Inside Bedminster’s wild lobbying spree that led to Trump’s double endorsement in Missouri

It marked the end of the chaotic seven hours in Trump’s world, as the former president’s future daughter-in-law, his hand-picked Republican National Committee chairwoman, the junior senator from Missouri and a host of others Party operatives and Trump allies were scrambling to find out who the former president was. is expected to approve in Missouri’s tumultuous Senate primary, where polls were expected to open less than 24 hours later.

Trump kicked off the private lobbying frenzy late Monday morning, when he posted on social media that he would make his endorsement official that day — not to mention that he apparently hadn’t made his final choice yet. What transpired during the afternoon illustrates the anarchic nature of Trump’s approval process. While the coveted endorsement is one of Trump’s greatest assets and his main political weapon, the way he decides who gets one is often more improvised than scripted.

In this case, many Republican officials feared that a bad decision could have serious repercussions for the party. The former governor resigned from his post in 2018 after his hairdresser accused him of sexually assaulting her. And his ex-wife accused him in court of assaulting her and their young son in 2018. Greitens strenuously denied the allegations, but his position in the Missouri GOP Senate primary slipped amid a wave of advertisements focusing on these claims.

At the center of Monday’s episode, according to several people familiar with what happened, was Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancee of Donald Trump Jr. who spent the weekend advocating for Greitens while attending a golf tournament hosted by Trump at his club in Bedminster, NJ.

A little after noon, Trump had a previously scheduled meeting with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel where the Missouri race became a topic of discussion. During the session, Trump called out Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, an enemy of Greitens who referenced a recent poll showing the former governor trailing in the primary.

After learning that Guilfoyle was on Bedminster’s property, Trump asked that she be called into the meeting.

By the time Guilfoyle entered the room, Hawley was no longer on the line. McDaniel, who like other high-ranking Republicans tried to dissuade Trump from endorsing Greitens lest he lose the seat to a Democrat in the general election and his nomination would force Republicans to spend the money in a state which should be safe for the party, remained at the meeting. She also argued that a late endorsement would do little to change the race, with most polls showing Greitens in third place, and that it would make more sense for Trump to remain neutral.

Guilfoyle was firm in his defense of the former governor, saying the party establishment tried to get Trump to oppose Greitens. McDaniel, meanwhile, reiterated her argument that Greitens would make a weak candidate given her personal background.

As the meeting progressed, those who knew what happened say Trump began to lose patience. At one point, it was suggested that he might endorse “Eric”, and that in doing so he would support both Schmitt and Greitens.

It was a crazy exit ramp. But Trump went into detail, asking if the two candidates’ first names were spelled identically – noting that it wouldn’t work if they weren’t. While Trump was intrigued, he also remarked that it might be too cute. He asked for draft endorsements to review, one announcing his support for Schmitt, the other for Greitens.

At this point, it was still unclear who Trump would approve of by his self-imposed end-of-day deadline, underscoring the ongoing and unpredictable nature of how the former president wields his power. As he has done in other races, Trump reached out to a range of figures on Monday to get their perspective. The list included Republican pollsters John McLaughlin and Robert Cahaly, who both conducted surveys on the race. He received notes from Tony Fabrizio, a longtime Trump pollster who worked for Greitens.

Trump then asked his allies Pam Bondi and Matthew Whitaker, who both support Schmitt, for their views. At another point, he interviewed Chris Cox, the founder of the “Bikers for Trump” coalition, who was also on the Bedminster property. Cox excused himself from the office so he could get a reading from those in his organization. Upon entering the office, he informed Trump that his crowd was aligned with Greitens.

But Trump came back to the idea of ​​endorsing both Erics, believing that there were pros and cons for both, and that doing so would give everyone the opportunity to win with his endorsement. He wrote a statement that would be out soon.

“I trust the Great Peoples of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds,” he said, “just like they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 election and 2020, so I’m proud to report that ERIC has my complete and total approval!

The announcement capped a dramatic nearly year-long battle for Trump’s support. While party leaders have warned Trump against supporting Greitens, some of the most prominent members of the MAGA movement – ​​including Guilfoyle, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn – have brought him their support. Greitens became a regular guest on “War Room,” the popular podcast hosted by former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon.

People familiar with Trump’s thinking say concerns surrounding Greitens’ past controversies weighed on his decision not to offer a full endorsement of Greitens. At some point on Monday, they said, Trump pointed out that Greitens could face Trudy Busch Valentine, a wealthy Democratic candidate, in the general election. Busch is the heir to the Anheuser-Busch brewing fortune.

“She’s not the weak Bush family,” Trump said, referring to his longstanding feud with members of the Bush political dynasty. “She is the strong Busch family.”

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