Ex-President Donald Trump, still seething over his electoral defeat, was reportedly ready for some mutually assured destruction on Jan. 20.
According to an ABC News’ report on correspondent Jonathan Karl’s upcoming book “Betrayal,” Trump reportedly told Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel during his last Air Force One flight as president that he was leaving the GOP to start a new party.
It was a quest for revenge against a party that had failed to help Trump steal the 2020 election, Karlin wrote.
“You cannot do that,” McDaniel reportedly told Trump. “If you do, we will lose forever.”
“Exactly. You lose forever without me,” he responded, according to Karl. “I don’t care.”
The inevitable damage of him potentially leaving the party was what Republicans “deserve” for “not sticking up for me,” Trump reportedly told the RNC chair.
It wasn’t an empty threat, Karl wrote. Trump was “very adamant” that he was going to do it, a source told the reporter, and he considered it a done deal at that point.
But RNC leaders were actually prepared to strike back, according to the book.
They reportedly reminded Trump and his team that there were “a lot of things they still depended on the RNC for” — specifically, money.
For starters, the RNC would stop paying the mountain of legal fees Trump had racked up with his lawsuits in his crusade to overturn the election via the courts, RNC officials reportedly warned.
The RNC would also render the Trump campaign’s coveted email address list of forty million Trump supporters “worthless,” in Karl’s words. Trump had reportedly generated what RNC officials had estimated to be about $100 million by renting out the list to other GOP candidates.
The threat apparently worked: Trump reversed course five days after informing McDaniel of his plot, and he said he’d stay in the GOP, according to Karl.
McDaniel denied Karl’s account in a statement to ABC News, claiming that she’s “never” threatened Trump and that they have a “great relationship.”
“We have worked tirelessly together to elect Republicans up and down the ballot, and will continue to do so,” she said.
Trump predictably called the report “fake news” in a statement to ABC News. He had similarly denied it in an interview with Karl in the book, insisting that the notion of him starting a new party was “bullshit.”
Karl’s account firms up a report by the Wall Street Journal at the time that Trump was privately discussing with his aides starting a new party called the “Patriot Party.” However, that report indicated that the outgoing president was floating the idea and that it wasn’t clear at the time how serious he was about it.