As he stood under the lights, the rivulets of hair dye framing his face, Rudy Giuliani spoke of a vast conspiracy theory.
"You couldn't possibly believe that the company owning this election machinery was an ally of Hugo Chávez, is an ally of Nicolás Maduro, and an ally of George Soros. What do we have to do to get you to the truth?" he asked.
The allegation was one of several unfounded claims made by Donald Trump’s lawyer at a 90-minute press conference in Washington on Thursday.
Giuliani, the man once dubbed “America’s mayor” due to his admired leadership as mayor of New York during the September 11th attacks, has become one of US president’s fiercest defenders and conspiracy theorist-in-chief.
Thursday’s bizarre press conference, which dissolved into an unedifying spectacle when Giuliani’s hair dye appeared to mingle with his sweat as it ran down his cheeks, was the second time in two weeks that the 76-year-old lawyer hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
His post-election press conference at the Four Seasons garden centre – as opposed to the Four Seasons hotel – on the outskirts of Philadelphia, symbolised Trump’s derisory efforts to overturn the election.
Since then, Giuliani has been tasked with leading the president’s ill-fated legal challenges, leading to several appearances in court in recent weeks. The Trump campaign has launched approximately 30 legal challenges since the election. To date they have lost about 27 and had only one substantive victory – an order allowing election observers to stand closer to the ballot-counting process in one state. It has withdrawn some cases or altered the claims being made.
Margin of error
Some evidence of voting errors have been uncovered, but these are well within the usual margin of error. Even if the Trump team were to win any of the cases, they would not overturn the result of the election. Unlike the 2000 election which came down to disputed votes in one state, Trump would have to change the result in several states in order to win – an impossibility at this point.
Nonetheless, Trump is pressing on, at the same time as he tries a new tack – exploring if he can encourage Republican-controlled states to declare him the winner instead of Biden when they officially certify their results on December 14th.
Trump is reportedly happy with Giuliani’s work – and his indefatigable enthusiasm. The president posted encouraging tweets while Thursday’s press conference was going on. While some of Trump’s advisers are seeking to convince the president that the game is up, Giuliani is encouraging his long-time friend to keep going.
The two men have had a long and interesting history. Both were prominent on New York's social scene in the 1980s and 1990s, though Giuliani was to cite Trump in a corruption case in 1982 when he was the top prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, a post subsequently held by former FBI director James Comey.
Hunger for publicity
Both are famously publicity-hungry, and their love lives frequently featured on the pages of New York’s tabloids. Like Trump, Giuliani married three times. He famously called a press conference in 2000 to announce his separation from his second wife, without her knowledge.
Giuliani, who ran for the Senate earlier in his career, threw his lot in with Trump in 2016, reportedly hoping to be appointed secretary of state. Through Trump's initial campaign and into his presidency, Giuliani became a staunch ally, flying to Ukraine to dig up material on Joe Biden – a trip that would feature in the president' impeachment trial, and end with the indictment of two of Giuliani's associates.
As Trump's presidency comes to an end, Giuliani remains a confidant. He is reportedly in close contact with Trump's former aide Steve Bannon, who was recently banned from Twitter over his incendiary comments about coronavirus expert Anthony Fauci.
Giuliani denied reports this week that he was seeking payment of $20,000 a day to represent Trump. As the campaign’s scattershot legal strategy has failed to yield any significant victories, several law firms have stopped representing the president. Nonetheless, as the curtain comes down on the Trump presidency, Giuliani shows no signs of deserting his fellow New Yorker any time soon.