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Producers’ Pick | Jonathan Swan: Don’t underestimate enthusiasm for Trump

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September 18, 2022 12:00 am

Producers’ Pick | Jonathan Swan: Don’t underestimate enthusiasm for Trump

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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September 18, 2022 12:00 am

Axios’ Jonathan Swan on why he thinks the media and democrats should be careful not to ignore voters’ enthusiasm for Donald Trump.

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Availability may vary by market. Carvana is a driving and excitement factor like Donald Trump for Democrats, right? I mean, they love to be opposed to him because they are.

Independence, many don't want to see another reign of Trump. And the more he engages in the race, the more he puts himself out there, the more it's a reminder of what's at stake to people. And having Trump on the ballot is a hugely energizing factor in a lot of these races.

And that's what they're trying to do, no doubt about it. And I don't think that's news to anybody in school, especially Jen Psaki, who now is an MSNBC contributor. She'll be asked a lot about it.

I'm watching other shows and quickly talking about the special master with Donald Trump and not the other major stories in this country, including inflation. Jonathan Twine joins us now, national political correspondent at Axios. And he was also somebody that's at one of Donald Trump's most recent rallies and joins us now. Jonathan, welcome back. Thanks, Brian.

How are you? Good, good. First off, no doubt about it, Donald Trump has got a series of legal challenges, probably like the blizzard of which I've never seen before in my life. But he did seem to have gotten a break when it came to this special master and this judge saying, no more FBI, no more looking at this stuff until the special master says what you can and can't see. That's a rare legal win for him, right?

Yeah, and we shouldn't get sort of, we should overstate what this means. I talked to a number of conservative lawyers last night about this. And the consensus seems to be that it will delay somewhat the investigation, but probably will end up being somewhat of a blip.

The question that needs to be resolved is can a member of the executive branch or a former member of the executive branch being the president, exert executive privilege against the executive branch? So I mean, that's the legal question. The judges kind of punted on that. So we'll find out. The theory is a respected judge. And, you know, we'll see what happens with that.

But I don't think that this is going to have a meaningful impact on the ultimate result. Interesting. Because there's a sense that there's a lot of documents there that he didn't have. There's a sense that the judge, a couple of his lawyers signed off, said they gave everything up.

Correct? And it turns out he didn't and those lawyers could be in trouble. The basic legal question still needs to be resolved, which is can a former member of the executive branch exert executive privilege against the executive branch, which wants these documents? And, you know, there's not much precedent to support that interpretation. This could easily get reversed in the 11th circuit. So, again, it's just like this will have a delaying effect, but we don't yet know whether it will have any more than that. Just sort of a delay in the process. You know, these big legal questions still need to get resolved and they will get resolved.

It just might take a bit longer. How about this? A Fox News poll. Was it appropriate or not for the president to take those documents to Mar-a-Lago? Only 26% said it was appropriate. 56%, the FBI, 65% inappropriate. How about the search by the FBI? 56% said it was appropriate. Only 39% it didn't.

That's basically the president's, roughly, his approval rating right now. So, do wonder in the big picture, regardless of how it turns out, why the president would want a headache like this. Because it's not like he wants to build a library. I was talking to one of his former advisors about this and they were just, and this is someone who still likes him and they've got no animus towards him at all, and they were just like, explaining, they were like, why?

Why? They're sort of walking through the process. Whatever you think about the DOJ, whatever you think about the FBI, set that aside. Last year, early on, they went to him and said, you've got these documents, we want them back. You know, these classified documents and other government documents that belong to the government, there's no dispute about whether they belong to the government.

It's a very fringe view that they don't. I mean, there's the Presidential Records Act. But his lawyers didn't contest that. Trump's lawyers said, yes, no, you're right.

Ultimately, you're right. We'll give them back. They didn't claim any of these documents were declassified.

His lawyers didn't in their attestations. And then in January, they actually handed over 15 boxes. They said, here's everything. Here's everything we've got. Here's all the classified documents. Then they do more interviews, they find out, oh, actually, no truthful representation.

He still has more documents, more classified documents. So they go back again and ask for more. And they say, you know, we think you've got more.

And, you know, there's a bit of a back and forth. And then they actually get a grand jury subpoena. And Jay Brath goes and visits Mar-a-Lago in June, meets with Trump's lawyers, Evan Corcoran and Christina Bob. And they say, this time, here's everything.

11 more boxes, you know, with dozens of classified documents. This is it. And we're so confident that we've done this big search. We'll sign off. We'll do an attestation. This is absolutely everything. I swear, Christina Bob's signature. And it wasn't everything.

They still had more. It's like, why? I'm just channeling this person. They're like, for what possible plausible reason? Why don't you just give everything back?

Why put yourself through this stupidity? So, you know, there's a lot of frustration, even from people who are advisors of Trump, former advisors, people who actually want him to be successful. And they just, like, it drives them nuts. Setting aside whatever you think about how the FBI has conducted itself over the last six years in this narrow circumstance, sort of at their wits end, basically. Couple of things. Number one, how does that meld in with the fact that Jay Brath or one of his colleagues said, put a lock on that door till we get through it and I get back here. How does that, how does that gel with the story? They never put it in?

No, no, no, no. That's not in the, that was misreported about this padlock thing. I think that's how the Trump people interpreted that. But what they said was, we believe these documents are still, there's no secure space in Mar-a-Lago for these documents. You still have these documents.

So, but we need you to take whatever precautions you can right now. Basically, again, if you read what they actually sent to them in the letter, you would be of the view of, we really should just give everything back very quickly. Like, they're basically saying you have stuff you shouldn't have in an insecure location in a country club, in a private country club. So this whole thing about them asking them to put a padlock on the door, that never happened. That wasn't a thing that was requested.

Interesting. You went ahead, so we'll see where this goes. Number one, from now on, when a president leaves, it should be very easy. Set up a system. I can't believe there is none. Guys, what documents do you want? We're going to screen them. Give us a week.

Come back. These are the ones we get. Okay, the lawyer just wrote, we want these. Okay, we're going to need copies of them. I thought everything was electronic anyway these days.

Boy, am I mistaken. I guess cyber security is one of the reasons. And number two is there should be a tight checklist. The president clearly wasn't sneaking it out.

We see these interns in suits standing by a chopper with cardboard files. So, I mean, if you're sneaking it out, you're the worst crook ever. Well, there is a system, but it's not, I mean, when you're the president, you don't, a lot of things are at your discretion about process and things like that. What I do know about the final days of the Trump White House is they were very chaotic and staff were actually very reticent about doing a normal packing up process because Trump didn't want, you know, there to be the appearance that he was conceding and leaving office and what have you. So all this stuff happened in the last two weeks.

Usually, you know, the election happens and the process begins. This was not a normal process, but for a lot of reasons. What's your takeaway from when you saw the president speaking Pennsylvania? Huge enthusiasm for him. I mean, it was a 10,000 seat arena.

There's not another, I'm sorry, there just isn't, whether you're a Ron DeSantis fan or Joe Biden. There's not another politician in the country that can fill a 10,000 seat arena like that and have it packed to the rafters like that. And there's just a lot of enthusiasm for him. He has a huge base. He's got a strong base.

And again, you can, you know, it's just an objective statement of reality. You can think whatever you want about Donald Trump, but anyone who's actually looking at the situation realistically can see that the reason he still is ahead in the polls among Republicans is because he has a very, very fired up and enthusiastic base and they show up for him. They would walk over hot coals for him.

And they're there. I mean, what was interesting to me at that rally was there was a huge amount of enthusiasm in that crowd for Doug Mastriano, the gubernatorial candidate. Not much enthusiasm for Dr. Oz.

I mean, they were politely sort of tolerating him and clapping. But ironically, you can imagine a situation in which Oz actually benefits from Mastriano because I think the base does show up to the polls because of Mastriano. And if Oz can get the sort of Pat Toomey suburban vote, once the base shows up and they have a bind, you know, they're there anyway. They've shown up. They've made the effort of going to vote. You have a binary choice between Dr. Oz and John Fenneman.

You know, you tick the Oz box, even though they're not doing it with a great amount of enthusiasm. Mastriano is trailing in almost every poll, Jonathan, right? Yeah, but that's a separate question. That's because he has no suburban support and whatever. So you can imagine a situation where the base is fired up, they show up to the polls and Mastriano loses, but he turned out the base to Oz's benefit.

So, yeah, Mastriano has not managed to suburban women in favor of him. He's got, you know, pretty weak support in the Coller counties. But he does have a strong base. It may not be enough to win. In fact, the polls suggest it won't be enough to win.

But what he can be sure of is the base will show up and vote in Pennsylvania, which was Oz's biggest problem because the Republican base is not enthusiastic about Dr. Oz. Before I leave Trump, do you believe if Trump runs, who else runs? I know it's early, I know it's September 2020, but right now, if I say, Jonathan, you may, before your prediction, put it in an envelope. And if he declares, who else runs, what's going to be in that envelope? So with the preface that this is without, I don't know for a fact that Ron DeSantis is running. He hasn't told me he's running. No one who works for him has told me he's running. But I'm watching him very closely and everything I'm picking up just from observing his behavior, talking to people who advise him, suggests to me that there's a very high likelihood that he runs, even if Trump runs, which I think Trump will run. I think there's a very good chance that Ron DeSantis takes him on. I think there's a very, very good chance that Mike Pence runs based on conversations I've had with people around him. I think there's a decent chance Mike Pompeo runs based on what he's saying publicly. I mean, he's not really making a secret about it.

He's saying he's got a team in Iowa and he's not going to be influenced by who else is out there. I'm very confident Ted Cruz will not run if Trump runs based on conversations I've had with certain people. And besides that, then I think you're getting into sort of, you know, I'm sure Chris Christie might run.

I wouldn't be shocked if Liz Cheney runs. But, you know, I think most people view at this point the Ron DeSantis question to be the most interesting, given he really has a huge amount of momentum and popularity out there. So that's the person I'm watching most closely.

I don't think that's a kind of crazy thing. I think everyone's sort of in the same boat on that. So Jonathan, you write in with Josh Kraushauer about what's going on right now. In terms of the midterms, the Democrats have benefited from the Dobbs decision, no question. You believe they're getting more money in there.

And the economy, you said inflation, the anger towards inflation has cooled somewhat. Where are we at right now heading into the midterms with, what are we looking at, six weeks to go? It's a very, very complicated picture, and I have great sympathy for anyone trying to make grand predictions about it. History tells you that Republicans are going to pick up an average of 25 seats in the House, and the party out of power tends to do really well in these midterms.

But there's a lot of ahistorical things happening, the Dobbs decision being the most obvious example. There are a real big spike in female voter registration. Right now, if you ask most strategists, they would say the most likely scenario is Republicans take the House, and probably it's a jump ball in the Senate, but there is a very clear path for Republicans to take the Senate.

But, you know, Democrats have had a few lucky breaks with candidates, and they've certainly got a very strong money advantage. So, who knows in the Senate. It's really probably coming down to three states right now. Pennsylvania, Nevada, Georgia.

The battlefield has really shrunk in the last few weeks. Most people, if you put truth serum in them on both sides, would tell you that Republicans are going to win Ohio. They think Republicans, I'm talking about both sides now, probably, Republicans probably lose the Arizona Senate race. They probably win North Carolina. They probably lose New Hampshire. And so, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, everyone is focused. Wisconsin? The Republicans probably win Wisconsin.

Both sides think at this point that Ron Johnson gets home in Wisconsin. So, you know, the Oz race, super important. The Herschel Walker race, super important. The Laxalt race, super, super important.

Both sides, their energy is starting to focus more intensely on those three races. So, Jonathan Swan, our guest at Axios. Jonathan, you do write that there's a big push to get Donald Trump to save some of his money. He's sitting on $100 million. And that he put together Oz and Blake Masters and Mastriano. Where's the money behind it, right?

That's right. No, Trump's sitting on $100 million. McConnell is desperate for him to spend it. Obviously, McConnell has no relationship with Trump and can't make that appeal directly. But he's been making that appeal indirectly through others.

There's no sign so far that Trump's going to do that. He's sitting on the money. The money that he spent so far has been on these intra-Republican fights. You know, he spent $4 million or so trying to defeat Brian Kemp in Georgia. He spent a lot of money defeating Liz Cheney in her primary. So, we're yet to see him put serious resources behind any of these vulnerable Republican Senate candidates.

And I don't know if he will or he won't, but it's getting awfully late in the day. I'm sure these people gave him money thinking he'd support those candidates. I mean, he's also being investigated.

Is the president, too, with the money he's collected and where it's going, correct? Yes, the Save America package is being investigated and something like 40 people have been subpoenaed. It's not clear yet the nature of that investigation. So, I think there's a lot we don't know and there's been some very sort of creative and hyperbolic interpretations out there. So, I think we'll wait and see what the case is there. But, yes, absolutely, the Save America package is being investigated and people associated with it. And the best thing you could do right now is maybe spend the money on the candidates and say, See, I told you, but who knows?

I've never seen something. Mitch McConnell would agree with you. Right. Jonathan, I have about 5,000 more questions, but that's all the time we have. Always love having you on, John. The continued success. Thanks for having me, mate.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 08:05:04 / 2023-02-15 08:12:26 / 7

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