Rudolph W. Giuliani, who has helped oversee a string of failed court challenges to President Trump’s defeat in the election, asked the president’s campaign to pay him $20,000 a day for his legal work, multiple people briefed on the matter said.
The request stirred opposition from some of Mr. Trump’s aides and advisers, who appear to have ruled out paying that much, and it is unclear how much Mr. Giuliani will ultimately be compensated.
A $20,000-a-day rate would have made Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who has been Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer for several years, among the most highly compensated lawyers anywhere.
Reached by phone, Mr. Giuliani strenuously denied requesting that much.
“I never asked for $20,000,” said Mr. Giuliani, saying the president volunteered to make sure he was paid after the cases concluded. “The arrangement is, we’ll work it out at the end.”
He added that whoever had said he made the $20,000-a-day request “is a liar, a complete liar.”
There is little to no prospect of any of the remaining legal cases being overseen by Mr. Giuliani altering the outcome in any of the states where Mr. Trump is still fighting in court, much less of overturning President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Electoral College and popular vote victory. Some Trump allies fear that Mr. Giuliani is encouraging the president to continue a spurious legal fight because he sees financial advantage for himself in it.
The Trump campaign has set up a legal-defense fund and is said to be raising significant sums to continue legal challenges in places like Pennsylvania and Georgia.
A Trump campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Giuliani had sought compensation for his work dating back to the day after Election Day, when Mr. Trump began publicly claiming that he won despite the results, according to people familiar with the request, who asked for anonymity to speak about sensitive discussions.
At $20,000 a day, Mr. Giuliani’s rate would be above the top-of-the-line lawyers in Washington and New York who can charge as much as $15,000 a day if they are spending all of their time working for a client.
Mr. Trump’s insistence that widespread voter fraud cost him the election has no basis in fact but has stoked skepticism about the outcome among his base, including some who violently protested this past weekend in Washington.
Mr. Giuliani has encouraged Mr. Trump to believe a number of conspiracy theories about voting machine irregularities, according to multiple people close to the president who were not authorized to discuss the conversations publicly. Late last week, Mr. Giuliani repeatedly insisted to the president that his other advisers have not been telling him the truth about his chances of success in his legal battles to overturn the results of the election.
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Last Friday, as Mr. Trump’s legal fight in Arizona appeared to peter out when the campaign dropped a lawsuit in Maricopa County, Ariz., that was destined to fail, the president put Mr. Giuliani in charge of all election-related litigation and communications for it.
On Monday, the day before a key hearing on a lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania, Mr. Giuliani forced out a lawyer who had been leading the case, two people briefed on the events said. That left Mr. Trump’s team scrambling for a replacement. The local lawyer now handling the case has referred to Mr. Biden as the winner of the election and has said the lawsuits will not change that outcome.
The judge in the case declined on Monday night to postpone the hearing despite a request from the Trump team.
On Tuesday, Mr. Giuliani made the opening argument in the Pennsylvania hearing, largely sidestepping whether there was evidence that voting or vote counting in the state had been compromised. Instead, he repeated baseless claims of “widespread nationwide voter fraud.”
Mr. Giuliani, who has been claiming for two weeks that the election was compromised by massive fraud, acknowledged in court that the federal suit in Pennsylvania, which focuses on whether all voters in the state had the same opportunity to fix problems with their mail-in ballots, did not involve fraud. “This is not a fraud case,” he said.
While the hearing was taking place, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed the Trump legal team another defeat, ruling that a lower court should not have agreed to give greater access to Republican monitors at the main vote counting site in Philadelphia.
Beginning in April 2018, in the middle of the Mueller investigation, Mr. Giuliani began representing Mr. Trump for free as his personal lawyer. Although Mr. Giuliani said he made nothing from Mr. Trump, it gave him direct access to the president and his administration — access that Mr. Giuliani used to help his other clients, including foreign business executives under investigation by the Justice Department.
After the Mueller investigation ended in April 2019, Mr. Giuliani continued his work for Mr. Trump, concentrating on trying to develop damaging information in Ukraine about Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden — an effort that ultimately led to the House impeaching Mr. Trump.
Last year, the intelligence community warned the White House that Mr. Giuliani had become the target of a foreign influence operation by the Russian government, which was seeking to feed misinformation to him in the hopes of undermining Mr. Biden’s presidential campaign.
The president has refused to allow a formal transition from one administration to the next to begin, blocking Mr. Biden’s team from having access to the agencies they will take over and from receiving briefings on the pandemic and national security threats to the country. National security experts have said this could leave the Biden administration at a disadvantage as it takes over the government in January, and Mr. Biden has said the delay could prove costly in treating the spreading coronavirus pandemic.
Alan Feuer contributed reporting.