The city of Philadelphia has played host to many historic moments—the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the birth of Gritty—but few have been as memorable (or as weird) as that time Rudy Giuliani stood outside a landscaping company and railed about election fraud. The hastily arranged press conference, one year ago today, was a fitting end to Donald Trump’s not-so-excellent Washington adventure, epitomizing almost every bizarre attribute of Trump’s chaotic presidency.
There was the seemingly obvious name mix-up—instead of booking the Four Seasons hotel, Trump’s team ended up with a landscaping firm in northeast Philadelphia, down the street from an adult book store. Then a familiar media swarm followed, turning Four Seasons Total Landscaping into a worldwide sensation. Only days after the press conference, a Philly comedian organized a “Fraud Street Run,” a nod to the city’s Broad Street Run, on a route from the landscaping firm to the actual Four Seasons hotel. People made the outdoor garage setup their Zoom background. Twitter turned the whole thing into a song. Months later, a documentary was in the works, scheduled to air this weekend on MSNBC to mark the one-year anniversary.
“We don’t really know how it happened. We heard it might’ve been a mistake or something,” Mike Siravo, whose family owns Four Seasons Total Landscaping, told New York‘s Olivia Nuzzi. “We just kinda picked up the phone and said yes and cleared some stuff out and managed to make it happen.”
The New York Times attributed the Trump campaign’s curious venue choice to a mix-up:
In reality, the mistake was not in the booking, but in a garbled game of telephone. Mr. Giuliani and the Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski told the president on Saturday morning their intended location for the news conference and he misunderstood, assuming it was an upscale hotel, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.
In fact, the campaign “had always intended to hold the news conference in a friendlier part of town,” the Times reported, given that pro-Biden protesters had assembled downtown outside the Convention Center and drowned out the Trump allies who had tried to speak there. What factored into the decision is almost less interesting than its unfortunate timing, which happened to coincide with the Associated Press projection of Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania, which officially won him the presidency.
Trump’s spurious, incoherent attempt to delegitimize the election would culminate, nearly two months later, in the January 6 insurrection. But on this Saturday in November, all he had to show for it was a former New York mayor, standing outside a garage, tilting at windmills.