Brad Parscale is back again in Trump's orbit. The former 2020 campaign manager hated by the ex-president is building his post-White House digital operation.
- Brad Parscale is back working for Trump designing his post-presidency digital operation.
- No one informed Trump about Parscale’s return last month, Republicans told Insider.
- Trump fired Parscale last summer amid allegations he’d stolen money from the 2020 campaign.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
The man behind Donald Trump’s post-presidential communication operation is someone he hates and says stole his money: Brad Parscale.
It’s the latest slap-dash ironic twist to come amid the former president’s chaotic departure from the most powerful job on Earth. Trump last summer demoted Parscale as the leader of his 2020 reelection effort amid sagging poll numbers and bad publicity surrounding his extravagant spending habits.
But Trump family members assisting in the launch of a post-White House office realized they’d need to go back to Parscale after it became clear the ex-president was on the verge of losing access to both the campaign and official White House digital infrastructure used to spread his MAGA message, according to three Republicans familiar with the arrangement.
“They didn’t realize what they had gotten into,” said one of the Republicans who knows about Parscale’s return. “They said ‘You’re fired. Ok, great, see you later.’ Then asked, ‘Who’s running the email?’ ‘The guy you just fired.’ ‘How do we fix that?’ You gotta go back to that guy.”
Parscale is responsible for the emails blasted out in recent days with public statements and Trump’s legal briefs for his Senate impeachment trial, the GOP sources said. He also built the bare-bones, link-free website 45office.com that includes a black-and-white logo with a bald eagle surrounded by an all-caps “THE OFFICE OF DONALD J. TRUMP.”
Republicans familiar with the latest Trump-Parscale partnership said it has an obvious benefit for a former president who has been permanently banned from popular social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. It also helps Trump because he no longer can rely on many of the official trappings that come with living and working at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Still, Parscale’s return appears to be an embarrassing development that few in Trumpworld want to talk about. It’s even one that Trump himself might not know about, according to the Republicans familiar with the arrangement.
A Trump spokesman did not return requests for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.
After chaotic effort to overturn election, Trump’s team scrambled back to Parscale
The decision to go to Parscale for help stems from the Trump-inspired turmoil surrounding the outcome of the November election.
In the days and weeks after losing to Joe Biden, Trump and his team launched a tireless campaign to overturn the 2020 results rather than focusing on how he would operate after leaving the White House.
That full-throated fight, which culminated in the deadly January 6th riot at the US Capitol, came while Trump’s campaign and the official government infrastructure the president had relied on to hold the public’s attention was starting to shut down.
In mid-December, Trump’s campaign began closing much of its operation, from its Northern Virginia headquarters to its expansive digital efforts, Republicans close to Trump told Insider. They lost access a month later to official White House infrastructure, which includes computer servers housed at the US General Services Administration.
Desperate to get a system up and running so they could access all their online materials, Trump’s diminished staff turned to Parscale for help to build a post-White House office.
It made perfect sense to people inside the president’s orbit. Despite being pushed out of Trump’s inner circle months earlier, Parscale had kept control of the Trump campaign’s digital operation — something he built from scratch and housed on his own computer servers.
Former Trump campaign staff looking for access to their old emails and documents had to go through Parscale, the only administrator with access to those files. Some of Trump’s aides even asked Parscale for help pulling files from the White House before they were shipped to the National Archives.
“When they exiled him they screwed up, because he still owns everything,” said a second Republican familiar with the Trump-Parscale arrangement. “They can’t even put out a press release, because they can’t put it out on GSA servers. They have to do it on his servers.”
Parscale played an invaluable role building websites for the Trump family business dating back to 2011, well before the Trump Organization’s namesake was a presidential candidate who would go on to win the White House. He became a trusted member of the president’s inner circle during that 2016 campaign, including with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.
But trouble emerged after Trump elevated Parscale to be his reelection campaign manager in February 2018. Trump campaign advisors said Parscale had problems transitioning from running a digital campaign to the entire reelection effort.
By the summer of 2019, the first media account published about Parscale’s profligate personal and campaign spending. More stories emerged over the coming months, including plans for a rare $10 million campaign commercial during the 2020 Super Bowl. Parscale later got dinged for hiring a personal driver, and Trump dubbed his campaign manager the “$10 million man,” a reference to the exorbitant fees he was collecting for his campaign work.
In May 2020, the anti-Trump Lincoln Project started airing commercials highlighting the top presidential aide’s wealth and connecting his fortunes to the Trump campaign’s money. Later that month, Trump and Kushner sidelined Parscale by installing Bill Stepien as the de facto campaign manager.
Parscale got to keep his title until mid-July, when he was officially demoted as the prospects grew increasingly dim that the president would win a second term. The president’s anger at Parscale also grew to the point the 2020 campaign launched an internal audit of its spending, as first reported last July 17 by Insider.
His troubles took a dangerous turn in late September when his wife called the police, saying that she was afraid that Parscale was drunk and suicidal. Florida police detained Parscale, and a judge ordered that his guns be kept from him. His wife later recanted the statements she gave to Florida police.
In hushed conversations, Trump officials started unloading on Parscale as the president’s second term prospects grew increasingly faint. Republicans close to the Trump campaign told Insider in mid-October 2020 that while they had limited visibility into how Parscale directed money they were concerned he had largely left the president’s campaign broke.
Parscale has quietly tried to rehabilitate his career since his ouster. He started a digital campaign firm, Nucleus, and moved out of the $3 million house in Fort Lauderdale where he’d been detained last October.
“After I got demoted I tried to stick around and help, but then they slowly pushed me out and stopped listening to my strategy,” Parscale told Insider last December. “I never wanted to get in the way of anything because I still believe in the president.”
Republicans close to the former president say he remains angry at Parscale. Those Republicans said it was unclear if Trump knew that Parscale built and was running Trump’s entire post-White House digital operation, right down to the email addresses everyone uses.
As for Parscale, he seemed to hint at his return to the former president’s innermost circle in a tweet sent over the weekend. “Question to the world. Did I give my phone to Trump to tweet?” Parscale tweeted this past Saturday.
In a series of exchanges with Insider this week, Parscale is now offering another interpretation of where he stands in Trump’s orbit. He said he never left the president’s orbit and dismissed questions about the drama around his return.
“Ok. And?” he wrote in a text message on Tuesday. He later said in another text that his tweet about giving his phone to the president was meant to be a joke.
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