Nov 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump lawyers to avoid Michigan lawmaker meeting after COVID exposure

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani and other key members of President Trump's outside legal team won't be attending today's meeting with two Michigan lawmakers because they've been exposed to the coronavirus, two sources familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: This added turmoil inside the president's legal operation comes at a time when the president is urging Republican state lawmakers to interfere with the electoral process and reverse Joe Biden's victory to a Trump win.

  • "It's just a shitshow, it's a joke," said a Trump campaign adviser.

Behind the scenes: Top Trump campaign officials held a conference call this morning with Eric Herschmann, a lawyer on the White House staff, in which they candidly discussed their legal conundrum.

  • Herschmann serves in an advisory role outside the counsel's office, and no one in the counsel's office participated on the call, according to another person familiar with the call.
  • Officials on the call included campaign manager Bill Stepien and advisers Jason Miller, Justin Clark, Matt Morgan, Tim Murtaugh and Boris Epshteyn, as well as Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis.
  • Asked whether the White House counsel's office would be present in the meeting, Herschmann told the Trump campaign officials that the counsel's office would not be represented but that somebody needed to brief the president about the legal situation.

This raised the obvious question of which member of Rudy Giuliani's legal team would join the White House meeting.

  • But those contingencies fell apart on the call. One of the participants told the group that Andrew Giuliani, a White House staffer and son of Rudy, has tested positive for the virus.
  • One of the participants on the call said Rudy Giuliani should not attend the White House meeting because he'd surely been exposed to his son. Then Ellis, a Giuliani sidekick, said if that was the case then the entire Giuliani-affiliated legal team was probably exposed, the sources said.

Trump's campaign lawyers have been holed up for days in a conference room at Trump campaign headquarters in Arlingon, Va., one of the sources said, Andrew Giuliani had been around all of them.

  • Andrew Giuliani acknowledged today on Twitter that he has tested positive, writing, "This morning, I tested positive for COVID-19. I am experiencing mild symptoms, and am following all appropriate protocols, including being in quarantine and conducting contact tracing."
  • The Trump campaign declined to comment.

What's next: A source familiar with the situation told Axios that another campaign attorney is planning to attend the White House meeting in place of the COVID-infected members of the Giuliani legal team.

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