Trump is pondering putting Kushner antagonists atop the campaign—“We can’t allow Jared’s stupid disagreements to get in the way,” he said—but the problem is likely at the top.
Donald Trump’s exhausted trudge from Marine One toward the White House after his botched rally in Tulsa, his red tie undone, a grim look on his face, a crumpled MAGA hat in his hand, is now an iconic image of his presidency. And as always with Trump, he’s already looking for someone to blame. The most obvious candidate, according to sources, is his embattled campaign manager, Brad Parscale. “Brad really shit the bed Saturday night. You have to remember, execution is 95% of presidential politics,” a Republican close to the White House told me over the weekend. Parscale committed a cascade of errors, from overhyping expected turnout to blaming the half-filled arena on protesters. Trump was so furious when he saw how thin the crowd was that he threatened to not go onstage, two sources briefed on the discussions told me. The sources said that Parscale, reading the tea leaves, is planning to step down. “He knows he can’t survive,” one source told me.
But one thing is for sure: The blame game has shifted into high gear. Trump insiders told me Trump was presented with five options of where to hold his rally. “The president chose Tulsa,” a source said. Sources also told me that if Parscale is forced out, he likely won’t be the only casualty of the rally fiasco. Trump is debating revoking his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s control over the campaign, sources said. As I previously reported, Trump has been frustrated with Kushner’s oversight of the campaign in light of polling that consistently shows Trump losing to Joe Biden.Another source of friction has been campaign spending and reports Trump has gotten that Parscale is making millions of dollars. “Did Jared allow this?” Trump asked advisers recently, according to a source. (Kushner declined to comment.)
The Tulsa debacle takes on added resonance given that a return to rallies is central to Trump’s reelection strategy. With COVID cases spiking across Trump country, it’s unlikely that Trump will be able to pack an arena anytime soon. Deprived of the oxygen his legions of fans provide, Trump is struggling to fight political wars on multiple fronts. He’s also lost the attack line that Biden is too old for the job. “There is something off about Trump,” a West Wing official told a top Republican a few days after Trump shakily descended the ramp at West Point. “He doesn’t have the stamina.”