Bob Bauer, a senior advisor to Mr. Biden and longtime electoral attorney, said there was no legal means by which Republicans in Michigan could oppose a properly held election without violating the voting rights of the entire state electorate. “You can’t change the result afterwards,” he said.
Even so, he admitted, Mr. Trump could try and it could create “a shameful spectacle”.
Initially, Trump campaign aides preferred a discreet series of challenges and recount requests. The people who were briefed on the discussions said they were long shots but were not laughed at from a courtroom.
Now the effort has been taken over by Mr Giuliani, who has been using a scatter shot strategy and promoted wildcat conspiracy theories – even in legal proceedings, as he did at a hearing in Pennsylvania this week.
On Thursday, Mr. Giuliani appeared in a cramped room at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee in Washington, where he and his legal team broke a meandering thread of conspiracies and alleged a “centralized” conspiracy of widespread fraud with no evidence. (Although Mr. Giuliani said he had evidence, he said that he could not share it to protect personal identities and that there were other allegations that “I really cannot reveal at this point”.)
Another Trump campaign attorney, Ms. Powell, followed Mr. Giuliani in promoting the unsubstantiated claims, including a lengthy digression involving Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader who died in 2013.
Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who had just won re-election, sharply criticized Ms. Powell’s false allegations that both Republicans and Democrats were paid to manipulate the system on their behalf.
“To claim that Republican and Democratic candidates paid to call off this election, I find absolutely outrageous, and I insult that,” said Ms. Ernst on Fox News Radio. “I think it’s absolutely wrong to throw out this accusation in order to confuse our constituents in the United States.”
The coverage was contributed by Kathleen Gray from Detroit, Michael Crowley and Kenneth P. Vogel from Washington, and Trip Gabriel, Stephanie Saul and Rebecca R. Ruiz from New York.