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Trump steps up efforts to retain control of Republican Party by attacking McConnell

WASHINGTON – After being low for nearly a month after leaving office, Donald Trump is accelerating a return to relevance that will involve new fundraising and continued attacks on a new enemy: Washington’s top Republican , GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump hasn’t been raising money for his Save America board since Jan.6, when a mob he instigated attacked the U.S. Capitol, but a website that will allow him to tap into his lucrative list of little ones. donors will be operational within days, said a Republican familiar with his plans.

And while the Republican Party focuses on winning back one or both houses of Congress in the 2022 midterm election, Trump is determined to pressure Senate Republicans to replace McConnell, who, after devising Trump’s second impeachment acquittal in a year, excoriated him in the Senate. speech immediately after, then in a Wall Street Journal column.

“Because it’s smart,” the Republican source said on condition of anonymity. “It shows that Trump is still the leader of the new party and is expelling the leaders of the old party.”

Recent polls show Trump to be deeply unpopular with Americans as a whole, but still have the approval of most Republicans. A poll showed him the top-level favorite, around 40 percentage points above the next name, for the 2024 Republican nomination, which Trump has said he plans to seek out.


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump reacts as he is kicked out of his supporters on Presidents Day in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Longtime Republican consultants, however, said Trump’s attacks on McConnell and others who criticized him for instigating the Jan.6 attack could help Trump but would be a nightmare for the party.

“His congenital need for attention and assertiveness is going to do lasting damage to the GOP,” said David Kochel, who recently helped Republican Iowa Senator Joni Ernst win a comfortable re-election.

“Trump has always been a brilliant tactician and a terrible strategist,” said Terry Sullivan, who led Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 candidacy for the GOP nomination. “He doesn’t have a master plan for what he wants to do, only that he wants to react to McConnell.”

Republicans hoping to retain the favor of die-hard Trump followers have started making pilgrimages to the for-profit Palm Beach social club where he lives. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) And whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) Have both visited Trump in Mar-a-Lago in recent days, while Trump’s ambassador at the United Nations and potential 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley has reportedly attempted to do so. set up a meeting but was rejected.

Trump is the first term president to lose an election in modern times to nonetheless try to remain a force in national politics. He was able to raise nearly $ 80 million for Save America in the weeks between the November 3 election he lost and January 6 by claiming, in hundreds of fundraising texts and emails, that the money would allow him to challenge the election results and help Republicans hold two seats in the Georgia Senate. In the end, however, he didn’t spend any of that money for either purpose and he made it available for pretty much anything he wanted – from taking care of personal expenses to paying. an eight-figure salary – thanks to the permissive rules governing these “steering” committees. .

Trump maintains access to a list of email and cell phone numbers totaling more than 40 million names, including several million from actual donors, which was jointly created by his campaign and the Republican National Committee. Some GOP consultants believe that a significant fraction of its campaign donors could be persuaded to give it $ 5 a month, which would earn it tens of millions of dollars each year.

However, two upcoming events could test Trump’s grip on the party.

Trump steps up efforts to retain control of Republican Party by attacking McConnell


Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump’s resort town of Mar-a-Lago, where he has lived since leaving the White House, has seen visitors among House GOP leaders.

Next week, the Conservative Union of America, which for decades hosted its Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, will hold it in Orlando, just a two-hour drive from the Florida toll freeway from the new home of Trump. Half a dozen potential 2024 GOP presidential candidates are expected to attend, including Sen. Rick Scott and Governor Ron DeSantis, both from Florida. It is unclear whether Trump, who has made headlines in each of his four years in office, will make an appearance.

And six weeks later, the RNC is expected to host a conference for its major donors in Palm Beach, an annual event that in recent years has funneled several hundred thousand dollars to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago to host lunches and dinners. .

The RNC did not respond to questions from HuffPost on whether this would happen again. The reunion itself will likely take place, as it has done in previous years, at the Four Seasons hotel four miles higher, as Trump’s club only has 10 suites.

An RNC member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it would be a mistake for the party to patronize Trump’s property at this time.

“It would be a bad idea. The party cannot be controlled by any candidate, ”the MP said, calling it“ a recipe for loss ”.

Trump left the White House exactly two weeks after his unsuccessful attempt to encourage a host of his violent supporters to intimidate his own vice president and Congress into rejecting the election results and installing him as leader. The ensuing impeachment won the support of 10 House Republicans and seven GOP senators, but Trump nonetheless continued to lie that the election was “stolen” from him, the underlying lie that drove his supporters riots. He repeated it again on Wednesday in the first round of talks he has given since leaving his presidency.

On Thursday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) – who voted to condemn Trump for his impeachment both this time around and in early 2020, for his attempt to extort the Ukrainian leader to denigrate his presidential rival Joe Biden – entered the register of Congress. a statement explicitly describing Trump’s actions as a move toward authoritarianism.

“There is a thin line separating our democratic republic from an autocracy: it is a free and fair election and the peaceful transfer of power that follows. President Trump has attempted to break that line, yet again, ”Romney wrote. “What he tried is what was feared most by the founders. This is the reason they gave Congress the power of impeachment.

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