Politics: Family split: 'Tension' over Trump at George W. Bush staff reunion in Washington - PressFrom - US

PoliticsFamily split: 'Tension' over Trump at George W. Bush staff reunion in Washington

06:30  10 september  2019
06:30  10 september  2019 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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Differences over President Trump reverberated during a weekend reunion bash for George W. Bush White House alumni, exposing rifts in the network of Republican operatives and officials.

Family split: 'Tension' over Trump at George W. Bush staff reunion in Washington© Provided by MediaDC: Washington Newspaper Publishing Company, Inc.

Matt Schlapp, a lobbyist and enthusiastic Trump supporter who was political director in the Bush White House, had to be convinced to attend the reunion by a fellow "Bushie," often a term of scorn in the Trump White House, after he expressed fears of being confronted. Another Bush administration veteran, sometimes critical of Trump and sometimes not, was accosted at the gathering by a former colleague and accused of being too pro-Trump.

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Bush 's funeral served as a bit of a presidential family reunion , as Trump wasn't the only U.S. president in attendance. The current president was joined by former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and of course Bush 's son George W . Bush . According to CNN, Trump hasn't

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Both the Never Trump faction and the pro-Trump group are outspoken, rarely hesitating to criticize each other despite their shared Bush roots. That was the case as approximately 2,500 of them met for a few days in Washington to reminisce about old times. “There’s been a lot of passion — and tension,” said Schlapp. His wife, Mercedes, also a Bush official, was a senior White House official until recently.

Bush, 73, and Dick Cheney, 78, his vice president, spoke at the reunion but generally steered clear of the disagreements roiling national politics. The party was held Saturday night at The Anthem, a concert venue in Washington.

“I understand the tensions,” added Ron Kaufman, a Republican insider who worked for Bush’s father, President George H.W. Bush, is supportive of Trump, and has witnessed the evolution of the family’s political network over three decades.

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Among attendees were: Peter Wehner, Bush's head of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, who is virulently anti-Trump; Tom Bossert, who was Trump's assistant for Homeland Security; pro-Trump Rep. Liz Cheney; anti-Trump MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, who is no longer a Republican; and Joe Hagin, who was Bush's deputy chief of staff for operations and then held the same job under Trump.

On Monday morning, anti-Trumpers were buoyed by a trenchant article from Wehner expounding on "Trump's disordered personality - his extreme narcissism; his addiction to lying ... his detachment from reality ... his self-aggrandizement and petty cheating." At around the time it was published, his former Bush administration colleague Alex Azar, who had also attended the reunion, was on his way to work as Trump's Health and Human Services secretary.

Bush veterans such as Schlapp have a hard time understanding the resistance to Trump. The president has delivered on key Republican priorities, and to the extent that his pugilistic populism is unorthodox, it reflects an evolving conservative base and a modern media environment dictated by aggressive social media tactics. Besides, the alternative could be a radically liberal president that makes old school Democratic politics look centrist by comparison.

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That does not sit well with prominent Never Trumpers such as Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, who played a key role in the 2000 Bush campaign and wrote an affectionate memoir about his "adventures with the cockeyed optimists from Texas who won the biggest prize in politics." The veteran of Bush’s presidential campaigns, who is advising Bill Weld’s long-shot primary challenge against Trump, is mystified that any of his brothers-in-arms during the Bush years could support this president.

In comportment, philosophy, and character, Stevens said, Trump represents the opposite of everything Bush stood for. “I find it heartbreaking,” said Stevens. “I find it incredibly heartbreaking.” Via Twitter on Sunday, Stevens, campaign manager for Mitt Romney's failed 2012 presidential bid, said that Trump and his family "have no idea what it means to be an American." On Monday, he referred to Trump as "mush brain" and said that his 2016 campaign "was run by criminals."

Bush left office in 2009 with low approval ratings amid controversy over the Iraq War and the onset of the recession, both of which snuffed out much of the admiration he earned for his handling of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016 in part because he was virtually alone in running against Bush’s leadership of the party.

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A film showing former President George W . Bush at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Over breakfast with a handful of leading Republicans last month in New York, Jeb Bush made clear he was still smarting over seeing his own presidential ambitions extinguished by Mr. Trump .

Sabraw, appointed in 2003 by President George W . Bush , late last month ordered federal officials to reunite all families within 30 days, and children younger Advocates for immigrants have blasted the Trump administration, suggesting officials have created bureaucratic obstacles to delay the reunions .

Central to Trump's primary victory was his mockery of Bush's younger brother Jeb as "low energy" and a creature of the political establishment. If Jeb Bush, the early Republican favorite, had won, his White House would have drawn heavily on his brother's staff, just as George W. had with their father's administration.

Regardless of their opinions of Trump, many Republicans who served under Bush hold an abiding appreciation and affection for their old boss and his lieutenant, Cheney. That commonality forged a sense of powerful camaraderie at the reunion, despite the obvious differences created by the alternate political routes this collection of Republicans has traveled since Trump assumed command of the GOP.

Ari Fleischer, Bush’s first press secretary who often praises Trump but is occasionally critical and did not vote for him, hosted a dinner at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Washington with Dana Perino, also a former Bush press secretary, for about 50 former Bush communications aides. Fleischer now runs his own corporate communications firm and is a Fox News contributor. Perino hosts her own show on Fox.

Fleischer insisted the reunion was that unusual Washington event where politics was not the topic of discussion and that there was little talk of Trump. Rather, he said, the dinner he hosted with Perino, and other events he attended, were about family, friendships, and their memories working for a boss they loved.

“He is such an infectiously funny, agreeable good, kind man who can also snap a towel when he wants to,” Fleischer said. “To have worked for him is to love him. He’s just that kind of guy.”

Robert O'Brien is an unlikely pick for Trump's national security adviser.
The night of the 2016 presidential election, Robert C. O'Brien, a fixture of Republican presidential campaigns for more than a dozen years, was in London, glued to television screens with American visitors and Brits alike. "I'm not sure anybody out there predicted a Trump win," he said several days later. "I certainly didn't."

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