The Perfect Enemy | Trump dares Republicans (again) to repudiate him
February 8, 2023

Trump dares Republicans (again) to repudiate him

Trump dares Republicans (again) to repudiate him  The Washington Post

Read Time:11 Minute

Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1791, composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in Vienna. He was just 35.

Correction: A previous version of this intro misstated the year Mozart died.

The big idea

Trump dares Republicans (again) to repudiate him

Former president Donald Trump was obviously never going to promote his campaign for a second term by hitting cable TV to sell an insipid book about the modest glory of public service or meaningful past commanders in chief, or anything bordering on the traditional.

But this is a lot, even for him: In the not-quite-month since he announced his candidacy in 2024, Trump has welcomed antisemites and Nazi sympathizers Kanye West and Nick Fuentes to his Mar-a-Lago resort and residence and this weekend called for the Constitution’s “termination.”

It’s like he’s daring GOP leaders and candidates to repudiate him. For the umpteenth time. Right before the runoff election in Georgia that will decide whether Democrats settle again for a 50-50 chamber or have a 51-49 split that gives them considerably more power to run the place.

And that comes after a midterm election in which Republicans watched Trump-embraced candidates fail to capture seats that were essentially theirs for the taking.

Truly, a showman’s sense of timing blah blah blah.

Will Trump hurt Georgia Republicans … again

My colleagues Hannah Knowles and Dylan Wells invited readers on a Sunday stroll through the Senate battle pitting incumbent Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) against Trump’s preferred candidate, Herschel Walker (R) and the view of one GOP voter, George Dunn.

“Dunn said it helped that [Republican Gov. Brian] Kemp went out to stump for Walker while Trump has kept his distance during the runoff.”

“‘I made the decision that if Trump set foot in Georgia … I was out,’ Dunn said.”

“Trump, however, has continued to make headlines as he rails against the 2020 election. That has drawn some rebukes, including in Georgia, where many Republicans believe Trump’s false election claims helped Democrats flip the Senate last year. On Saturday, the former president suggested terminating the Constitution if necessary to throw out his 2020 loss to Biden.”

“It’s ridiculous,” Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling, a vocal critic of Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, said during a CNN interview. “It’s insane. To suspend the Constitution — come on, man, seriously?”

Trump waged a months-long verbal war on mail-in voting in 2020, demanded Georgia’ Republican secretary of state “find” enough votes for him to beat President Biden, watched supporters of his ransack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has never relented in spreading the lie that he was cheated out of a second term by massive voter fraud (there’s zero evidence for the claim), demanded in August to be reinstated or for a rerun of the 2020 election.

He repeated that last bit on Saturday but added “[a] massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

Trump’s outburst came after the release of information related to Twitter’s shambolic response to a story about Biden’s son Hunter, which included brief efforts to block the spread of a New York Post story describing emails supposedly found on a laptop belonging to the younger Biden.

The Sgt. Shultz approach

My colleague Amy B Wang chronicled the relative silence from Republicans, including its leaders in Congress.

“[O]nly a handful of Republican lawmakers have joined the White House and Democrats in condemning Trump’s assertions. Representatives for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not respond on Sunday to requests for comment.”

“Last month, McCarthy announced that Republicans would read every word of the Constitution out loud on the floor of the House when the GOP takes control of the chamber in January,” Amy noted. (It’s been done before, not without hiccups.)

“Some GOP members were stronger in their rebukes of Trump’s comments. On CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said he ‘absolutely’ condemned Trump’s remarks but emphasized there remained a long political process to go before Trump could be considered a 2024 front-runner.”

‘I vehemently disagree with the statement that Trump has made. Trump has made, you know, a thousand statements in which I disagree,’ Turner said. He added that voters ‘certainly are going to take into consideration a statement like this as they evaluate a candidate.’”

Over at the New York Times, Maggie Astor looked at how Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) handled matters on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Mr. Joyce dodged three questions from the anchor, George Stephanopoulos, about Mr. Trump’s comments and whether he would support Mr. Trump in 2024, saying that he believed Republicans would have a large field of candidates and that he wanted to focus on making the most of the party’s new House majority.’

“When Mr. Stephanopoulos pressed him a fourth time, Mr. Joyce said, ‘I will support whoever the Republican nominee is.’ With visible discomfort, Mr. Joyce then sought to defend that commitment after Mr. Stephanopoulos asked incredulously, ‘You can’t come out against someone who’s for suspending the Constitution?’”

“‘Well, he says a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ever going to happen,’ Mr. Joyce said.

Well, not if enough people oppose it, anyway.

Politics-but-not

See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.

What’s happening now

Wedding websites are the latest gay rights battleground in Colorado

“When the Supreme Court ruled narrowly in 2018 for a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, the justices avoided declaring a clear winner in the cultural conflict between LGBTQ rights advocates and those who say their religious beliefs forbid countenancing same-sex marriage,” Robert Barnes reports.

“It turns out that the next such case, which the Supreme Court takes up Monday, was just a short drive away.”

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff to host roundtable focused on antisemitism

“Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will host a roundtable with Jewish leaders and White House officials Wednesday to discuss the rise of antisemitism in the United States and efforts to combat hate in the country,” Eugene Scott reports.

The war in Ukraine

Missile attack spurs air raid sirens across Ukraine

Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine as Russia launched a barrage of missiles at multiple cities, including the capital, Kyiv, Ukrainian officials said. They warned people not to ignore the sirens and urged residents to seek shelter. Social media filled with images of people sheltering underground,” Jeff Stein, Annabelle Timsit, Rachel Pannett, Emily Rauhala and Claire Parker report.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

Fearing scandal, Air Force blocked generals’ foreign consulting deals

Two generals who oversaw U.S. supply routes through corruption-plagued Azerbaijan sought to profit from their connections once they retired. An Air Force lawyer objected. The Post sued to make the case public,” Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones report.

Social Security offices critical to disability benefits hit breaking point

Now more than a million Americans wait in limbo just to hear whether they will get assistance — the first step in a system of drawn-out judgments and appeals that can ultimately take years before a resolution. The record number of claims awaiting an initial ruling jumped almost 60 percent from before the pandemic. Those denied but under second review rose by 75 percent, Social Security data shows,” Lisa Rein reports.

The crisis of student mental health is much vaster than we realize

Nationally, adolescent depression and anxiety — already at crisis levels before the pandemic — have surged amid the isolation, disruption and hardship of covid-19. Even as federal coronavirus relief money has helped schools step up their efforts to aid students, they also have come up short. It’s unclear how much money is going to mental health, how long efforts will last or if they truly reach those who struggle most,” Donna St. George and Valerie Strauss report.

… and beyond

His overdose death in a halfway house bathroom illustrates a system lacking accountability

For years, ComCor and many other halfway house operators in Colorado’s community corrections system have been cited by the state Office of Community Corrections for failing to comply with security standards, which can lead to dangerous consequences. Audits, staff incident reports and internal documents reviewed by ProPublica revealed that the facilities have been host to sexual assaults, frequent escapes, recurring drug use and overdose deaths,” Moe Clark writes for ProPublica and the Denver Post.

Yet regulators rarely use their authority or financial leverage to force facilities to improve their safety practices.”

Who will care for ‘kinless’ seniors?

An estimated 6.6 percent of American adults aged 55 and older have no living spouse or biological children, according to a study published in 2017 in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B … Those aren’t high proportions, but they amount to a lot of kinless people: close to a million older Americans without a spouse or partner, children or siblings in 2019, including about 370,000 women over 75,” the New York Times’s Paula Span reports.

The growing number of kinless seniors, who sometimes call themselves ‘elder orphans’ or ‘solo agers,’ worries researchers and advocates, because this group faces numerous disadvantages.”

The latest on covid

Covid hospitalizations rising post-Thanksgiving after an autumn lull

Covid hospitalizations last week reached their highest level in three months, with more than 35,000 patients being treated, according to Washington Post data tracking. National hospitalizations had stagnated throughout fall but started rising in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. All but a few states reported per capita increases in the past week,” Fenit Nirappil and Jacqueline Dupree report.

The Biden agenda

Blinken vows U.S. support for Israel despite unease over government

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday the U.S. will not shrink from its unwavering support for Israel despite stark differences with Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu and concerns the Biden administration may have about potential members of his incoming right-wing government,” the Associated Press’s Matthew Lee reports.

Democrats adopt Biden’s new 2024 nomination plan

“Democratic leaders voted Friday to adopt the transformative early 2024 presidential nominating schedule proposed by President Biden, giving South Carolina the leadoff position, followed by a joint primary day for New Hampshire and Nevada, with later primaries by Georgia and Michigan,” Michael Scherer and Tyler Pager report.

Why Biden is keeping his distance from Georgia’s Senate runoff

“The move appears to be an extension of the White House’s midterm strategy, where Biden largely did not campaign alongside House and Senate candidates in close races. Strategists argue it’s a smart play that allows Warnock to focus on local issues and comparisons with Walker, as opposed to making it a referendum on the party in power,” the Hill’s Brett Samuels and Alex Gangitano report.

What Georgia’s past two Senate contests tell us about the runoff, visualized

“When Raphael G. Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) in a runoff election last year, delivering Senate control to Democrats, he prevailed by winning big in Atlanta and its swelling suburbs, as well as turning out Democratic voters across the state,Theodoric Meyer, Adrian Blanco and Luis Melgar report.

But the coalition that elected Warnock last year and the electorate that turned out in November when Warnock was up for reelection was subtly different — a notable shift in a closely divided state.”

Hot on the left

‘This will be awesome’: Musk leaks Twitter’s Hunter Biden files

“On Friday evening, Twitter’s new owner promoted a leak of documents on his personal account, just the latest sign that the tech billionaire continues to steer the platform in a direction more favorable to conservatives and libertarians. Ahead of the midterm elections, Musk urged his followers to vote Republican. Last month, he reinstated former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account after taking an informal online poll,” Politico’s Ben Schreckinger reports.

Hot on the right

WSJ Opinion: The CFPB engages in legal deception

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is supposed to police against ‘unfair, deceptive, or abusive’ practices. But the CFPB, which Congress established in the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, is engaging in some false advertising of its own,Adam J. White writes for the Wall Street Journal.

“The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in October that the bureau’s unprecedented power to fund itself is unconstitutional. The Constitution prohibits agencies from spending from the federal Treasury without ‘appropriations made by law.’ The CFPB does exactly that. ”

Today in Washington

At 6:30 p.m., the Bidens will host the Congressional Ball.

In closing

Kennedy Center Honors

Music-centric tributes hit all the right notes

“After five long years, the Kennedy Center Honors are finally back in full force. How can we be sure? Because almost no one mentioned its return to normal during a weekend of festivities that culminated Sunday in a slightly more than three-hour ceremony celebrating five new honorees,” Travis M. Andrews reports.

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.