President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has made a change in the re-election campaign’s top ranks, after the calamitous attempt at an overhyped rally in Tulsa, Okla., resulted in thousands of empty seats, officials said Tuesday night.
Michael Glassner, among the original hires on the Trump campaign in 2015, will be moved from the role of chief operating officer of the 2020 re-election effort. In his place will be Jeff DeWit, who held that role in 2016 and is an ally of Mr. Kushner’s.
The move was first reported by Axios.
Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman, insisted that the move was “not a reaction to Tulsa,” saying: “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. He is one of the founding members of Team Trump, and his dedication to the success of the president is unmatched.”
But two people familiar with the move described it as part of the aftermath of the Tulsa event, and as an effort to find a head to roll over it. Some White House officials had pointed the finger at Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale.
Mr. DeWit is a familiar and comforting presence to some in the Trump orbit. He was a favorite on the campaign in 2016, joining after serving as the state treasurer of Arizona.
Campaign officials went about building out the Tulsa rally as they had previous events, a desire that Mr. Trump communicated through several aides, according to people familiar with the event’s planning. But despite claims of nearly one million requests for tickets to attend, and a capacity of over 19,000 at the Bank of Oklahoma Center, fire officials in Tulsa said the event had been attended by just over 6,000 people.
One person familiar with what took place said that Mr. Glassner was being unfairly targeted. The person, who requested anonymity to speak freely, said that Mr. Glassner had already handed over his oversight role before the pandemic and that none of the major decisions related to Tulsa were made by him. The president, the person said, was not made aware that Mr. Glassner had been turned into the fall guy for the event and said it was unwarranted.
Some on the campaign had believed that Mr. Trump’s hard-core followers would relish the chance to attend the kind of event they had gone to before the coronavirus pandemic. But instead, many Trump supporters appeared to fear the spread of a virus that the president has played down as a threat for months.
There is now a wide recognition that rallies must be held differently, according to several people familiar with the discussions. But Trump advisers are still figuring out what that might look like.