President Donald Trump campaigned all last year on draining the swamp, but has shown that he is willing to be friendly with establishment figures if he believes it is advantageous to his agenda. After endorsing losing candidate Luther Strange over Judge Roy Moore in an Alabama GOP Senate primary, Trump is making overtures to other reviled establishment lawmakers up for re-election next year that he has their back.
Politico reported that Trump called Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) to assure the men that he has their backs moving forward. Trump’s former employee, Breitbart News Executive Director Steve Bannon, had reportedly targeted these men for possible removal in 2018. Bannon is planning for carnage, and has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) firmly in his cross hairs.
“McConnell and the GOP Establishment have sown the wind — now be prepared the reap the whirlwind,” Bannon said to Axios on Tuesday.
Bannon is incredibly energetic, still riding high from Judge Moore’s big win in Alabama, but Trump is not necessarily enjoying his former subordinate’s antics. McConnell frequently has Trump’s ear, telling him that Bannon’s rabble-rousing is hurting the party and Trump’s agenda. With Trump making these calls to comfort embattled legislators, it seems that McConnell’s lobbying may be having an impact on the President’s decision-making process.
“Maybe with the exception of a few, I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate and Congress,” Trump said on Monday.
“I’m friends with most of them. I like and respect most of them, and I think they like and respect me. The Republican Party is very, very unified.”
Although Trump is reassuring establishment lawmakers friendly with McConnell, time will tell if this is another gambit by Trump that will fade as the 2018 midterm elections come closer. Trump, more than anything, hates losing and the embarrassment of backing a loser. McConnell twisted Trump’s arm to back a loser in Luther Strange over a winner in Judge Roy Moore. If he continues to operate under McConnell’s guidance, Trump can expect to back many more losers next year.