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ANNOTATION
The Silent Majority
By Alex Carp
Some of Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress despise him in private. Veteran GOP strategist and early Never Trumper Rick Wilson has become a keeper of their secrets.

Trump’s supporters in Congress call you to vent about how much they hate him. What are they hiding?
Right after Trump was elected, there were a lot of guys who had this shocking moment. A friend of mine, a member of Congress, went home to a town-hall meeting, and a guy asks him, “Are you going to be with Mr. Trump 100 percent of the time?” And he goes, “Well, look, I support Donald Trump and I want to help him, and we agree on many things. But I represent this district. If there’s something the president wants to do and it’s good for us, we’re absolutely going to do it. If it’s something that’s bad for our district, I’m going to oppose it.”
That, by the way, is the big tell. The people who call him “Mr. Trump,” you know they’re going to be a problem.
By the time he left the stage, his wife had death threats. His kids had death threats. Because he wouldn’t say, “I’ll be with Trump no matter what.” He called me two days later, and he said, “I don’t know what to do.” Eventually he goes, “I’m going to keep my seat.” He still privately bitches and moans, but he’s still in Congress.
How do they express their fear to you?
A few months ago, there was a Republican elected official at a party at my home. He gets there, and there’s a conservative-leaning reporter. And the official absolutely loses his shit with me. He’s like, “Oh my God, I’m so fucked! He’s going to write about it.”
I told him, “No, these parties are always off the record. You know that.” He goes, “But they’re going to know — they find out. If I’m seen with you, the National Republican Congressional Committee will kill me.”
And it just struck me, This is how they live every day? This fear that they’re going to get caught — not even saying anything bad about the president but with somebody, or at a party at somebody’s house, who is critical of the president.
What is it about Trump specifically that they’re upset by?
There’s a good degree of it that is just the vulgar nature of Trump — that he’s not of a conservative mien or affect. The belittling of people, the way he goes after people that he perceives are inferior or vulnerable. The comments about John McCain actually affected a lot more Republicans than they let on. But there’s also contempt that Trump doesn’t understand any of this. He doesn’t have any understanding of conservative economics or philosophy, but he is really great at playing the cop.
There were a lot of people around the time of the Charlottesville shooting who were generally appalled. When Trump doubled down and just kept digging, there was a moment where a lot of folks were like, Oh, now what do we do? We thought he’d learn a lesson, or that he would take something from that disaster. But it didn’t change anything. That was one of the peak moments of “What the fuck do we do?” among the party guys.
There’s also a general frustration about a lot of the things that conservatives would like to do on the policy side, in terms of entitlement reform and deregulation. The nut I’ve tried hardest to crack is getting even the retired guys to go on the record.
How often are you having these conversations?
It’s dropped off since the midterms, but I still talk to somebody at least once a week. I spoke with someone who was at a White House event this spring, and this person stood there, did the whole “stand behind the president,” clap about his great accomplishments — and was literally on the phone with me in the car on the way out.
Do you ever suggest that their silence is enabling Trump?
Of course. And you know what they say? “You’re absolutely right.”

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