Trump Hired Another Political Hustler To Tell Him What He Wants To Hear
Grifter extraordinaire Donald Trump, doesn't want the Republican Party or its organs using his name or likeness to raise money for its candidates. Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman looked into what's behind that for NY Times readers last week. Trump, they wrote, blasted "party leaders and urging his backers to send donations to his new political action committee-- not to the institutional groups that traditionally control the GOP’s coffers. 'No more money for RINOS,' he said in a statement released on Monday by his bare-bones post-presidential office, referring to Republicans In Name Only. He directed donors to his own website instead. The aggressive move against his own party is the latest sign that Trump is trying to wrest control of the low-dollar online fund-raising juggernaut he helped create, diverting it from Republican fund-raising groups toward his own committee, which has virtually no restrictions on how the money can be spent."
They continued that "Trump’s advisers believe the future of party fund-raising is in low-dollar contributions, not the class of major donors who have mostly signaled that they want distance from him after his months-long push falsely claiming that the Nov. 3 election had been stolen, which led to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Trump’s maneuvering is born partly out of his anger toward Republican leaders who he feels were disloyal when they edged away from him after Jan. 6. The former president is also being encouraged by people like Dick Morris, the notorious political consultant known for flipping between the parties, who has been meeting with him in New York and encouraging him to take on the party he once led."
You may not remember Dick Morris, the bag of right-wing flatulence who helped Bill Clinton formulate his anti-progressive triangulation strategy. In 2011, unable to cope with the idea of a Black president, the 74 year old fired Fox regular switched parties from Blue Dog-type Democrat (who worked exclusively with conservatives) to Republican. Clinton had been forced to fire him as campaign manager when it was revealed that Morris was putting him on speaker phone while dallying with prostitutes and god-only-knows which other unsavory characters. Morris became one of the Clintons' most implacable enemies and blamed Hillary for every woe that has befallen him.
Virtually every public predication Morris has made over the years has turned out wrong so... perfect for Trump. And, like Trump, Morris is a notorious tax cheat, who stopped paying local and federal taxes in 1996. Morris is widely considered one of the worst scumbags in the political consulting business. So...
He's been working with Trump and he's the one who persuaded Trump to go after the Republican Party on the use of his name in fundraising.
This morning, Politico ran a much commented-on essay by Gabby Orr and Meredith McGraw about how Trump is less a political Godzilla than a bumbler adrift. They didn't mention Morris but noted that Trump has "backed away from creating a third party and has soured on the costly prospect of launching his own TV empire or social media startup. His vow to target disloyal Republicans with personally-recruited primary challengers has taken a backseat to conventional endorsements... Trump finds himself adrift while in political exile. And Republicans, and even some allies, say he is disorganized, torn between playing the role of antagonist and party leader. 'There is no apparatus, no structure and part of that is due to a lack of political understanding on Trump’s behalf,' said a person close to the former president, noting that Trump has struggled to learn the ropes of post-presidential politicking."
The version of Trump that has emerged in the month and a half since he left office is far from the political godzilla many expected him to be. He was supposed to unleash hell on a party apparatus that recoiled when his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and declined to fiercely defend him during his second impeachment. Instead, Trump has maintained close ties to GOP officials who have committed to supporting incumbents, stayed almost entirely out of the spotlight, delivered fairly anodyne remarks the one time he emerged, and offered only sparse criticism of his successor, Joe Biden.
The cumulative result is political whiplash, as the former president shifts from wanting to support the GOP with his resources and grassroots appeal one day to refocusing on his own brand and thirst for vengeance the next. In the past week alone, Trump has gone from threatening party bodies for using his name and likeness in their fundraising efforts to offering up his Mar-a-Lago estate as a host site for part of the Republican National Committee’s spring donor retreat. He savagely attacked veteran GOP operative Karl Rove for criticizing his first post-presidency speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Committee, and endorsed Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), who repeatedly scrutinized Trump’s own trade practices while in office.
And in the span of 24 hours this week, Trump went from encouraging NFL running back Herschel Walker to mount a primary bid against Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to hosting a vocal opponent of insurgent primary challenges, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) for dinner at Mar-a-Lago. In his role as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Scott has promised to stick by GOP incumbents-- including Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict Trump in his Senate trial last month on charges of inciting an insurrection. The Florida Republican said he had a “great meeting” with Trump in a tweet he shared Friday.
“For any normal politician, it would look like he’s trying to have it both ways but really he’s trying to have it his way,” said a former Trump White House official. “He only cares about maintaining his power and his stranglehold over the Republican Party and it doesn’t matter to him how any of the moves he makes affect the long-term success of institutions or individuals other than himself.”
Trump has always been an impulsive figure who demanded loyalty from those around him. But those traits have come with positions of power: whether atop a real estate empire, as a media celebrity, or-- in his last iteration-- as president of the United States.
...He has assembled a barebones staff of paid and unpaid advisers who say they are working to vet primary candidates seeking his support and get his fundraising operation off the ground. But the factions that have already formed among those surrounding him suggest potential turbulence ahead. Three veterans of Trump’s 2020 campaign-- Brad Parscale, Bill Stepien and Justin Clark-- have been screening primary recruitments and brainstorming ways to reestablish his online presence, while Dave Bossie and Corey Lewandowski are in talks with the ex-president to launch a new fundraising entity on his behalf, according to people briefed on the recent discussions.
At the same time, Trump has continued to phone pals from his real estate days and former White House officials-- soliciting their counsel on which Republicans he should try to unseat and whether they approve of the primary challengers he’s considering. One former administration official who has been in contact with Trump described him as a “pinball,” noting that his tendency to abruptly change directions or seize on a new idea after speaking with a friend or outside adviser-- a habit that often frustrated aides during his time in office-- has carried into his post-presidency life.
“You’ve got Trump making endorsements of people without going through the process he agreed to three days ago,” said the former White House official. “It’s really disorganized.”
The fear among Republicans is that Trump’s indecisiveness will extend to his personal political future as well. Trump has continued to dangle a 2024 run over the party, and the will-he-won’t-he guessing game has held presidential hopefuls in limbo.
“Politics is his hobby and he’s having fun with his hobby in between his rounds of golf,” said a former Trump adviser. “His big test is does he run again? Because if he doesn’t, you’ll see people lose interest in the guy in the next hour. As long as he plays the theatrics he’s going to run again, he still garners attention and creates headlines.”
...But so far, many of his recent political maneuverings have been met with a shrug by the GOP. Trump’s public tussle with the Republican Party over fundraising and the use of his name and likeness in appeals for money appeared to fizzle out after attorneys for the Republican National Committee denied Trump’s cease-and-desist demands. By week’s end, the RNC was not only still using Trump’s name in fundraising solicitations, it was offering him up as an enticement.
“Want to meet President Trump?” a fundraising appeal read, touting the opportunity to dine with the former president at an upcoming spring retreat and even “take a photo” with him too.