Monday, May 17

‘His New Business’: Trump Seeks Personal Political Brand As He Seizes Republican Base | Donald trump

Days after being acquitted in his second impeachment trial last month, Donald Trump issued a statement lashing out at one of the same Republican senators who made that acquittal possible.

“The Republican party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Senator Mitch McConnell at the helm,” the former president said in a statement, after the Republican leader criticized him for inciting the January 6 insurrection in The capitol. Trump added: “Mitch is a grim, sullen and serious political stunt, and if the Republican senators are going to stay with him, they won’t win again.

But the shocking statement is just one of many colorful examples of how Trump has spent his post-presidency so far: attacking fellow Republicans who dare to criticize him while continuing to promote his personal political brand and his own firm control over much of the world. party base. .

Such antics and behaviors could cause problems for the Republican Party as it attempts to seize control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections by continuing to embrace Trumpism as its guiding philosophy. While party leaders have encouraged Trump to focus on efforts to change the House and Senate, the former president sometimes seems more interested in taking revenge on the handful of Republican politicians who supported his impeachment.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) late last month, Trump recited the names of each of the 17 Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach or convict him and suggested they should be removed from office. “Get rid of them all,” Trump told the CPAC crowd.

Trump is already working hard to topple those Republicans. The former president has promised to help defeat Lisa Murkowski next year, attacking the Alaska Republican as “disloyal” after she supported his conviction in the Senate. Trump has also endorsed Max Miller, a former adviser who launched a primary challenge against Anthony Gonzalez, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him.

Jason Miller, a senior Trump adviser, said the former president would launch another round of endorsements in the coming days, including one for a primary challenger running against a sitting Republican.

“Re-election candidates will be endorsed soon, as well as open seats, and in one case, it will probably be a major challenge against a sitting Republican,” Miller told The Guardian. “His endorsement remains the biggest endorsement in politics. He plans to wear that. “

Trump’s attacks on “disloyal” Republicans appear to be the latest example of the former president’s vengeful attitude on politics and business, said Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump.

“He’s a person who believes very much in getting back at anyone who thinks they hurt him,” D’Antonio said. “It’s always a question of, ‘Are you with me? And if you are not with me, then you are against me and must be destroyed. ‘

Miller stressed that Trump remains “committed” to working with party committee groups, such as the Republican National Committee (RNC), to choose candidates who support the former president’s “America First” agenda. But Trump has insisted that anyone using his name or image to raise funds must have his prior approval before doing so.

In a strong statement issued earlier this month, the former president criticized “Rinos,” which means “Republicans in name only,” for using his image to raise funds for his campaigns.

“I fully support the Republican Party and major Republican committees, but I do not support the rinos or the fools, and they have no right to use my image or likeness to raise funds,” Trump said. “A lot of money is being raised and it is being wasted entirely by people who do not have the best interests of the Republican Party in mind.”

Instead, Trump encouraged his supporters to donate to his own political action committee, Save America Pac. According to Miller, the Pac already has more than $ 80 million in the bank, with about a year and a half left for the midterm elections.

Trump supporters cheer at CPAC in Orlando, Florida, on February 28.
Trump supporters cheer at CPAC in Orlando, Florida, on February 28. Photograph: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Trump’s efforts to direct contributions to his own Pac, where he and his advisers have much more control on how the funds are spent, have drawn criticism that the former president is more focused on raising money for himself than on helping the Republican party regain control of Congress.

“He doesn’t want anything to affect his ability to raise money for the super Pac that he has created, so he wants to divert as much cash from the RNC to that Pac,” said Michael Steele, a former RNC president and a frequent critic of Trump. “This is all transactional for him. It is not personal. It is the next level of financial transactions that Trump wants to participate in. “

Capitalizing on his political brand may be Trump’s best financial outlook right now. Trump Organization revenue drastically decreased last year, and Trump is personally responsible for $ 300 million in loans maturing over the next four years, according to a New York Times analysis of your tax records. His financial troubles come as the Manhattan district attorney has launched a comprehensive investigation of the Trump Organization’s business.

“If you look at all the dangers he faces legally and the near collapse of many of his businesses, he is looking for a source of income and no dollar amount is too small for him to fight,” D’Antonio said of the latest fundraiser from Trump. efforts. “I think that’s his new business.”

The RNC has also continued to raise funds from Trump’s name, and high-level Republicans have generally tried to downplay any tension between the former president and party leaders, insisting that they are united in their goal of rejecting Joe’s agenda. Biden. “The Republican Civil War is now off,” Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the Senate Republican National Committee, said in a widely shared memo at the end of last month.

However, when Scott met Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida earlier this month, the former president made no commitment to stay out of the Senate primary. “He didn’t say he was going to do it,” Scott told CNN on Tuesday, when asked if Trump indicated he would get involved in the primary battles. “I’m sure he wants to help, so the best thing he can do is participate in whoever wins the primaries and come back then.”

Scott is one of the Republican leaders who have traveled from Washington to Palm Beach in recent weeks to consult with Trump on Mar-a-Lago. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise have also visited the Florida resort since Trump left the White House.

Even incumbent Republicans, such as Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, have traveled to Mar-a-Lago to raise funds and meet with Trump, in the apparent hope of gaining the former president’s backing and avoiding challenges in the primaries as they seek the re-election.

Trump has already endorsed several Senate Republicans for re-election next year, including Tim Scott of South Carolina and Jerry Moran of Kansas, and Miller said the next round of endorsements for the former president will include more sitting Republican senators.

“They’re all coming to Mar-a-Lago or they’re trying to get President Trump to phone for their endorsement,” Miller said.

The widespread efforts to appeal to Trump underscore the enormous influence the former president still has over the Republican party, even after leaving office. But Trump and party leaders may be on a collision course if the former president continues to target headlines and redirect money to his own Pac, jeopardizing Republicans’ hopes of regaining Congress.

“They are about to collide because their interests don’t align,” Steele said. “Trump is not in the business of expanding the party. He’s in the business of having people who support him, and he can afford to lose people who don’t support him. “

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