President Donald Trump’s senior campaign aides were gathered in their headquarters Saturday morning when word emerged that Rudy Giuliani would be holding a news conference in the parking lot of a Philadelphia landscaping business.
They knew that meant trouble.
Senior campaign aides scurried to urge organizers to kill the event, infamously staged at the wrong “Four Seasons” — a landscaping business adjacent to an adult bookstore and a crematorium. But Giuliani plowed ahead anyway, delivering a conspiracy-filled rant that undercut the legal strategy the president’s advisers had meticulously mapped out in the run-up to the election.
Campaign officials described the episode as disastrous, saying it scared off many of the lawyers they spent months recruiting, who now no longer wanted to be involved. With the campaign already facing exceedingly long odds in its recount efforts, there are widespread concerns within Trumpworld and GOP circles that Giuliani’s antics are thwarting the president’s legal machinery from within.
“I can’t imagine that a rational person” in the general public “wouldn’t be adversely affected by the way he conducts himself,” said Barry Richard, who represented George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida recount.
Yet Giuliani is taking on a heightened role. The president on Friday appointed him to oversee any new post-election litigation. The move, which was first reported by the New York Times, has distressed top campaign officials and other advisers, who worry Giuliani’s Hail Mary ploys will damage Trump’s reputation and potentially harm his future political aspirations.
Giuliani’s promotion also threatens to complicate a legal apparatus that has been in the works since June. The campaign began assembling a team of lawyers in swing states and counties where recounts might take place. The effort since the election has been overseen by Citizens United President David Bossie, who was tapped because of his conservative street cred and connections to pro-Trump activists around the country.
The Republican National Committee member from Maryland has also served as a bridge between the campaign and RNC, which had at times clashed during the final months of the race. He has been working the phones from home after testing positive for the coronavirus early this week.
Bossie has joined a regular 9:30 a.m. conference call with general counsel Matt Morgan, as well as top campaign officials Bill Stepien, Justin Clark and Jason Miller, to discuss the day’s agenda. The group has also been holding daily conference calls with on-air surrogates to go over messaging, and with legal and political operatives in the half-dozen states with slim margins.