At his campaign headquarters, many staffers were expected to be laid off in the coming days, two officials said, with some aides being notified on Thursday. Officials were also supposed to brief surrogates on legal strategy Thursday afternoon but postponed the call twice, a person familiar with the planning said.
Later, in a 12-minute call, campaign officials said they believed Trump could still win the race. Tim Murtaugh, the campaign spokesman, asked donors and surrogates “for patience” and said it would take some time.
“There is not going to be a silver bullet,” he said. Murtaugh spent much of his time criticizing the news media, according to an audio recording of the call.
“The campaign continues to firmly believe that this election is not over,” Murtaugh said.
Justin Clark, the deputy campaign manager overseeing the legal efforts, told listeners that “you’re going to see a lot of things happen,” without offering much in the way of specifics. Clark asked for people to send to the campaign for investigation things they see on Twitter or on other websites.
Privately, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, continued to tell allies that Trump is “realistic” about his chances but wants to continue the fight, a person who has spoken to him said. Campaign manager Bill Stepien and other top campaign aides has also briefed Trump on his chances, casting them as uphill and telling Trump it is unlikely he will win.
But Trump does not want to pull out of the fight until the votes are certified in key states, which won’t be until late November or early December. His campaign filed five new lawsuits in Pennsylvania in an attempt to block 8,349 ballots in Philadelphia from being counted — complaints that centered on mail-in ballots that city officials decided to accept despite administrative errors made by voters.
Biden has been declared the winner of Pennsylvania by multiple media outlets, and he leads Trump in the state by more than 53,000 votes. Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for the Philadelphia city commissioners, said on Thursday that the disputed ballots had not yet been added to the public vote totals.
The Trump campaign ran into resistance elsewhere in the courts in Pennsylvania, as three former Republican members of Congress and several veterans of GOP administrations joined the opposition to an effort by Trump to use the federal courts to block certification of the state’s election results.