With all this, Trump is obsessively pursuing any tactic that could nullify the election results, encouraging an effort already condemned by a small group of House Republicans to challenge the results of the Electoral College in Congress on January 6 and attacking any Republicans who question the success of the efforts – even threatening to take the primaries to the 2nd Republican Senate for his opposition to the useless effort.
“He’s going crazy,” a Republican aide told CNN.
While Congress is already scheduled to return to Washington next week to potentially overturn Trump’s veto on the defense authorization bill, Trump’s latest criticisms of the government’s stimulus package and spending bill may still be more thorny if he proceeds with a veto – a minimum measure could delay any assistance reaching the Americans.
There is no forecast of how many Republicans will continue to support a package that Trump has publicly criticized. This left advisers on both sides of the aisle trying to get around the worst-case scenario – including a government shutdown that could last until the end of Trump’s term in office.
If Trump waits to veto the bill, there will be little or no time for the current Congress to overturn it. If that happened, a newly appointed congressman who included a larger Republican minority would have to vote on the legislation again. And while Congress passed a continuous seven-day resolution to ensure that the government did not close while the larger bill was being processed, that funding ends on Monday at midnight.
Republican House legislators held a private call on Wednesday afternoon to discuss next steps in the face of Trump’s threats to sink the coronavirus aid package. Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump has not explicitly pledged to veto the government’s stimulus and funding legislation so far, according to one person on the call.
McCarthy ambiguously told House Republicans that they needed to find a way to address the president’s concerns, but that did not suppress some members’ frustration. Congressman Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska, said Trump threw Republicans, who voted in large numbers for the package, “under the bus” with his analysis of the bill on Tuesday night, according to one person on the call. .
Texas representative Kay Granger, the top Republican on the Appropriations panel, warned that Trump’s decision to attack the project had already damaged his prospects to a dangerous degree in terms of whether it would be sanctioned or not.
At least one member of the call mentioned the possibility for Republicans to go on TV to publicize the positive elements of the project – a tacit acknowledgment that this is where Trump gets his information, the person said.
In an attempt to prevent further leaks from revealing the party’s split, McCarthy ended up cutting questions during the call, according to a person familiar with the call, a sign of the delicate balance that Republican Party leaders are walking thanks to the Trump threat to the expense account.
On January 6, Republicans could be put in an even tougher position if Trump’s allies in the House won the support of a senator to oppose the results of the Electoral College, forcing votes in both houses on the rejection of electoral votes. of a state. It is a politically toxic vote for Republicans, forcing them to choose between supporting Trump or honoring voters’ will.
Behind the scenes, majority leader Mitch McConnell actively discouraged any Senate Republican from joining the effort. Senate majority leader John Thune has publicly rejected the possibility of contesting the election results during a joint session of Congress, saying he would “fall like a doggie shot”.
‘It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen’
For McConnell and Thune, the question of simply stating the obvious – that Joe Biden is the president-elect in McConnell’s case, that an attempt to overturn the results would catastrophically fail in Thune’s – served as Trump’s final betrayal.
Trump’s assistant surprised Republican senators when an unsolicited email appeared with a PowerPoint slide that showed McConnell’s vote in his 2020 Senate race. Trump seemed to believe that this showed his endorsement to McConnell, and a subsequent automatic call on his behalf was crucial to McConnell’s victory.
McConnell won his race by almost 20 points.
In the case of Thune, the president wasted little time taking his 280-character blowtorch to a popular member of the Republican conference considered one of the main candidates to assume the post of leader of the Republican Party when McConnell leaves.
“Republicans in the Senate forget so quickly. At the moment, they would lose 8 seats without me supporting them in the last election. RINO John Thune,” Mitch’s boy “, should let that happen. South Dakota doesn’t like weaknesses. He will the primacy in 2022, the political career is over !!! “
Trump’s intimidation against his Republican colleagues in Congress follows a familiar pattern that occurred during his presidential term, where at various points a Republican senator or member of the House would raise concerns, only to face Trump’s social media fury.
What followed, according to several lawmakers who experienced this, was an explosion in their home states or districts. The offices were flooded with furious calls and the main challenges were explored by promising locals who swore unflinching loyalty to Trump.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” a Republican senator told CNN. “You are scorched by this once and realize that there is no real advantage in going in that direction again.”
It is a reality that has infuriated Democrats, many of whom speak regularly about hearing privately from their Republican colleagues how they regard Trump’s behavior as inappropriate. “But always in private. Always,” a Democratic senator told CNN. “What a shame.”
Congress may overturn Trump’s veto of NDAA
As such, Republicans have repeatedly stood in line behind Trump, either for fear of a scolding on Twitter or throwing his weight on an opponent who pushed some of Trump’s early Republican critics out of office or into retirement.
But Republican congressmen may finally retreat in Trump’s final days. The first test of how effective Trump’s final loyalty demands can come on Monday, when the House scheduled a vote to overturn Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act. In his veto message on Wednesday, Trump accused the bill of a “gift” for China and Russia, a criticism that confused both parties’ lawmakers and advisers.
The annual defense policy bill has been enacted every year for six decades. The legislation provides for salary increases for service members and is usually passed with a vip-proof bipartisan majority in both houses, as well as earlier this month.
Trump, in fact, is asking Republicans to support him and vote against troops. He demanded that the bill include repealing a law that provides legal protection for social media companies, although it has nothing to do with defense law. And he wants to remove a provision that would lead to the renaming of nominated bases for Confederate leaders.
The bill, known on Capitol Hill as the NDAA and named this year after retiring from Texas Republican Representative Mac Thornberry, passed earlier this month by 335-78, easily obtaining a two-thirds veto-proof majority, with Republicans voting at 140-40 in Favor. But minority leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, and minority leader, Steve Scalise, said they will vote to uphold Trump’s veto, as will Senate President Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Josh Hawley. , from Missouri.
It is not yet clear how many Republicans will join them. A group of leaders of the House Republican Armed Services Committee, including senior panel member Thornberry, issued a statement last week promoting the bill’s cybernetic provisions following the massive data breach of the US government and private companies, arguing that the legislation provides “critical safeguards to protect the information and capabilities most critical to the security of our nation.”
The statement did not mention Trump or his threat of veto, however.
The 37 Democrats who voted against the bill could also switch sides to override the veto, meaning that fewer Republicans would need to reprimand Trump for the veto to be successful. If the House overturns the veto, McConnell will take steps to ensure that the Senate can hold the same vote, which may not happen until the new Congress is installed on January 3. The Senate passed the bill earlier this month 84-13.
GOP plans to force votes on Electoral College results
The fight over the defense authorization bill is just a prelude to a bigger battle in Trump’s mind: Congress counting the votes of the Electoral College on January 6.
The result of the Electoral College count leaves no doubt: there is no way for Republicans to change the result with Democrats in control of the House. But Trump turned to the vote as a last stand for his baseless and false claims that the election was stolen from him, and he has a group of Republican House allies leading the charge.
Representative Mo Brooks, the Alabama Republican who leads the effort, predicted that Senate Republicans will join the objection, although none have pledged to do so. When senator-elect Tommy Tuberville of Alabama signaled openness to objections, Trump called him out and publicly praised him.
It would be a great opening act for Tuberville to meet McConnell, who is famous for holding his Senate conference together, but it could be a first sign of how Trump will continue to have influence among his Republican supporters, even after he leaves the White House. .
“Tommy Tuberville serving as a tea leaf for the Republican Party’s future was not on my bingo card,” said a senior Republican Party official with close ties to the Senate leadership, laughing. “But seriously, he better have some good advisers on that. Based on last month, his current position is the last place I would like my boss to be.”