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A GOP Civil War Over Trump? I Wish I Had The Popcorn Franchise

"I have been a supporter of the president's. I voted for him twice, but elections have consequences, and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn't happen. You have an obligation to present the evidence."
-serial Trump enabler Chris Christie on This Week today.
"These are legal systems, these are processes that are in our Constitution, in our laws. And they’re not just appropriate, they’re really an obligation, frankly, to the millions of Americans that President Trump is a reflection of... [but] it’s past time to start a transition, to at least cooperate with a transition."
-serial coward Kevin Cramer (R-ND), in the midst of his own internal civil war on Meet The Press today.

Late last night, Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey wrote that Trump is privately plotting his next act-- including a 2024 presidential run. Who ever heard of a two-bit TV reality show host running for president? They reported that "In a nod to the reality that he is destined to leave office in January, the president is seriously contemplating life beyond the White House, telling advisers that he wants to remain an omnipresent force in politics and the media-- perhaps by running for the White House again."

Who believes Trump could use the word "omnipresent" in a sentence? Still, they asserted that Señor T "has told confidants he could announce a 2024 campaign before the end of this year, which would immediately set up a potential rematch with President-elect Joe Biden." Sounding even more Trupian he's "been exploring ways to make money for relatively little work, such as giving paid speeches to corporate groups or selling tickets to rallies. In addition, he may try to write a score-settling memoir of his time as president and appear on television, in a paid or unpaid capacity... Whatever platform he decides to use, Trump plans to seek vengeance against those he believes have betrayed him-- a group that includes Fox News Channel, which Trump had long praised for the sycophantic coverage on some of its programs but now seeks to punish. Trump has railed privately about the presidential debate moderated by Fox’s Chris Wallace, the fact that the network was the first major news network to call Arizona for Biden and that one of Fox’s correspondents confirmed The Atlantic’s reporting that Trump had called military service members 'suckers' and 'losers.'"

“It would be a fool’s errand to declare you’re running for president at the end of this year, but on the other hand, to keep your hold over the party and fight Republican legacy hierarchy so that they can’t erase you from history, it’s important to remain a front-runner in this process,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump adviser.
“He’s highly competitive,” Nunberg added. “It’s pretty cool to be elected in 2016-- it’s historic-- but it will be the comeback of political comebacks to regain in 2024.”
Regardless of whether he actually runs for president again, Trump is likely to try to dominate Republican politics for years to come.
“Unlike Bush, unlike Reagan, unlike any of our former presidents, he will be an ongoing presence,” said Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and senior adviser to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project. “He wants the party to continue to be consumed by him and his madness.”
Trump has been bragging to confidants that he secured more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history-- although he trails Biden in the national popular vote by about 6 million-- and that he believes he has leverage because he thinks anyone who wants a future in Republican politics will have to “kiss the ring,” said a second adviser.
“His Twitter feed, as obnoxious as it is, is one of the most powerful tools he has-- and he gets to take that with him,” said Brendan Buck, a Republican strategist and former senior aide on Capitol Hill who has been critical of Trump. “He’ll still have that ability to make or break primaries and tank deals on Capitol Hill.”
Through sheer fear or admiration, Trump could easily be the most sought-after Republican surrogate in the 2022 midterm elections. But people close to him said the president is unlikely to play the traditional role of a politician collecting chits to ensure loyalty in advance of a White House run. He is not expected to spend much time traveling to early nominating states such as Iowa and New Hampshire or supporting down-ballot Republican candidates with money and surrogate appearances, these people said.
Instead, Trump has shown interest in maintaining a political operation and keeping control of the party apparatus in other ways. In the past, when presidents left office, there have been open elections for leadership positions in their party. But Trump tweeted recently, without being prompted, that he supported his ally, Ronna McDaniel, serving another term as chair of the Republican National Committee.
...Republicans both privately and publicly worry that Trump-- who has shown little affinity toward his chosen party and largely appears to act almost exclusively in his self-interest-- could be more likely to play a meddling and damaging role than a helpful one.
“If you let a sickness continue without treatment, you don’t get better,” Steele said. “You just get sicker.”
...Trump’s influence over Republican voters is likely to remain strong.
“Let’s not pretend his sway over the party was based on his governance or his policy views,” Buck said. “It was his ability to use his voice very loudly and attract attention for himself, and that’s not going to change.”

The NY Times report by Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin this morning is mostly about how he plans to retain control of the GOP. It starts with reelecting Ronna Romney McDaniel as DNC Chair, although, they reported that her intention to run for reelection as Trump's cat's paw "has incited a behind-the-scenes proxy battle, dividing Republicans between those who believe the national party should not be a political subsidiary of the outgoing president and others happy for Mr. Trump to remain in control of it. While many Republicans are hesitant to openly criticize their president at a moment when he is refusing to admit he has lost, the debate crystallizes the larger question about the party’s identity and whether it will operate as a vessel for Mr. Trump’s ambitions to run again in four years."

Other potential 2024 candidates have surely noted that the RNC's "voter data and donors lists contain thousands of names of contributors and detailed information about supporters. The voter data in particular is a focus of attention, after distrust arose between the committee and the Trump campaign over the data’s use in the final months of the campaign... Trump sees control of the lists that he helped build over the past four years as a way to keep a grip on power-- and to neutralize potential challengers for supremacy over the party, according to Republicans close to the White House. This power play is alarming a number of RNC members, party strategists and former committee aides, who are highly uneasy about ceding control of the committee to a potential candidate in 2024, a step that they fear would shatter the party’s longstanding commitment to neutrality in nominating contests."

No mention of Trump's desire to use the list to enable the years of grifting ahead of him? Former far right Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA): "Trump always wants to use other people’s money." She doesn't want to see McDaniel help turn the RNC into "a piggy bank for the president’s political endeavors."

But what is troubling to some Republicans is the risk that Mr. Trump will try to bend the national party to his will by exacting retribution on those lawmakers who have not pledged total fealty to him.
In recent days, the president has railed against two Republican governors, Brian Kemp of Georgia and Mike DeWine of Ohio, who are on the ballot in 2022 and who have declined to aid his bid to effectively steal the election.
One of the president’s most vocal allies, Representative Jim Jordan, is already musing about challenging Mr. DeWine in 2022, according to the Plain Dealer of Cleveland.
...The dismay among Republicans that Mr. Trump is trying to seize control of the party machinery has prompted Ms. McDaniel to try to reassure both camps, the Trump die-hards and those Republicans who want the committee to remain independent.
...She assured them that she, and not Mr. Trump and his family, would control the party’s finances and that she would resist any pressure the Trumps put on her to mobilize the party against incumbent Republicans who are not pro-Trump. Most strikingly, she told one party leader that if the committee does not rally to her, she will be succeeded by somebody even closer to the president, such as Donald Trump Jr. or his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle.
...This “alternative-would-be-worse” theory, along with a deeper apathy about the national party, has prompted a number of Republican lawmakers and strategists to make peace with Ms. McDaniel’s serving another term. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Representative Leader Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, have both endorsed her re-election in recent days.

Yesterday, Trump fanatics threatened to wreck the Georgia Republican Party, tank the efforts to elect GOP candidates-- both Trumpists-- David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and drive Brian Kemp (and Mitt Romney) from office, all in retaliation for Georgia certifying that Biden had won the election. After a hand-count he beat Trump in the Peach State 2,474,507 (49.51) to 2,461,837 (49.25%), infuriating Georgia Trumpists who can't cope with the concept of democracy.

Screaming that they're "the new GOP," the Trumpists threatened that "For any Republicans not explicitly helping Trump to 'stop the steal,' we will make sure you are never elected ever again." They're insisting the election was rigged-- by the Kemp and Republican, pro-Trump Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger-- and that Trumpists should boycott the January 5 runoffs. Trumpist fanatics are doing the same in both Michigan-- where Trump lost 2,806,899 (50.57%) to 2,651,270 (47.89%)-- and Pennsylvania-- where Trump lost 3,456,632 (49.97%) to 3,375,636 (48.79%).

Politico's Alex Isenstadt reported that Trump's savaging of Kemp and DeWine is "just the start of what’s in store from the soon-to-be-ex-president [and] "has led to broader concerns within the party that he will use his post-presidency to exact revenge on perceived enemies and insert himself into races in ways that are not helpful. While the 2022 midterm elections are a ways off, the president’s broadsides are giving fuel to would-be primary challengers in both states-- raising the prospect that Republicans will be forced into ugly and expensive nomination fights that could jeopardize their hold on the two governors’ mansions... 'The power the president holds over elected Republicans is due to his strength among GOP primary voters in every state and district right now. He may be able to make or break candidates in GOP primaries for years to come,' added [Mike] DuHaime, who formerly served as a senior adviser to the Republican Governors Association."

Trump can do what the Democrats can't-- destroy the Republican Party. It's exactly what Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham warned about during the 2016 primaries-- that someone consumed with advancing his own interests will leave the party in shambles. Godspeed!

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