In the latest installment of "Off The Rails," an Axios series chronicling the post-election Trump White House, Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu narrate a particularly juicy episode of Trumpland lawyers kicking the shit out of each other.

"Rudy," [White House lawyer Eric Herschmann] said, turning to Giuliani, "Sidney was just in the Oval telling the president you don't know what the fuck you're doing. Right, Sidney?" He turned to Powell: "Why don't you tell Rudy to his face?"

"Eric, really it's not appropriate," Trump replied curtly.

"What's not appropriate?" Herschmann shot back. Turning to Powell, he said, "Why don't you repeat to Rudy what you just told the president in the Oval Office — that he has no idea about the case and that he only just began to understand it a few hours ago."

Three days later, Giuliani would publicly distance himself from Powell, telling Newsmax that Powell did not represent the president, and that "whatever she's talking about, it's her own opinions."

Put that shit right in our veins! Yes, we know this is a naked attempt by White House lawyers like Bill Barr, Pat Cipollone, and Eric Herschmann to separate themselves from the Elite Super Friends JD Esquire Green Beret Motion For Stay Task Force and redeem their reputations. But it's so, so delicious.


An earlier episode describes Trump in November mocking Powell as completely unhinged.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

He put the call on speakerphone for the benefit of his audience. Powell was raving about a national security crisis involving the Iranians flipping votes in battleground states. Trump pressed mute and laughed mockingly.

"So what are we gonna do about it, Sidney?" Trump would say every few seconds, whipping Powell more and more into a frenzy. He was having fun with it. "She really is crazy, huh?" he said, again with his finger on the mute button.

But by December, he was desperate to overturn the election and ready to listen to the crazies after his competent (if evil) advisors told him he was out of options. Which is how the entire cast of characters wound up screaming at each other for four straight hours on December 18 in a battle royale between objective reality and whatever inane QAnon shit the 4chan huffers were flogging.

It started with Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn, and that Overstock loon Patrick Byrne trooping up to the Oval Office that Friday night with Herschmann in hot pursuit.

"How the hell did Sidney get in the building?" he grumbled, parking himself in the corner to run interference as Powell hyped the same nonsense that had gotten her laughed out of court. Her theory was that interference from China, Russia, Iran, Iraq and North Korea (yes, all of them) had tipped the election to Biden, and thus Trump could invoke a 2018 executive order meant to impose sanctions on foreign governments to seize Dominion machines and exclude votes.

"There are guys with big guns and badges who can get these things," Byrne interjected, prompting Herschmann to ask, "What are you, three years old?"

We remember Herschmann screaming like a lunatic about Hunter Biden when he represented Trump at the last impeachment trial, so we weren't a bit surprised to see him throwing down here.

"All you do is promise, but never deliver," he said to Sidney Powell, deriding her typo-ridden legal work as shoddy and her claims that both the courts and FBI were corrupt as idiotic. "That's your argument? Even the judges we appointed? Are you out of your fucking mind?"

When Flynn stood up to berate the White House legal team, hollering at Herschmann, "You're quitting! You're a quitter! You're not fighting!" Herschmann retorted, "Why the fuck do you keep standing up and screaming at me? If you want to come over here, come over here. If not, sit your ass down." Then he reminded Flynn that "your ass would still be in jail" if the supposedly corrupt FBI and DOJ hadn't done him a solid.

Just totally normal Oval Office shit.

At one point, with Flynn shouting, Byrne raised his hand to talk. He stood up and turned around to face Herschmann. "You're a quitter," he said. "You've been interfering with everything. You've been cutting us off."

"Do you even know who the fuck I am, you idiot?" Herschmann snapped back.

"Yeah, you're Patrick Cipollone," Byrne said.

"Wrong! Wrong, you idiot!"

Eventually the party moved upstairs to the presidential residence, where Rudy joined in. By that point, Pat Cipollone, Mark Meadows, and a whole cast of White House characters were in and out on the phone as President Fat Finger inadvertently disconnected them as he played them off against each other.

"Don't you dare challenge me about whether I'm being supportive of the president and working hard," Meadows hollered at Flynn.

"Why are you speaking? Are you still employed here?" Powell shouted at White House staff secretary Derek Lyons, who was on his last day at the White House.

Byrne took a break from stuffing his face with cocktail weenies to interject, "I know how this works. I bribed Hillary Clinton $18 million on behalf of the FBI for a sting operation."

"What the hell are you talking about? Why would you say something like that?" an incredulous Herschmann replied.

After Team Loony Tunes made their case to appoint Sidney Powell as special counsel to investigate election fraud and Team What the Actual Fuck pointed out that the attorney general has to appoint a special counsel and also that Powell was nutty as a fruitcake, the party broke up. But not before Herschmann had succeeded in driving a wedge between Powell and Giuliani and tanked her chances of being appointed special counsel.

So hooray for that asshole, we guess? Three cheers for access journalism?

In summary and in conclusion, what a fucking shitshow. Listen to the podcast, it's good fun.

[All Episodes "Off the Rails" at Axios]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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