Michael Glassner — the Trump campaign’s chief operating officer, who previously handled President Donald Trump’s rallies — has been reassigned to deal with legal affairs during the homestretch of the campaign.
Aides began making plans to put Glassner in this new role following the rally on June 20 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the President spoke to an unfilled arena — a scene about which he has continued to fume. Though there were questions about campaign manager Brad Parscale’s future, Glassner was seen as a potential target as well, given the prominent role he played in orchestrating these events.
Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh denied that the reassignment was a reaction to the Tulsa rally.
“This is not a reaction to Tulsa. Michael Glassner is moving into the long-term role of navigating the many legal courses we face, including suits against major media outlets, some of which will likely extend beyond the end of the campaign,” Murtaugh said in an email. “He is one of the founding members of Team Trump and his dedication to the success of the President is unmatched.”
Tulsa was Trump’s first rally in three months, since coronavirus restrictions were put in place, and it served as a stark reminder for the campaign — and the President — that the pandemic is far from over. Eight campaign staffers and two Secret Service agents in Tulsa tested positive for coronavirus and the remaining campaign staffers who attended the rally quarantined the following week. The campaign conducted temperature checks, provided hand sanitizer to attendees and passed out masks, but did not require people to wear them or to social distance during the event.
Signs promoting social distancing during the event were removed by campaign staff. A similar scene unfolded a few days later when Trump spoke at a crowded church in Arizona where few attendees wore masks.
The news of Glassner’s reassignment comes on the same day that the Trump campaign scrapped plans to hold a rally in Alabama next weekend due to the coronavirus.
Trump was slated to travel to the state ahead of the Senate race between his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, but plans were called off as state officials voiced concerns about a mass gathering, and campaign officials ultimately decided against it. A person close to the campaign said there are currently no rallies on the horizon, but aides are scoping out possible venues for when they decide to host them again.
The President has been itching to return to the campaign trail and was enthusiastic about the idea of traveling to Alabama. He views the rallies as an outlet where he can connect with his supporters in a way that he can’t when he’s in Washington and has blamed bad poll numbers on his absence from the campaign trail.
This story has been updated with additional information on the campaign’s rallies.