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Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani delivered a rambling monologue Thursday meant to reveal evidence for a 'massive' vote fraud where he quoted 'My Cousin Vinny' and claimed he had 'hundreds' of sworn affidavits as evidence that he would not share - because, he claimed, it would put his witnesses' lives at risk.
After suffering more than a score of legal defeats on President Trump's multi-state case to throw out ballots, Giuliani resorted to an extended rant about alleged fraud to reporters packed in tightly at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington.
The last time he held a press conference was at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in northern Philadelphia, making the RNC's packed conference room at least an upgrade. And this time there were no known sex offenders on stage with him
Instead there was a self-styled 'elite strike-force team working on behalf of the president' who outlined a conspiracy which wove together Hugo Chavez; China; Venezuela; Cuba; the Clinton Foundation; George Soros; testimony found 'on the internet'; ballots which arrived in trucks; New Jersey voters who crossed the Camden; 'hack' judges; vote counters in Germany and Spain; Democratic political machines just like Mayor Daley in the 1960s; the 'fake news media'; and Joe Biden.
The strike-force team's other leader, Jenna Ellis, bristled at the demand for actual evidence, saying: 'Your question is fundamentally flawed when you're asking where is the evidence.'
At the end she claimed that Rudy Giuliani and another lawyer - Sidney Powell - had 'released the Kraken,' a mythical sea creature which destroys ships.
The press conference was announced by Donald Trump and praised by him as it went on in a tweet: 'An open and shut case of voter fraud. Massive numbers!'
As the two-hour long spectacle unfolded, two streaks of brown dye rolled inexorably down 76-year-old Giuliani's face, apparently unnoticed by the former mayor and presidential candidate, who wiped his face and forehead repeatedly with a white handkerchief.
'Did you all watch My Cousin Vinny?' he said, seeking to make the point that election observers were kept too far away from ballots during the count.
'These people were further away than My Cousin Vinny was from the witness,' he said.
Giuliani even acted out part of a scene played by actor Joe Pesci, using a Brooklyn accent. He called it one of his favorite crime films. He said the race was 'not a victory. It's a fraud.'
I'm melting: As the bizarre press conference went on, a heavily sweating Giuliani began to have streaks of apparent hair dye on the side of his face
Not socially-distanced: Rudy Giuliani was surrounded by a maskless group on stage including from left Sidney Powell, who is Mike Flynn's attorney, Joseph diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, a husband-and-wife lawyer team who have promoted conspiracy theories, and Boris Epshteyn, a Trump aide
Head of the suit: THis is the man leading Donald Trump's fight to overturn the election results
Running: The president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani had matching streaks of either hair dye or make-up on both sides of his face as he addressed the media
Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani delivered a rambling monologue Thursday where he asserted 'massive fraud' in the election, 'not a little teeny one'
See you in court: Rudy Giuliani, 76, remains an attorney registered to practice at the federal bar in New York
My Cousin Vinny: Rudy Giuliani (left) impersonated Vinny Gambini (right) as he compared his legal case to Joe Pesce's character
The film's director Jonathan Lynn got a laugh out of the moment.
'I regard Giuliani's praise of My Cousin Vinny as generous from the man who is currently giving the Comedy Performance of the Year,' he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Giuliani's charges ran the gamut, and he spoke before a team of lawyers and a sign that was meant to show Trump's 'Multiple Pathways to Victory.' It highlighted states all carried by President-elect Joe Biden.
'What I'm describing for you is a massive fraud. It isn't a little teeny one,' he said.
'The president way ahead on election night,' Giuliani added.
Later, he claimed that the results didn't comport with his sleep schedule.
'When I went to bed on election night, he was ahead in all those states … How is it they all turned around?'
He bristled at a question about whether he would seek to drag out cases, and what he would do with his evidence if courts refuse to hear it.
''We're not going to drag it out. It's ridiculous for you to say we're dragging it out. Al Gore had a lot more time than we have had and we have had two weeks to investigate so that's also completely unfair to say we're dragging it out,' he said.
He expressed shock at how the vote changed as absentee ballots came in.
'We have statisticians willing to testify,' Giuliani said, in a harangue that lasted for more than 40 minutes.
He blasted Detroit and Philadelphia, cities with concentrations of black voters where he said there was fraud in elections going back decades.
'Each one of these cities are cities that are controlled by Democrats. Which means they can get away with whatever they want to do,' he claimed.
'Unfortunately they have some friendly judges that will issue ridiculously irrational opinions just to come out in their favor,' he said, days after losing in the Pennsylvania state supreme court.
'Even Tanzania and places that you wouldn't think of had rules about inspectors,' he said, without explaining why it would be surprising for the East African nation to observe the vote count.
He also attacked the media, who sat silently as he trained his attacks on them about 30 minutes into his presentation.
'I know you keep reporting falsely that we have no evidence,' he said. Then he read a single affidavit of Jessy Jacob alleging fraud at the Detroit center where votes were counted.
A judge found the claims, while serious, were 'generalized' and had 'no date, location, frequency, or names of employees.'
But it was the only one he shared. ''We have 100 more of these. I can't show them to you.' He said it was because people who filled them out would be 'harassed.'
'The American people are entitled to know this. You don't have a right to keep it from them,' he lectured the press.
'If you count the lawful votes, Trump won Wisconsin by a good margin,' he said.
Rudy Giuliani brought up Detroit city worker Jessy Jacob during his Thursday press conference, holding up an affidavit she signed, alleging voter fraud.
Jacob's claims, however, were already dismissed by a Michigan judge.
Jacob alleged that city of Detroit election workers coached voters to vote for Joe Biden and the Democrats. She said workers would watch people vote. She claimed that when working at a satellite voting office she was encouraged not to ask voters for ID.
'The allegations made by Ms. Jacob are serious,' wrote Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny.
He then goes on to point out that Jacob didn't provide any names or details - nor did she indicate that she had tried to warn a supervisor about what she alleged.
One allegation, that signatures weren't being matched, was likely true - but that's because that happens earlier in the vote-tallying process, the judge made clear.
Kenny also believed her claims were politically motivated.
'Ms. Jacob only came forward after the unofficial results of voting indicated former Vice President Joe Biden was the winner in the state of Michigan,' the judge wrote. e promised additional suits in Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, and other states.
'If you count the legal votes in Pennsylvania, he won by about 300,000 votes,' he said.
'We have very significant fraud allegations in the state of New Mexico,' Giuliani said of the state that went for Biden. Then he claimed there were cases in Virginia too.
But he held back information.
'This had to be planned in advance,' he said, complaining that observers were put in 'pens' and 'corrals.'
As he wrapped up, Giuliani lobbed more wild accusations, this time referencing Dominion Voting Systems machines that are the subject of a conspiracy touted by Trump that they 'deleted' votes for him and 'switched' votes from Biden to Trump.
'What we are seeing is massive influence of Communist money from Venezuela, Cuba and likely China,' he said.
'We use largely a Venezuelan voting machine to count our vote,' he said.
'Joe Biden is in the lead because of the fraudulent ballots,' Giuliani claimed.
Then he yielded the mic to lawyer Sidney Powell, who represented former Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn when he sought to retract his guilty plea.
'The world is watching this,' said Powell.
Another lawyer, Jenna Ellis, also lectured the press, who were forced to sit silently for an hour of presentations in a cramped room where none of the speakers wore masks as the pandemic reached record levels.
'I can see all of you taking pictures right now and I can anticipate what your headlines are going to be,' she sneered - although she did not appear to have noticed Giuliani's brown streaks.
Then she provided the quasi-military unofficial name of the group.
''This is an elite strike-force team working on behalf of the president ... to make sure that our Constitution is protected,' she said.
The group includes Giuliani, Powell, Ellis, former U.S. attorney Joe DiGenova and his wife and fellow lawyer Victoria Toensing.
'I don't know what you need to wake you up? To do your job!' Giuliani lectured the press.
Clean-up time: Shortly before the end of the press conference Rudy Giuliani managed to wipe away most of the brown streak on his face
We can flip them all: Giuliani had a map beside him of the states where he claims the Democratic plot went down - although he also claimed it happened in New Mexico and Virginia, which are not colored
Elite strike team: A sweaty Rudy Giuliani outlined his claims of a massive conspiracy which had been going on apparently unnoticed by anyone but the president's current legal team in a low-ceiling conference room at the Republican National Committee's headquarters
How it went: Rudy Giuliani leads the 'elite strike force team' out at the end of the press conference, with Jenna Ellis, who in 2016 called the president an 'idiot' behind him. She later tweeted that Giuliani and Sidney Powell (immediately behind her) had 'unleashed the Kraken.' Krakens cannot survive out of water.
Witness claims: Giuliani gestured at an affidavit from a Detroit poll worker, Jessy Jacob, which appeared to have had some scanning error
He's found a fan! The president's second son was apparently unconcerned by the dye on Rudy Giuliani's face
Damp squid: The Kraken is a mythological Scandinavian sea creature sometimes compared to a giant octopus
The former federal prosecutor spoke to his past.
'I know crimes. I can smell them. You don't have to smell this one,' he said.
'When I went to bed on election night, he was ahead in all those states … How is it they all turned around?' he asked. The simple answer to that was that mail-in ballots in a series of states could not be counted until after in-person ballots because Republican legislatures had refused to allow them to be processed in advance.
'Our goal here is to go around the iron curtain of censorship,' Giuliani said, before calling on Trump loyalist outfit OANN.
Even after the attacks on the media, the lawyers took multiple questions from the press – including a series of softballs from seemingly friendly outlets provided seating in the front row.
Finally pressed about his string of legal defeats, Giuliani attacked the judiciary in Democratic states. 'Judges are appointed politically, and too many of them are hacks,' he said.
Powell floated a conspiracy theory centered around money-making. 'Think about the global interests behind your own news organizations,' she said. 'They make one heck of a lot of money off of it.'
Ellis tried to discourage questions about evidence, saying people who would inquire don't understand the judicial process.
'Your question is fundamentally flawed when you're asking where is the evidence,' she said.
Giuliani acknowledged several members of the legal team who have dropped out of the bevy of lawsuits the Trump camp has organized.
'We have difficulty getting lawyers because our lawyers get threatened with being killed because of the ridiculous way in which you cover this,' he said.
President Donald Trump's attorneys - the group of lawyers working to overturn the election results in his favor - pegged themselves as 'elite strike force team' in a bizarre press conference at the Republican National Committee.
But the group of five - Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, Boris Epshteyn, Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing - are more known for their engagement with conservative media, appearances on Fox News and their public advocacy for Trump rather than for winning election cases.
Here's a look at the president's legal team:
Rudy Giuliani: Hair apparent
He made his name in New York City as a top federal prosecutor where he battled the mob. He became a national hero on September 11th, when, as mayor, he led the city through the worst terrorist attack in American history.
But at 76, he has served as Trump's personal lawyer for years and has fed him conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden's work in Ukraine and argued it was a Ukrainian company that had the server with Hillary Clinton's emails.
U.S. intelligence agencies have said they believe Giuliani is a target of an influence operation from the Russian government. Giuliani is believed to have business clients with ties to the Ukraine although he has not revealed his client list.
Now he's reported to have asked the Trump campaign for $20,000 a day to spearhead Trump's effort to overturn the election results.
He's told the president that his other advisers have not been telling him the truth about his chances of success in his legal battles to overturn the results of the election, The New York Times reported.
On Friday, Trump put Giuliani in charge of all election-related litigation and communications for it. That resulted Thursday's press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters where Giuliani, with hair dye dripping down both sides of his face, spouted baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud while praising the movie 'My Cousin Vinny.'
Trump elevated Giuliani, a source told The Wall Street Journal, because 'he was the only person telling the president he could win.'
Sidney Powell: Plans to unleash the Kraken
She represented Trump's former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn and has been a major promoter of viral conspiracy theories about vote switching - theories she repeated on Thursday.
In her series of bizarre claims, she said Hugo Chavez (who died in 2013) was part of a group of communists from China and Venezuela helping to rig the election in Joe Biden's favor.
She also claimed that operators of Dominion voting machines went in and injected votes for Biden while deleting votes for Trump. She has shown no proof of her claims.
She has said she will 'release the Kraken' when it comes to proving voter fraud - a phrase that trended on Twitter.
Trump first noticed her when she was on Fox News defending Flynn, her client. She has accused the Justice Department of prosecutorial misconduct against Flynn.
She also has alleged special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation was part of a plot by the intelligence community to force President Trump from office.
Jenna Ellis: Called Trump an idiot in 2016
Ellis, a legal adviser to the Trump campaign, was reportedly part of an internal coup that put her and Giuliani in charge of the post-election legal strategy.
White House aides have expressed concern about her.
She was viewed as an uncontrollable figure inside the campaign who often provided President Trump with questionable information about alleged voter fraud.
And she appeared on television without asking for approval from campaign officials, aides told The Washington Post.
She dubbed herself 'President-Elect Jenna Ellis' on Twitter.
During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, she called Trump an 'idiot,' a 'bully' and agreed that he was someone intent to 'destroy American democracy.'
Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing: Anti-Soros conspiracy theorists
The husband-and-wife legal team are panelists on Newsmax, a right-wing media outlet. They used to be regulars on Fox News until DiGenova made wild claims that much of the State Department was under the control of a well-known Jewish financier George Soros.
Trump wanted them on his legal team for his impeachment trial - he was said to be impressed with diGenova's defense of him on Fox News - but the two were unable to join due to conflicts of interest.
They represent Ukrainian businessman Dmitri Firtash, who was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with bribery and racketeering.
They also reportedly worked with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two associates of Giuliani’s who were arrested on charges of campaign finance violations.
A former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, diGenova pushed the theory that lawmakers tried to frame Trump when they investigated whether his campaign colluded with Russia four years ago.
Toensing represented Scooter Libby, the assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney, when Trump pardoned him.
Boris Epshteyn: Eric Trump's Russian-born friend
He was the Chief Political Commentator at Sinclair Broadcast Group until December 2019 when he joined President Trump's re-election campaign.
He was born in Moscow and emigrated to the United States as a child with his parents. He met Eric Trump at Georgetown University, where Epshteyn received his law degree.
Epshteyn became a special assistant in the Trump administration when the president first took office. He wrote Trump's controversial statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day in January 2017, which omitted any mention of the Jewish people. He later resigned from the White House in March 2017.
He also testified behind closed doors to the House Intelligence Committee as part of its probe into Russia's role in the 2016 election.
Rudy Giuliani was surrounded by a maskless group on stage including from left Sidney Powell, who is Mike Flynn's attorney, Joseph diGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, a husband-and-wife lawyer team who have promoted conspiracy theories, and Boris Epshteyn, a Trump aide
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 82,092
The Trump campaign has made Pennsylvania a centerpiece of its legal efforts in hopes of prying its 20 Electoral Votes away from Joe Biden. The state was a focus of pre-election concern amid its vastly expanded mail-in ballots, court rulings about the state accepting mailed ballots after Election Day, and predictions voters would mishandle mail votes or fail to put their ballots inside a security sleeve before returning it.
The Trump campaign has raised broad public allegations of fraud and irregularities, while filing suits focused on restrictions placed on election observers – without immediate success.
Amid a series of chaotic moves among Trump's legal team, the president tasked personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani with overseeing his efforts. The former New York mayor appeared in federal court Tuesday, Nov. 17. He wove together a sweeping claim of a fraud conspiracy allegedly carried out by Democrats, saying there was a 'widespread nationwide voter fraud.' He added: 'They stole an election.' But Giuliani also acknowledged to the federal judge Matthew Brann that, 'This is not a fraud case.' The Trump campaign had shaved numerous allegations from its initial filing, now arguing that there had been constitutional violations because some counties allowed voters to 'cure' their mail-in ballots while others did not. 'This is just disgraceful,' said Mark Aronchick, representing the Allegheny County Board of Elections, in the county that includes Pittsburgh.
Even as Giuliani was in court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against the Trump campaign, 5-2, after the Trump camp argued that election observers weren't allowed close enough to observe the electoral count and did not get 'meaningful access.' The 5-2 decision ruled that Pennsylvania counties could determine the particulars of election observers, and that state law only required they be 'in the room' when votes are counted. Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis blasted the ruling and said 'We are keeping all legal options open to fight for election integrity and the rule of law.'
Even the two dissenting justices in the state's highest court wrote that the idea of tossing out 'presumptively valid' ballots based on 'isolated irregularities' was 'misguided.'
On Monday after Election Day, the Trump campaign filed their big shot at overturning all mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania, claiming that Democratic and Republican counties did not administer them in the same way; instances of fraud; and that poll watchers could not see them being counted. On that basis, they say, the results should not be certified on November 23.
The case faces an uphill struggle. The largest law firm involved in it, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, quit.
The Supreme Court has already allowed mail-in ballots to be issued in Pennsylvania, and the claim of poll watchers not seeing them being counted had failed before when a Trump agreed that a 'non-zero number' of Republicans had observed the count in Philadelphia.
The new suit provided no actual evidence of fraud. It did include a claim by an Erie mailman that he had heard his supervisors talking about illegally backdating ballots; he was said to have recanted that claim when questioned by U.S. Postal Inspectors.
Trump's campaign then filed a motion to intervene in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a decision from the state's highest court that allowed election officials to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday's Election Day that were delivered through Friday after Election Day.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on the Friday night before Election Day ordered county election boards in the state to separate mail-in ballots received after 8 p.m. EST on Election Day.
Pennsylvania election officials have said those ballots were already being separated.
The justices previously ruled there was not enough time to decide the merits of the case before Election Day but indicated they might revisit it afterwards.
Alito, joined by fellow conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, said in a written opinion that there was a 'strong likelihood' the Pennsylvania court's decision violated the U.S. Constitution.
Pennsylvania's Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar has said late-arriving ballots are a tiny proportion of the overall vote in the state.
Rudy Giuliani unveiled a 'witness' to his claims - a Republican poll watcher - at his infamous press conference outside Four Seasons Total Landscaping. But the man, Daryl Brooks, has not been included in any legal papers. He was previously convicted of exposing himself to underage girls.
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 9,543. RECOUNT IS LEGALLY IMPOSSIBLE
Trump's campaign said the Saturday after Election Day it had sued in Arizona, alleging that the state's most populous county incorrectly rejected votes cast on Election Day by some voters.
The lawsuit, filed in state Superior Court in Maricopa County, said poll workers told some voters to press a button after a machine had detected an 'overvote.'
The campaign said that decision disregarded voters' choices in those races, and the lawsuit suggested those votes could prove 'determinative' in the outcome of the presidential race.
It is a modification of an earlier suit which was submitted and then withdrawn claiming that Trump voters were given sharpies to mark their ballots and claiming this made them more prone to error. The 'sharpie-gate' claims have no basis in fact, Arizona's secretary of state says.
On Thursday Nov. 12, a judge savaged the affidavits produced to back the case as 'spam' and a Trump lawyer said they were not alleging fraud in any form.
On Nov. 13th, lawyers for the Trump campaign dropped a lawsuit seeking a review of all ballots cast on Election Day amid the daunting vote margin. The Biden camp had called the suit 'frivolous' and a 'waste of time.'
Amid the setbacks, the state GOP asked a judge to bar Maricopa County from certifying the election results. A judge was scheduled to hear the motion Wednesday, Nov. 18, with a looming Nov. 23 deadline for state certification of election results. An audit in the vote-rich county found not ballot discrepancies there.
One claim that President Trump blasted out to his Twitter followers alleging that Dominion voting machines and software were part of a nationwide scheme to 'delete' Trump votes and 'switch' votes from Trump to Biden never made it into legal filings by his campaign lawyers.
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 33,596
A voter, a member of the media and two candidate campaigns sued Nevada's secretary of state and other officials to prevent the use of a signature-verification system in populous Clark County and to provide public access to vote counting.
A federal judge rejected the request, saying there was no evidence the county was doing anything unlawful.
Trump campaign officials have also claimed evidence that thousands of non-residents have voted but have not sued.
The Trump campaign filed a new lawsuit Tuesday Nov. 17, two weeks after Election Day, claiming irregularities, suing on behalf of Trump electors in Carson City. The campaign claimed 15,000 people voted despite moving out of state. Following earlier claims some people labeled 'out of state' were found to be military voters stationed outside of Nevada. It revisited allegations that a machine used to verify signatures was not reliable. The suit asks a judge to either declare Trump the winner or nullify the results and prohibit the appointment of state electors. It also states that 500 provisional ballots got included in totals without being resolved.
One suit targets a Democratic elector who says she is a homeless veteran, seeking to avoid the state's electors to Trump and disregard the vote.
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 14,028
The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in state court in Chatham County that alleged late-arriving ballots were improperly mingled with valid ballots, and asked a judge to order late-arriving ballots be separated and not be counted.
The case was dismissed on November 5, finding there was 'no evidence' ballots referenced in the suit came in after the state's deadline, and no evidence Chatham County failed to comply with the law.
The two Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, called for the GOP Secretary of State to quit claiming there were election irregularities Monday. They offered no evidence and he scoffed: 'That's not going to happen.'
A suit by Atlanta attorney Lin Wood, who supports Trump and who represented Richard Jewell in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bomb case, is seeking a court order to prevent Georgia from certifying its results, and calling for mail-in ballots not to be included in totals. He is seeking to throw out a March 6, 2020 consent agreement reached by the Georgia secretary of state and the Democratic Party. The decree put in place procedures for verifying ballot signatures.
A group of four voters voluntarily withdrew their suit after arguing in a complaint to exclude votes from eight counties, saying ballots were cast illegally.
Three Trump campaign claims of dead people 'voting' in Georgia turned out not to be true.
Georgia undertook an automatic recount due to the closeness of the margin, and conducted a hand count as part of an audit. Officials were expecting to announce the result Nov. 18. Although the count uncovered additional tranches of ballots, it was not expected to change the result.
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 148, 152
On Monday Nov. 9 Trump filed a federal case alleging fraud and then later a separate demand that the votes are not certified on November 23.
In the first case, one witness - possibly misgendered by the Trump lawyers - claimed that they had been told by another person that mysterious ballots arrived late on vehicles with out of state plates and all were for Biden; that they had seen voters coached to vote for Biden; and that they were told to process ballots without any checks.
It also included poll watchers and 'challengers' who said they could not get close enough to see what was happening.
A federal judge has yet to issue any response on when and how it will be looked into. The Trump campaign also filed the same case again to the wrong federal court on Thursday Nov. 12 for no apparent reason.
Trump's campaign last Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Michigan to halt the vote count in the state. The lawsuit alleged that campaign poll watchers were denied 'meaningful access' to counting of ballots, plus access to surveillance video footage of ballot drop boxes.
On Thursday 6, Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens dismissed the case, saying there was no legal basis or evidence to halt the vote and grant requests.
The Trump campaing also asked a court to stop canvassing boards in Michigan and in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, from certifying the results.
A week after filing its federal case, the Trump campaign had yet to serve Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson with a copy of its complaint.
U.S. District Judge Janet Neff gave the campaign a Nov. 17 deadline or face dismissal 'for failure to diligently prosecute this case.'
There was drama the evening of Nov. 17 when two Republican officials refused for a time refused to certify the results from Detroit. They backtracked hours later in the face of outrage and accusations of racism. President Trump hailed them online for their 'courage' Tuesday night, but they flip-flopped minutes later and agreed to certify the result. The initial refusal had been seen as a first step towards Trump having the Republican-held Michigan legislature ignore the election results and seat its own Electoral College electors who back Trump, in a bid to force a contested election into the Congress.
BIDEN MAJORITY TRUMP NEEDS TO OVERTURN: 20,565
On Nov. 18th, the Trump campaign paid $3 million to get a partial recount in two Wisconsin counties, Milwaukee and Dane, that went heavily for Joe Biden. The request came hours before a deadline Wednesday.
The race was close enough, with a difference of more than 20,000, that Trump could request a recount, but was required to pay. Counties must complete their work by December 1.
Past recounts have had only marginal impacts on the final count. A recount of the 2016 presidential election netted Trump just 131 additional votes, with a victory margin of 23,000. That recount was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and opposed by Trump.
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
The U.S. Postal Service said about 1,700 ballots had been identified in Pennsylvania at processing facilities during two sweeps on Thursday after Election Day and were being delivered to election officials, according to a court filing early Friday.
The Postal Service said 1,076 ballots, had been found at its Philadelphia Processing and Distribution Center. About 300 were found at the Pittsburgh processing center, 266 at a Lehigh Valley facility and others at other Pennsylvania processing centers.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington is overseeing a lawsuit by Vote Forward, the NAACP, and Latino community advocates.
Sullivan on Thursday ordered twice-daily sweeps at Postal Service facilities serving states with extended ballot receipt deadlines.
Donald Trump does have a precarious - and politically explosive - path to keeping the White House. To do it he needs to get Joe Biden's wins in a series of states set aside.
With his claim that the Supreme Court would do that looking to have evaporated, instead he has to use the procedures of the Electoral College to turn it round.
And he needs to do it in a lot of states: if Georgia and Arizona stay on track for Joe Biden, he will have 306 votes, far above the 270 needed. Trump appears to be taking legal action, or intending to, in six states: Pennsylvania, with 20 Electoral College votes; Georgia, with 16; Michigan with 16; Arizona with 11; Wisconsin with 10; and Nevada with six.
He needs to get at least any two of the larger three states plus one more state to go Republican to get Biden under 270.
Here is how he might manage it:
STEP ONE: GET COURTS TO PUT HOLDS ON CERTIFYING THE VOTE IN TARGET STATES
The vote is not official until it is 'certified' - that is officially declared valid - which happens later in November. Georgia certifies on November 20, and Nevada and Wisconsin are last on December 1.
Trump is already trying to get certification put on hold in Pennsylvania and Michigan, claiming large-scale irregularities. That briefly appeared to succeed in Wayne County, MI, on Tuesday 17 when the Republicans on the bipartisan board of canvassers refused to certify - but only for a few hours before backing down. The next day they said they wanted to withdraw their signatures but it appeared to be too late under state laws; in the meantime Trump thanked them for their support.
OR: GET AN 'AUDIT' REQUESTED OR EVEN BETTER ORDERED - AND KEEP IT GOING PAST CERTIFICATION
Some Michigan Republican state senators have asked for an 'audit' claiming that allegations of irregularity need to be looked into. This could be a useful tool if courts don't come through: at the very least it would allow Republicans to say they don't trust the certification because it has not been audited.
STEP TWO: KEEP THE CERTIFICATION ON HOLD PAST DECEMBER 8
This is the 'safe harbor' deadline when all election disputes must be resolved. If they are not fully played out, whoever has a court ruling in their favor at this point keeps that result. So if Trump has certification on hold in target states, he has a chance to flip them to him starting now.
STEP THREE: GET REPUBLICAN LEGISLATURES TO AGREE TO APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS
You were not voting for the president directly: you were voting for electors to the electoral college. But the Constitution does not say that electors are winners of a popular vote. Instead the Constitution says: 'Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.' In the early 19th century, states rapidly moved to make the appointment of the electors the result of the popular vote; by 1832 South Carolina was the only holdout. It stuck with that approach until secession.
So Republicans in at least three and possibly more states would have to decide that because the results are not certified - or because they claim they don't trust the certification because of an audit or the lack of one - that they can take back control for themselves. They would argue that because the results aren't certified or trustworthy, it's up to them to work out the will of the people.
Then - undoubtedly in the face of huge public protest - they would appoint Republicans who will vote for Trump.
This has happened in recent history: in 1960 Hawaii had disputed elections and sent two slates of electors.
STEP FOUR: SWEAT IT OUT WHEN GOVERNORS APPOINT THEIR OWN ELECTORS
All three of the biggest target states - Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan - have Republican legislatures and Democratic governors. So now the governors could simply appoint their own electors - voting for Biden - and say that their votes are what counts on January 6, when the Electoral College is counted and record in Washington D.C.
STEP FOUR: SURVIVE A SUPREME COURT CHALLENGE TO THE REPUBLICAN ELECTORS
Such a dramatic change would go to the Supreme Court. It has never directly ruled whether states could do that: in 2000, three of the five justices who gave the election to Bush over Gore said that state legislatures had complete control - but that is not a precedent. Now Trump's fate would be in the hands of nine justices, three of whom he appointed and one of whom - Clarence Thomas - said that legislatures are in charge.
Democrats would of course argue that the governors' electors are the right ones, and a titanic battle would play out. If Trump wins - again in the face of likely huge public protest - he is on to the final stage.
STEP FIVE: HOPE THAT THE PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN SLATES DON'T GO FAITHLESS
If Pennsylvania is one of the states to ignore the popular vote, Trump needs its 20 Republican electors to stick to the plan - but the state allows faithless electors. So all, or even some, could make a difference in an already mathematically fraught bid to keep the presidency. But assuming he has enough votes not going to Biden, it is on to Washington D.C.
STEP FIVE: MAKE IT TO JANUARY 6
This is D-day for the plan: The newly-sworn in Congress meets to count the Electoral College votes. The vice-president, Mike Pence, presides, over a joint session. Normally the 'certificates' showing how each state voted are opened in front of the vice-president, the count is recorded and with a bang of the gavel, the electoral college winner is officially declared.
Now Trump needs Republicans in the House and Senate to work together. A member of the House and a senator can jointly object to a state's certificate when it is opened. The last time this happened was in 1877, which caused a months-long crisis, ended by compromise and followed by the Electoral Count Act of 1887.
This time the 1887 rules come into play. If there is an objection, they split into the House and Senate and there are two hours for debate. This has only happened once, in 2005, when a tiny number of Democrats objected to Ohio's vote count. But it was voted down overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate.
And finally, the vote count is in alphabetical order, so Arizona will be the first battleground state where all this could be tested.
STEP SIX: MAKE SURE THE RULES ARE IN YOUR FAVOR
As the Trump ships enters uncharted waters, one issue is unresolved: how do you work out what a majority of the Electoral College is? That seems simple but it might not be. If the House and the Senate come to different conclusions on a state with rival slates of electors, then the question is what happens next.
The most likely answer is that they are simply removed from Biden's total but not added to Trump. But does that mean the states still count in the Electoral College? The 1887 law is not clear: it seems to suggest both options are available, so Congress might have to try to decide - or Pence as president of the joint session could rule.
If Congress goes for the shrinking college, that favors Biden unless Trump has Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin - all the states being targeted by Trump. But if it stays at 538, then Biden could well lose without Trump actually winning: once it falls below 270, there is no majority and therefore it is up to the House to decide.
STEP SEVEN: KEEP MITT ROMNEY, SUSAN COLLINS AND LISA MURKOWSKI ON TRUMP'S SIDE (AND HOPE PENCE CAN VOTE)
If Trump is to win, he has to have the Republicans in the Senate vote for Arizona's Republican slates as the first order of business.
This is where the Georgia Senate race comes into play.
If the Georgia runoffs are decided and Democrats take both seats, Pence would have to tie break in Trump's favor - if that is allowed. The rules say he is president of the joint session. But they are unclear on whether he retains his tie-break power as president of the Senate. The two roles are not identical and the 1887 law appears to give him a passive, rather than active, role in the session - more like the chief justice presiding over Trump's impeachment trial than a regular Senate session.
But if Republicans get one or both Georgia seats, the Senate will be 51-49 or 52-48, which means that any rebellion by Republicans is extremely dangerous. Assuming that Pence has a tie-break, it would take only two or three rebels to end Trump's run. There are three obvious candidates: Mitt Romney voted to impeach him, Susan Collins owes him nothing after he refused to campaign for her, and he has called for Lisa Murkowski to be primaried.
STEP EIGHT: WATCH A DEBATE WHICH HAS NO PRECEDENT
The 1887 law sets some ground rules for how the House and the Senate debate which slate of electors are valid. They have to decide what the true vote was at the safe harbor deadline - back on December 8 - and which slate of electors were appointed in line with state law. So the debate should - in theory - not be partisan but a determination of which side is valid. In principle, that could mean different outcomes for different states. But assuming that a Arizona goes Trump's way in the Senate and Biden's way in the House, that state is tied - and then it's on to a new constitutional crisis.
STEP NINE: NOW IT'S GETTING REALLY MESSY - COULD THERE BE TWO PRESIDENTS
The law says that Congress can't move on to the next state until debate is resolved over the one in question. But it also says that the meeting cannot be dissolved until all states are decided.
So the whole proceeding could be deadlocked at Arizona. And as long as it remains deadlocked, there is a looming deadline of January 20 - at which point Pence and Trump are out of office anyway. In that scenario, Nancy Pelosi becomes president automatically at noon.
However, Pence could break the deadlock on Arizona by ruling that the votes are not to be counted at all, and debate can resume on the next item.
Democrats clearly would not agree. In that scenario, it is impossible to say what would happen. They could walk out, say the debate is not resolved - which it would not be - and therefore Pelosi would be sworn in on January 20.
But Pence can then rule that the debate in fact is going on even without Democrats, run through the votes with only Republicans and come up with a Trump victory: meaning two rival presidents both claiming they are in charge. Both can be sworn in at noon on January 20, with only one with their personal items in the White House.
What happens then is impossible to say: the Supreme Court could try to rule between them, or the military might have to decide who is commander-in- chief.
THE OTHER STEP NINE: KEEP DEBATING (ALTHOUGH WHY WOULD DEMOCRATS WANT TO?
Of course Democrats could stick with the debate and keep going, debating each state as they go along.
If Trump overturns six states' votes, it is inevitable that Democrats lose, regardless of the rules. If he has fewer states, he will want the 538 figure kept in play to get Biden into a minority. This highly unlikely step gets to neither having a majority in the Electoral College.
STEP NINE: THE HOUSE DECIDES - TRUMP HAS DONE IT
If Trump and Biden end up here this is safer ground: the House has decided before. It does not vote under normal rules. Instead each state delegation gets one vote and has to decide among the delegation how to allot it.
So going by current House results, 27 states have Republican majorities, and all Trump has to do it get a simple majority of them. Trump has triumphed - but it is an exhaustingly long process to get back on the platform on January 20 to be sworn in.