Donald Trump has emphatically told his aides that he does not need a White House “war room” to fight impeachment.
The president instead has opted for deploying his not-so-secret weapons—Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani—to go on TV as much as possible to stick it to liberals and threaten Trump’s enemies.
In a series of private conversations over the past several days, the president has repeatedly encouraged his personal attorneys to closely coordinate and aggressively conduct a counter-messaging campaign against Democratic lawmakers’ impeachment inquiry. Trump has also asked them to keep him posted when they will appear on television shows and conservative media, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations.
As for Giuliani, the president sees the former New York City mayor as the tip of the spear in a scorched-earth media strategy. In a conversation on Wednesday, sources say, Trump told Giuliani to keep going on the offense, and signed off on him telling the press that he was actively “considering” litigation against a number of people, first and foremost Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee who has led a probe into the whistleblower complaint at the center of the impeachment probe now roiling the Trump administration.
And Giuliani, for his part, is more than happy to acquiesce to the president’s request.
Shortly after his chat with Trump, Giuliani got on the phone with Eric Bolling, a BlazeTV and Sinclair host, to ask the fellow Trump associate about going on the Sinclair broadcast America This Week that day.
“I’d like to do the show,” Giuliani said, Bolling recalled. Giuliani pitched the host on possibly breaking some news on a potential Trump lawsuit against Schiff, and the pair briefly discussed Sinclair’s wide household reach and large audience.
To make room for Giuliani, Bolling said he had to dump a segment just hours before taping that was set to feature a liberal-versus-conservative debate on climate change.
The shock and awe strategy has left prominent figures in Trumpworld rather perplexed. During his recent media blitz, Giuliani has, for instance, appeared on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show to publicly implicate senior administration officials in the Ukraine-and-Biden-related scandal threatening to blow up the Trump era. On Ingraham’s program last week, Giuliani turned the audience’s attention to text messages he’d exchanged with Kurt Volker, the U.S. special representative for Ukraine.
Less than 24 hours later, Volker resigned his post.
Giuliani’s media crusade has angered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who went as far as asking an aide if contacting Giuliani to request that he dial things back was a viable option, as The Daily Beast reported last week. It’s unclear if Pompeo or other officials at State have discussed this with Giuliani since then.
“There are people working in [Trump’s West Wing] who feel that what Rudy does and how he does it is often wildly unhelpful and unwise,” said a senior administration official on Thursday. “But the president loves the guy. So nobody is going to lay a hand on him as he goes on Hannity and—I dunno—reads out State [Department] officials’ email passwords, or whatever is coming next week.”
Still, the collateral damage hasn’t bothered President Trump, at least not enough to try to keep Giuliani away from the cameras and off of primetime.
Trump’s other TV-prone lawyer has taken a slightly different, yet no less aggressive, approach.
Sekulow—who, like Giuliani, serves as a top personal attorney to the president and defended Trump during Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation—is also involved in the planning discussions with Trump and Giuliani on a possible suit against Schiff and others, the sources noted. It is unclear, at least for now, how much farther this threat will actually go.
Sekulow confirmed to The Daily Beast on Thursday afternoon his role in preparing a potential lawsuit, adding that “all options are on the table,” and that any legal action or court challenge would center on due process issues and constitutional rights of the president. He declined, however, to go into details of his private conversations with Trump.
Giuliani later added, “We have five lawyers working on it, and I was up until 2 a.m. [Thursday] night researching Supreme Court cases because I want to know the limits of congressional immunity.”
Ever since returning to the White House after a swing through New York City last week, Trump and his top aides have stated that there is no need for a “war room” or special effort in the West Wing to combat the Democratic Party’s ongoing impeachment push. This has come to the quiet consternation of some allies of the president, who believe that Trump needs to be taking this threat to his administration and its agenda more seriously.
Asked about the impeachment “war room” chatter, Sekulow replied, “I think of this as a skirmish.” He added, “There is no need for a war room at this time.”