New book details tense call between Trump and moderate Republicans ahead of first impeachment trial


In October 2019, then-President Donald Trump faced the real possibility that Republicans would vote to impeach him. In the midst of that fight, Trump publicly announced that he planned to host the next G-7 summit at his Miami golf course, potentially enriching himself with foreign money.

The announcement angered some Republican lawmakers already close to impeachment, sparking a tense confrontation at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, between moderate Republicans and Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, according to excerpts from a new book. about Trump shared exclusively with NBC News.

Trying to salvage their summit in Doral, Trump himself phoned the group at Camp David, and the moderates also took the president to task.

The Camp David confrontation is another example of the challenging and complicated relationship between Republican lawmakers and Trump, who would be the favorite to become the Republican nominee if he runs again in 2024. The episode is captured on “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind the Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” a new book by Rachael Bade of Politico and Karoun Demirjian of The Washington Post that examines why Congress twice failed to oust and ban Trump from office. It will be released on October 18.

That fall, Bade and Demirjian write, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republican Leader Steve Scalise had desperately tried to hold the line and keep Republicans united against the first investigation. Democrats’ impeachment trial against Trump.

The 45th president had warned Republican leaders that he wanted zero defections, but he wasn’t making it easy for them.

Mulvaney had just given a disastrous press conference announcing that the G-7 summit, a gathering of the world’s largest developed economies, would be held at Trump’s Doral resort in Florida, surprising many Republicans in the US. Hill at the very time they were trying to defend Trump from his Ukraine scandal and a looming impeachment inquiry.

On top of that, Mulvaney publicly admitted that Trump had, in fact, withheld $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to pressure that country into launching an investigation into Democrats, and told reporters to “get over it,” before attempting to give reverse. your comments

That weekend at Camp David, Bade and Demirjian write, moderate Republicans “charged the president’s chief of staff like a pack of wolves.”

“Hell of a week. Can we try a little harder here? I like it ReallyMike? Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., taunted Mulvaney as she and other Republicans ripped apart Trump’s top aide as they huddled around a roaring campfire.

“His performance was a little lousy,” another lawmaker told his former House colleague. Organizing the G-7 in Doral was a “stupid idea”, intervened a third party.

“You have to make it clear to the president that we can’t defend him on this,” Wagner told Mulvaney. according to the book. “This is an unacceptable and unforced error. We will not defend it.”

Doral’s announcement “was nothing short of pouring salt into the wound of centrists already apprehensive about defending Trump in Ukraine,” the authors write. “The Constitution specifically states that presidents were prohibited from receiving money from foreign governments; however, Trump was preparing to do exactly that with impunity. …

The backlash, Mulvaney realized, was going to jeopardize the tenuous Republican coalition they needed to keep intact to defend Trump from the impeachment inquiry. He knew that if Trump continued to act, some members would find it impossible to continue resisting pressure to support at least the framework of an investigation.”

Trump National Doral Clubhouse in Doral, Florida in 2016.
The clubhouse at Trump National Doral Miami.Wilfredo Lee/AP file

That fall, when cracks began to emerge at the House Republican impeachment conference, McCarthy had been urging Trump to “woo” GOP lawmakers with a charming offensive. Mulvaney had suggested to his boss that she invite a group of wavering Republicans to Camp David.

“Who would want to go there?” Trump responded, according to the book. But Mulvaney, who served six years in the House, understood how lawmakers reacted to presidential invitations, especially the historic, rustic presidential retreat on the mountain that few had seen.

Wagner received an invitation, as did Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington; Fred Upton, Republican from Michigan; and Peter King, R.N.Y. While the weekend got off to a rocky start, lawmakers began to relax: After dinner, Upton and his wife were in the basement bowling alley, others were shooting pool, and Wagner was in the gift shop spending thousands of dollars. in “Camp David” He T-shirts, golf balls, decanters, cufflinks, bibs and other merchandise.

Her husband received an alert asking if his credit card had been stolen.

Later, the moderates regrouped to take a call from Trump about Doral, a call previously reported by the New York Times.

“Why don’t you think that’s a good idea?” the president asked, according to the book. “It’s a great place! Everyone will love it!”

Herrera Beutler was surprised that Trump was seeking her opinion. King, who knew Trump from New York, explained that hosting the summit at his resort seemed selfish, as if he benefited financially. Don’t hand ammunition to Democrats, lawmakers said, especially with impeachment votes just around the corner. “We don’t want to have to defend you on this,” Wagner told him, suggesting that he host the G-7 at Camp David. “We are already defending you in many other things.”

That week, some of Trump’s closest allies on the Hill, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, RS.C., and Rep. Mark Meadows, RN.C. — were also advising him to reject the Doral idea. Huddled in the White House, it took Trump a while to accept the idea: He expected attacks from Democrats, but not pushback from his own loyalists.

Later that night, according to “Unchecked,” Trump He called the Camp David legislators and told them that he thought about what they had said and that he was changing course. “Okay. I’m going to tweet something like this. What does this tweet sound like?” Trump said.

In the end, not a single House Republican voted to launch the first-ever impeachment inquiry against Trump or for the articles of impeachment themselves, thanks to Trump’s threats of retaliation and his sympathy offensive, such as the withdrawal of Camp David, as well as the frustration of the Republican Party. for being blocked by Democrats from seeing evidence.

“Trump’s change of course was one of the few times he recognized a limiting factor on his own power: the rest of the Republican Party…” write Bade and Demirjian. “Your accommodation of him to the demand of the moderates made him seem reasonable and accessible to his rank and file.

“He gave them a false sense of empowerment and camaraderie that would make standing up for him, and turning a blind eye to the behavior that had been irritating them, more acceptable.”


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