GOP Establishment Plotting Anti-Trump Coup
Party leaders plan to deny Trump the nomination even if he wins most of the delegates.
The Republican Party establishment is prepared to manipulate the rules at the party’s national convention this summer to deprive Donald Trump of the presidential nomination – even if he wins an outright majority of delegates – according to longtime political operative and Trump confidant Roger Stone.
At the same time, Republican leaders are also moving forward with an eleventh-hour push to stop Trump in the remaining primary races, the New York Times reports. Their plan involves “a 100-day campaign to deny him the presidential nomination, starting with an aggressive battle in Wisconsin’s April 5 primary and extending into the summer, with a delegate-by-delegate lobbying effort that would cast Mr. Trump as a calamitous choice for the general election.“
If that effort fizzles, anti-Trump Republicans will fight their nemesis tooth-and-nail at the convention and in the weeks leading up to it.
“Despite his historic run in the primaries, Trump will never, repeat never, get the nomination if this bunch can stop him,” Stone declares in an op-ed.
“The insiders have poured over the rules of the Republican Party … and they have found a way to lie, cheat and steal Trump out of enough delegates to force a second ballot.“
Known for his insights and no-holds-barred tactics, Stone boasts of attending every Republican National Convention since 1964 and of “working the floor in every convention since 1972 including for Ronald Reagan in 1976,” the last time the GOP had a contested convention.
It is worth noting that the Democratic Party’s national conventions are unruly, mobocratic events, often punctuated by violence committed by activists who attack the party for being insufficiently radical. They often make for good TV.
By contrast, the Grand Old Party’s national conventions tend to be staid, even dull, affairs, at least on the convention floor. But not this time.
This time the Republican establishment is planning to engage in procedural chicanery in hopes of disqualifying Trump delegates before the convention even begins, Stone writes.
“They’ve cooked up a strategy to be employed at all costs to steal delegates from Trump so that he’ll fall below the 1,237 on the first ballot,” Stone avers, “and then, before the second ballot to present one of their group (Mitt Romney, call your office) as the Savior of the Grand Old Party.“
“While each state’s individual law governs, most delegates are not bound to the candidate that brought them once the first ballot is over. Stall Trump on the first ballot and the Bush-Romney-Rubio-Kasich-Ryan-McConnell combine can go really to work.“
At just past the midway point in the current primary season, Trump now has 678 delegates, compared to 423 for Ted Cruz, 143 for John Kasich, and 164 for Marco Rubio (who suspended his campaign earlier this month), according to the running tally at Real Clear Politics. As Stone notes, a candidate needs to obtain at least 1,237 votes on the convention floor to secure the nomination outright and avoid additional rounds of balloting.
In the coming weeks Trump may hit the so-called magic number of 1,237 delegates in which case the nomination would be his under ordinary circumstances.
But these are not ordinary times.
Stone is correct when he notes that the GOP establishment, which recently trotted out losing 2012 candidate Mitt Romney to attack Trump with a gusto unseen in his campaign against President Obama, is determined to prevent Trump from winning no matter how much support he garners from the voters.
A statement by Curly Haugland, a member of the Republican National Committee’s rules committee, bolstered Stone’s claims last week when he reminded them that the party has the ultimate say on the nomination, not primary voters. The party can block Trump even if he wins a clear majority of delegates, he stated matter-of-factly.
“The primary votes are not considered [at the convention], it’s the delegates’ votes,” Haugland said on CNBC.
“The media has created the perception that the voters will decide the nomination,” he said. “That’s the conflict here.“
“The political parties choose their nominees, not the general public, contrary to popular belief,” he said.
The entrenched GOP elite will challenge the credentials of delegates elected in certain states, according to Stone.
Party leaders intend to invoke Rule 16(d) which Stone describes as a “byzantine concoction of legalese” that disqualifies delegates elected in a state that allows voters who are not registered as Republicans to vote in the Republican primary.
This could lead to Trump’s 22 delegates from Massachusetts and 16 delegates from Arkansas being disallowed.
Trump’s 25 delegates from Missouri could also be challenged because state rules are far from clear-cut. It could fall to Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, to decide how many delegates to certify to each candidate. “That sound you hear is of lawyers busily writing lawsuits,” Stone adds.
Would-be kingmakers may invoke Rule 38 “which prohibits states from requiring their delegations from voting as a unit, by a majority vote of all members of their state delegation.” It could be argued that delegates are not bound, even on the first ballot.
However absurd this reasoning may be, “all you have to remember is that the courts aren’t the ones to interpret these rules, they are going to have the meaning that a majority (there’s that pesky 1,237 number) of delegates who survive any challenges to being seated, give to these rules.“
Stone explains that three weeks before the convention gets underway July 18 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland the party’s Standing Committee on Contests will meet. Composed of Republican National Committee members, the ultimate establishment insiders, the contests committee will hear any challenge to the right of any specific individual to be a delegate. The panel then makes its recommendation to the full RNC which makes its decision before the convention convenes.
There would be a chance to derail the anti-Trump effort. On the opening day in Cleveland, the Convention Committee on Credentials meets to consider appeals of the RNC’s determinations. That committee is populated by ordinary delegates who may not wish to go along with the anti-Trump stratagem.
If Trump is under the 1,237-delegate mark and the convention goes to a second ballot he could use the vice presidential nomination to barter.
Stone claims that:
“Widespread voter fraud in Texas and Oklahoma and the structure of the ballot in Ohio could sustain challenges before the entire convention to the seating of those delegations. After all, this is precisely how Dwight D. Eisenhower wrested the nomination from Bob Taft in 1952. But make no mistake: the Big Steal is ON.“
Milquetoast conservative columnist Ross Douthat, like a chorus of right-leaning pundits, is all for sticking it to Trump. Openly longing for the good old days of “machines, bosses and smoke-filled rooms,” he moans that Trump is “an authoritarian” and compares him spuriously to George Wallace and Huey Long.
“No modern political party has nominated a candidate like this; no serious political party ever should,” Douthat writes, ignoring the fact that the Democrats twice nominated Barack Obama, the most authoritarian, dangerous U.S. president in modern times.
Douthat and those like him would prefer that Republicans lose in November, rather than let a brash outsider like Trump who at least has some conservative policies become the 45th president.
They want Trump crushed even if he wins a majority of the GOP delegates.
The argument could be made that, maybe after two terms of Obama-led upheaval and civil unrest, they would be better off putting America, as opposed to a mere political party, first.
Editors’ note: The Freedom Center is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Therefore we do not endorse political candidates either in primary or general elections. However, as defenders of America’s social contract, we insist that the rules laid down by both parties at the outset of campaigns be respected, and that the results be decided by free elections. We will oppose any attempt to rig the system and deny voters of either party their constitutional right to elect candidates of their choice.