Team Trump Declares War on the GOP as Rep. Paul Ryan Defects (Updated)

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By Emily Zanotti | 4:52 pm, October 10, 2016

Update: Tuesday, the cold war between Donald Trump and high-profile Republicans burst into the open, as Trump, empowered by the RNC’s assurance of support, went after Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain.

At its Monday evening meeting, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus affirmed his support for the embattled Republican candidate. “I want to make it very clear that the RNC is in full coordination with the Trump campaign and we have a great relationship with them,” Priebus told RNC members. “Nothing has changed with regard to our relationship.”

He said that the party would move back to coordinating field efforts in support of Trump’s campaign.

Trump’s Virginia chairman even organized an unathorized protest outside of the RNC’s DC headquarters. Trump was forced to fire the aide, but told media that he was “deathly loyal” and proud of his actions.

Rep. Ryan has been silent, Tuesday, as it appears his actions have brought the Republican Party to the brink of civil war – but Trump hasn’t. Trump and his allies considered Priebus’s words a carte blanche to launch a full attack on Rep. Ryan and Sen. McCain, who were among the top Republicans defecting from Trump’s camp after the Access Hollywood tapes became.

Donald, himself, took to social media to issue a Tweetstorm warning to his fellow Republicans that a public defection will have serious consequences.

Trump allies also pledged not to vote for any Republican who had publicly defected from the nominee.

The RNC says that it will hold a series of conference calls with GOP leadership, including House leadership, over the next several weeks, to get everyone on the same page.


The RNC ceased communicating with its members almost entirely after Friday, when audio surfaced of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump making lewd comments about women and describing his penchant for sexual assault.

But Donald Trump is determined not to let a little thing like party loyalty derail the Trump Train.

By Saturday night, Reince Priebus and crew had pulled all “Victory” efforts in support of the Presidential contender, shut off Trump’s RNC funding, and altered phone bank call scripts for volunteers. Rumors swirled Sunday that the RNC was soul-searching, deciding whether they could pull the plug on Trump’s campaign and live to see the 2020 elections.

The RNC asked members this morning to clear their calendars for 30 minutes at 5pm; it will hold an agendaless conference call featuring its top officials — but they’re not picking up the phone until then.

Trump’s campaign isn’t waiting patiently by the phone for an RNC decision like a stood-up prom date, though — they’re striking the first blow against any potential RNC pullout. Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson Tweeted that Trump’s grassroots coalition was prepared for a full-on mutiny against party-supported candidates.

And Trump himself responded to news that Rep. Paul Ryan would not defend him by threatening the House Speaker with disastrous consequences.

This comes after Trump declared on Sunday that he’d withdraw his support — and tank the electoral chances — of any Republican who bailed on him for what he calls his “locker room” comments.

Trump might be right to panic: A source close to the RNC told POLITICO that Paul Ryan’s statement is a signal that party leadership won’t punish Republicans who jump ship, the way Priebus himself had threatened in late September.

“Paul Ryan has just given every Republican permission to do the right thing—publicly or quietly,” the source said. “I suspect that the RNC will be making their decisions on a day to day basis for the next month and if they start redirecting resources they won’t announce it publicly.”

For Trump, of course, running against party Establishment is a win-win situation.

His base is thrilled to declare open war on party officials, and his “trump card” (pun obviously intended), could have real-world consequences. GOP lawmakers have warned the RNC that their jobs could be in trouble from a popular uprising if the RNC turns the Trump drama into hot conflict, and campaign website FiveThirtyEight has now moved the Senate — an all important “keep” for Republicans — into the “toss up” category.

That means the RNC has to walk a fine line between helping members keep their jobs, and placating a base that could torch them at the ballot box if they aren’t being properly handled. It’s a case of welcoming in the pitchfork-bearing hordes, but saving as much of the castle as humanly possible.

And it’s not going to be easy. Because Donald Trump is far from a quiet man.