Given that a typical day of being Donald Trump usually includes spewing a ton of bulls**t and acting in an often dangerously unhinged way, it seems like it would take a lot to make the former president flinch. But as Newsweek reports, even Trump—like the rest of us—was horrified when, on November 19, 2020, the world witnessed Rudy Giuliani literally melting right in front of us. “Oh my God, this is just like a freak show,” one White House staffer reportedly said.
In I Alone Can Fix It, a new book by Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker, a White House staffer confided in the authors that the 45th president was taken aback as a seemingly frenzied Rudy carried on for nearly an hour and 40 minutes—about as long as it would take you to watch Reservoir Dogs—about election fraud and the corrupt media, who were fortunately there to capture every dripping moment of History’s Most Bizarre Press Conference, as hair dye poured down his face from his head, like a human oil spill.
The headlines practically wrote themselves for this display of utter insanity, which many people on Team Trump determined to be their last licks at convincing anyone who wasn’t already on the then-president’s side to come over to their way of thinking. According to Newsweek, even Lindsey Graham, who had already begun trying to convince Trump that concession was his best move, thought it prudent to call him and again attempt “to ease Trump toward acceptance of defeat.”
Trump himself was “unsettled” by the hair dye spectacle and the media mockery, according to Leonnig and Rucker.
From then on, the president subtly shifted to trying to convince his supporters that he still had a number of different pathways to overcome the apparent election loss: that no matter what the “lamestream media” was saying, supporters were right to believe that democracy was in peril and that there were conspiracies all around. As the White House increasingly hollowed, with some leaders quarantining after COVID exposures and others looking for post-administration jobs, President Trump stayed in the Oval Office, working the phones and tweeting, more and more isolated in who he talked to, uninterested in the presidency or in governing.
The last defense, Trump increasingly argued, rested with “the people,” those behind him who now had it on their shoulders to save the nation.
Which was probably much less toxic than whatever was all over Rudy’s shoulders at the end of that presser.