Donald Trump Deepens GOP Divide

President’s turbulent week fuels frustration in his party, though core supporters remain loyal

President Donald Trump’s tumultuous past week has widened rifts in his party, between those who vocally support the president’s combative style and others who bridle at it ..

.. After a week that included the president attacking his attorney general, the collapse of a GOP health bill, a surprise effort to bar transgender people in the military and a White House staff shakeup, divisions that were largely set aside at the start of 2017 have emerged anew.

..“Particularly among some of my former colleagues in the House, there is a frustration and lament about opportunities squandered in what should be a prime time for a GOP legislative agenda,” said former Republican Rep. David Jolly of Florida.
..“They are going to stick with Trump—they like him the more combative he is and the more his back is against the wall,” he said. “He captured a very angry base, and Trump has mastered the suggestion that fighting and being angry is actually accomplishing results.”
.. Sen. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) said that Republican leaders were complicit if they didn’t call out Mr. Trump for his behavior. “We can’t respond to everything,” he said. “But there are times when you have to stand up and say ‘I’m sorry. This is wrong.’ ”
.. On the other side are Republicans who echo Mr. Trump’s behavior and tone.Rep. Blake Farenthold (R., Texas) last week suggested that he would have settled differences with Ms. Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), who both made decisive votes against a GOP health plan, by challenging them to duels had they been male. Mr. Farenthold later apologized. Rep. Buddy Carter (R., Ga.), asked about Trump’s decision to attack Ms. Murkowski on Twitter over her “no” vote, used a confusing but coarse phrase that suggested resorting to physical assault.

.. Rep. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.), the first member of Congress to endorse Mr. Trump, said that instead of turbulence, Mr. Trump last week “had one of the best weeks he has ever had.” Pointing to his calls to crack down on the street gang known as MS-13, Mr. Collins said that “he is addressing one of the scourges of America.”

.. Signs are emerging that the intraparty battle could threaten the party’s standing in the 2018 elections and the president’s beyond that. Mr. Jolly, the former Florida congressman, said he is part of a group discussing how to put together a primary challenge to Mr. Trump in 2020.
.. Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman and lieutenant governor of Maryland, said “the president is in his element when in front of a crowd of 40,000 instead of behind his desk dealing with the minutiae of governing. That’s not governing, that’s theater, a reality TV presidency.”

Donald Trump’s Pick for Health Secretary Traded Medical Stocks While in House

Rep. Tom Price has sponsored and advocated legislation that could affect the companies’ share prices

Mr. Price’s trading is likely to be a significant issue during his Senate confirmation hearings. Allegations of abusive trading by members of Congress in recent years led to a 2012 law—the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act—that bars members and employees of Congress from using “any nonpublic information derived from the individual’s position…or gained from performance of the individual’s duties, for personal benefit.” The law also requires members to report their trades within 45 days.
.. The health-care industry is Mr. Price’s biggest patron. In 2015 and 2016, he received about $730,000 in campaign donations from health professionals, insurers and drug companies, more than from any other industry
.. Aetna and others are set to benefit from certain provisions of the 2010 health law that Mr. Price’s bill would replace.
.. The largest shareholder of Mr. Price’s biggest stock buy, Australia’s Innate Immuno, is Rep. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.), with a 17% stake, according to the company’s website. Mr. Collins, a member of the Trump transition team, also sits on the company’s board.
.. Mr. Collins said in his hometown newspaper, the Buffalo News, that his authorship of legislation wasn’t a conflict of interest, but rather an instance of bringing his business knowledge to the Congress.
.. The closing price on the Australian Exchange on the day Mr. Price made his purchase was A$0.41, and it closed on Thursday at A$0.85. That means that Mr. Price’s holdings have paper gains of between $50,000 and $100,000.

In Twist, Trump Victory Could Defang Anti-Establishment G.O.P. Caucus

But in a twist that could alter the dynamics of the next Congress, these anti-establishment Republicans, known as the House Freedom Caucus, could find their influence crippled by the ascension of an anti-establishment figure to the White House.

.. “It has been roses and sunshine. It’s unbelievable,” said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma. “It is just amazing what a difference the Trump victory has made.”

.. The earliest and most ardent backers of Mr. Trump, like Representatives Chris Collins and Lee Zeldin of New York, and Tom Marino and Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, are not Freedom Caucus members. They come from the kind of Rust Belt districts that buoyed Mr. Trump to victory last week.

.. But legislation has never been the group’s primary focus. It has instead been united in what it sees as a Robin Hood-like mission to seize power from their party’s leaders on behalf of House members.

.. discussed whether to press for rules changes that would allow committee members to choose their own chairmen, an idea that the leadership would be certain to reject.

.. Mr. Trump’s victory defanged the Freedom Caucus’s most serious threat: a challenge to the speakership of Paul D. Ryanof Wisconsin, which could have been used as leverage toward other goals.

.. A sharply diminished House Republican majority would have empowered the Freedom Caucus 

.. “Paul Ryan raised incredible sums of money to help our folks withstand a barrage coming from the other side,” Mr. Collins said in an interview with CNN.

.. But there is one force Republicans do not want to cross, Mr. Cole, who is not a member of the Freedom Caucus, said: their constituents, who supported Mr. Trump in large numbers.