Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff suggested the party ‘purge’ disloyal lawmakers, including Capitol Hill’s top two Republicans, if Congress continues not getting President Trump’s agenda done.
According to Politico’s reporting, Chief of Staff Nick Ayers warned those gathered Tuesday at a Republican National Committee event in D.C. that Republicans were ‘on track to get shellacked’ in the 2018 midterm.
He suggested in the closed-door meeting that donors hold out their funds and refuse to give money to any GOP candidate who doesn’t back the president or support a change in leadership if House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., continue to drag their feet.
Vice President Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers (pictured) was caught telling donors how to ‘purge’ the party of rogue Republicans, unwilling to implement the Trump agenda
Among Nick Ayers’ targets: House Speaker Paul Ryan (left) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (right), who Pence’s chief of staff urged donors to pressure members to replace
‘Because, look, if we’re going to be in the minority again we might as well have a minority who are with us as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority,’ Ayers reportedly said, receiving laughter and applause.
Making a similar gripe as former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has said, Ayers largely blamed Congress’ rogue Republicans for Trump’s inability to get any major legislation passed.
‘Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him?’ Ayers mused. ‘If, and this sounds crass, we can purge the handful of people who continue to defeat him.’
A member of the audience then asked Ayers how donors might be able to compel members to change their leadership.
‘I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this,’ Ayers began.
‘But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things: We’re definitely not giving to you No. 1 and No. 2, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31 we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns and we’re funding super PACS to defeat all of you,’ Ayers advised.
Since President Trump’s inauguration in January, Republicans decided to prioritize repealing and replacing Obamacare, which they struck out on again last week with the demise of the Graham-Cassidy bill.
Now, tax reform is finally the legislative priority, though Ayers sounded doubtful that it could get done.
‘The honest answer is, I’m not sure we’re on track to do that,’ he said, once again blaming Congress for any sort of mess.
‘I think the White House, I think the president and the vice president have shown extraordinary leadership, they’ve been incredibly clear on the framework that was agreed upon … It was frankly much bolder than the path that we were headed down,’ Ayers said.
Pence’s chief of staff said he was skeptical because both houses had passed bills to repeal and replace Obamacare, but with a Republican president in the White House, failed to do it again.
The House did pass a repeal bill in 2017, but a few hold-out senators, including Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Lisa Murkowski, killed the GOP-led efforts in the Senate.
Ayers urged the donors to ‘hear those answers from the speaker and, more importantly, the majority leader,’ on why the failure.
Besides cutting off their funding, Pence’s top aide had another idea for punishing bad behavior.
‘They’re all still committee chairman,’ Ayers noted of the ‘handful’ of Republicans who haven’t embraced the Trump-Pence agenda. ‘There’s only one other option and then let’s see if that option works.’