Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

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.

Go deeper

Nov 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

White House holiday parties won't stop despite coronavirus pandemic

A copy of an invitation to one of the White House's holiday parties, obtained by Axios.

President Trump isn't letting his own staff outbreaks or a resurgence in COVID-19 cases stop his plans for one last season of holiday parties before he leaves office.

Driving the news: Invitations for White House holiday parties hosted by the Trumps began circulating this month, ahead of events that begin the first week of December.

Scoop: Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman says Trump lost

Trump with Schwarzman in 2017. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

It's over. That's what Blackstone chairman, CEO and co-founder Steve Schwarzman — one of President Trump's most loyal allies — and other top Republicans are signaling to the defeated president, 16 days after Joe Biden clinched the win.

Why it matters: It’s all theatrics now. Even if Trump doesn't move on fast, you can. It is safe to ignore the fearful Republicans who insist the process is legit and plausible, because they tell us privately it is not. 

Nov 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Inside Republicans' troubled Election Day operations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As President Trump unsuccessfully argues fraudulent voter claims, campaign operatives tell Axios the reality is the joint EDO (Election Day operations) by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee left them feeling largely unprepared to challenge ballots in real time.

Why it matters: With several states moving toward certifying election results this week, the postmortems are beginning as political operatives try to understand what worked, what didn't and how to adjust going forward.