Trump Rattles His Party

New York Times: “Republicans fear that Mr. Trump has relinquished his role as leader of the party, instead assuming the mantle of his own political movement. And they are bracing for an election season in which their deeply unpopular president does more to undermine than aid candidates of the party he ostensibly oversees.”

“Such open divisions between a president and elected officials of the same party mark an extraordinary departure from modern political tradition. Even if they feuded at times with their president, lawmakers knew they could ultimately count on the White House to endorse and raise money for incumbents, because controlling as many seats as possible would serve both their interests.”

Key takeaway: “Republicans fear a wave of retirements going into next year. Rep. Dave Trott of Michigan is considering retiring, and another Michigan Republican, Fred Upton, may retire or run for the Senate, according to multiple party officials.”

Quote of the Day

“You want to kill the Republican party? You want to have us divided forever? Walk away from the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare without taking your best shot.”

— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), quoted by McClatchy, on his “lonely quest” to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Republicans Finally Find Something to Be Angry About

First Read: “What’s particularly striking about yesterday, however, is the reaction from GOP congressional leaders, as well as rank-and-file Republicans: They were livid, and they communicated that outrage to reporters. So what ultimately incensed them (at least publicly and so quickly) wasn’t Charlottesville, or Arpaio, or DACA – it was Trump agreeing to a three-month increase of the debt limit.”

“Then again, it’s not like Ryan, McConnell and other Republicans weren’t warned. Ever since Trump captured the GOP nomination in 2016, there have been three political parties in Washington – the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and Trump Party. And yesterday was the Trump Party flexing its muscles.”

James Hohmann: “Another key reason Republican leaders are mad: Trump has once again humiliated Paul Ryan.”

Immigration Defines the GOP’s Future

“President Trump’s decision to rescind a popular program that protected the most sympathetic of immigrants here illegally — those who were brought as children by their parents — poses a huge threat to his party, forcing Republican lawmakers to choose between the party’s nativist wing, which strongly opposes any move resembling amnesty, and those who favor a more flexible approach to minority communities,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The worst-case scenario for many GOP lawmakers: If Congress stalls again, next year’s midterm election campaigns could be accompanied by thousands of young people each week being fired from their jobs or kicked out of school, and ultimately by some being deported to countries they have not seen since they were toddlers.”

Another Top RNC Staffer Quits

“Sara Armstrong, the top staffer at the Republican National Committee, is departing, the latest in a string of exits from the committee,” Politico reports.

“Armstrong, the RNC’s chief of staff, is exiting to take a senior-level job at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She had been serving in the chief of staff role since early this year after helping to oversee President Trump’s inauguration planning.”

How Trump Kills the Republican Party

David Brooks: “Conservative universalists are coming to realize their party has become a vehicle for white identity and racial conflict. This faction is prior to and deeper than Trump.”

“When you have an intraparty fight about foreign or domestic issues, you think your rivals are wrong. When you have an intraparty fight on race, you think your rivals are disgusting. That’s what’s happening. Friendships are now ending across the right. People who supported Trump for partisan reasons now feel locked in to support him on race, and they are making themselves repellent.”

“It may someday be possible to reduce the influence of white identity politics, but probably not while Trump is in office. As long as he is in power the G.O.P. is a house viciously divided against itself, and cannot stand.”

Why Trump Isn’t a Republican

Former Sen. John Danforth (R-MO) writing in the Washington Post:

“Many have said that President Trump isn’t a Republican. They are correct, but for a reason more fundamental than those usually given. Some focus on Trump’s differences from mainstream GOP policies, but the party is broad enough to embrace different views, and Trump agrees with most Republicans on many issues. Others point to the insults he regularly directs at party members and leaders, but Trump is not the first to promote self above party. The fundamental reason Trump isn’t a Republican is far bigger than words or policies. He stands in opposition to the founding principle of our party — that of a united country. …

“In honor of our past and in belief in our future, for the sake of our party and our nation, we Republicans must disassociate ourselves from Trump by expressing our opposition to his divisive tactics and by clearly and strongly insisting that he does not represent what it means to be a Republican.”

Republican Establishment Stands By Trump

“In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, The Atlantic reached out to 146 Republican state party chairs and national committee members for reaction to Trump’s handling of the events. We asked each official two questions: Are you satisfied with the president’s response? And do you approve of his comment that there were ‘some very fine people’ who marched alongside the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis?”

“The vast majority refused to comment on the record, or simply met the questions with silence. Of the 146 GOP officials contacted, just 22 offered full responses—and only seven expressed any kind of criticism or disagreement with Trump’s handling of the episode. The rest came to the president’s defense, either with statements of support or attempts at justification.”

Where Is the Republican Outrage?

Matt Latimer: “It is all so surreal—the most apt and yet overused word of the Trump presidency. Can this all really be happening? Is it all a dream? Of course, the most important question, speaking as a Republican for many years, was this: Where is everybody?”

“In the hours that passed since the president’s remarks—in which he seemed to alternately take to task and defend the motives of “both sides” of last weekend’s march in Charlottesville— numerous outlets cited the ensuing bipartisan outrage. The suggestion is that Republicans, too, have taken the president to task.”

“No, they haven’t. Not most of them. The most prominent GOP officeholders in this country—many of whom I personally know to be good people—have made oblique criticisms of the president on social media or, more often than not, said nothing. That’s not true of everyone—Marco Rubio and Cory Gardner are standouts, for example—but it is depressingly true in general.”

Is Trump Preparing to Leave the Republican Party?

Weekly Standard: “Trump has been building the case against his fellow Republicans for some time, but it came to a head late last month as Obamacare repeal began its path in the Senate… Trump’s short-term target was the filibuster and its most important defender, Mitch McConnell. But the beginnings of the broader argument against the GOP are all right there, in 140 characters at a time. Republicans are fools, they’re impotent, and everyone’s laughing at them.”

“Senate Republicans won’t ‘ditch Mitch’ anytime soon, just as they won’t be bullied into supporting the agenda of a president with 30-something-percent approval ratings if it can’t find consensus. That’s because all of them had political careers long before Trump became a serious force within the party. They figure, with some reason, that they’ll have careers or legacies long after Trump has left the White House. But if Republicans have increasingly little incentive to tolerate Trump, he may make the same calculation about the GOP, the party’s conservative policy agenda, and the conservative movement as a whole.”

GOP Donors Withhold $2 Million After Repeal Failure

CNN: “At least $2 million in contributions promised to the National Republican Senatorial Committee have failed to materialize because donors are expressing frustration with the Senate GOP’s inability to fulfill their central campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, according to two GOP sources familiar with the matter.”

“The shortfall, officials said, also points to a larger concern within the party that their core voters may be disillusioned heading into the 2018 midterms when Democrats have a serious shot of retaking the House.”

Trump and Republicans Go to War

“President Trump and the party he leads are increasingly at each other’s throats at a time when lawmakers are back in their districts for recess,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“Trump sometimes treats congressional Republicans as an opposition party, tweeting criticism of them and reprimanding them in public settings. Republicans have taken to doing the same — ignoring the president as if his spotlight-grabbing tweets don’t exist and rebuking him on key elements of his foreign and domestic priorities.”

“Their partnership almost resembles a parliamentary-style, ruling coalition rather than the unified, one-party control of government that both sides imagined on Election Day 2016.”

Trump TV Launches

President’s daughter-in-law is “running the show” at his Trump TV project funded by his reelection campaign, multiple sources tell the Daily Beast.

“When the Trump campaign unveiled a new Trump-friendly news product on social media last week, viewers weren’t just seeing a novel political strategy in the form of Trump TV. They were watching a new power center in the president’s orbit and the political apparatus pursuing his reelection.”