Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference

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Four Seasons Total Landscaping
press conference
DateNovember 7, 2020 (2020-11-07)
Time11:30 a.m.
Duration37:21
VenueFour Seasons Total Landscaping
LocationHolmesburg neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Coordinates40°01′34″N 75°01′48″W / 40.0262°N 75.0301°W / 40.0262; -75.0301Coordinates: 40°01′34″N 75°01′48″W / 40.0262°N 75.0301°W / 40.0262; -75.0301
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TypePress conference
MotiveInform media of details of allegations of ballot tampering in Pennsylvania, improper procedures witnessed by poll observers and invalid votes cast during election
Organized byDonald Trump 2020 presidential campaign
ParticipantsRudy Giuliani
Corey Lewandowski
Republican poll watchers
News media

On November 7, 2020, four days after the United States presidential election, Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and an attorney for incumbent president Donald Trump, hosted a press conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a small business in the Holmesburg neighborhood of Near Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event was held at the company's garage door and parking lot to discuss the status of the Trump campaign's legal challenges to the ballot-counting process in the state, where Trump's early election lead over Joe Biden had shifted to a shortfall as mailed-in ballots were counted for Philadelphia, historically a heavily Democratic city.

The unexpected site of the press conference, a local landscaping business located near a sex shop and a crematorium, led to speculation that the Trump campaign meant to book the upscale Four Seasons Hotel. Shortly after Giuliani began talking to the assembled reporters, the Associated Press projected Biden as the winner of the Pennsylvania vote and thus the presidential election. Several news outlets characterized the event as symbolizing the end of Trump's presidency, although he had not conceded the election and his campaign's legal actions continued.[1][2][3] The event was widely ridiculed by journalists and on social media, and reportedly resulted in lawyers withdrawing from Trump's legal challenges to the election results. In response to the press conference, a Four Seasons themed charity run was created, and the landscaping company capitalized on the newfound attention by selling T-shirts and other merchandise.

Background[edit]

After Election Day on November 3, 2020, Philadelphia election officials had set up absentee ballot counting efforts in the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City, as downtown Philadelphia is known locally. The streets in the area had been filled with demonstrators supporting both candidates.

On November 5, campaign spokespeople Corey Lewandowski and Pam Bondi attempted to talk to the media just outside the Convention Center about a court ruling that allowed campaign observers to stand closer to the counting tables. Pro-Biden demonstrators nearby played Beyoncé's "Party" so loudly that Bondi could not be heard.[3] Lewandowski decided the Trump campaign needed to find a venue where such disruption was less likely, in a part of the city where voters had been more supportive of Trump's candidacy.[4]

Early on November 7, Trump tweeted the location of the press conference as "Four Seasons". Shortly afterwards he issued another tweet, clarifying that the venue was Four Seasons Total Landscaping.[4][5] According to The New York Times, Trump's team had intended to hold the press conference at the landscapers, but the president thought they meant the upscale Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia in Center City. "In reality, the mistake was not in the booking, but in a garbled game of telephone," The New York Times wrote.[6][7] At 10:45 a.m., the hotel verified that the event was at the landscapers.[4]

PBS reporter Daniel Bush said an unnamed company representative told him the Trump campaign had called and said their location "was close to an exit on I-95, and was secure, and that's why they wanted to use it."[6] The local Republican ward leader told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he was not notified in advance, and that neither Four Seasons' owner Marie Siravo nor anyone in her family were particularly involved in local politics. She had expressed support for Trump on a Facebook page in August, but was not exceptionally vocal, saying "we don't need to invite him for dinner".[4]

Event[edit]

Journalists who arrived took note of the surrounding neighborhood. "It was in that part of town that every town has, where businesses which have no right being grouped together nonetheless gather due to one reason or another—usually the cheap rent" observed the British newspaper The Independent. Four Seasons is on the same block as a sex shop and across the street from a crematorium. Before the news conference began, a journalist present announced that CNN had just projected Biden's victory.[1] Giuliani also did not offer any explanation as to why the news conference was being held at this location.[4]

Around the back, in Four Seasons' parking lot, a lectern had been set up in front of a garage door papered over with Trump campaign signs in red and blue. Speakers and microphone had been installed. Giuliani and Lewandowski came in with a group of people the former identified as poll watchers who they said had been prevented from properly observing the counting procedure.[3] In reference to the poll watchers, Giuliani stated "this is only two or three of about 50 people so far that have given us statements, affidavits, recordings. We're going to have many, many witnesses."[8]

Giuliani said that Philadelphia "has a sad history of voter fraud" including ballots submitted by dead people, specifically mentioning boxer Joe Frazier and actor Will Smith's father, and that "[t]here certainly is enough evidence to disqualify a certain number of ballots."[6] A reporter interrupted to say that all of the major news networks were now joining in projecting Biden's victory. Giuliani responded by looking heavenward and striking a pose of mock crucifixion, saying, "Come on, don't be ridiculous. Networks don't get to decide elections. Courts do."[9] Giuliani also expressed in reference to Trump that "Obviously he's not going to concede when at least 600,000 ballots are in question."[10] As he spoke, some reporters began packing their equipment and leaving, before he had finished and the poll watchers had spoken.[3]

During the press conference, Lewandowski cited one case of what he said was a documented deceased Pennsylvania voter, Denise Ondick, of Homestead in Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh. According to her online obituary, she died on October 22.[11] Voting records show a mail-in ballot was sent to her two days later; on November 2, the ballot was recorded by the Pennsylvania Department of State's tracking system. The Inquirer said it was unclear whether that meant it had actually been counted.[12][8] Lewandowski said that his cited evidence was not empirical or anecdotal, and that it was hard evidence, one of many presentations of evidence that would be filed with the court.[8]

Ondick's family confirmed that she had received an absentee ballot application; her daughter said she had helped her mother, who planned to vote for Trump, fill it out two days prior to her death and the state records show the application was received the day after Ondick died. But she had not mailed the ballot in after her mother died, and she said her father could not recall doing so. She did not believe her parents would willfully violate the law. Election officials in Allegheny County said they would investigate.[12]

Aftermath[edit]

One journalist likened it to an appearance by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi driving a golf cart and carrying a large umbrella as NATO forces began bombing the country to support a 2011 rebellion. "It was intended to project perseverance and strength—it had the opposite effect."[1]

CNN reported that the event was "widely ridiculed."[13] It drew humor and parody on social media, where it was assumed the Trump campaign had simply made a mistake with the booking.[14][15] "Four Seasons Total Landscaping" became the 21st most-popular trending topic on Twitter,[16] the following day it was at number one.[17] Yelp users posted reviews, activating an "Unusual Activity" alert, which temporarily disabled the posting of content to the page pending investigation to determine the legitimacy of the views. Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon mentioned Four Seasons in an appearance as Giuliani on the show's "Weekend Update" news segment,[18][19] and it was compared to similar mishaps in the political satire series Veep and The Thick of It.[20]

The event was also criticized for prominently featuring a convicted sex offender, though Giuliani later told the New York Daily News that he was unaware of the man's history.[21][22]

Following the press conference, Four Seasons Total Landscaping posted on Instagram thanking police for their participation. "Would like to thank the fabulous Philadelphia men and women in blue making this event a safe place," they wrote. The company's Instagram bio describes the firm as a "woman-owned, minority business… that does great landscaping & perfect snow removal" and is "trying to make America green again!"[23]

Visitors came to the building to take pictures of themselves with the company gates and logo in the background.[4] On November 8, Four Seasons announced it would begin selling T-shirts and other merchandise through its website the next day.[24] Some of the items for sale featured wording based on Trump slogans, such as MAKE AMERICA RAKE AGAIN and LAWN AND ORDER![25] The company also created a virtual background for use in the video conferencing software Zoom.[26]

The area was recreated in VRChat by furry YouTuber Coopertom.[27][28] Two Philadelphia runners announced the charity "Fraud Street Run" for November 29, covering the 11 miles (18 km) from the landscaping business to the hotel.[29][30] Comedy writer Vinnie Favale set up a web portal devoted to the press conference.[31] Conan on TBS presented the video "Other Historic Moments That Took Place At Four Seasons Total Landscaping" acknowledging "Trump isn't the only public figure who likes to make historic announcements at this small landscaping company in Philadelphia."[32]

On November 12, 2020, CNN reported that Corey Lewandowski, one of the speakers at the press conference, had tested positive for COVID-19. While Lewandowski was present at the Trump election night party, possibly making him a part of the White House COVID-19 outbreak responsible for at least three other diagnoses, he said he may have caught it while in Philadelphia, without specifying Four Seasons Total Landscaping as the site of his infection.[33]

On November 14, 2020, Politico reported that many of the lawyers the Trump campaign had spent months recruiting prior to the election decided to withdraw as a result of the press conference. The event reportedly undercut the Trump campaign's legal strategy for challenging the election results that they had meticulously planned for months.[34][35]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hall, Richard (November 8, 2020). "I saw Donald Trump's presidency come crashing down at Four Seasons Total Landscaping". The Independent. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  2. Markay, Lachlan; Suebsaeng, Asawin; Stein, Sam (November 7, 2020). "The End of the Line for Trumpland Is a Poorly Rated Sex Shop in North Philly". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 8, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Burns, Katelyn (November 8, 2020). "The Trump legal team's failed Four Seasons press conference, explained". Vox. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 8, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Roebuck, Jeremy; Hanna, Maddie; Goodin-Smith, Oona (November 8, 2020). "No, not that Four Seasons. How Team Trump's news conference ended up at a Northeast Philly landscaping firm". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 8, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. Embury-Dennis, Tom (2020-11-07). "Trump sparks confusion after announcing press conference at small landscaping firm". The Independent. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-11. President initially said the briefing would be held at major hotel — before correcting himself Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "US Election 2020: Trump laywer [sic] Rudy Giuliani's Four Seasons Total Landscaping press conference mistake goes viral". News.com.au. Retrieved 9 November 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  7. Karni, Annie; Korasiniti, Nick (November 7, 2020). "Which Four Seasons? Oh, not that one". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Rudy Giuliani Trump Campaign Philadelphia Press Conference November 7 (Transcript)". REV. November 7, 2020. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  9. Zak, Dan; Heller, Karen (November 8, 2020). "It began on a gold escalator. It may have ended at Four Seasons Total Landscaping". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 8, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  10. Breuninger, Kevin (November 7, 2020). "Trump refuses to accept election results, says it's 'far from over'". CNBC. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  11. "Denise Lynn (Ichenko) Ondick". Savolskis–Waskis–Glenn Funeral Home. October 22, 2020. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Trump legal team vows to fight on, starting with fresh lawsuit Monday in Pennsylvania". The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 8, 2020. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  13. Stracqualursi, Veronica (November 14, 2020). "New York Times: Rudy Giuliani put in charge of Trump's election lawsuits after series of losses". CNN. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 14, 2020. …after the former New York mayor held a widely ridiculed press conference last weekend at a Philadelphia landscaping company to make unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. Evans, Greg (2020-11-09). "Four Seasons Total Landscaping flooded with joke reviews following Trump debacle". Indy 100. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-11. Sure enough, Four Seasons Total Landscaping jokes and memes began to flood social media and they were undeniably amusing. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  15. Stolworthy, Jacob (2020-11-08). "Trump team's Four Seasons blunder compared to The Thick of It: 'I can't get over how funny this is'". The Independent. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-11. Many people on Twitter found the error hilarious, especially considering it came on the same day that Trump was beaten at the 2020 presidential election by Joe Biden. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  16. Ciavaglia, Jo (November 8, 2020). "What we know about Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the most famous business in Philly today". Bucks County Courier Times. Levittown, Pennsylvania. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  17. Alter, Rebecca (2020-11-08). "SNL's Rudy Giuliani Talks Four Seasons Total Landscaping on Weekend Update". Vulture.com. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-11. This blunder was so funny on its own that it was a Saturday Night Live comedy freebie Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  18. Jacob, Jacob (2020-11-08). "Veep and Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci reacts to Trump team's Four Seasons blunder". The Independent. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-11. As news of the mistake broke out, people immediately began comparing it to similar mishaps seen in [Armando] Iannucci's political sitcoms. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  19. Friedman, Matt (November 9, 2020). "Man featured at Giuliani press conference is a convicted sex offender". Politico. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  20. "'Vote Fraud' Witness at Rudy Giuliani's Four Seasons Total Landscaping Presser Is a Convicted Sex Offender". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  21. "Trump campaign appears to mistakenly book car park outside landscaping firm 'Four Seasons' for press conference". Special Broadcasting Service. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 9 November 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  22. Akim, Tanya (November 8, 2020). "Four Seasons Total Landscaping Just Dropped Branded Apparel". Forbes. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  23. Bekiempis, Victoria (2020-11-09). "'Make America rake again': Four Seasons Total Landscaping cashes in on Trump fiasco". The Guardian. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-11. “MAKE AMERICA RAKE AGAIN”, read one sticker on sale on the company website on Monday. It also featured the phrase “LAWN AND ORDER!” The stickers were selling for $5 each. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  24. Therrien, Alyssa (2020-11-10). "Host your next Zoom conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping". Daily Hive. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-13. The landscaping company took to Twitter to announce that they were creating merch before releasing a Zoom background that’ll have you feeling like you’re a part of the Trump administration. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  25. Fenlon, Wes (November 9, 2020). "That Four Seasons Total Landscaping debacle is already a VRChat hangout for furries". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  26. Statt, Nick (November 9, 2020). "Four Seasons Total Landscaping becomes a VRChat hangout for furries". The Verge. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  27. Cunningham, Caroline (November 10, 2020). "And Now, a Charity Run From Four Seasons Total Landscaping to the Four Seasons Hotel". Philadelphia. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  28. Farr, Stephanie (November 10, 2020). "Philly's Fraud Street Run will go from the 'famous Four Seasons Total Landscaping' to 'the lesser-known Four Seasons Hotel'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  29. Favale, Vinnie (November 9, 2020). "Rudy Giuliani & The 4 Seasons Depress Conference!". VinnieFavale.com. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  30. "Other Historic Moments That Took Place At Four Seasons Total Landscaping - CONAN on TBS", youtube.com, November 9, 2020, archived from the original on November 15, 2020, retrieved November 13, 2020 Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  31. Acosta, Jim; Collins, Kaitlan; Vazquez, Maegan (November 12, 2020). "Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski contracts coronavirus". CNN. Archived from the original on November 15, 2020. Retrieved November 12, 2020. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  32. Isenstadt, Alex (November 14, 2020). "Giuliani wrecks Trump campaign's well-laid legal plans". Politico. Retrieved November 15, 2020.
  33. O'Connell, Oliver (November 14, 2020). "Lawyers decided to quit Trump case after chaotic Four Seasons Landscaping press conference". The Independent. Retrieved November 15, 2020.

External links[edit]


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