WASHINGTON — Two days after Joe Biden was declared the winner in the presidential election, President Trump and his allies have vowed to keep on fighting, but his campaign team has already let go of some staff and isn’t extending others beyond this week, multiple sources told Yahoo News.
“They just laid off people,” a former Trump campaign adviser said Monday.
Another source familiar with the campaign told Yahoo News they were unaware of layoffs, but knew many staffers who were not being extended beyond this week and next.
“I’ve heard a lot of people have just one week left,” the source said, adding that those staffers were getting their last paycheck.
It’s standard operating procedure for presidential campaigns to let staff go after the election, particularly people involved in work like hosting live events, which are typically no longer needed once all the votes are cast. “Every campaign has a sell by date, even successful ones,” a Republican source said.
“This is why campaign life is the best and also worst job ever,” the source said.
But in this case, Trump and senior members of the campaign team have insisted this election is not over, potentially making the loss of staff more consequential.
Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign's communications director, framed the staff reduction as normal post-election turnover. “Unlike most campaigns, which close down immediately after Election Day, because of the unprecedented nature of the 2020 race, we have long had a plan to continue on to see President Trump reelected. However, staffers related to events, trips, door knocking and grassroots organizing played roles that ended on Election Day and obviously play less of a role after Election Day,” Murtaugh wrote in an email to Yahoo News.
As part of his effort to keep the election going, President Trump, who has falsely declared himself the winner and made baseless allegations of widespread “fraud,” has had lawyers for his campaign file multiple legal challenges and demanded recounts.
On Monday evening, Trump’s team held a press conference where White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who is also a spokesperson for the campaign, declared, “we want every legal vote to be counted and we want every illegal vote to be discarded.”
The former Trump campaign adviser attributed the need to shed staff to the fact the operation is “dry on cash.” In the final months of the election, heavy spending by Trump’s team eroded a financial advantage he was expected to have over Biden. During the past few days, the campaign has aggressively raised funds in support of its election challenges. According to Murtaugh, Trump’s team would have what it needed to keep challenging the election.“We are raising significant amounts of money to fuel the president’s challenges and will retain appropriate staff to see the post-election process through to the president’s victory,” he said.
A second former Trump campaign adviser said they knew senior people on the team would be “sticking around another couple weeks.” They suggested the team could survive cuts and still have what it needed to make legal challenges and push for recounts.
“You can probably trim down the operation and still be legit,” the source said.
However, the Republican source, who described post-election layoffs as a normal part of political campaigns, had questions about the scope of the campaign’s challenge efforts even before layoffs. The source noted that Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the Republican nominee in 2012, had a robust operation for a potential challenge that year with a team of election lawyers and planes on standby to take them to key states.
In contrast, the source accused the Trump’s campaign of having “zero planning” with “no legit poll watching or recount plans” and staffers appearing on TV to make wild and baseless allegations rather than a serious team of lawyers and experts.
“Waving around the political equivalent of a bloody rag is no substitute for legitimate planning,” the Republican source said.
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