Following failures, Giuliani to lead Trump's hapless legal machine

Team Trump has a legal problem, and it apparently thinks Rudy Giuliani is the solution. That's a hilariously bad idea.
Image: Rudy Giuliani Speaks To Media Members At The White House
President Donald Trump's lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani talks to journalists outside the White House West Wing on July 1, 2020.Chip Somodevilla file / Getty Images

It's been challenging keeping up with the many failures Donald Trump's legal team has suffered since the president's defeat. The New York Times published a rundown of each of the cases over the weekend, and the list of embarrassing fiascos was not short. What's more, the list is growing: while the president promoted weird ideas via Twitter yesterday about the vote count in Pennsylvania, his lawyers were explicitly abandoning those same ideas last night in court.

A Washington Post report added, "Rather than revealing widespread -- or even isolated -- fraud, the effort by Trump's legal team has so far done the opposite: It's affirmed the integrity of the election that Trump lost. Nearly every GOP challenge has been tossed out. Not a single vote has been overturned."

Politico's report from Friday night was especially brutal, noting that Trump's lawyers "have abruptly dropped core claims, been admonished in court for lack of candor and even been forced to admit they had no evidence of fraud, while their client inaccurately rails to the contrary on Twitter." Barry Richard, a veteran election law attorney who also handled George W. Bush's recount case in 2000, told Politico the Trump campaign's legal strategy looks amateurish and disjointed. "This is just purely outlandish stuff," Richard said.

My colleague Lisa Rubin co-authored a piece for NBC News with the University of Texas School of Law's Steve Vladeck, which further explained, "The weaknesses across these cases illustrate how the Trump campaign isn't using the legal process; it's abusing it."

At some level, the president must realize his hapless legal operation has a problem. For some reason, he apparently believes Rudy Giuliani is the solution to that problem. The New York Times reported:

President Trump has put his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in charge of his campaign lawsuits related to the outcome of the election, as well as all public communications related to them, four people familiar with the move said on Friday.

Between the Four Seasons Fiasco and the eagerness with which the former mayor is pushing a "fantasy parade" of false claims, this is an unwise choice.

The Times' article added that Giuliani's involvement has "vexed people on the campaign and in the White House," who described Giuliani's "efforts as counterproductive and said that he was giving the president unwarranted optimism about what could happen."

Of course, those who peddle unwarranted optimism to Trump are those he invariably listens to most, so none of this should come as too big a surprise to anyone.

On Twitter over the weekend, the president announced that his legal machine will also be led in part by Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing -- lawyers Trump likes because he saw them on Fox News.

If you're feeling a sense of deja vu right about now, you're not alone. There was a point a few years ago, as the president's Russia scandal was intensifying, at which he needed sound legal representation and bragged that the "top" law firms were eager to take him on as a client. That was very hard to believe: I put together a list in April 2018 of the prominent lawyers who'd turned Trump down, and it wasn't especially short.

Later, as impeachment proceedings against the president intensified, Trump again sought top-tier legal firepower, and again failed. Eleven months ago, as the Republican's impeachment trial loomed, George Conway argued in a Washington Post op-ed, "This is what happens when you don't pay your legal bills."

But it's vastly worse now. Real, credible attorneys know Trump doesn't pay his bills, know Trump lost the election, know Republicans can't substantiate their increasingly pitiful "fraud" allegations, and "no longer want to be involved" with a hapless endeavor.

And so the outgoing president expects Rudy Giuliani, fresh off his pre-election partnership with an active Russian agent, to help him maintain his slipping grip on power. What could possibly go wrong?