Hard Right Tried To Make GOP Convention Move

[Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

The Trump campaign has stopped an alleged coup taking place at the Republican National Convention, but it wasn’t conceived by whom you’d expect.

The Washington Post has learned that Republican delegates from Arizona delegates recently met in a Phoenix suburb and allegedly discussed a plan to stop Donald Trump, or his eventual pick for vice president, from being nominated at the Republican National Convention next month.  

The instructions did not come from “Never Trumpers” hoping to stop the party from nominating a felon when delegates gather in Milwaukee next month. They instead came from avowed “America First” believers hatching a challenge from the far right — a plot to release the delegates from their pledge to support Trump, according to people present and briefed on the meeting, slides from the presentation and private messages obtained by The Washington Post.

The delegates said the gambit would require support from several other state delegations, and it wasn’t clear whether those allies had been lined up. One idea, discussed as attendees ate finger foods, was for co-conspirators to signal their allegiance to one another by wearing matching black jackets.

The exact purpose of the maneuver was not clear — and left some delegates puzzled and alarmed. People familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said perhaps the intent was to block an undesirable running mate. Most of the dozen GOP officials or activists interviewed by The Post even ventured that the aim may have been to substitute former national security adviser Michael Flynn for Trump if the former president is sentenced to prison time. Among some on the far right, suspicions have intensified that the former president has surrounded himself with too many advisers beholden to the “deep state.”

Whatever the goal, the Trump campaign rushed to head off the stunt and replace the delegates. One campaign staffer involved in the cleanup described it to at least two Republicans as an “existential threat” to Trump’s nomination next month, two people familiar with conversations told The Post. To another Republican, the staffer described the scenario discussed by the Arizona delegates, however unlikely, as being “the only process that would prevent Trump from being the nominee.”

The plot resulted in the Trump campaign moving to replace six delegates at the GOP meeting in Milwaukee.

“John Findlay, the Trump campaign’s convention delegate selection director, placed phone calls to six of the campaign’s “alternate delegates” in Arizona and requested that they challenge the status of six delegates to the convention out of concern for their loyalty to Trump, according to correspondence obtained by NBC News.

Days later, however, the Trump campaign abandoned efforts to replace the delegates, saying it ‘cleared the air’ with the delegates who sparked the concerns after days of deliberation.”

On Thursday night, the Trump campaign’s political director, James Blair, posted on Twitter to explain what was going on.

The concerns, according to NBC News, revolved around a push to force Michael Flynn, a former adviser to Trump, onto the ticket on the convention. An alternate delegate told NBC News that Findlay “reiterated” to her “a rumor that some of the delegates wanted to put Flynn into nomination for the ticket.”

Two other alternate delegates informed NBC News “they were not directly told by the Trump campaign that Flynn was the concern. One said that conversations with other GOP activists made it ‘very clear’ that the campaign was taking the step due to that suspicion that there was a desire to nominate Flynn for the vice presidential slot.”

“[The Trump campaign] felt there was a credible threat to the convention and a disruption to the convention,” the second alternate delegate explained.

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