Defeatism, infighting and spies plagued the Trump campaign in the weeks leading up to and after the 2020 election, according to testimony by former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani as part of a Denver-based lawsuit.
“The campaign, in my opinion, had checked out about three, four weeks before the election,” Giuliani said in a deposition. “They were pretty much convinced he was going to lose, they were looking for jobs, they were worried about their standing in the Washington community.”
His comments came as part of a trove of depositions and other court documents made public this week in a Denver-based defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, Trump associated lawyers like Giuliani and Sidney Powell and various conservative media personalities and outlets.
Giuliani said that when he started working on litigation related to Trump’s unfounded voting fraud claims, campaign staff actively worked to undercut him.
He said he believed “the majority were working for him to concede as soon as possible so they could move on to another job and so they wouldn’t be criticized too heavily in the Washington Post because there was a tyranny of fear going on at the time pushed by the Post and anybody doing this [alleging voter fraud] is some kind of a maniac.”
He gave one example where the campaign’s legal team swapped out a legal complaint Giuliani had worked on alleging voter fraud in Pennsylvania with one that did not make fraud claims. The new version, he said, “completely subverted our theory of the case, was done in order to tank the case and was done without ever telling me, and there were more than a few acts like this.”
At the heart of the case are claims originating with Colorado conservative figure Joe Oltmann, who alleged he was on a Zoom call between members of antifa that included an executive at Denver-based Dominion Voting Systems, Eric Coomer, boasting about rigging the 2020 election against Trump.
Coomer, also of Colorado, is suing Oltmann, the Trump campaign and others in Denver District Court for defamation for pushing the conspiracy theory.
The New York Times reported this week that an internal Trump campaign memo submitted as part of the case shows that the Trump campaign knew key claims about voter fraud, including the allegation that Coomer had ties to antifa, were unfounded.
Giuliani discounted the significance of the memo, which he said he hadn’t seen and which he called “useless.”
The former mayor of New York City said he “had to fire people in the Trump campaign for being spies and double-cross. … This could very well have been written to help the opposition.”
He also advanced a new conspiracy theory that the research was provided to campaign staff by someone else.
“There’s also a lot of work for them to put together, which means to me it was probably fed to them,” Giuliani said. “If you want a really good, solid investigatory conclusion, this is a put-up job. They didn’t do this work. They didn’t have the time to do this work. Or the capacity to do it. They weren’t that good.”
Email exchanges among campaign staff about the memo show it was produced in less than 12 hours over one night.
Giuliani said much of the campaign staff “had all taken off already. … No way they would have had the energy to compile this. They were half asleep. I caught one of them under a desk one day.”
Oltmann’s attorney, Andrea Hall, told The Colorado Sun she “wasn’t too impressed with the memo,” and didn’t give it much weight, pointing to Giuliani’s deposition.
Coomer’s legal team also deposed Sean Dollman, a representative of the Trump campaign.
Dollman, too, shed light on the inner workings of the campaign after the election. He said the campaign’s internal process for reviewing and approving documents “went out the window” after Giuliani came in with his legal team. At the same time, the campaign was “winding down; and so we had a lot of people leaving the campaign.”
Dollman said he didn’t know who was responsible for arranging the now-infamous press conference at Four Seasons Landscaping in Philadelphia. He also didn’t know who decided former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell would speak at a Nov. 19 press conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters advancing unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
“There were no approval structures,” Dollman said. “There was no — any back-end operational side on the campaign. Rudy — or Mr. Giuliani and his team kind of did their own thing and — which in this case, I don’t know who set up this press conference; I don’t know who authorized who would be in the press conference. I don’t think there was anybody.”
He said Giuliani’s team and much of the leadership and legal team for the campaign worked on different floors of the campaign’s office building in Arlington, Virginia, “so there was a separation of communication.”
Similar to Giuliani’s testimony, Dollman argued the research staff that compiled the memo didn’t have enough time “to draw the absolute conclusion that there’s no ties.”
Dollman said he disagreed with the conclusions of the memo and that the campaign still believes there was fraud in the election.
Lawyers for Coomer deposed Oltmann earlier this month after legal wrangling over whether the deposition would take place at the courthouse in Denver or over Zoom.
In the combative deposition, Oltmann invoked the famous Jack Nicholson line from the classic courtroom drama “A Few Good Men,” telling one of Coomer’s lawyers “you can’t handle the truth.”
Despite the flair, Oltmann shared some details about how he got access to the alleged antifa Zoom call.
In the deposition, Oltmann said the alleged call happened in the second half of September 2020, though he couldn’t specify a date. Reading from Oltmann’s notes that he said he took during the supposed call, Charlie Cain, an attorney for Coomer, was able to pin down the initials of the person who Oltmann said got him on the call.
But Oltmann provided little else in the way of information that could be used to identify the person, such as a first or last name.
He also refused to identify another person who gave him access to social media posts from Coomer that allegedly suggested antifa sympathies, even though the judge in the case has ordered him to name the person.
“I won’t give you the name,” he said, according to a transcript. “I will not answer that question.”
Oltmann’s refusal to name the person could expose him to sanctions from the Denver District Court judge overseeing the case, which Coomer’s lawyers are pushing for.
Oltmann has repeatedly asserted that his life is in danger because of his claims, and suggested that Coomer and his legal team want to harm him, which was part of the basis for a remote deposition that the judge approved only after Oltmann failed to show up to the courthouse for a scheduled deposition.
Finally fed up with the claims, Cain shot back, “You don’t have any evidence of that, and there’s absolutely no reason we would want any harm to come to you. I want you to be sitting there at — during trial.”
The comment spurred a sharp reaction from Oltmann: “I’m here for three hours to answer your questions. Not to be badgered by some prick.”
Oltmann has been combative outside of sworn testimony as well, often criticizing the judge on Telegram, a conservative social media site where he has more than 31,000 followers.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Oltmann and other defendants had a chance to depose Coomer on Thursday. That transcript has not been posted.
Defendants in the case are trying to get it dismissed through Colorado’s anti-SLAPP law, which is meant to protect journalists and members of the public from being targeted by frivolous, retaliatory lawsuits. The raft of documents came as part of Coomer’s response to those motions.
A hearing on the anti-SLAPP dismissal motions is scheduled for Oct. 13 and 14 in Denver District Court.