On Wednesday evening, what was left of Donald Trump’s reelection campaign began insinuating that an attorney striving to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 win in Georgia could, in fact, be a Democratic plant working against the Republican Party and the president.
Lin Wood, the charismatic though increasingly off-the-wall celebrity lawyer, has spent the past few weeks making wild accusations that the election in his state was corrupted and should be awarded to Trump. On Wednesday, he took it a step further, encouraging Republicans to boycott the upcoming Senate runoff elections unless the governor—Republican Brian Kemp—called a special legislative session to investigate the supposed conspiracies of wrongdoing.
That seemed to be a bridge too far for members of the president’s team, which quickly came to realize that the genie they let out the bottle was angling to poison their party.
“Anyone who cares about the future of our country needs to ignore the fools and support President Trump by voting for Republicans in the Georgia elections,” one senior Trump aide told The Daily Beast. “Many of us think Lin Wood is actively working against our mission to elect President Trump’s allies in Georgia. He said so himself.”
According to a source close to the president, Trump called Wood and Sidney Powell, a former member of the post-election Trump legal team who was with Wood at the Wednesday presser, to convey his stated belief in the importance of Georgia Republicans getting out to vote for Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the runoff. The source did not elaborate on what else the president said, how the conversation went, or when on Wednesday the call came. Axios had reported earlier that Trump had “directly communicated to both Powell and Wood.”
Another Republican close to Trump said, “If you care about Republicans holding the Senate, why would you do what [Wood’s] doing?”
The comments may have been anonymous. But even the official Trump political apparatus got in on the ax-Wood act. Just after 11 p.m. ET, Trump 2020’s “War Room” tweeted: “Records: Lin Wood Has for Decades Voted for, Donated to Democrats Including Barack Obama and David Perdue’s 2014 Opponent,” linking to a Breitbart article. The article acknowledged that Wood, who represented wrongly accused Atlanta bombing suspect Richard Jewell, is also a Trump and GOP donor.
The late-night Twitter post was just the latest instance of Team Trump trying to slay the Frankenstein monster it created: the pro-Trump, conspiracy-theory-propagating lawyers who will allege practically anything in the service of nullifying this year’s presidential results. The damage control has included not just a presidential phone call but an array of Republican operatives and officials calculating how to discredit these right-wing attorneys who’ve pledged allegiance to Trump.
Reached for comment, Wood seemed undeterred by the condemnation aimed at him by a campaign he says he’s trying to rescue, describing the suggestion promoted by the official Team Trump account as “errant nonsense.”
The attorney wrote in a text: “the Trump campaign needs to demand that Governor Brian Kemp call a special session of [the] Georgia legislature…Loeffler and Perdue should make that same demand. The general election was a fraud. After [the] legislature fixes the voting process, then get out and vote. Seems like good old common sense to me.”
Wood also told the audience at the rally that President Trump called him recently to say he won the election, adding that Trump told him, “If I lost this election fair and square, I would concede.” Wood recalled that Trump insisted that he would “never” concede to Biden. (President-elect Biden decisively won, and the race has long been called for him, even as Trump’s own legal team and campaign wage a similarly floundering effort.)
The outreach from the president aside, Wood’s recent efforts have been received dismally in prominent GOP circles.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is an informal adviser to Trump, called Powell and Wood “totally destructive” in a Thursday morning tweet. Former Trump adviser Roger Stone was more diplomatic in a post on conservative social media site Parler, praising Wood as a “Christian gentleman” but telling his fans it was “imperative” to vote for Loeffler and Perdue.
Republicans’ attacks on Wood aren’t guaranteed to alienate him from the Trump base, however. Like Powell, Wood has cultivated ties with QAnon conspiracists, who see the two as brave operatives opposing the “deep state.” And Wood established himself as a hero to Trump supporters by representing Covington, Kentucky Catholic student Nick Sandmann in his defamation suit against CNN. As GOP figures launched attacks on Wood on Wednesday, the comments sections on Breitbart and under the Twitter replies to politicians like Gingrich filled up with Wood supporters accusing Wood’s detractors of representing an anti-Trump GOP establishment.
Both Trump and his campaign have praised and promoted Wood on Twitter in the past. Trump retweeted Wood as recently as Nov. 15, adding “doing a great job in Georgia,” while Trump’s campaign Twitter account posted a video of Wood’s voter fraud claims on Nov. 6.
But unlike Powell, Wood isn’t someone who the Trump campaign and legal team had to officially eject from their own ranks. He’s been freelancing. On November 10, Wood told The Daily Beast that he wasn’t on the team, just that “I am not on anybody’s team. I am only on Team Truth.”
“God bless you,” he added, with his message ending in prayer, heart, and American flag emojis.