US President Donald Trump's legal team have held an extraordinary press conference to make their case for overturning the election results, claiming the election was stolen by "crooks" and infiltrated by "Communist money".
The President's legal team, headed by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Former Assistant US Attorney Sidney Powell, along with lawyers Jenna Ellis, Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing, outlined in a 90 minute media briefing various cases the campaign was bringing in key swing states where Trump narrowly lost to President-elect Joe Biden.
Giuliani, hair dye dripping down the side of his face at one point, repeated claims of massive absentee ballot fraud, including during the counting in key Democrat-controlled urban centres where Republican poll watchers say they were illegally prevented from observing the process.
"In the states we have indicated in red, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona, we have more than double the number of votes needed to overturn the election in terms of provable, illegal ballots," Giuliani told reporters at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington DC.
"Look at the lawsuits, look at what's alleged, look at the affidavits. We have a thousand at least."
Brandishing affidavits from witnesses, Giuliani berated the assembled media, telling them it was "your job to read these things and not falsely report that there's no evidence".
Citing four witnesses in the campaign's Michigan case, he said they described an incident "that in any other circumstances would have been on the front page of your newspapers" if it weren't for the "irrational, pathological hatred you have for the President".
"What they swear to is that at 4.30am, a truck pulled up to the Detroit centre where they were counting ballots," he said.
"The people thought it was food so they all ran to the truck. It wasn't food – it was thousands and thousands of ballots, and the ballots were in garbage cans, they were in paper bags, they were in carboard boxes. They were taken into the centre, they were put on a number of tables."
Giuliani said the witnesses swore that "every ballot they could see, every thing they could hear, these were ballots for Biden, and when they saw a ballot, these were ballots only for Biden, meaning there was no down-ticket".
"Many of them didn't have anything on the outer envelope because these ballots were produced very quickly, very swiftly, and they're estimated to be minimum of 60,000, maximum 100,000," he said. "Many of them were triple-counted, meaning they were put into the counting machine once, twice, three times."
The lawyers also doubled down on wild allegations of fraud by voting machine company Dominion, which Trump last week sensationally claimed had "switched 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide".
"We use largely a Venezuelan voting machine, in essence, to count our vote," Giuliani said.
"If we let this happen we're going to become Venezuela. We cannot let this happen to us. We cannot allow these crooks, because that's what they are, to steal an election from the American people."
Powell, who focused on the Dominion allegations, said what "we are really dealing with here and uncovering more by the day is the massive influence of Communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China in the interference with our elections here in the US".
"The Dominion Voting Systems, the Smartmatic software and the software that goes in other computerised voting systems here as well, were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez to make sure he never lost another election," he said.
"We have one very strong witness who has explained how it all works. It is a stunning, detailed affidavit because he was with Hugo Chavez while he was being briefed on how it worked, he saw it operate to make sure the election came out his way. That was the express purpose of creating the software."
Powell said as soon as the witness "saw multiple states shut down the (counting) on the night of the election, he knew the same thing was happening here". She alleged that "one of its most characteristic features is its ability to flip votes".
"It can set and run an algorithm, that probably ran all over the country, to take a certain percentage of votes from President Trump and flip them to Biden, which we might never had uncovered had the votes for President Trump not been so overwhelming in so many of these states that it broke the algorithm that had been plugged into the system," she said.
"That's what caused them to have to shut down in the states they shut down in, that's when they came in the back door with all the mail-in ballots, many of which they had actually fabricated."
Dominion and Smartmatic have vehemently denied the allegations.
Trump, who has not been seen in public in several days, tweeted to promote the press conference.
"An open and shut case of voter fraud. Massive numbers!" he said.
Trump's election lawsuits plagued by elementary errors
When Trump sends lawyers to court, it seems he's not sending his best.
Fighting to challenge an election he lost to Biden, Trump has launched a barrage of lawsuits across the country.
Top Republicans have stood behind him and said they will wait for those cases to be resolved before officially recognizing the winner, a standard that has no modern precedent.
But his attorneys have repeatedly made elementary errors in those high-profile cases: misspelling "poll watcher" as "pole watcher," forgetting the name of the presiding judge during a hearing, inadvertently filing a Michigan lawsuit before an obscure court in Washington and having to refile complaints after erasing entire arguments they're using to challenge results.
"The sloppiness just serves to underscore the lack of seriousness with which these claims are being brought," said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine.
Experts have noted that Trump is not employing the Republican Party's top election lawyers, including those who represented the GOP in the Florida recount two decades ago. Law firms have faced public pressure from Trump opponents not to fight the election on his behalf. Legal giant Porter Wright Morris & Arthur withdrew from a case in Pennsylvania last week.
Attorneys at the larger, more established firms that had been representing Trump have expressed concern privately about pushing a legal strategy without a body of evidence, and worry that it's wrongly furthering a false narrative that the election was fraudulent, according to two people familiar with the litigation. The people were not authorized to speak about litigation and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The day before a major argument in Pennsylvania, three lawyers for Trump withdrew and were replaced in part by Marc Scaringi, an attorney and talk show host who wrote a blog post after the election referring to "President-elect Joe Biden." Scaringi himself had told listeners on his radio show days after the election that "there are really no bombshells" about to drop "that will derail a Biden presidency," and noting that several of the lawsuits "don't seem to have much evidence to substantiate their claims."
Much of the derision has focused on Giuliani, who appeared in court this week in the Pennsylvania case. It was the first time he had represented a client in federal court in almost three decades.
During the hearing, Giuliani forgot the name of an opposing lawyer, misstated the name of the presiding judge and mistook the meaning of the word "opacity."
Hasen pointed to Giuliani's apparent lack of knowledge of the meaning of "strict scrutiny," the highest of three standards used by judges to evaluate how a law or action taken by the government affects someone's constitutional rights. The Trump campaign has claimed without providing evidence that Pennsylvania violated voters' rights by allegedly allowing election fraud.
Strict scrutiny is a basic concept taught to aspiring lawyers and constitutional law classes.
"I've never seen an election lawyer handle a case as poorly as Giuliani has," Hasen said. "The idea that the lawyer arguing the most important case in Pennsylvania would not understand what it means to apply the standard of strict scrutiny in a constitutional case is mind-boggling."
Yesterday, the Trump campaign asked to file a new complaint in Pennsylvania partly to "restore claims which were inadvertently deleted," according to their filing. An attachment to the filing, in citing state election law, references "only one pole watcher" instead of "poll watcher."
Experts say Trump has almost no chance of reversing his loss.
"It's kind of a fallacy to say, well, Trump might be doing better if he had better lawyers," Hasen said. "Part of the reason he doesn't have good lawyers is he doesn't have good claims to bring."
- with AP