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story.lead_photo.caption A Luzerne County worker canvases ballots that arrived after closing of voting until Friday at 5 p.m. and postmarked by Nov. 3rd as vote counting in the general election continues, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, returned to federal court Tuesday after a long hiatus to accuse Democrats in control of big cities of hatching a nationwide conspiracy to steal the election.

Also Tuesday, Trump fired the director of the federal agency that vouched for the reliability of the 2020 election.

Trump fired Christopher Krebs in a tweet, saying his recent statement defending the security of the election was "highly inaccurate."

The firing of Krebs, a Trump appointee and director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, comes as Trump is refusing to recognize the victory of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.

The agency issued statements dismissing claims that large numbers of dead people could vote or that someone could change results without detection.

It also distributed a statement from a coalition of federal and state officials concluding that there was no evidence that votes were compromised or altered in the Nov. 3 election and that the vote was the most secure in American history.

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Meanwhile, Giuliani appeared at a court case Tuesday over the Trump campaign's federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the election results.

Lawyers defending the Democratic secretary of state, Philadelphia and several counties said the Trump campaign's arguments lack any constitutional basis or were rendered irrelevant by a state Supreme Court decision Tuesday.

They asked U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann to throw out the case, calling the allegations "at best, garden-variety irregularities" that would not warrant throwing out Pennsylvania's election results, which delivered a victory for President-elect Joe Biden.

Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, asserted that there was a wide-ranging scheme to steal the election from Trump in big cities in Pennsylvania and 10 other places.

"The best description of this situation is widespread, nationwide voter fraud, of which this is a part. ... This is not an isolated case, this is a case that is repeated in at least 10 other jurisdictions," Giuliani said.

The dozens of affidavits Trump's lawyers filed in the case, however, do not assert widespread fraud, but rather the potential for something fishy to occur because partisan poll watchers weren't given an opportunity to view the results.

Tuesday's hearing focused on the Trump campaign's request for a temporary restraining order, as well as Democrats' request to have the case dismissed. Giuliani -- who had not argued a case in federal court since 1992, according to online court filings -- asked Brann to let him put on evidence to back up his claims.

Brann has scheduled a hearing for Thursday to hear evidence.

So far, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and experts say Trump's various lawsuits have no chance of reversing the election outcome.

The Trump campaign's lawsuit is based on a complaint that Philadelphia and some Democratic-controlled counties in Pennsylvania let voters make corrections to mail-in ballots that were otherwise going to be disqualified for a technicality, like lacking a secrecy envelope or a signature.

The Trump campaign's lawsuit says Republican-controlled counties did not allow voters to correct ballots and claims the inconsistent practice violated constitutional rights of due process and equal protection under the law and resulted in the "unlawful dilution or debasement" of properly cast votes.

But Giuliani spent most of his time in court arguing that almost 700,000 ballots in Philadelphia and Allegheny County -- home to Pittsburgh -- went uninspected by Republican observers.

Giuliani named Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Detroit, and argued that Democrats in control there prevented Trump campaign observers from seeing election workers process mail-in ballots so that they could falsify enough ballots to ensure that Trump lost.

In Philadelphia, Republican observers were kept so far away from election workers processing the ballots that they couldn't ensure the ballots were valid, Giuliani said.

A judge at one point had ordered city officials to allow observers to within 6 feet of election workers, but Trump campaign lawyers contended that observers could get within 6 feet of only one row of tables, while other tables of election workers remained much farther away.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Republican monitors observing vote counting in Philadelphia were given sufficient access under state law to view the proceedings.

In a 5-2 decision, the court overturned a lower court decision that ordered that monitors with Trump's campaign be allowed within 6 feet of tables where ballots were being tallied.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court found that the Philadelphia Board of Elections complied with requirements for observer access from the moment the first votes were counted.

"We conclude the board did not act contrary to the law in fashioning its regulations governing the positioning of candidate representatives," Justice Debra Todd wrote for the majority. "Critically, we find the board's regulations ... were reasonable."

VOTE ON NEVADA

On Monday, Trump took to Twitter with a new attack on the vote that gave Biden a 33,596-vote victory in Nevada.

Biden drew 50.06% of the vote and Trump 47.67% -- a 2.39% difference -- in results submitted for approval by commissioners in 17 counties including Clark, which encompasses Las Vegas, and Washoe, surrounding Reno.

In the Las Vegas area, officials identified six people who voted twice, Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria told elected county commissioners. They urged Gloria to track Nevada secretary of state investigations of those cases for possible prosecution.

On a 6-1 vote, the commission accepted results of Gloria's tally of 977,185 ballots cast in the Biden-Trump race.

But the panel also took a first step toward a do-over in one commission district where Democratic former Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller led Republican Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony by 10 votes after more than 153,000 ballots were counted.

Gloria said election officials found 936 "discrepancies" among votes countywide -- ranging from inadvertently canceled votes, reactivated voter cards and check-in errors at polling places.

He said 139 discrepancies in the Miller-Anthony race could not be reconciled -- much more than the margin separating the candidates. A recount would not change that total, the elections chief added.

Trump tweeted that the results amounted to "large scale voter discrepancy," and said "Clark County officials do not have confidence in their own election security. Major impact!"

However, a re-vote to choose Miller or Anthony to replace term-limited Commissioner Larry Brown will not have the names Trump or Biden on the ballot.

WISCONSIN, GEORGIA

Meanwhile, Biden defeated Trump in Wisconsin by more than 20,600 votes based on final canvassed totals submitted to the state elections commission Tuesday, a report that starts the clock for Trump to file a recount.

The canvassed totals show Biden beat Trump by 20,608 votes, which is a roughly six-tenths of a point margin -- close enough for Trump to file for a recount. Biden widened his lead over Trump by 62 votes based on the canvassed results compared with unofficial totals posted by the counties before they were certified.

Trump has until 5 p.m. today to submit the $7.9 million estimated cost for a statewide recount and other required paperwork. Trump could also file for a recount only in select counties, which would reduce his cost and allow him to target areas where votes were predominantly for Biden. Counties would have to start the recount no later than Saturday and complete it by Dec. 1.

"The legal team continues to examine the issues with irregularities in Wisconsin and are leaving all legal options open, including a recount and an audit," said Jenna Ellis, Trump 2020 legal adviser.

In Georgia, a second county uncovered a trove of votes not previously included in election results, but the additional votes won't change the overall outcome of the presidential race, the secretary of state's office said Tuesday.

A memory card that hadn't been uploaded in Fayette County, just south of Atlanta, was discovered during a hand tally of the votes in the presidential race that stems from part of a legally mandated audit to ensure that the new election machines counted the votes accurately, said Gabriel Sterling, a top official in the secretary of state's office.

The memory card's 2,755 votes are not enough to flip the lead in the state from Biden to Trump. The breakdown of the uncounted ballots was 1,577 for Trump, 1,128 for Biden, 43 for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen and seven write-ins, Sterling said.

Election officials on Monday said Floyd County, in north Georgia, had found more than 2,500 ballots that hadn't been previously scanned.

Both counties will have to recertify their results, and the margin between Trump and Biden will be about 13,000 votes when those previously uncounted votes are accounted for, Sterling said.

County election workers have been working on the hand tally since Friday. State law leaves it up to the secretary of state to choose which race to audit. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger selected the presidential race and said the tight margin meant the audit would require a full hand recount.

The counties have until 11:59 p.m. today to complete the hand count. The secretary of state's office originally said the results of the hand tally would be certified. But Sterling said Tuesday that the state would instead certify the results certified by the counties.

REFUSAL CONSEQUENCES

Separately, a new study says the Trump administration's refusal to recognize Biden's victory could have long-term consequences for the incoming president's agenda, particularly in responding to the covid-19 pandemic.

The study warns that an abbreviated transition could impair Biden's ability to fill the more than 1,200 administration jobs requiring Senate confirmation, including key Cabinet and sub-Cabinet posts on the front lines of addressing the outbreak.

The paper from the Center for Presidential Transition at the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service examined the different pace of confirmations for President George W. Bush, whose transition didn't begin until after the Florida recount concluded on Dec. 13, 2000, and President Barack Obama. Obama was able to confirm twice the number of Senate-approved appointments, including national security postings, at the 100-day mark than his predecessor, who had a shorter period to plan to assume the White House.

The study states: "Further delays by the General Services Administration in recognizing the outcome of the Nov. 3 election could impede the ability of Biden to make timely and critical appointments for key covid-19 and national security-related positions, thereby weakening the government's ability to protect our nation and distribute life-saving vaccines."

Leaders of the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association also said the Trump administration must share critical covid-19 information with Biden's transition team "to save countless lives."

The groups said in a letter sent to the White House on Tuesday that, in order to plan, the Biden team needs information on medication and testing supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital bed capacity and workforce availability.

The letter says, "all information about the capacity of the Strategic National Stockpile, the assets from Operation Warp Speed, and plans for dissemination of therapeutics and vaccines needs to be shared as quickly as possible ... so that there is no lapse in our ability to care for patients."

It was signed by Richard Pollack, president of the American Hospital Association; Dr. James Madara, the American Medical Association's CEO; and Debbie Dawson Hatmaker, acting CEO of the nurses association.

Information for this article was contributed by Mark Scolforo, Alanna Durkin Richer, Marc Levy, Kate Brumback, Ken Ritter, Scott Bauer, Ben Fox and staff members of The Associated Press; and by Jeremy Roebuck of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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The United States Courthouse is seen, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Williamsport, Pa. A hearing on the Trump campaign's federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the vote results remains on track for Tuesday at the courthouse after a judge quickly denied the campaign's new lawyer's request for a delay. (AP Photo/Mark Scolforo)
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The United States Courthouse is seen, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Williamsport, Pa. A hearing on the Trump campaign's federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the vote results remains on track for Tuesday at the courthouse after a judge quickly denied the campaign's new lawyer's request for a delay. (AP Photo/Mark Scolforo)

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