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Image: Rudy Giuliani
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters on Nov. 19, 2020.Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Trump's 'elite, strike force' legal team starts to shrink

Even Chris Christie blasts Trump's legal team as "a national embarrassment," the fiasco got worse when the team parted ways with a prominent member.


Chris Christie has proven himself as one of Donald Trump's key political allies, but yesterday, even the former Republican governor of New Jersey described "the conduct of the president's legal team" as "a national embarrassment."

The assessment was more than fair, though the embarrassment got worse later in the day when Trump's legal team parted ways with one of its high-profile members.

"Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own," [Rudy] Giuliani and [Jenna] Ellis said in a statement. "She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity."

Sidney Powell, of course, has been eagerly touting over-the-top conspiracy theories in recent days, which were radical even by Team Trump standards. It's difficult to know which part of her nonsensical message sparked her ouster, but it probably didn't help that on Saturday, Powell falsely accused Republican election officials in Georgia of corruption.

By any measure, her ouster was abrupt. It was nine days ago, for example, that the president personally boasted Powell being a member of his "truly great team." It was four days ago when Team Trump celebrated Powell's bonkers rhetoric at an RNC press conference, touting her as part of the president's "elite, strike force team."

And it was yesterday when the "elite, strike force team" decided that Powell was suddenly on the outside looking in.

To be sure, Powell's truly ridiculous conspiracy theories weren't doing the president any favors, but Team Trump probably ought to realize by now that its principal problems are its client and his legal demands, not Powell's strained relationship with reality. Or put another way, there's no reason to assume the president's efforts to invalidate election results will suddenly succeed now that his legal team is smaller.

Indeed, as bizarre as these latest developments are, it's worth pausing to appreciate who's left on Trump's "elite, strike force" legal team:

Rudy Giuliani, fresh off his pre-election partnership with an active Russian agent, has struggled in court with basics every first-year law student knows, and continues to peddle discredited claims on a daily basis. What's more, CNN reported a few days ago, "In recent weeks, FBI agents in New York contacted witnesses and asked new questions about Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine and possible connections to Russian intelligence."

Jenna Ellis, as recently as 2016, repeatedly described Donald Trump as an "idiot," adding that she considered him an "unethical, corrupt, lying, criminal, dirtbag." Ellis also said Trump's supporters didn't care about "facts or logic." Yesterday, Ellis thought it'd be a good idea to tweet about a longtime Republican pollster's genitals.

Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing were first hired to represent Trump in 2018 because the president enjoyed their work as Fox News personalities. Soon after, Trump met the couple in person, and they parted ways. Now, evidently, they're back.

Presumably, Trump's "elite, strike force" legal team could be bigger and more impressive, but top-shelf lawyers recruited by the campaign have been "scared off" and "no longer want to be involved" with the president's scheme to invalidate his own country's election.

It's quite an operation.