Congressional GOP grapples with ‘unhinged’ Trump

Despite all that, Trump obsessively follows any tactic that could destroy the election results, encouraging an already doomed attempt by a small group of House Republicans to challenge and lash out the results of the electoral college in Congress on January 6. any Republican who questions the success of the effort – even a threat to the Senate’s first Republican No. 2 for opposing the futile endeavor.

“He’s getting off balance,” a GOP assistant told CNN.

While Congress is already slated to return to Washington next week to potentially override Trump’s veto on the defense-approval bill, Trump’s latest criticism of the stimulus package and government spending bill could prove even more thorny if he continues to veto – a move that to a minimum could delay any help to reach Americans.

There’s no telling how many Republicans will continue to support a package Trump has so publicly shot down. That has left aides on both sides of the aisle attempting to play out worst-case scenarios – including a government shutdown that could last until the end of Trump’s tenure.

If Trump waits to veto the bill, the current Congress can leave little or no time to set it aside. If that were to happen, a newly sworn Congress with a larger Republican minority would have to vote again on the legislation. And while Congress passed a seven-day resolution to ensure the government didn’t shut down while the larger bill was being processed, that funding will expire at midnight on Monday.

House Republican lawmakers held a private meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss next steps in light of Trump’s threats to scrap the coronavirus aid package. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said Trump has not made an explicit commitment to veto the stimulus and government funding laws so far, one person on the call said.

McCarthy ambiguously told House Republicans that they needed to find a way to address the president’s concerns, but that hasn’t alleviated some members’ frustration. Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican, said Trump had thrown Republicans, who voted for the package in large numbers, “under the bus” with his panning of the bill Tuesday night, according to a person on the line.

Texas Rep. Kay Granger, the top Republican on the Credit Panel, warned that Trump’s decision to attack the bill had already hurt his prospects to a dangerous degree in terms of whether it would be signed into law.

At least one member of the call cited the possibility of Republicans going on TV to proclaim the positive elements of the bill – a tacit admission that that’s where Trump gets his information, the person said.

In an effort to stop even more leaks that revealed the party was divided, McCarthy eventually cut the questions off during the call, according to a person familiar with the call, a sign of the delicate balance GOP leaders are walking. thanks to Trump’s threat to the spending bill.

By January 6, Republicans could be placed in an even tougher position if Trump’s House allies get the backing of a senator to object to the electoral college’s results, enforcing votes in both chambers to remove a state’s electoral votes already. then don’t reject it. It is a politically toxic vote for Republicans, forcing them to choose between backing Trump or honoring the will of the voters.

Behind the scenes, majority leader Mitch McConnell has actively discouraged all Senate Republicans from joining. Senate Majority Whip John Thune publicly pressed back on one to contest the results of the election at a joint session of Congress, saying it would “go down like a gunned dog.”

‘It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen’

For McConnell and Thune, the question of simply calling the obvious – that Joe Biden is president-elect in McConnell’s case, that any attempt to overturn the results would fail catastrophically in Thune’s – as the ultimate betrayal of Trump.

Trump’s assistant stunned GOP senators when an unsolicited email appeared with a PowerPoint slide showing McConnell’s poll in his 2020 Senate contest. Trump seemed to believe it showed his endorsement of McConnell, and a subsequent robocall on his behalf was crucial to McConnell’s victory.

McConnell won his race by almost 20 points.

In Thune’s case, the president wasted little time bringing his 280-character flash to a popular member of the Republican conference who was considered a top candidate to take over as GOP leader when McConnell leaves.

Republicans in the Senate are so quick to forget. At this point, they would be sitting 8 seats without me supporting them in the last election. RINO John Thune, “Mitch’s boy”, should let it play. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness Primarily achieved in 2022, political career over !!! “

Trump’s outburst of anger against his fellow Republicans in Congress follows a well-known pattern that has occurred throughout his presidential tenure, where at various times a GOP senator or house member would express concern, only at Trump’s wrath on social media under eyes to see.

What followed, according to several lawmakers who witnessed it, was an explosion in their home state or district. Offices were inundated with irate callers and the main challenges explored by local newcomers pledging unyielding allegiance to Trump.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen,” a GOP senator told CNN. “You get seared by it once and realize well, there’s no real benefit to going in that direction again.”

It is a reality that has infuriated Democrats, many of whom regularly talk about hearing privately from their GOP colleagues how inappropriate they find Trump’s behavior. ‘But always private. Always, ”a Democratic senator told CNN. “What a shame.”

Congress could override Trump’s NDAA veto

As such, Republicans have repeatedly lined up behind Trump, fearing a Twitter rebuke or throwing his weight behind a challenger who has pushed some of Trump’s early Republican critics out of office or into retirement.

But Congressional Republicans may finally be able to push back in Trump’s waning days. The first test of how effective Trump’s latest loyalty demands can come comes Monday, when the House scheduled a vote to override Trump’s veto on the National Defense Authorization Act. In his veto on Wednesday, Trump claimed the bill was a “ gift ” to China and Russia, a criticism that confused lawmakers and aides in both parties.

The annual defense policy bill has been signed into law every year for six decades. The legislation provides for pay increases for service workers and typically passes with a veto-proof bipartisan majority in both chambers, just like earlier this month.

Trump is basically asking Republicans to stand with him and vote against the troops. He demanded that the bill include a repeal of a law that provides legal protections to social media companies, even though it is unrelated to defense law. And he wants to remove a provision that would lead to the renaming of bases named after Southern leaders.

The bill, known on Capitol Hill as the NDAA and named this year after GOP Representative Mac Thornberry retired from Texas, passed 335-78 earlier this month, easily releasing a veto two-thirds majority, with Republicans 140- 40 voted. favor. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise have said they will vote to keep Trump’s veto, as have Senate President Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

It is still unclear how many Republicans will join them. A group of House Republican Armed Services Committee leaders, including Thornberry, the panel’s rankings member, released a statement last week touting the cyber provisions in the bill following the massive data breach from the U.S. government and private companies, arguing that the legislation “provides critical safeguards to protect the information and capabilities most fundamental to the security of our country. “

However, the statement did not mention Trump or his veto threat.

The 37 Democrats who voted against the bill can also switch sides to override the veto, meaning fewer Republicans will have to scold Trump for the veto to be successful. If the House lifts the veto, McConnell will have taken steps to allow the Senate to hold the same vote, which may not take place until the hours before the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. The Senate passed the bill earlier this month 84-13.

GOP wants to enforce votes on the results of the electoral college

The battle over the defense authorization law is just a prelude to a bigger battle in Trump’s mind: Congress counts the votes of the electoral college on Jan. 6.

There is no question about the outcome of the election college: Republicans have no way of changing the outcome if the Democrats are in control of the House. But Trump has moved to the vote as a final stand for his baseless and false claims that the election was stolen from him, and he has a willing group of House Republican allies leading the charge.

Trump this week met with the group of House Republicans planning to object to President-elect Biden’s victories in six states. If they convince a senator to join them, the Republicans can force a vote in both houses, something the Senate Republican leaders try to avoid.

Rep. Mo Brooks, the Alabama Republican in charge, has predicted that Senate Republicans will join the objection, although no one has committed to doing so. When elected Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville expressed an openness to objection, Trump called him and publicly praised him.

It would be quite an opening act for Tuberville to cross McConnell, who is famous for holding his Senate conference united, but it could be an early sign of how Trump will continue to influence his Republican supporters even after he leaves the White House. is. .

“Tommy Tuberville who served as the tea tray for the future of the Republican Party was not on my bingo card,” a senior GOP official with close ties to the Senate leadership said with a laugh. “But seriously, he’d better have a few good advisors for this. Based on the past month, his current position is the last place I want my boss.”