In an interview with the New York Times, former Republican congressman David Trott of Oakland County recalled the moment when, after just 2 ½ years in office, he decided to exit the House because of President Trump’s iron grip on his GOP colleagues.
In the summer of 2017 Trott criticized the president, mostly over Trump’s attempts to eliminate Obamacare, in a closed-door meeting with fellow GOP lawmakers.
The Times reports this:
The response was instantaneous — but had nothing to do with the substance of Mr. Trott’s concerns. “Dave, you need to know somebody has already told the White House what you said,” he recalled a colleague telling him. “Be ready for a barrage of tweets.”
Mr. Trott got the message: To defy Mr. Trump is to invite the president’s wrath, ostracism within the party and a premature end to a career in Republican politics.
Trott’s comments were published within a story that details how thoroughly the president controls the Republican Party, little more than four years after starting from scratch with an attempt to ingratiate himself with the GOP.
Incredibly, 40 percent of House Republicans who held office when Trump was inaugurated are gone –either due to election defeats in primaries or general elections, or because of a decision to call it quits. Those remaining, and essentially all of the newcomers, constitute a House Republican caucus that is thoroughly beholden to the president.
With Trott’s departure, the outcome turned sour for the Republicans as Democrat Haley Stevens won his suburban, pro-GOP Oakland/Wayne County district in the 2018 elections. Trott had concluded that he could not run “as a Trumper” but could not survive the ire of Trump and his minions in the House Republican leadership for daring to go against the president on some issues.
Here’s more from the Times report:
There is no market, (Trott) said, for independence. Divergence from Trumpism will never be good enough for Democrats; Mr. Trump will target you among Republicans, Mr. Trott added, and the vanishing voters from the political middle will never have a chance to reward you because you would not make it through a primary. That will be ensured in part by the megaphone the president wields with the conservative news media.
“Trump is emotionally, intellectually and psychologically unfit for office, and I’m sure a lot of Republicans feel the same way,” Mr. Trott said. “But if they say that, the social media barrage will be overwhelming.”