Politico’s Tim Alberta has written a new book entitled “On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.” Although the book is scheduled to be released next Tuesday, the Washington Post has received a copy. The author interviewed over 300 Republican leaders including Trump himself. The majority of this group were at the very least “skeptical” when candidate Donald Trump first came on the scene. Some even hated him and worked to undermine him. Over time, however, the President has won many of them over.
The book tells the story of Trump’s executive assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, who burst into tears the night Trump won the presidency. Working as an aide for the RNC at the time, she told Alberta she was “inconsolable.” That’s why her colleagues found it so amusing she was chosen to become Trump’s executive assistant. Times have changed. Trump calls Westerhout “my beautiful beauty.” She is fiercely loyal to him and told the author she would do almost anything for him.
No one thought Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) could ever patch things up after the Republican primary. Recall that Trump’s nickname for Cruz was “Lyin’ Ted.” Alberta writes, “[Cruz] told confidantes there was ‘no way in hell’ he was prepared to subjugate himself to Trump in front of tens of millions of viewers. ‘History isn’t kind to the man who holds Mussolini’s jacket,’ Cruz told friends in 2016.”
But, there was Trump at a large rally supporting Cruz in his tight race against Beto O’Rourke in 2018.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) appears on Fox News frequently and has become one of Trump’s greatest supporters. In June 2016, Jordan told Alberta he “wishes the Republican-controlled Congress could have done things differently to avoid creating this environment that was conducive to someone like Donald Trump becoming the nominee.”
Alberta spoke to Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI). Alberta wrote that Ryan wanted to abandon Trump after the “Hollywood Access” tape was released, but nevertheless he reluctantly endorsed Trump and worked to enact his agenda.
Ryan told Alberta that Trump upbraided him because the 2018 spending bill failed to provide border wall funding, but said “he would sign it if Ryan were to give him time to build suspense on Twitter. Ryan agreed and then publicly sang the president’s praises after the meeting.”
I’ve always believed that Paul Ryan did what he had to do, but nothing extra. In my eyes, if Ryan hadn’t announced his retirement and instead had worked to bolster Republicans, we might have seen less carnage in the midterms. And, if ever there was a time to put border wall funding into a spending bill, it would have been when the Republicans held both the House and the Senate majorities. It doesn’t seem to me that Ryan fought for Trump. He just wanted out.
Alberta wrote that Ryan saw his retirement from Congress as an “escape hatch” from Trump. Accordingly to the book, Ryan said:
I told myself I gotta have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right. Because, I’m telling you, he didn’t know anything about government … I wanted to scold him all the time.”
We helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time.”
We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.
We’ve gotten so numbed by it all. Not in government, but where we live our lives, we have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don’t call a woman a ‘horse face.’ Don’t cheat on your wife. Don’t cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example.
Alberta reported that on one occasion, in a pre-dawn tweet, Trump accused the Obama administration of tapping his phone during the election season. Early one morning, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus called Ryan, waking him up, and said, “Paul, what the hell is going on? What the hell is he talking about?” This caused Ryan to break into “maniacal, punch-drunk laughter.”
The Hill contacted Ryan’s office to verify and a spokesperson said, “those are the words of the author, not the former representative.”
For his part, Alberta quoted Trump as saying that “Ryan is a f***ing boy scout.”
There was one person who was not a fan then or now. And that would be Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), who declared his independence from the Republican party on the Fourth of July. Amash told Alberta:
These guys have all convinced themselves that to be successful and keep their jobs, they need to stand by Trump. But Trump won’t stand with them as soon as he doesn’t need them. He’s not loyal. They’re very loyal to Trump, but the second he thinks it’s to his advantage to throw someone under the bus, he’ll be happy to do it.
According to the book, in 2016, Trump was asked by campaign chairman Paul Manafort why he would not appoint then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as attorney general. He answered, “Because that guy would prosecute my own kids and not think twice about it.”
Asked why he thinks he won the presidency, Trump answered, “Nobody gave them hope. I gave them hope.”
Following a raucous 2018 rally, the author wrote that Trump screamed into the night: “I f—ing love this job!”