How long has it been since Rudy Giuliani practiced law in federal court? If his pro hac vice motion filed earlier this morning passes muster, the former mayor and scourge of the Five Families will end a 28-year retirement. Giuliani petitioned the court to replace Donald Trump’s attorneys in the lawsuit over election processes in Pennsylvania.
He might be the third Team Trump attorney change in the past 24 hours, and the day’s not over yet:
🚨NEW: Rudy Giuliani has filed to appear as counsel for Trump in his Pennsylvania federal case. pic.twitter.com/9HernE6wvG
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) November 17, 2020
The day began with three other attorneys representing the campaign. They petitioned the court last night to withdraw, and announced a new lead attorney for the case. This comes four days after attorneys from the law firm Porter Wright withdrew from the case as well:
Three more lawyers representing President Donald Trump’s campaign have asked to withdraw from his lawsuit challenging the U.S. election results in Pennsylvania, shaking up his legal team on the eve of a major court hearing.
The lawyers – Linda Kerns, John Scott and Douglas Bryan Hughes – made the request in a court filing on Monday, adding that the campaign consented to their withdrawal.
In a brief order on Monday night, the judge hearing the case allowed Scott and Hughes to withdraw but not Kerns.
Harrisburg-based lawyer Marc Scaringi has joined the case and will be Trump’s lead counsel. Scaringi and the three attorneys who sought to withdraw did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
At that time, Team Trump’s legal advisor issued a statement claiming that this was a normal process, even if the timing was somewhat extraordinary. Jenna Ellis also mentioned that Giuliani would lead the legal strategy, but not quite warning that Giuliani would personally enter the case as a counsel of record:
The President announced Saturday that he has asked Mayor @RudyGiuliani to lead his national legal team, along with local counsel in each state. Any substitutions or additions of local counsel are consistent with routine managing of complex litigation. https://t.co/lC3RRb3aGV
— Jenna Ellis (@JennaEllisEsq) November 17, 2020
Is it really “routine” to shuffle counsel around the night before a major hearing in a case that’s as time-limited as an election challenge? The judge apparently didn’t think so, denying a motion to delay the hearing.
So why add Giuliani to the list of counsel if they have Scaringi? It turns out that Scaringi moonlights as a conservative political analyst, one whose heart might not be in this fight:
A conservative radio host and attorney who has already correctly said that the Trump campaign’s legal challenges of the 2020 election results will not change the outcome got less than 24 hours to prepare for oral arguments on the outgoing president’s behalf in Pennsylvania. The comedy of errors began on Monday night, when more Trump campaign lawyers withdrew from the non-fraud case. This left Marc Scaringi in the legal lurch, but somehow the Trump campaign’s senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis managed to call this chaos “routine.”
Marc Scaringi is Trump's new lawyer in Pennsylvania https://t.co/xeKoMNdpzl
On his radio show on Nov 7, Scaringi said that "there really are no bombshells that are about to drop that will derail a Biden presidency including these lawsuits" and "the litigation will not work" pic.twitter.com/5Zb8XMJlUO
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) November 17, 2020
The blooper reel surrounding Scaringi’s admission to the case was complicated all the more by his recent comments, in general, about President Donald Trump’s election lawsuits. Though he said that some cases had merit, Scaringi said publicly on his radio show as recently as Nov. 7 that “there really are no bombshells that are about to drop that will derail a Biden presidency, including these lawsuits.”
It seems odd that Team Trump selected the one conservative attorney in Pennsylvania that had a radio show and still didn’t think these lawsuits had any chance. “Some of them have merit,” Scaringi commented about the lawsuits in this clip, but he mainly referred to those complaints filed by the Pennsylvania GOP, not by Trump. None of them would “reverse this election,” Scaringi opined ten days ago, which might make for an uncomfortable presentation when Scaringi starts pleading this case.
That may well be why Giuliani is now personally parachuting into the case. He can argue it while Scaringi serves as lead counsel, presumably, but that will only make things slightly less awkward. But what will Giuliani’s strategy be? Move quickly to the Supreme Court, Giuliani told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo this morning, win or lose:
“Frankly, this is a case we would like to see get to the Supreme Court,” Giuliani said of one lawsuit in Pennsylvania. “So, you know, we’re prepared in some of these cases to lose and to appeal and to get it to the Supreme Court.”
“You’re not going to win every one of these,” he continued. “I don’t want to say it’s because of a Democrat judge or whatever. Some of them are just as fair as anybody. But in some cases you win, in some cases you lose.”
Giuliani added: “The most important thing is this will be our first established vehicle on the way to the Supreme Court.”
Giuliani was a highly effective prosecutor in the 1980s and 1990s, but he’s got an uphill task in this case. So far, the handling of counsel suggests that they’re struggling to put together an evidentiary case that will sustain the allegations Giuliani’s making here. If Giuliani has evidence rather than just speculation, then perhaps he’s about to make a spectacular litigation comeback. But until Giuliani actually presents evidence of wrongdoing in court, the clown-car show around counsel over the last 24 hours should prompt considerable skepticism that Scaringi was wrong ten days ago.