Less than two hours from the main event and the Trump campaign has reportedly entered a state of civil war, according to New York Magazine. The conflict allegedly is ugly, with internal divisions among staff, moves by key people to seize control of the campaign’s direction, and even the Donald’s daughter voicing her concerns over her father’s comments about Mexicans are all in the mix. The publication also noted that the reported conflict began in January when Trump hired Corey Lewandowski as his new campaign manager. Last week, it was alleged that Lewandowski leaked racist Facebook posts from another Trump aide–Sam Nunberg–that dated back to 2007 in order to get Nunberg kicked off the campaign, an allegation that Lewandowski vociferously denies.
“I am denying 150 percent on my kids’ lives that I had anything to do with it,” said Lewandowski. Nunberg has been fired since Business Insider published the story about his past Facebook posts. Yet, the saga continues:
Whatever the case, Nunberg's firing and the turmoil it's caused in Trumpworld illustrates the difficulty Lewandowski has faced wresting control of the campaign. For months, according to a source, he'd been at odds with Nunberg. Not long after becoming campaign manager, Lewandowski instructed Nunberg, who'd been a Trump adviser for several years, to work from home instead of headquarters, a source said. Nunberg felt further marginalized when Lewandowski had him bumped off several campaign trips. The biggest flashpoint, however, was Lewandowski's refusal to release detailed policy papers Nunberg had written for Trump. “The campaign was getting killed for having no substance, and Corey wouldn’t release them,” a source close to the campaign explained.
Media strategy has become another locus of internal disagreement. According to a source close to the campaign, the old guard is frustrated that Lewandoski and another new hire, spokesperson Hope Hicks, seem to be favoring CNN over Fox News. For example, on July 15, Fox News chairman Roger Ailes spoke with Trump by phone and asked Trump to give Fox the exclusive on his $10 billion financial disclosure. Trump agreed and told Ailes to send a courier to Trump Tower to pick it up. But, according to the source, before Ailes’s courier could deliver the release back to Fox, someone inside the Trump campaign sent it to CNN, thereby subverting Fox’s exclusive. (For his part, Lewandowski says Trump never told him to give Ailes an exclusive look at the Federal Election Commission filing. “We provided everybody with a one-page release at the same time,” Lewandowski told me.) Two weeks later, CNN beat Fox again on another major scoop when it obtained a campaign statement quoting Trump’s ex-wife Ivana denying decades-old allegations aired in a Daily Beast article that she accused Trump of raping her while they were married. "The campaign was struggling to find her in Europe, they were bleeding in the national media," a source explained. "And then they gave a 60-minute jump to CNN, who buried the story in the back of a package and gave it short shrift. Again, Fox got this late."
Much closer to home, Trump has also faced push-back from his daughter Ivanka. According to three sources close to the campaign, Ivanka was troubled by her father’s comments that Mexican immigrants were rapists. “She’s close to her father and is sensible enough to know a problematic situation,” a friend of Ivanka’s told me. Her feeling, the friend added, was that her father was hurting himself with his extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric. At one point, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter, Ivanka submitted several drafts of a statement for Donald to release to walk back the quotes, but he refused to have them published. “Donald didn’t like it,” a person close to him said. A spokesperson for Ivanka declined to comment.
So, while that’s marinating in the rumor mill, let’s also ponder what Katie wrote earlier this afternoon about Bill Clinton (“Slick Willy”) speaking with Trump on the phone, telling him he should be a “bigger role” in the GOP. This conversation was held before Trump announced his 2016 bid. I’ll let you all speculate as to what this event means.
At the same time, Jon Karl of ABC News wrote about another Trump flip-flop, where he supported the largest tax increase ever in 1999, when he pondered a third party run. Of course, this idea had no chance of passing Congress … unless President Trump was in the White House:
The year was 1999 and Trump was toying with the idea of running for President as a third party candidate. The idea, which Trump says he no longer supports, was to impose a one-time tax of 14.25 percent on every American worth more than $10 million and raise exactly enough money to pay off the debt.
Trump himself would have had to pay more than $700 million. But he didn't care. He calculated his plan would erase the entire national debt and save the government millions in interest payments, allowing tax cuts for everybody else.
"Well, basically, this would be a one-time tax, 14.25 percent against people with a net worth of over 10 million," Trump said. "It would pay off in its entirety the national debt of $5.7 trillion, and you'd save $200 billion a year. So taxes for the middle class would go way down, the estate and inheritance tax totally wiped out, and the Social Security system would be saved."
In a screaming front page headline that same day, the New York Daily News featured a photograph of Mr. Trump with the words, “SOAK THE RICH: Trump's way-out plan to end nat'l debt...Proposes one-shot $5.7 trillion tax on the super-wealthy.”
Trump also wrote about the plan in his 2000 book "The America We Deserve" as "bold, radical, realistic, and doable."
“Some will say that my plan is unfair to the extremely wealthy," Trump wrote. "I say it is only reasonable to shift the burden to those most able to pay.”
He portrayed tax hikes on the rich as a patriotic.
Concerning health care, Mr. Trump told CNN’s Dana Bash on July 29, that he would repeal the president’s signature domestic achievement, and replace it with “something terrific.” That “something” looks strikingly similar to the Affordable Care Act (via Bloomberg):
Trump proposed: competing private plans (which Obamacare exchanges provide for); protecting hospitals from catastrophic events (which Obamacare deals with by requiring people to get insurance so they don't pass on their emergency care costs), and government plans for low-income people who get sick and lack options (which Obamacare does by expanding Medicaid).
"He should take a closer look at the ACA, he might like it," said Timothy Jost, a leading expert on Obamacare who supports the law. "What he is proposing does look a lot like the ACA," added Jost, a professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University School of Law. He noted that Trump backs competing private plans for middle- and upper-income people, as well as some form basic coverage for people who can't afford to buy their own health insurance.
Larry Levitt, a health care expert at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, also saw parallels between Trump's proposals and the Affordable Care Act.
"At the talking point level, a plan like the ACA has broad political appeal. It’s maybe not so surprising that Donald Trump’s talking points sound a bit like the ACA, since the law is rooted in a lot of conservative ideas," Levitt said. "His emphasis on it being private and competitive is interesting. In fact, the ACA is a giant bet on a competitive, private health insurance system."
So, the Donald’s campaign reportedly has problems. Yet, all political campaigns do, especially when you’re the frontrunner of the 2016 GOP field. Let’s see how he does later tonight.