This is because the country’s most press starved president has gone gloomy.
In the week since Trump rioted on the nation’s Capitol, the president and his aides have been off the airwaves and are turning down interview requests. Trump’s team has not held a surrogate call since last Tuesday. They also did not publish talking points for allies to act as articles of impeachment were introduced and then passed. An official war room to bolster Trump’s impeachment defense has never been formed. And after his ban from Twitter, discussions of moving the president to another social media site were shelved.
Avoiding the spotlight isn’t just drastically off the mark for Trump. It also illustrates the seriousness of the current issues and how dramatically he has been affected by the backlash of his actions. A former aide said he had not seen this level of silence from Trump since the release of the “Access Hollywood” bombshells in 2016.
“This is one of the few times he has felt the enormity of the situation,” the assistant said.
Surrounded by a team increasingly stripped of both senior aides and laggards from his 2020 campaign, Trump has shown little interest in trying to tell an impeachment speech and he is advised to remain low-key. Some of the president’s supporters admitted that they were relieved by this approach, fearing that anything he said would end up harming his cause.
“They appear to be in lockdown mode, which I think is a good place at the moment from a media perspective,” said former Fox News host Eric Bolling, whose recent request to book a Trump’s interview for his Sinclair Broadcasting show has gone missing. no response from the White House.
“He had a huge media footprint and it must be really tough. It must be very difficult not being able to defend yourself, present your case, explain your reasoning for things, ”observed Bolling.
Instead, Trump quietly took the temperature of Senate Republicans who will decide his fate – and whether he remains eligible to run for office in the future – in an upcoming chamber trial. Trump raised the matter with Senator Lindsey Graham on Tuesday when the Republican from South Carolina joined him aboard Air Force One for a trip to the Southwestern border. The president also spoke by phone with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is due for re-election in 2022 and who issued a statement shortly after their call announcing his opposition to a second impeachment of Trump.
The president’s inner circle sought to put pressure on Republicans in the House and Senate by circulating a voting memorandum on Wednesday morning that suggested GOP voters were broadly opposed to Trump’s impeachment and less likely to support Republicans outgoing who cross the president. The investigation was commissioned by Trump adviser Jason Miller over the weekend and paid for by the management of Trump’s Save America PAC, according to GOP pollster John McLaughlin, whose company conducted it.
“Any Republican who votes for impeachment is probably going to get an award and they are going to lose,” McLaughlin said in an interview, predicting that there would soon be “a day of backlash against Democrats for it and against any Republican who backs him. . ”
But some prominent Republicans have shown no fear of breaking up with Trump, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he plans to make a final decision on Trump’s conviction after legal arguments regarding impeachment were presented to the Senate.
Privately, many party members, including those who worked for Trump’s re-election, are angry. A former campaign official called the president’s actions “unjustifiable” and said it was hardly surprising that none of the party’s main entities are bolstering Trump’s defense.
“I’m not sure anybody out there is more of a Trump fan anymore,” the official said of the lack of talking points and guidelines issued by the Republican National Committee.
Indeed, one of the president’s most pugnacious supporters at the RNC, Liz Harrington, left quietly last month. And like As the impeachment debate was unfolding in the House, committee chair Ronna McDaniel lambasted a statement that focused not on impeachment but on preventing the kind of violence and deadly destruction seen on Capitol Hill last week during any event to come.
Among officials who still show up to work in the White House, support for the president has also dropped dramatically. A White House official compared the West Wing to a battered pet shelter, saying most employees were “terrified and desperate to see their next job arrive sooner rather than later.”
Even if Trump tried to make his way through the impeachment process – a tactic he and his defense attorneys deployed the first time he was impeached – it’s unclear whether he would have the same platform – shape to do it. Having no access to social networks following the deletion of his accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, the president finds himself with traditional media such as network television or official statements.
But several TV presenters have expressed reservations about reserving the president as a guest or giving him a live interview for fear he could use their platform to cause even more unrest.
A presenter for a prominent broadcast network said his “biggest nightmare” was for Trump to offer an uninvited interview.
“I would do it in the blink of an eye, but I think the bigger question is whether it’s responsible? I’m fighting, ”said the presenter.
“I would like to take the opportunity, I would, but on the other hand, are you giving it a platform to incite violence?” I think it’s a serious conversation, ”the presenter added, suggesting that the decision to do an interview with Trump was comparable to the editorial debates that major news divisions used to have around themselves. sit down with dictators like Fidel Castro and Vladimir Putin. “I would only do the interview on tape and I would have full control over the edits. I would not allow him to access live television ”,
Another television host from a major cable network said he wasn’t even asking for an interview with Trump. “It’s not all about Trump,” the presenter explained. “After four years of this, I’m really sick of it. This is my reason.
It’s a stark difference from the days when Trump could tune into his favorite network for unlimited airtime by phone or satellite, a tool he often used to influence public opinion during the campaign. and at the height of various controversies. Now he no longer has his favorite social media butts and much of the staff that would help him execute a zone flood communication strategy. Hope Hicks, his longtime aide, left the White House on Wednesday, shortly after the House passed his impeachment article. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany is expected to leave on Friday – leaving Trump without an official spokesperson as he enters his perilous final days in power.
But the understaffing is only part of the problem. The other reason Trump has remained silent, according to a White House official, is that many Republicans and most Democrats have already said he should be held accountable for his dangerous rhetoric and his persistent attempts to overthrow the result of the 2020 elections.
“There is nothing to answer. The cake is baked, ”said the official.
Sam Stein contributed to this report.