Dispatches from Trumpland Part 2 — Mike Pence, the Silent Killer
“Don’t work with any of those pro-Trump Super PACs,” a high level White Official told me, “as Pence controls them all.” Was this a legitimate scoop or D.C. intra-Trumpism rivalry? I went to find out.
As an outsider, I don’t have any friends inside the Trump administration. Sources sure, lots of those, and what the media won’t tell you is that sources are people. Sources have the same petty beefs as the rest of us, and they’ll lie and play others to get what they want. Treating sources as more than human allows us to live by the illusion that what we read in the media can be trusted, because after all, there are sources!
Mike Anton keeps his job, Heritage sells out in exchange for access to McMaster.
Mike Anton, communications director at the NSC, made a lot of promises to the Heritage Foundation and other think tanks and media outlets during the Fire McMaster campaign launched by American nationalists and populists.
“He was one the phone with everyone,” a person who received a call from Anton, told me. “In this town, it’s all about access, and that’s what Anton promised,” the source continued.
In exchange for puff pieces Heritage and others would have access to McMaster. The ploy worked. Unprincipled propaganda pieces flowed like White House leaks from Dina Powell.
“Anton is lost,” a person involved in the Trump Transition team told me, “He completely sold out to McMaster.”
Ben Rhodes runs the NSC.
Anton was hired as part of a strategy to bring in people who understand Trump’s national security worldview. Colin Kahl and Ben Rhodes sought to oust Anton and others, labelling them the Axis of Ideologues, in contrast to the Axis of Adults.
The NSC is staffed with several Rhodes loyalists, whom McMaster has gone to great lengths to protect. McMaster held a public town hall to say there is no such thing as an Obama holdover.
Meanwhile McMaster purged anyone seen as having an “American first” foreign policy vision.
Mike Anton’s job is safe, for now anyway, although it’s up to Anton to ask whether he is dying the thousand deaths of a coward by bending the knee to McMaster.
Mike Pence, the Silent Killer.
“Mike Pence, like heart disease, is a silent killer,” a high level political operative answered in my response to the pro-Trump Super PAC question. She continued, “All those Super PACs are run by Pence.”
Pence, people close to him confirm, lets others do the dirty work as he stays on the sidelines to keep his above-it-all brand. One high profile example of Pence’s style can be seen in how the Administration handled General Michael Flynn’s firing:
After Flynn apologized to Pence, the vice president seemed open to allowing Flynn to remain in place, according to a senior administration official. But Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff who had also come to Flynn’s defense in January, “didn’t want to let it go,” the official added.
“People can finger Reince all they want,” someone close to Flynn told me, “But everyone knows it was Pence who wanted Flynn out.”
Freedom Caucus or Cruz Crew?
Efforts are underway by pro-Trump forces to rebrand the Freedom Caucus the Koch Caucus. Trump became frustrated with the Freedom Caucus after they refused to support Paul Ryan’s healthcare bill — which I also opposed because it was a total scam.
The Freedom Caucus is seen as being loyal to Ted Cruz rather than Trump, and it’s a great source of frustration that Trump can’t stop the Freedom Caucus.
“Trump doesn’t seem to realize that those guys,” a data analyst said in reference to the Freedom Caucus, “won every district he won in by a larger margin. Picking a fight with them is stupid.”
Of course as we’ve seen how he treats people like General Flynn, Peter Thiel, Mooch, and Bannon while rewarding and protecting never Trumper’s like Brian Hook, Nikki Haley, and Dina Power. It’s up to Trump to earn loyalty.
So…What is up with those pro-Trump super PACs?
The consensus within Trump’s inner circle is that Pence controls the Super PAC, and multiple people expressed their frustration about the Super PAC situation.
“All they want to do is another ad buy to collect their 15% commission,” one person who quit doing Republican consulting out of disgust with the RNC told me, “even though everyone knows TV ads don’t work.”
My personal view is that donors who back Super PACs aren’t getting much value. Well I’ve said far worse, calling Super PAC donors “basic b-tches.”
I continually ask this question, “Why does everyone in Trumpland come to ME with their problems?” It’s great for me as a journalist to have an inside look at the West Wing and every other department in the Federal Government, but why is there no one in Trumpland to talk to Trump supporters?
Can’t one of these “pro-Trump” Super PACs set up a hotline or web page to collect information about what’s happening to the people who, at great personal and professional risk, backed Trump? Of course they can, and they haven’t.
There doesn’t appear to be any pro-Trump support infrastructure. There’s no legal support for Trump backers who are attacked for wearing a Trump hat. What are these pro-Trump groups doing?
“Trump doesn’t care about his people,” a top level GOP adviser told me in a motherly tone of voice, “and people are seeing that.”
“You may as well get while the getting is good,” her companion replied, wryly observing that, “If they money is there, take it, it’s not like Trump would know what to do with it.”
(The general disdain for Trump was a common theme of my trip to D.C., and most of my interviews were with early Trump backers.)
Trump’s general disinterest in governing Trumpland is reflected in the Super PAC failure. Not only is Trump not taking care of his people, including his Schedule C employees who only kept their jobs after I did an expose on Johnny DeStefano, he doesn’t have anyone watching his back.
I live online and haven’t seen much action from any of these pro-Trump groups. As best as I can tell, they haven’t even sent Bill Mitchell any cash. Bill annoys me but undoubtedly has a large base of Trump supporters. Why wouldn’t someone reward those efforts?
The most effective Trump messaging is coming from prominent social media accounts and online meme makers. When is the last time a pro-Trump video, produced by these rich Super PACs, went viral? At least everyone has a nice office (in some cases co-located at the RNC).
And those commissions on ad buys must be nice.
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Mike Cernovich is a journalist, author, and filmmaker. You can support his journalism here.