We started the day with a look at how Trump continues to poison the Republican Party's midterm efforts. But it's a theme that never stops giving. Jonathan Swan and Andrew Solendar did a post this morning about Señor Trumpanzee's hunt for disloyal Republicans. Trump and his inner circle, they asserted "are systematically reshaping the Republican Party, working to install hand-picked loyalists across federal and state governments and destroy those he feels have been disloyal. If most or all of Trump’s candidates win, he will go into the 2024 election cycle with far more people willing to do his bidding who run the elections in key states."
"Trump is tapping his national network of allies to identify Republicans who were 'weak' in 2020 because they refused to go along with his efforts to overturn the election. No office has proven too small." Of course the big question is whether "his hand in these contests help Republicans sweep to new majorities in 2022, or divide the GOP in brutal primaries that indirectly boost Democrats in the general election."
His apparatus touches everything from unseating governors, members of Congress, state legislators and secretaries of state, to formulating policy and influencing local school boards.
One common thread with many of the candidates he's backed so far: They all support his efforts to overturn Joe Biden's victory.
Trump-backed Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue-- who is challenging Gov. Brian Kemp in the GOP primary-- told Axios' Emma Hurt on Wednesday that he wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he'd been governor.
This morning, Alexander Bolton reported that at a closed GOP lunch Wednesday Lindsey Graham "offered a forceful warning to Republican colleagues" that Señor Trumpanzee will come down hard on any GOP senators who vote for McConnell's procedural deal with Schumer to set up "a special pathway to raise the debt limit." McConnell is trying to prevent the midterm Republicans from looking like a party that stands for dysfunction. Trump is hoping to cause maximum dysfunction and chaos in the hope that Biden will be blamed by his low IQ Republican supporters. Graham was unusually harsh towards McConnell, who he said is putting Senate Republicans in position to get "shot in the back" (by Trump) over the deal.
One GOP senator said Graham specifically warned colleagues that “the president is going to be engaged on this issue.”
He told colleagues that McConnell had “led them on a charge up a hill and they were getting shot in the back,” according to the senator.
...[I]t looks like it’s going to be a scramble to round up 10 Republican votes-- the bare minimum-- to overcome a filibuster against the proposal, GOP senators said.
“Somebody needs to get to Donald Trump and tell him to shut up about this,” said one nervous Republican lawmaker, who added that Graham’s warning about Trump is having a chilling effect.
“Graham was warning us about Trump was going to do and ‘May God have mercy on your souls,’ ” the lawmaker said.
McConnell on Wednesday defended his strategy. He argued on the Senate floor that once Republicans vote with Democrats on a bill to establish a special legislative pathway to raise the debt ceiling, Democrats will be forced to do the deed entirely on their own.
Under the deal, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schumer will have to move a bill that raises the debt limit by enough money to cover federal spending until after the 2022 midterm elections. That means Democrats will have to vote for a bill to increase the debt by another $2 trillion or more-- a politically tough vote that will hurt vulnerable Democratic incumbents.
“The whole country understands that Democrats own this mess. They have seized one-party control of the economy, so you better believe they’ll have one-party accountability for the resulting nightmare,” McConnell argued on the Senate floor.
“Every single Senate Democrat will have to put their name to the gigantic dollar amount of debt they’re prepared to pile on the American people,” he added.
But Graham is warning GOP colleagues that this argument will not pass muster with Trump and Republican base voters.
“When you tell people you’re going to do one thing and you don’t, it never ends too well,” Graham said Wednesday, referring to McConnell’s repeated statements warning that Republicans would not help Democrats raise the debt limit.
Trump's deranged statement: "Mitch McConnell just folded on the Debt Ceiling, a total victory for the Democrats-- didn’t use it to kill the $5 Trillion Dollar (real number!) Build Back Worse Bill that will essentially change the fabric of our Country forever. The Dems would have folded completely if Mitch properly played his hand, and if not, the Debt Ceiling scenario would be far less destructive than the Bill that will get passed. He has all the cards to win, but not the 'guts' to play them. The Old Crow is a disaster!"
Punch Bowl reported that, besides McConnell himself, the 10 Republican senators McConnell promised to deliver would be John Thune (SD), John Cornyn (TX), Roger Wicker (MS), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Roy Blunt (MO), Susan Collins (ME), Rob Portman (OH) and the two from North Carolina, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr. Burr, Portman and Blunt are retiring. Other Republicans who were supposedly considering voting to shut down the extremists' filibuster were John Barrasso (WY), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Mike Crapo (ID), Jim Inhofe (OK), Bill Cassidy (LA) and Jerry Moran (KS), although no one think Moran has the political courage it takes to oppose Trump on anything. "Republicans backing the measure said it was the responsible thing to do. The U.S. economy can’t withstand a big partisan battle that could lead to a possible debt default." Tillis: "The fact of the matter is that next week, we [Republicans] are going to vote against raising the debt ceiling. Democrats are going to have to own it. We just need to move forward."
McConnell-- tried unsuccessfully for months to force Democrats to handle a debt-limit increase under reconciliation-- is also trying to position his party for the 2022 elections. By ending this dispute now-- even though he was the one who initially elevated it back in July-- McConnell is trying to make sure Republicans aren’t the issue next year. He wants the focus to remain firmly on Biden and the Democrats, believing the president’s unpopularity will help the GOP take back the majority.
In the end, 13 Republican senators stuck with McConnell and ignored Trump's (and Graham's) pissant hysteria. Aside from McConnell, the aye votes were Barrasso, Blunt, Burr, Capito, Collins, Cornyn, Joni Ernst (IA), Murkowski, Portman, Mitt Romney (UT), Tillis, Thune, Wicker. The ones who got scared off were Kevin Cramer (ND), Crapo, Inhofe, Cassidy and, as predicted above, Moran. The manufactured crisis will be, as expected, averted again.