Tuesday Reads: AWOL Trump Plots With Congressional CraziesPosted: December 22, 2020
Trump is getting crazier and crazier, and we still have 29 days to get through before Biden’s inauguration. Here’s the latest:
Jonathan Swan at Axios: Trump turns on everyone.
President Trump, in his final days, is turning bitterly on virtually every person around him, griping about anyone who refuses to indulge conspiracy theories or hopeless bids to overturn the election, several top officials tell Axios.
The latest: Targets of his outrage include Vice President Pence, chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, Secretary of State Pompeo and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Why it matters: Trump thinks everyone around him is weak, stupid or disloyal — and increasingly seeks comfort only in people who egg him on to overturn the election results. We cannot stress enough how unnerved Trump officials are by the conversations unfolding inside the White House.
Top officials are trying to stay away from the West Wing right now.
- Trump is lashing out, and everyone is in the blast zone: At this point, if you’re not in the “use the Department of Homeland Security or the military to impound voting machines” camp, the president considers you weak and beneath contempt.
- Trump is fed up with Cipollone, his counsel. Some supporters of Cipollone are worried that Trump is on the brink of removing him and replacing him with a fringe loyalist.
A source who spoke to Trump said the president was complaining about Pence and brought up a Lincoln Project ad that claims that Pence is “backing away” from Trump. This ad has clearly got inside Trump’s head, the source said.
- Trump views Pence as not fighting hard enough for him — the same complaint he uses against virtually everybody who works for him and has been loyal to him.
Pence’s role on Jan. 6 has begun to loom large in Trump’s mind, according to people who’ve discussed the matter with him.
Trump would view Pence performing his constitutional duty — and validating the election result — as the ultimate betrayal.
More from Jonathan Swan: Trump trashes McConnell to fellow Republicans.
President Trump lashed out at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday night for acknowledging Joe Biden won the election, sending a slide to Republican lawmakers taking credit for saving McConnell’s career with a tweet and robocall.
Why it matters: It’s an extraordinary broadside against McConnell by the sitting president and most popular Republican in the party, ahead of a crucial runoff election in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will determine control of the Senate.
- “Sadly, Mitch forgot,” reads the top of the slide sent to Republican senators by Trump’s personal assistant, written in red for emphasis. “He was the first one off the ship.”
Between the lines: While both the message and its delivery targeted McConnell, they also carried a subtle warning to other Republicans who may follow suit as the president grasps at the last straws of his election-fraud claim.
- Trump’s remaining power over the GOP is not his waning authority as president, but the perception of his lingering ability to make or break politicians in their re-election campaigns.
- Many Republicans have been loath to criticize the president despite a string of court losses, including at the Supreme Court, because of their private fears that an enraged Trump will attack them and turn his band of loyal followers against them in a primary campaign.
President Trump is reportedly questioning the loyalty of Vice President Mike Pence as the commander-in-chief pushes ever more extreme measures to overturn his election loss.
“Trump (views) Pence performing his constitutional duty — and validating the election result — as the ultimate betrayal,” Axios reported.
The increasingly paranoid president mentioned a Dec. 8 television ad from the #NeverTrump Lincoln Project that predicted Pence would eventually dump Trump and seal President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
The ad, which Axios reported has rattled Trump, said the conservative veep is “running away from you Donald. And on January 6, @VP will preside over the vote proving @joebiden beat you.”