Fact Check

Did Rudy Giuliani Suggest Borrowing a Legal Tactic from 'My Cousin Vinny'?

A news conference held by President Donald Trump's legal team was part of a disinformation campaign falsely alleging mass voter fraud in the November 2020 general election.

Published Nov. 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 19: Rudy Giuliani speaks to the press about various lawsuits related to the 2020 election,  inside the Republican National Committee headquarters on November 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump, who has not been seen publicly in several days, continues to push baseless claims about election fraud and dispute the results of the 2020 United States presidential election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) (Drew Angerer / Staff, Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Drew Angerer / Staff, Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani suggested using a legal tactic seen in the 1992 movie "My Cousin Vinny" in a court case about 2020 voting.

On Nov. 19, 2020, outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump's personal legal team held a news conference in which it promoted the falsehood that the 2020 election was beset by massive voter fraud, arguing that Trump should be installed as president even though he lost the election to Democrat Joe Biden.

During the nearly hour-long news conference, Giuliani made a reference to one of Trump's false narratives: That Republican election monitors weren't allowed to view the ballot counting process in Michigan, a state Biden won. In so doing, Giuliani referenced the popular 1992 movie "My Cousin Vinny." In that fish-out-of-water movie, Joe Pesci plays a New York lawyer who goes to rural Alabama to defend his young cousin against murder charges.

Here are Giuliani's exact words:

We could do like a, did you all watch "My Cousin Vinny"? You know the movie? It's one of my favorite law movies, cause he comes from Brooklyn. And when the nice lady said she saw, and then he says to her, "How many fingers do I — How many fingers do I got up?" And she says, "Three."

Giuliani was referencing a scene in the movie when Pesci's character, Vinny Gambini, tests the eyesight of a myopic witness to prove she couldn't have seen what she claimed to have seen. Giuliani argued that witnesses monitoring vote counting in Michigan were too far away to see what was happening. It was a claim made by the Trump campaign in an election-related lawsuit, but the lawsuit was withdrawn on Nov. 18, 2020.

Video of Giuliani's statement can be seen embedded in this tweet posted by Vox journalist Aaron Rupar:

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more