After attacking pretty much everybody else, President Trump is now battling his own party. In recent days, Trump has upped the infighting ante, openly tangling with the GOP leaders of the House and Senate, along with vulnerable Sen. Jeff Flake and now Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who had questioned Trump’s “stability” as president last week.
Trump’s most significant feud, for the moment, is with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The New York Times described it in detail last week — complete with Trump having “berated” McConnell and McConnell doubting whether Trump’s presidency is salvageable. Trump previously even suggested McConnell might have to resign if he can’t whip the Senate into shape. Now he’s blaming him for both failing to replace Obamacare and the current budgetary “mess.”
I wouldn’t be the first to note that it seems, well, counterproductive to attack your own party’s leaders. It’s entirely possible that this is Trump simply trying to motivate his team in his own divisive, Trump-ian way. It’s also possible he’s just lashing out and doesn’t actually have a plan.
But there’s also an Option C here. What if Trump, fed up by a lack of progress and fealty, is ready to take on his own party? What if, having systematically attacked what seems like every other institution involved in American government — the judiciary, the intelligence community, the press, the election process, law enforcement, Congress — he’s now set to attack and undermine the institution whose nomination he commandeered to obtain the presidency? What if he simply ditched the Republican Party, either officially or in spirit?
It’s not entirely far-fetched. This is a guy who has changed his party affiliations repeatedly, after all. And while Trump would seem to be throwing in the towel on his and the GOP’s agenda — with Republican congressional majorities, no less — this is a man who doesn’t lack for self-confidence and isn’t afraid to fire people when things go wrong. Why should the GOP be immune to being fired?
“I’ve seen this as the inevitable outcome for some time now,” said Rick Wilson, a Trump-antagonizing GOP consultant based in Florida. “Trump was never a Republican to begin with; the GOP was a flag of convenience.”