Just hours before a pivotal hearing in President Donald Trump’s lawsuit seeking to stop the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results, his campaign dumped its lawyers Monday evening.
Linda Kerns, a solo practitioner and family lawyer in Philadelphia who had been leading up Trump’s legal efforts in the state, filed a motion seeking to bow out, saying she and two other attorneys had “reached a mutual agreement that [the campaign] would be best served” without them.
They were swiftly replaced by Harrisburg-area corporate lawyer and conservative activist Marc A. Scaringi, who Kerns said would be prepared to represent the campaign at the first hearing on the case scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Williamsport.
The move came days after the initial attorneys on the case — the Ohio-based firm Porter Wright Morris & Arthur — withdrew under public and internal pressure surrounding its decision to represent Trump as he continues to reject his loss to Joe Biden and spread unsupported conspiracy theories about widespread and systemic voter fraud.
At the time, a campaign spokesperson shrugged off the departure as the firm “buckling” to criticism from “liberal mobs” and touted Kerns and the other lawyers left on the case as “rock solid attorneys.” Three days later, the campaign cast its eleventh-hour decision to replace them as part of an overall restructuring of the president’s legal efforts nationwide. Thus far, they have delivered him a string of stinging rebukes from judges across the country who have by and large dismissed his suits out of hand.
Said to be unhappy with the state of his legal effort, Trump over the weekend appointed his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to right the foundering effort — a role Giuliani began by publicly pushing back against Kerns' decision to jettison the bulk of the Pennsylvania federal case after a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit made many of their legal claims untenable in court.
“Our substitution of local counsel is consistent with routine managing of complex litigation,” Jenna Ellis, a campaign legal adviser, said in a statement Monday evening.
U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann did not appear to agree that there was anything “routine” about the last-minute shake-up. While he dismissed Kerns’ cocounsel from the case Monday evening, he remained mum on her request to withdraw. And he swiftly shot down a motion from Scaringi to postpone Tuesday’s hearing so he could familiarize himself with the case.
“Oral argument will take place as scheduled,” he wrote in a terse two-page order. “Counsel for the parties are expected to be prepared for argument and questioning.”
By Tuesday morning, Giuliani himself had joined the case though it was unclear whether he or Scaringi intended to present arguments before the judge at the hearing.
The Williamsport case is the Trump campaign’s last significant legal challenge in Pennsylvania that, if successful, could cause significant disruption to state’s final election tally. In it, the campaign argues the entire process of counting and tallying ballots was so opaque and riddled with inconsistencies that no one can trust the outcome.
Notably, though, despite outsized rhetoric from the president and Giulani alleging widespread and systemic voter fraud, the case does not contain even one specific allegation — let alone evidence — of a single vote being deliberately cast illegally.
In its filing Monday evening, the campaign said it intended to replace the latest version of the suit — one submitted by Kerns on Sunday — which dropped many of its legal arguments surrounding the lack of meaningful access that Trump campaign monitors say they were granted to observe the counting of votes in Democratic-leaning counties.
Though it did not elaborate on what that redrafted complaint might contain, Giuliani insisted on Twitter Monday that the president and his campaign concede nothing despite what their lawyers may have filed in court over the weekend
Their new attorney on the case appears more in line with that pugilistic point of view.
In addition to his legal work, Scaringi hosts a conservative talk radio show and volunteered on Trump’s 2016 campaign. He unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012.
Still, despite those bona fides in the president’s circles, a review of his professional blog Monday evening revealed at least one post likely to draw the president’s ire.
Titled “How President-Elect Joe Biden’s plan could affect your taxes,” it began with the line: “Joe Biden has successfully claimed the role of the 46th president of the United States.”
The post vanished from his website within hours of the announcement he’d been hired by Trump’s campaign.