Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.
Political consultants surrounding freshman Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) lied as to why she has yet to join the rest of her Republican colleagues from the Yellowhammer State in endorsing former President Donald Trump’s comeback campaign — and now that the lie has collapsed under the slightest bit of scrutiny, Britt faces increased pressure to join her colleagues and back Trump.
Britt, who multiple sources familiar with the matter told Breitbart News intends to endorse Trump soon, and this year not next year, is left in the middle of this conundrum in a difficult position crafted for her by one of her chief political consultants, named Katie Walsh. Walsh, who was a deputy White House chief of staff in the early days of Trump’s administration before her termination amid suspicions of leaks, has deep ties to the Republican National Committee (RNC) having once served in senior roles there. Several sources familiar with the matter blame Walsh for painting the senator into an impossible position, and now Britt is looking for a way out as soon as possible. As of now, Britt has yet to formally endorse Trump but continues to speak highly of the former president foreshadowing an eventual likely endorsement. But push is coming to shove and eventually Britt is going to need to make a decision —opposing the highly popular Trump as a Republican in Alabama is about as close to career suicide as a politician there could do — and make an endorsement especially as more and more people question why she hasn’t yet done so. Britt has proven her policy chops on issues such as immigration, the fight over Democrat President Joe Biden’s decision to move Space Command’s headquarters to Colorado, and spending bills barreling down the pike this year — she is on the Appropriations Committee — but now faces a major test over whether or not she can eject the career consultants steering her astray and make a bold political move in her first year in office.
This saga, a weeks-long effort by political consultants to explain why Britt has not backed Trump formally when Trump backed her in the 2022 midterm election, began on Friday, August 4. That was the day the entire GOP House delegation from the crimson red state endorsed Trump, and Trump that evening spoke to a packed house at the state GOP dinner. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), the senior senator from Alabama, had already previously endorsed Trump — but notably missing from the endorsement list was Britt. Britt was recovering from major health issues and did not attend the dinner but did speak to Trump — and sent her parents and husband to the dinner in her place to support him. But she has not said the magic words that Trump has her complete and total endorsement — the very same magic words Trump said for her last year in the Senate primary runoff in Alabama.
So Breitbart News reached out to Britt’s team and asked her why she had yet to formally endorse Trump. Her spokesman Sean Ross sent a statement back that day saying that Britt had not endorsed because she pledged neutrality in the GOP presidential primary as a condition of joining the RNC’s Republican Party Advisory Council. The Council, created by RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel in late 2022 after the party’s underwhelming performance in the midterm elections, seeks to understand what went wrong for Republicans last year and perform better moving forward in 2024.
“Senator Britt continues to serve on the RNC’s Republican Party Advisory Council. As a condition of joining that Council, she pledged to stay neutral until the Council has finished its work, and she keeps her word,” Ross’s original statement sent on August 4 to Breitbart News reads. “Senator Britt enjoys a warm relationship with President Trump and had an opportunity to speak with him by phone this week. The Senator greatly appreciated his well wishes and kind words. They discussed the disastrous results of the Biden presidency and the need to restore strength to the White House, so that hardworking American families are put first again. While she continues to rest and recover at home, Wesley and her parents are excited to be there in-person on Friday to welcome President Trump back to Alabama.”
WATCH — Exclusive: Trump Lays Out Vision for Country Upon Return to Office in Long-Form Video Special:Matthew Perdie / Breitbart News, Jack Knudsen / Breitbart News
But this claim that the Republican Party Advisory Council required neutrality in the presidential primary as a condition of its membership collapses under the slightest bit of scrutiny. Two other members, Reps. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) and John James (R-MI), have, since joining the commission, endorsed Trump in the GOP primary. Several sources with direct knowledge of the situation say Walsh concocted this lie for Britt and cornered the freshman senator with it earlier in the year when the race was much closer, and some Trump allies were concerned about the possible strength of others in the field, particularly Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But now that DeSantis has essentially failed in his presidential campaign, that concern has basically evaporated — but Britt is stuck with the original lie that Walsh locked her into because she made the comment publicly earlier this year when asked about why she had yet to endorse.
What’s more, in the two weeks since, Breitbart News has spoken to at least half of the members of the Council who say there was never such a neutrality requirement. The only person saying there was ever a neutrality requirement is Britt — and the RNC, which originally tried to back her up on this point but has since backed down, says it was a requirement but is no longer a condition of continued membership.
“When we launched the Republican Party Advisory Council to help us chart the best path forward to win in 2024, we asked members to remain neutral in the Republican presidential primary,” Keith Schipper, an RNC spokesman, told Breitbart News on Monday. “Now that we’re in the advanced stages of the race, all members of the council are welcome to continue their work regardless of whether they are backing a Republican presidential candidate or not, to help us make Joe Biden a one term president.”
In addition to literally no other person being able to confirm that this was a condition of membership at the time of joining the commission, Breitbart News has since learned that according to multiple sources the only “evidence” of such a supposed requirement — which again is no longer in place if it ever was there to begin with — would have if it did exist come as a verbal off-hand comment by McDaniel at the Council’s first in-person meeting. There was no written statement and there is no record of this comment ever being made and nobody remembers it except Britt. Multiple other members of the Council say the only requirement they recall being in place for membership was that they would support the eventual GOP nominee for president — something that makes sense given the RNC’s push for all presidential candidates to sign such a pledge. McDaniel has in the lead-up to the first GOP presidential primary debate aggressively promoted the pledge which she calls the “Beat Biden Pledge.” Nonetheless, even if it were the case that this happened, the new statement from the RNC clearly releases Britt and every other member of the RNC commission from any such commitment that may or may not have existed — meaning that Britt is, while she continues to serve on this commission, free to endorse whoever she chooses.
An RNC official told Breitbart News, too, that the Council since its inception “has met several times to inform the Republican Party’s 2024 vision and beyond.” But the last meeting, which nobody seems to remember when exactly it was, was apparently many months ago — and that meeting adjourned with no plans for a future meeting. It is also unclear when the Council will end its work formally, and what steps need to be taken for it to finish. That being said, while no meetings have happened in months, others familiar say the members regularly do discuss polling data and other political developments on the central charge of its duties which an RNC official says “will chart the best path forward towards victory in 2024.”
On Thursday morning, in a clear attempt to get ahead of the publication of this story in Breitbart News, some people familiar with this ongoing investigation leaked some details of it to the Daily Beast. The Daily Beast piece, from reporter Zach Petrizzo, is a shockingly accurate representation of the goings-on of the past two weeks. As an aside, part of the reason why Breitbart News has given the various parties involved here so much latitude in terms of the time to answer specific questions is the senator’s health situation, which while she has begun some work again continues to be an issue for her over the August recess — though she is expected to make a full recovery from what her office said doctors believed was swelling of a facial nerve caused by a post-viral infection.
In the Daily Beast piece, Petrizzo writes that three separate sources told him “Britt was supposed to remain neutral in the GOP primary.”
“When Ronna approached Senator Britt about joining the council, she asked Senator Britt to remain neutral in the primaries while the council conducts its work,” Petrizzo quotes “a source close to Britt” as saying.
Again, as laid out above, there is no evidence there ever was such a neutrality requirement — and other members of the commission having endorsed Trump proves that, but even if there was one previously there is no longer such a requirement.
“That could be true. But it also could be a story. As Breitbart has noticed, other members on the RNC council have endorsed,” Petrizzo’s piece continues. “Among the ranks of this RNC advisory council — which has met only a handful of times — were Reps. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) and John James (R-MI). Both Gimenez and James have endorsed Trump. So when Britt argued to Breitbart that she couldn’t endorse Trump because she was on the council, it seemed to ring hollow.”
During the course of this timeframe, Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk noticed similar things that Breitbart News did and called out Britt for not yet endorsing Trump. “There’s no legitimate excuse for Sen. Katie Britt to be the only federal elected official from Alabama not endorsing Donald Trump, especially when he went to bat for her in the primary and especially when Trump, the rule of law, and our entire country are under assault,” Kirk tweeted on the evening of August 4 after the initial Breitbart News inquiries.
Kirk’s tweet immediately caused public pressure to build on Britt.
Over the week that followed, from Monday, August 7, through Friday, August 11, Breitbart News communicated with multiple sources from various sides of this equation some of whom tried to back up the lie that membership on the RNC’s Council precluded someone from endorsing in the presidential primary and others who did not. Eventually after more than a week of pressing for a clear answer from the RNC the party provided that above comment from Schipper explaining that members of this commission are no longer precluded from endorsing a candidate if they so choose but claims they were previously asked to refrain from doing so.
Breitbart News re-approached Britt’s team with this new statement on Monday and gave her until later this week — Thursday morning — to answer. Ross, Britt’s spokesman, continues to stand by the lie that membership on the RNC Council precludes any endorsement in his new statement issued to Breitbart News on Thursday morning, which also came after the Daily Beast story. However, Ross did make clear that Britt will endorse someone in the GOP presidential primary this year — and spoke extremely highly of Trump.
“Senator Britt enjoys a warm relationship with President Trump and had an opportunity to speak with him recently,” Ross said. “The Senator greatly appreciated his well wishes and kind words. They discussed the disastrous results of the Biden presidency and the need to restore strength to the White House, so that hardworking American families are put first again. While she continues to rest and recover at home, Wesley and her parents were excited to be there in Montgomery to welcome President Trump back to Alabama for his record-shattering, standing-room-only speech. The President’s winning message was received with tremendous enthusiasm by the crowd, just as it is resonating strongly nationwide — which is evidenced by his massive (and still growing) lead. As a condition of joining the Republican Party Advisory Council, RNC Chairwoman McDaniel asked Council members to stay neutral until the Council finished its work. Senator Britt respects other members of the Council who have made their own decisions on how to proceed at this stage. She made a public commitment — one that she has reiterated to Alabamians as recently as last week — and she takes great personal pride in being someone who keeps her word. She will continue to do so and looks forward to formally announcing her endorsement in the presidential primary and endorsements in open Senate primaries later this year.”
The Daily Beast piece sort of explains the conundrum facing Britt’s team now, upon the collapse of the RNC Council neutrality lie. First off, an “RNC source” is quoted as admitting that Britt’s team concocted the lie — and that it was a “lie,” and they asked the RNC to go sell it for them.
“The Britt people send us out there to defend this lie, and nobody seems to realize that we’re dealing with rabid dogs at Breitbart,” the “senior RNC source” said in a quote to the Daily Beast. “They don’t give a shit. They’re not just going to accept her off-the-record explanation, and they start demanding all kinds of statements about us preventing people from endorsing Trump and threatening to kick Trump supporters off this Council.”
Also clearly, as multiple sources familiar with the matter say, Britt intends to endorse Trump, and soon. But the new story is that Britt is now looking for a way to maximize the impact of such an endorsement and focus it on helping Trump win back suburban women. The problem with that logic is, yet again, the political consultants surrounding Britt appear to be further complicating this matter rather than simply pulling the trigger as the senator seems to want to do.
From the Daily Beast piece:
As for Trump, he’s been in touch with Britt—but he remains somewhat indifferent on the topic of an endorsement.
“This is a lot of heartburn to get to an endorsement,” a source close to Trump told The Daily Beast.
“Not all endorsements are equal; some carry more weight. As the only Republican female senator with school-aged children, Senator Britt is the future of our Party,” a senior GOP operative told The Daily Beast. “Her ability to connect suburban swing voters with America First policies is unique and makes the timing of her endorsement an important strategic decision as we work to make sure Joe Biden is a one-term President.”
Walsh, multiple sources familiar with the matter told Breitbart News, is the one telling Britt to hold off on endorsing now — and further complicating the senator’s position by concocting yet another tale about how she needs to make the endorsement some magical sentiment that would win back women voters for Trump. The ultimate irony is that the new illogic Walsh is promoting — on display via the “senior GOP operative” quoted in the Daily Beast story arguing that Britt holding off endorsing Trump until later and precisely planning “the timing of her endorsement” to be an “important strategic decision” — runs directly counter to the original illogic that Walsh originally pushed, which is that Britt’s endorsement would be inconsequential anyway and she would be better served waiting out the RNC’s Council and working with that group.
So, which is it? Would a Britt endorsement be meaningful or not? One could argue the last time a junior U.S. Senator from Alabama endorsed Trump — then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in early 2016 — it helped him big time. While Trump and Sessions later had a serious falling out when Sessions recused himself from the Russia hoax investigation as Attorney General, there’s no doubt his endorsement was a game-changer. One could also argue, given the maximum impact that the endorsement Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC) made for Trump earlier this year got, that Britt endorsing would in fact be a big moment for Trump. But the more these political consultants around Britt make her wait, and the longer they drag this out — with the more contradictory excuses they develop — the more they mute her power and her voice. She’s the senator, and she’s the boss — not them — and if she cut through their crud and just pulled the trigger it’s hard to argue that Alabama would not rejoice as she backed Trump once and for all previous nonsensical positions about RNC commissions be damned.