick said, ridiculing Giuliani’s freewheeling opening statement. “He called our election workers, our patriots, our people who run the elections the Mafia.”

“I mean, this is, this, this just is, is—disgraceful!” he spat out, in an uncommon crescendo of rage from a county lawyer in a federal court.

Aronchick repeated the remark later in the hearing. He called it “deplorable” in a follow-up interview with Law&Crime.

When not playing fast and loose with the facts, Giuliani gave the English language an unexpected edit.

In a widely ridiculed moment of oral arguments in the Trump campaign’s Pennsylvania elections case, Giuliani told Judge Brann he did not know what “opacity” means.

“It probably means you can see, right?” Giuliani asked.

“It means you can’t,” the judge corrected without skipping a beat.

Chastened, Giuliani said: “It’s a big word.”

“It’s a big word for me, too,” the Barack Obama-appointed jurist charitably responded.

Before Trump’s Pennsylvania election lawsuit went to oral arguments, the campaign radically trimmed its original complaint, which used variations of the phrase voter fraud some 33 times.

In the clip immediately above, Aronchick notes that their amended complaint deleted every reference to that topic.

“They took all 33 out of their amended complaint,” Aronchick said. “Mr. Giuliani is talking about another case, not the case before your honor. Some invented case. Some fantasy world, but the case before your honor, they removed all the [fraud] allegations.”

“Gone,” Aronchick added for emphasis.

[Image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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Law&Crime's senior investigative reporter and editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.