Trump “knew [endorsing Strange] was a mistake but one he was willing to make because Luther was loyal,” a senior White House official told CNN. A person familiar with his mindset said the President went to bed “embarrassed and pissed.”
.. Bannon pulled out all the stops to rally pro-Moore forces in the closing days of the campaign, making multiple TV appearances, and working to bring a team of populist-nationalist all-stars to the Yellowhammer state for Moore, including former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, ex-UKIP leader Nigel “Mr. Brexit” Farage, Duck Commander founder Phil Robertson, and fellow ex-White House adviser Dr. Sebastian Gorka.
.. “The president complained about Bannon’s aggressive moves on Moore’s behalf, as well as about the political advice he got from aides inside the White House,”
.. Palin exhorted the crowd at Thursday’s post-debate train-yard rally that, “A vote for Judge Moore isn’t a vote against the president. It’s a vote for the people’s agenda that elected the president,” as she warned against the political class “hijacking” the Trump election victory.
.. Gorka also emphasized that supporting Moore was a loyal move for Trump supporters like him. He told Fox News’s Brett Baier on Friday:
The president has gone with the forces of the establishment on this one candidate. But guess what happens – when Judge Moore wins on Tuesday, it will strengthen the president, because now he’ll be able to go to the establishment GOP – to the swamp dwellers and say, ‘Hey guys, we are back on my agenda. This wasn’t worth it.’
.. In retrospect, the decision appears to have made on advice from anti-populist elements both outside the administration, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and within the White House, like senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Former judge Roy Moore’s victory over Sen. Luther Strange was a sign of just how extreme Republican rank-and-filers have become. Moore, who believes biblical law should override the Constitution, beat Strange 55 percent to 45 percent. Contrast that with the 2006 gubernatorial primary in which then-Gov. Bob Riley trounced Moore by a margin of 2-to-1.
.. “What Donald Trump has done,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, “is embolden the Roy Moores of the world.”
.. Trump was so embarrassed by his chosen big guy’s big defeat that he deleted earlier pro-Strange tweets
.. Trump seems to think that his support base is so loyal to him that it will follow him anywhere. Bannon would beg to differ. He threw his all behind Moore’s candidacy to show that Trump’s movement is attached even more to a rebellious right-wing ideology than it is to the president himself.
.. “What’s going on is bigger than Trump, and he is just a vehicle.”
.. The good news for Bannon is very bad news for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who put millions of dollars behind the campaign to defeat Moore
.. Among other things, he has said that
- parts of America are under Muslim sharia law;
- suggested that the 9/11 attacks happened because the country had forsaken God’s “word and trust”;
- said of Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know”;
- and likened homosexuality to bestiality.
.. Advocates of a major undertaking on behalf of Jones see this as precisely why taking on Moore would be worth the gamble. Jones could do in Alabama this year what Republican Scott Brown did in a 2010 special election in Massachusetts
.. A Jones win would also cut the Republicans’ already tough-to-manage Senate majority to a bare 51 seats.
.. At an election eve Moore rally, Bannon called out McConnell and Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s top political adviser, by name.
.. “Your day of reckoning is coming,” Bannon declared.
.. The message from Alabama is clear; he and his party have unleashed forces they cannot control.
At one point, it looked as if there might be only days left in Sessions’s tenure, and his position still appears precarious; it now seems to depend on his openness to obstructing justice. In other words, Sessions might be out of his new job with two rounds of voting still to go to determine who gets his old one.
.. Roy Moore, meanwhile, had quit his most recent job, as Alabama’s chief judge, after being suspended for telling other state judges not to listen to their colleagues on the federal bench—not even those on the Supreme Court.
.. It was his second time losing that job: the first was in 2004, when he defied a federal-court order saying that he needed to take a large stone statue engraved with the Ten Commandments out of his courthouse.
.. But while, or maybe because, he has any number of problems with the Constitution, Moore does not have a problem with Trump. When he was asked about the President’s endorsement of Strange, Moore saidthat he wasn’t worried about losing Trump voters, because “They’re voting for his agenda, which I firmly believe in.” He has presented himself as someone who would be willful and stubborn enough, or just extreme enough, to follow Trump even if Party leaders decided that it was madness to do so. Also, he rode a horse to the polls to cast a vote for himself.
.. Robert Bentley, in a case involving ethics and campaign violations, and what was, reportedly, a wildly indiscreet affair with an aide. (Certain of Bentley’s family members recorded his conversations with the aide, and the transcripts were, inevitably, published online.) At the same time, Bentley, exercising his gubernatorial power, was interviewing candidates to replace Sessions in the Senate—one of whom was Strange, the man investigating him.
.. the Senate seat amounted to a favor to a prosecutor from a man facing potential felony charges. Strange could have waited to run in the primary against whomever Bentley did appoint. Instead, he headed to the Senate, with little regard for how the circumstances of his appointment may have compromised him.
.. Mo Brooks, a member of the Freedom Caucus, who campaigned on the premise that he is more Trumpish than Trump’s designated candidate because he, like Trump, is disdainful of McConnell, who is a Washington insider and not nearly enough of an absolutist.