Trump reassures wealthy donors he won't try to oust Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan

Reassuring to hear if you oppose Trump because you fear he’d be a chaos agent with a nuclear arsenal as president. Probably not so reassuring, though, if you want him to be that chaos agent, as many of his fans seem to do. He’s the guy who’s going to go to Washington and burn the establishment to the ground, right? Well, no. Wrong.

The best part of this is that he’s offering it as a pot sweetener to get rich Republicans to bankroll his general-election campaign, exactly the sort of pandering to well-heeled elites that he attacked to great effect in the primaries. Cruz, Rubio — they were all in the tank for the country-club set because they needed their cash to keep their campaigns going. Trump, the independent billionaire, owed no one anything. Now here we are, with Trump forced to promise the same country-clubbers that he won’t try to undermine the two pols who’ve come to embody the Republican establishment. Perfection.

Trump’s pledge that he won’t try to oust House Speaker Paul Ryan or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was a key factor in the decision by coal industry executives Joe and Kelly Craft to raise money for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, they say…

The reassurances are a window into Trump’s effort to convince establishment Republicans that he’s not trying to hijack the party’s infrastructure and that he’ll cooperate with other party leaders if elected president…

If Trump wanted to deliver a veiled threat, he could have delivered it through the Crafts, who are close with McConnell, 74, and have hosted fundraisers for both him and Ryan, 46…

“When someone gives us a check, we’re looking at that as they’re investing not only in that candidate—investing in Paul Ryan or investing in Mitch McConnell or investing in Donald Trump—they’re investing in us, and I take that as a responsibility. I don’t take that lightly. We feel responsible to them,” [Kelly Craft] said.

Why would he oust McConnell? Trump’s been the presumptive nominee for less than a month and McConnell’s already carrying water for him in interviews. If you’re Trump, he’s exactly the sort of pol you’d want in charge of the Senate. His loyalty to the party is obviously stronger than his loyalty to conservatism as a governing ideology; he’ll be a useful surrogate once President Trump starts straying towards the left and needs a prominent Republican to insist that what he’s doing is perfectly simpatico with right-wing governance. Ryan is trickier because he’s more of an ideologue, especially on trade, and he’s already proved himself (slightly) more ambivalent about Trump than McConnell is. A clash between them might be inevitable and Trump will be stuck with his pledge to the Crafts. If you’re a Trump fan, though, chin up: He lies all the time for his own advantage. It’s possible if not likely that he’s lying to the Crafts right now simply to shake them down for cash and that he’ll turn on Ryan in due time, once it’s to his advantage to do so.

It’s also possible that he’s been lying to you and that all of the “burn the establishment” rhetoric, like his plan to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., was just a pander designed to get him elected. Good luck.

If he decides to take on Ryan, can he afford to do so before the election? He told reporters yesterday when they asked him about jabbing at Susana Martinez that he refuses to change and play nice with Republicans who’ve attacked him, but the more dependent he is on country-clubbers to finance his campaign, the less say he may have in that. If the Republican business class decides it’s time for him to play nice and they put their money behind that stance, what can he do?

Attacks on Republicans like Martinez, GOP insiders say, could limit support for Trump to begrudging acceptance rationalized by opposition to Clinton, and prevent him from enjoying the kind of enthusiastic backing that translates into hard work on the ground that can help win a close race.

“Many Republicans, including myself, are coming around to support him, but we also believe it is imperative for Trump to recognize that the time for slash and burn is over,” Fred Malek, a veteran GOP financier and current Republican Governors Association finance chairman, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “This approach worked to attract 5 percent of eligible voters, but it won’t work to unify the electorate in November.”

Translation: Cut it out or proceed without our help. Trump, who recently inked a deal with the RNC to raise money for his presidential campaign, has indicated that he does need some level of assistance.

You’ll never know which attack is a bridge too far for a particular donor, which is why the attacks on his own party will necessarily decline over the next few months. Here’s McConnell on NPR this morning carrying a little more water for Trump (although not for his Muslim ban). Actual quote: “I think the Republican Party is at an all-time high.” Depending on your definition of “high,” I’d say that’s absolutely true. Exit question: Speaking of major GOP donors lining up for Trump, is there anything more grimly funny than Sheldon Adelson, one of the party’s most passionately pro-Israel voices, launching a Super PAC to help the favored candidate of white nationalists and the alt-right? No president would have stranger bedfellows behind him than President Trump.