Fact Check: Rudy Giuliani and Eric Trump’s press conference was filled with false claims about ballots in Pennsylvania


(CNN)After announcing the Trump campaign’s plan to pursue a series of lawsuits at an event billed as a press conference in Philadelphia, the President’s son, Eric Trump, and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, didn’t take questions from the media. Instead, they spent time lambasting election officials who they said blocked access to ballot-counting locations for partisan Trump campaign poll watchers and casting doubt on mail-in ballots.

Their attempts to discredit voting by mail are the latest in a sea of misinformation on the topic propagated by the Trump campaign.

Mail ballots and fraud

Giuliani attempted to pin delays in vote counts and other issues on mail-in ballots, implying fraud.

    “This whole new thing that never happened before in our country, these mail-in ballots, which has been a cause of real concern for everyone, because they can easily be fraudulent,” Giuliani said.

    Facts First: Mail-in ballots are not new nor do they “easily” result in fraud, despite the insistence of the President and his allies.

    In both 2016 and 2018, approximately 25% of US voters cast ballots by mail, which includes the handful of states that conduct elections entirely by mail and traditional absentee ballots.

    Richard Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine, told CNN that while “absentee ballot fraud happens at relatively higher rates than other kinds of election fraud,” that overall rate is still “quite low.”

    You can read more about mail-in ballots and voter fraud here.

    Illegitimate count in Philadelphia

    Echoing complaints from campaign representatives, Giuliani insisted observers in Philadelphia were not granted the access they legally deserved to see the opening and sorting of ballots. As a result, Giuliani argued the whole count was “illegitimate.”

    Facts First: This is false. A Philadelphia Election Day judge decided that the city’s board of elections complied with the law in how it allowed observers access to the canvassing process.

    The law allows the observers to be present, the judge wrote, but they do not have the right to inspect or look over the shoulders of the workers counting the ballots.

    Furthermore, local, state and federal officials have not reported any major incidents that could call into question the legitimacy of the count or how poll watchers were treated.

    Poll watchers in Pennsylvania

    Eric Trump claimed that in Pennsylvania, “They’re not letting our poll watchers watch the polls. They’re not letting them inside.”

    Facts First: This is misleading. There have been some instances where poll workers did not understand the rules and those were handled by the district attorney but for the most part, registered poll watchers have been allowed at polling places.

    The Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office has said it was aware of just one incident, cited by a lawyer for the Trump campaign, in which a watcher who was registered for a different zone and different ward was not allowed into a polling location, despite rules allowing access to any city location.

    Cheating in Pennsylvania

    Eric Trump suggested the Trump campaign was being cheated out of a win in the state of Pennsylvania overall.

    “We are going to win Pennsylvania, but they are trying to cheat us out of it,” Trump said.

    Facts First: Though it’s unclear who exactly Eric Trump was referring to, the ongoing counting of votes in Pennsylvania is not cheating. Ballots are always counted after Election Day.

    In Pennsylvania, absentee ballots cannot be processed until the morning of November 3 and ballots received up until November 6 can be still be counted as long as they’re postmarked on or before November 3. As a result, it’s unsurprising that counting is continuing past Election Day in Pennsylvania. After the state decided last fall to allow “no excuse” absentee ballots for this election, Pennsylvania Republicans attempted to change the state’s law so that processing could begin earlier and the number of days after the election that counties could receive ballots would be limited. However, they were unsuccessful, and the status quo remained.

    This was not the first time the Trump campaign falsely claimed Pennsylvania’s policy for mail-in ballots amounts to cheating. President Donald Trump implied as much on Tuesday, in response to a US Supreme Court decision to uphold a Pennsylvania state Supreme Court ruling which allowed ballots received up to three days after the election to count, even if there is no legible postmark.

    Democrats and Pennsylvania

    Eric Trump claimed Pennsylvania is the “only path to victory” for Democrats.

    Facts First: Following CNN projections for former Vice President Joe Biden to carry Wisconsin and Michigan, the Democrats’ path to victory does not require they win Pennsylvania, so long as they carry Arizona and Nevada, where they currently lead.

    Conversely, Trump must win Pennsylvania to win, even if he secures most of the other remaining states.

    Trump and lawsuits

    Addressing the Trump campaign’s plans to file a lawsuit in Pennsylvania, Eric Trump made it sound like the situation in Pennsylvania was so dire it had driven them to sue.

      “We are going to file suit in Pennsylvania. It’s a shame that we have to do that. It’s the last thing we wanted to do, it’s the last thing my father wanted to do,” he said.

      Facts First: While we can’t fact check the President’s intentions, his campaign has been filing lawsuits in the lead up to the election against mail-in voting and new policies enacted by states to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the election. And even outside of the context of this election, Trump is known for being fairly litigious. So it’s misleading at best for his son to claim this is the last thing he wanted to do.

      CNN’s Kelly Mena, DJ Judd and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this article.