Is Trump Losing His Grip on the Republican Party?

There’s an article in Salon by Jonathan Larsen that sheds more light on Mike Johnson’s shift toward Ukraine funding. And it indeed has to do with reports that Russians are  targeting evangelicals in Ukraine. Larsen writes that Ukrainians have been in contact with “the Family,” the Christian cult that runs the National Prayer Breakfast.  The  American evangelicals have been mostly focused on their version of “religious liberty,” by which they mean they get to have power in government to shape policy to fit their agenda. They’re big on anti-LGBTQ legislation, for example. I get the impression that they’ve generally approved of Vladimir Putin because of his anti-LGBTQ policies in Russia. But reports of brutality against Ukrainian evangelicals may have changed things. Larsen writes,

While most mainstream news hasn’t picked up on it, religious media outlets have started to notice how Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging a war on that most sacred of right-wing cows: Religious freedom.

That message is coming — with elements of truth but also an agenda — from a small but well-connected cadre of Ukrainian and American evangelicals, including prayer-breakfast leaders.

And right-wing Ukrainian evangelicals with strong ties to American counterparts just won an important ask from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, right as House Republicans are considering whether to help him.

The “agenda” is that the Ukraine evangelicals also favor anti-LGBTQ politics and are promising to promote those policies in Ukraine if Ukraine prevails. They’re like 4 percent of the population of Ukraine, but they have big plans.

Still, if this causes a real shift in evangelical views about Putin, it could be huge. It might even cause some of them to think twice about Trump. And Marjorie Taylor Greene, too, if she doesn’t get the memo.

David Frum writes,

On aid to Ukraine, Trump got his way for 16 months. When Democrats held the majority in the House of Representatives in 2022, they approved four separate aid requests for Ukraine, totaling $74 billion. As soon as Trump’s party took control of the House, in January 2023, the aid stopped. Every Republican officeholder understood: Those who wished to show loyalty to Trump must side against Ukraine.

At the beginning of this year, Trump was able even to blow up the toughest immigration bill seen in decades—simply to deny President Joe Biden a bipartisan win. Individual Senate Republicans might grumble, but with Trump opposed, the border-security deal disintegrated.

Three months later, Trump’s party in Congress has rebelled against him—and not on a personal payoff to some oddball Trump loyalist, but on one of Trump’s most cherished issues, his siding with Russia against Ukraine.

The anti-Trump, pro-Ukraine rebellion started in the Senate. Twenty-two Republicans joined Democrats to approve aid to Ukraine in February. Dissident House Republicans then threatened to force a vote if the Republican speaker would not schedule one. Speaker Mike Johnson declared himself in favor of Ukraine aid. This weekend, House Republicans split between pro-Ukraine and anti-Ukraine factions. On Friday, the House voted 316–94 in favor of the rule on the aid vote. On Saturday, the aid to Ukraine measure passed the House by 311–112. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Senate will adopt the House-approved aid measures unamended and speed them to President Biden for signature.

As defeat loomed for his anti-Ukraine allies, Trump shifted his message a little. On April 18, he posted on Truth Social claiming that he, too, favored helping Ukraine. “As everyone agrees, Ukrainian Survival and Strength should be much more important to Europe than to us, but it is also important to us!” But that was after-the-fact face-saving, jumping to the winning side after his side was about to lose.

Still, 112 House Republicans voted against aid to Ukraine. So this doesn’t amount to a significant rebellion against Trump. But maybe it’s a little one. Frum also points to Trump’s badly lagging fundraising numbers and the minority of primary voters who continue to vote for Nikki Haley. There are cracks in the facade. Maybe more traditional Republicans are realizing they don’t have to be afraid of Trump. We can hope.

In other news: There’s an NBC poll showing that a third-party RFK Jr. candidacy hurts Trump more than Biden. As near as I can tell, RFK Jr. has adopted most of Trump’s positions on just about everything, so that would make sense.

The New York Post reports that Michael Avenatti — yeah, that guy — says he’s talking to Trump’s legal team — and would testify for the ex-prez. Michael Avenatti is currently locked up in a federal prison near Los Angeles, so testifying for anybody would be a nice break, I guess. Ari Melber on MSNBC interviewed Avenatti via Zoom a few days ago, and it was a waste of time. Avenatti just wanted to talk about himself. And he had nothing insider-y or original to say about the Manhattan trial.

At the Atlantic, see Boeing and the Dark Age of American Manufacturing. It puts the Boeing debacle into a larger context. Nice bit of writing.

One more thing: This just popped up at Salon — A prehistory of MAGA: “Mainstream” conservatives never really purged the fascists. Paul Rosenberg interviews David Austin Walsh, who is the author of a new book titled Taking America Back: The Conservative Movement and the Far Right, As I understand it, very briefly, the book chronicles that American conservativism tried to put up a wall between “principled,” “normie” conservatism and the fascist/racist Right (see Rachel Maddow, Prequel) , but it didn’t really.  In the struggle between the normies and the Nazis, the normies needed the Nazis to win elections and otherwise get anything accomplished. It seems to me the normies got way too comfortable with dog-whistling and otherwise pandering to the Nazis to keep them in the tent. And that  takes us from Reaganism to Newt Gingrich to Karl Rove and George W. Bush to Donald Trump. At some point the Nazis got the upper hand and decided they didn’t need the normies.

12 thoughts on “Is Trump Losing His Grip on the Republican Party?

  1. “Ari Melber on MSNBC interviewed Avenatti via Zoom a few days ago”

    How does that work?

    Moneyed inmate gets out of the regular prison routine for exactly why?

    • I happened to watch some of that interview on one of the tvs at Planet Fitness, while pumping an elliptical machine. Avenatti talked by phone, it wasn't zoom in the normal video-call sense.

      Avenatti said he had "secret" info about Stormy Daniels, his former client. I didn't clearly understand all that he said + I've mostly forgotten the interview. In part, A was trying to justify why HE dumped Stormy Daniels as a client. I've read Stormy's side of it (she dumped him), so it's hard to know who to believe, only that 1) Avenatti is in prison for bad stuff, and 2) his ego and grandiosity are Trump Jr size.

      •  so it's hard to know who to believe, 

        Not for me it isn't. Avenatti is a dirtbag through and through. Anything he has to say is just noise in an effort to hold on to any kind of relevance. It's a shame Ari Melber was so desperate to fill a time slot on his show that he resorted to giving a lying dirtbag thief air time. Maybe in 16 years Avenatti might rehabilitate himself, but for now he's still a hard core lying scumbag.

      • You are right it was by phone. I mis-remembered it was Zoom. Also agree with you about Avenatti’s ego and grandiosity. He’ll say anything to make himself “relevant” again.

  2. Trump has essentially destroyed the repuglican party. He's not losing his grip, he's engaged in a mopping up operation against pockets of resistance from those who are reluctant to kiss his ring or don the MAGA hat. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Donald Trump is Lord of the GOP.

  3. The House passed aid to Ukraine – that goes to the Senate where it's predicted to pass. 

    Trump:  “As everyone agrees, Ukrainian Survival and Strength should be much more important to Europe than to us, but it is also important to us!”

    David Frum's take: "But that was after-the-fact face-saving, jumping to the winning side after his side was about to lose."

    What happened before was the meeting between Trump and Johnson. No transcript but it looks like Johnson told Trump that aid to Ukraine would pass with some Republicans and even more Democrats voting for the package that Johnson decided would get a vote. My guess is that Trump tried to steamroll Johnson and to my surprise, Johnson showed a spine. Again, my guess, Johnson said Trump could either act like he supports it, or lead the side that lost. 

    The Orthodox Churches, Greek, Russian, and Ukrainian, are not related to the Protestant Reformation (as in Martin Luthor.) They're offshoots of the Catholic Church from before. Does that mean they aren't members of the club, even if they hate Gays?  Weird when you consider that the Catholic bishops are in the anti-LGBTQ movement up to their skull caps. 

    Avinatti was sentenced to 14 years – that was two years ago. Even with good behavior, he's looking at another decade in federal slammer. Unless Trump wins and gives him a pardon. Think Bannon, Manifort, and Stone. Unless Mr. A has some evidence to back up his testimony, the DA will tear him up on the stand. But it's the kind of play that will appeal to Trump, so I will not be surprised. 


    • As someone familiar with both Orthodoxy and Catholicism, I have to correct you on one thing. It was the Catholics who offshooted from the Orthodox church. They changed Christian theology in a subtle but important way, known as the Filioque, which means "of the son".

      The Catholics changed the relationship of the persons of the Trinity, taking the original "The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father" and adding "and from the Son".

      There were also power politics involved, but the main point of difference was over theology, introduced by the Catholics.

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