If TrumpCare dies, the White House won’t forget who killed it — and plans on keeping a “shit list” of Republicans who stood in their way.
According to multiple Trump administration officials speaking to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity to talk freely, the president is angry that his first big legislative push is crumbling before his eyes—and his chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon is advising him to take names and keep a hit list of Republicans who worked for Trumpcare’s defeat.
“[Bannon] has told the president to keep a shit list on this,” one official told The Daily Beast. “He wants a running tally of [the Republicans] who want to sink this…Not sure if I’d call it an ‘enemies list,’ per se, but I wouldn’t want to be on it.”
One aide described it as a proposed “hit list” for Republicans not sufficiently loyal. Courses of action stemming from any related tally is yet to be determined, but the idea and message is that “we’ll remember you.”
Two senior Trump administration officials with direct knowledge of the process told The Daily Beast that Bannon and Trump have taken a “you’re either with us or against us” approach at this point, and that Bannon wants the tally of “against” versus “with us” mounted in his so-called West Wing “war room.”
“Burn the boats,” Bannon (in his typical, pugnacious style) advised Trump, according to one official involved. Burning one’s boats is a reference to when military commanders in hostile territories order his or her troops to destroy their own ships, so that they have to win or die trying.
Sources also said that others including Mick Mulvaney, Trump's director of the Office of Management and Budget and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, endorsed the idea of the running list, and that Trump agreed with the idea.
Emails to the White House and Bannon seeking comment were not immediately returned.
Freedom Caucus members, of course, are no strangers to barely-veiled threats from Trumpworld, and have remained undeterred this week by earlier attempts. On Tuesday, when Trump made his high-profile visit to Capitol Hill to try to rally Republicans to get behind his and Ryan’s plan, Trump specifically called out Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, several times. According to those in the room, the president made it clear that he expected Meadows’ vote and support when push comes to shove. (As of Friday late morning, Meadows is saying he’s not budging yet.)
“Mark, I’m coming after you,” Trump said, only half-jokingly, on Tuesday.
Freedom Caucus aides said they were similarly unperturbed on Friday. One simply responded to The Daily Beast’s question regarding potentially getting on Trump and Bannon’s “shit list” with one word: “Meh.”
“From day 1 in this fight, conservatives have been far more focused on keeping their promises and doing what’s best for their constituents versus any hypothetical political challenges,” another conservative congressional aide said. “That remains unchanged.”
Republican House members jumping ship on the AHCA, both in the hardline-right and so-called “moderate” camps, are hardly alone in their buyer’s remorse. On Thursday night, The New York Times reported that Trump himself has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with Speaker Ryan’s plan.
Bannon, for his part, is hardly pleased with the bill as it stands. According to Trump administration officials, Bannon himself hates the current AHCA—“he thinks it’s a piece of shit…and he told me as such,” one source described bluntly. “But, I mean, he's not going against [the president].”
If Trumpcare/Ryancare goes down in flames, a great share of the blame will inevitably be shoveled onto Speaker Ryan and House GOP leadership—a Republican leadership that just two short years ago Bannon was calling out as “all cunts.”