It’s very simple, according to Rudy Giuliani and the rest of President Donald Trump’s legal posse, but also very vast. China is in on it. Cuba is on it. Antifa and George Soros are in on it. At least two presidents of Venezuela, one dead and one living, are in on it. Big Tech is in on it; a web server from Germany is involved. Multiple major U.S. cities are in on it, as are decent American citizens who volunteer at polling precincts. Argentina is in on it, too, sort of. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was in on it back in 1960, when, according to an unproved conspiracy theory, he stole the presidency for John F. Kennedy, thereby launching an ongoing pattern of corrupt cities stuffing or scrapping ballots. The “it” is a massive, premeditated scheme to steal the election from Donald Trump, according to Giuliani, and it also involved corralling poll watchers at great distances from the ballot counting.
Giuliani was sweating at a lectern in the small lobby of the Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill. About 100 journalists and hangers-on had crammed into this potential coronavirus incubator for a news conference on the perverse legal strategy of President Donald Trump’s failed re-election campaign, which Giuliani is trying to hustle toward a twist ending. As the former New York mayor digressed about votes that could’ve been cast by dead people and Mickey Mouse, Trump campaign officials were at their headquarters in nearby Rosslyn, Va., winding down operations and closing out the budget.
For 90 minutes, an unmasked Rudy and four maskless colleagues — “an elite strike force team,” according to senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis — spun a confusing web of conspiracies that indicate Trump won the election that he lost. A revolution, they said, was at hand.
“It is the 1775 of our generation,” declared fellow strike force team member Sidney Powell, who once appeared on Fox Business to claim that an immigrant “invasion” is spreading “polio-like paralysis” among American children. She continued: “Globalists, dictators, corporations, you name it — everybody’s against us except President Trump.”
Brendan Buck, previously a top aide to Republican Paul Ryan when Ryan was House speaker, was streaming C-SPAN at his home.
“I picture Trump glued to this and just lapping it up,” Buck said.
“I love the president, I wanted him to win this election,” Geraldo Rivera would say later, on Fox News. “What I saw with Rudy Giuliani, who I’ve known for decades, was bizarre, was unfocused.”
Chris Krebs, erstwhile director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, took to Twitter.
“That press conference was the most dangerous 1hr 45 minutes of television in American history,” typed Krebs, who vouched for the integrity of the election and was subsequently fired by Trump this week. “And possibly the craziest.”
Some people in the Trump campaign thought Thursday’s news conference was a bad idea, though they neither stopped it nor put their names on the record objecting to it. Other Trump officials, including campaign manager Bill Stepien, have described Giuliani’s effort as unserious. Since becoming the president’s personal lawyer, Giuliani has clashed with White House chiefs of staff. Reince Priebus tried to block him from the Oval Office, John Kelly tried never to be in the room when Trump spoke with him, and former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told others that Giuliani was an albatross during the impeachment process. But Mark Meadows, the current chief of staff, appreciates that Giuliani is willing to fight aggressively on television. Campaign officials said that they had a broader, strategic legal plan to fight in various states but that Giuliani convinced Trump that his advisers were misleading him.
RNC officials were not involved in setting up Giuliani’s event and wanted to distance themselves from it. Many stayed away from their own headquarters; the committee’s chief of staff was infected with the novel coronavirus and quarantining at home. Sean Spicer, a former RNC official and White House press secretary, was there, but only to gather material for his show on the conservative website Newsmax. Trump has told his people, including RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, to take their cues from Giuliani.
“It’s Rudy’s show,” one senior campaign official said, describing why other party and campaign officials were not present.