Trump’s hostile takeover of the GOP is almost complete


President Trump has declared war on everyone in Washington, D.C. So, why not include congressional Republican leadership?

In a surprise move to both Republican congressional leaders and Trump’s own Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, Trump agreed to a deal proffered by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to fund Hurricane Harvey relief as well as raise the debt ceiling limit and fund the government for three months — clearing the must-pass legislation for September.

{mosads}Some say that Trump wanted to clear the decks for tax reform. Others describe Trump as being in a Celebrity Apprentice-style dealmaking mode.

These tactical assessments do not fully capture what is going on here and how Trump’s deal with Democrats fits into a broader strategy, a strategy to kill the GOP as we know it.

But it’s not like the GOP needs the help.

There is a civil war unfolding within the Republican Party that is pitting “Always Trumpers” against “Never Trumpers” and traditional congressional conservatives. We are seeing everything from Trump supporters like Lou Dobbs saying that Trump’s deal renders “RINO, Do-Nothing Paul Ryan” obsolete to congressional conservatives internally repeating the charge that Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) leveled against Trump during the 2016 campaign: “If you want someone who will make deals with Democrats, Trump is your guy.”

So, why else, beyond clearing the decks, would Trump cut this deal? How does this deal fit into the broader political dynamics in Washington and the country?

Out in the country, it’s fairly simple. They will see Trump cutting deals and getting stuff done — as he promised on the campaign trail. In Washington, it’s always (and unfortunately) more complicated. The Democrats are a required source of votes because the congressional Republicans are not unified. And Trump will need more votes from Democrats moving forward — particularly when he moves on to infrastructure.

Trump sees traditional, conservative Republicans in Congress as weak and ineffective. He probably began believing this during his hostile takeover of the GOP during the 2016 election.

The failure of conservative GOP leadership to deliver a repeal and replace of ObamaCare most certainly solidified this opinion in Trump’s mind. Trump probably views both Ryan and McConnell as roadblocks at this point.

So, where does this leave things?

Trump helped out the Democrats. Before the deal, their only option to get their agenda items achieved in this moment would have involved filibustering Harvey aid (which they would have never done). So, Trump saved House and Senate Democrat leadership from themselves. We are already seeing tweets suggesting this deal is justification for maintaining Pelosi as minority leader.

Trump appears to be attempting to woo Pelosi and Schumer for future “wins” and, at the same time, is moving forward with his hostile takeover of the GOP by re-branding the Republican Party in his image — in terms of agenda, style, and now political approach. The next step in this “business venture” would be re-org. In short, leaders will be fired.

In fact, we are already hearing reports that Stephen Bannon — whom Trump reportedly continues to speak with (when General Kelly isn’t looking) — is working with House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to come up with replacements for House Speaker Paul Ryan.

How does this all end? Obviously, no one knows. We are probably only in Act II of a multi-act tragedy. Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) is waiting in the wings to try to wrestle the GOP back from Trump, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Deval Patrick are attempting to set in motion an elite, hard-left Obama revival of the Democratic Party.

So, what we are left with is Trump GOP Inc., disenfranchised conservatives and Democrats in disarray.

That’s what you’ve got, America.

Sounds like it’s time for a new political party.

Alex Gallo served as a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee. He is a West Point graduate, a combat veteran, and a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School. His work has been published by The Washington Post, National Review The Huffington Post, The Hill and Foreign Affairs. You can find him on on Twitter @AlexGalloUSA

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Charles Schumer Elizabeth Warren Paul Ryan Steven Mnuchin Ted Cruz

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