President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to attack members of his own party, calling Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) a “RINO” after the senator suggested that any effort by a fledgling group of Trump loyalists to object to Electoral College votes reaffirming the win of President-elect Joe Biden during a joint session next month will be immediately shot down.
Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, “Mitch’s boy”, should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2020
“Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget,” Trump wrote in a tweet late Tuesday, crediting himself for winning a series of GOP seats in the Senate and threatening to end Thune’s political career. Trump’s tweet inflating his continued influence in the party signaled a warning to Republican lawmakers not to stand in the way of his continued albeit unsuccessful efforts to overturn the election.
The president’s attack on Thune comes after the South Dakota lawmaker suggested to reporters on Monday that a desperate effort by a handful of House members in his party to challenge the Electoral College’s results reaffirming Biden as the next president would “go down like a shot dog.”
“It’s just not going anywhere,” Thune said of the effort by a small group of Trump’s most ardent supporters in Congress.
“I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be,” he added.
The tone was reminiscent of an email Trump had sent out to Republican lawmakers just a day before that trashed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and suggested that the top Republican, who finally faced the reality that Joe Biden will be the nation’s next president, had only won reelection in Kentucky because of Trump’s endorsement.
“Sadly, Mitch forgot,” the email sent out by Trump’s personal assistant said. It included a slide that laid out polling data showing McConnell in a dead heat with McGrath before Trump tweeted his support in June and then blasted a robocall backing McConnell in late October.
The attack on McConnell also followed reports that the top Republican had warned GOP colleagues not to advance the futile effort saying they would have to vote it down and it would be “terrible.”
The efforts to intimidate both McConnell and Thune play into an enduring narrative Trump’s influence will outlive his presidency and he will make or break the election campaigns of Republican lawmakers well after his term ends.