Throughout Impeachment Inquiry, Trump Wields His Favorite Insult: Never-Trumper

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump yells to supporters during a campaign rally at the Venetian Hotel on October 30, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. / AFP / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN... Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump yells to supporters during a campaign rally at the Venetian Hotel on October 30, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. / AFP / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 18, 2019 12:09 p.m.
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To President Donald Trump, “Never-Trumper” is the dirtiest of insults.

The shorthand for anti-Trump Republicans came to prominence as then-candidate Trump was gaining steam in the 2016 primaries, to the horror of some more traditional conservatives. Now, Never-Trumpers like Bill Kristol are frequently featured on cable news, Trump’s favorite medium, for their perspective.

The term has clearly stuck in Trump’s psyche. He uses it as a discrediting catch-all, often shouting in all-caps tweets at various members of his administration who have not demonstrated sufficient loyalty. It’s an insult that fits well with his fan base, many of whom are certain that a “deep state” cabal within the government is out to get the President. “Never-Trumpers,” then, are on offshoot of this paranoia — establishment officials who’d do anything to undermine Trump’s presidency and have been out to get him from the start.

Now, as the impeachment inquiry is gaining steam, Trump has liberally applied the term to witnesses who have provided testimony damaging to him.

Trump went after top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor last month via tweet.

Per CNN, Taylor’s lawyer, John Bellinger, did sign a letter before the 2016 election decrying Trump’s unfitness for office. He also joined a group of like-minded conservatives, including George Conway, after the election.

Taylor, on the other hand, seems never to have made a political contribution one way or another, and has kept his public life studiously apolitical.

But the facts of the case are meaningless to Trump. Taylor provided damning testimony, outlining the Ukrainian pressure campaign from a close-up perspective. To Trump, a sin of that magnitude qualifies Taylor for Never-Trumper status despite his personal politics.

Trump also applied the moniker to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman after he testified that the White House left some information out of its July 25 call memo of the Trump-Zelensky conversation.

When reporters asked Trump what his basis was for characterizing Vindman’s politics as such, the President merely promised evidence coming “real soon.” He has put none forward.

Just before last week’s first public impeachment inquiry hearing, Trump kept his message short and sweet.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) asked the witnesses, Taylor and Assistant Deputy Secretary of State George Kent, if that were true.

Kent responded that he has worked under three Republican and two Democratic presidents during his nearly three decades of service, and that he’ll serve “whatever president is duly elected.” Taylor was more succinct: “no, sir.”

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) likewise brought up the question to a later witness, former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, though Trump has not yet called her a Never-Trumper.

Yovanovitch said that she was not, and pointed out that she has worked under four Republican presidents, joining the Foreign Service under former President Ronald Reagan.

Most recently, Trump applied the term to Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser Jennifer Williams, whose leaked closed-door testimony revealed her insights from listening in on the Trump-Zelensky call. She reportedly called the conversation “unusual and inappropriate” and said that Trump mentioned Burisma, a comment left out of the White House call memo.

The ferocity of Trump’s anger towards these administration officials cannot be understated. As usual, it’s best to let the President speak in his own words.

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