Posts tagged with "Bill Stepien"

Striking contrast: Trump officials then and now

June 16, 2022

Many officials have told the January 6 committee that they tried to dissuade the former president from his bid to overturn the election. But in public at the time, their words were far different, reports The New York Times.

For example, when Bill Barr stepped down as attorney general in December 2020, he showered then-President Donald Trump with praise for his “unprecedented achievements” in a flowery letter and vowed that the Justice Department would continue to pursue the president’s claims of voter fraud “to ensure the integrity of elections.”

However, 18 months later, Barr sounded more than slightly different. In videotaped testimony played at the first two public hearings held by the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Americans have now learned what Barr avoided saying publicly about Trump at the time.

“I was somewhat demoralized,” Barr said in testimony played on Monday, June 13—describing his reaction to a monologue from Trump in December 2020 that the voting machines were rigged.

Barr’s thinking, he said, was that the president had “become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff. On the other hand, when I went into this and would tell him how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”

Barr’s testimony, as well as that of several aides played at the hearing, represented candid, more brutal versions of what they were saying in public shortly after the election, the Times said.

Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, and Jason Miller, a top adviser, testified to the committee that they failed to keep Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, away from him on election night. Giuliani, whom Mr. Miller described as “definitely intoxicated,” told Trump that he should declare victory. “It was far too early to be making any calls like that,” Mr. Stepien testified.

Stepien also testified that it became clear after the election that Trump did not have any realistic avenue to overturn the election. But in the days immediately after the vote, he did not publicly challenge Trump or Giuliani. And two days after Election Day, Miller raised the idea on a call with reporters that mysterious bags of ballots were showing up in states where Trump was still contesting the results.

Both appeared to believe that there was an opportunity for challenges that passed in the middle of November. Both continued working with the campaign, but receded from the forefront as Trump put Giuliani in charge of the efforts to overturn the results.

The change for some of the aides reflects the legal consequences of lying to a congressional committee, and how much Trump’s grip on his former aides has loosened in the 17 months he has been out of office.

The testimony so far reflects only what has been released publicly, and it is unclear what else the committee may have. In books written about the election in the last year, Trump’s aides are portrayed as believing that the data showed a likely victory until the afternoon of November 5, when it changed.

Barr, who testified to the committee voluntarily, spoke on the record to Jonathan Karl of ABC News in 2021 about his exasperation with Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud. Barr also recounted tense private conversations with Trump in his memoir this year.

In other cases, people such as Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter Ivanka began to look toward a life after the White House in Florida, while staying inside the Administration. They tried to solidify policy issues they had worked on and, according to their colleagues, said little to try to dissuade Trump from his bid to stay in power.

And yet they remained silent in public as the president, his advisers and political allies pushed the claims on Americans and used them for fund-raising for Trump.

“After the election, he’s advised by his own people not to go out and declare victory, that they needed time for the votes to come in,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, who led the questioning at the second committee hearing on Monday.

She added: “They directly told the president over and over again, they were false. These were his people. This is Trump World, telling the president that what he was saying was false. And he continued to say the same thing.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Insufficient funds? Trump defends his campaign’s spending as cash advantage evaporates

September 9, 2020

Just like the nation and the electorate he serves, President Donald Trump is experiencing a cash crunch that can be traced to the Oval Office.

On Twitter on September 7, the president defended his campaign’s financial decision-making, after a report that surfaced in The New York Times provoked new scrutiny of his reelection team’s spending habits. Reportedly, Trump has squandered his cash advantage over Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“My Campaign spent a lot of money up front in order to compensate for the false reporting and Fake News concerning our handling of the China Virus,” Trump tweeted on September 8. “Now they see the GREAT job we have done, and we have 3 times more than we had 4 years ago – & are up in polls. Lots of $’s & ENERGY!”

According to Politico, the president’s social media post came after the Times published a story detailing how the Trump campaign has already spent more than $800 million of the $1.1 billion it raised in coordination with the Republican National Committee from the beginning of 2019 through July.

The Times report raised questions about former campaign manager Brad Parscale’s financial stewardship of Trump’s war chest, which was once viewed as an historic asset ahead of the fall’s general election campaign. Among the campaign’s expenses were a car and driver for Parscale, who was replaced atop the campaign in July by Bill Stepien.

Biden, meanwhile, has seen his fundraising soar in the final weeks of the campaign. Last month, the former vice president and the Democratic National Committee raked in a record $365 million in contributions — doubling Trump’s $165 million record haul from July and also surpassing the $193 million raised by Barack Obama in September 2008, Politco notes.

Trump has yet to report his August fundraising numbers, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Tuesday that he did not know when that campaign announcement would come. “I don’t know. I have zero visibility into that decision,” he said.

Research contact: @politico

 

Trump says the midterm elections are all about him

October 19, 2018

President Donald Trump told the Associated Press on October 16 that he won’t be to blame if the GOP loses the House (or even the Senate) to the Democrats in the midterm elections on November 6—but a private Republican Party poll leaked to Bloomberg Businessweek concludes that he will.

In fact, according to Bloomberg, the research report—conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of the Republican National Committee —found that “the determining factor in this election … [will be] how voters feel about President Trump.” A representative for the RNC declined to comment to the business news outlet.

President Trump—who is not on the ballot in November—held six campaign rallies within the first 12 days of October. And he is the first to say that the election is all about him.

“I’m not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket, because this is also a referendum about me,” Trump boomed this month at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, the Washington Post reported on October 18. “I want you to vote. Pretend I’m on the ballot.”

He said much the same in West Virginia, where he was promoting the state’s Republican Senate nominee: “A vote for Patrick Morrisey is a vote for me,” Trump said, in a line that Morrisey’s campaign repurposed in a new ad.

Bill Stepien, the White House political director, told the D.C.-based newspaper that the strategy is an acknowledgment that Trump’s policies are already on the ballot this November, so he might as well use his personal appeal to try to move “the Trump coalition” to vote for Republican candidates who will support his agenda if elected.

“He’s the leader of the party, and he’s willing to put his own political capital on the line for the benefit of his party,” Stepien said in an interview. “The president knows how to fire up his base, he knows the DNA of his voters, and that’s what he’s responding to.”

The risk, however, according to the Post, is that in energizing his base, Trump could also fire up the Democratic side while alienating moderate suburban voters, who may be looking to Congress to serve as a check on the president.

“The fatal flaw” in Trump’s strategy, said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC, “is that one, it motivates our side and two, it makes the assumption that all previous Trump voters are still voting Republican, which especially in House and governor races, we see is not the case.”

The president, meanwhile, has told White House aides that his supporters won’t come out to the polls if they don’t believe the election matters to him, two sources told the newspaper..

“He’s basically internalized the message that, ‘I’m so important that people aren’t going to go out and vote unless it’s all about me,’” said a former White House aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share candid conversations.

Already maintaining a robust travel schedule just three weeks before the midterms, the president has told advisors he wants to campaign for Republicans six days a week — and sees these mega-rallies as a testing ground for his own 2020 reelection effort. He plans to travel nonstop in the final 10 days leading up to the elections, sources said.

Research contact: @AshleyRParker