Nov 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

"Betrayal" book: Trump threatened to leave GOP before RNC threat

Former President Trump told the Republican National Committee chair that he was leaving the GOP to create his own new political party, according to a new book by ABC's Jonathan Karl.

Driving the news: Trump, who had said "he didn't care" about destroying the GOP, ultimately backed down after party leaders told him they would take actions that could have cost the former president millions of dollars, Karl told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Details: On his last day in office, after boarding Air Force One, "Trump took a call from Republican party chair Ronna McDaniel. ... He told McDaniel he was done with the Republican party. This is according to multiple sources familiar with the conversation," Karl said.

  • "'I'm done,' Trump told McDaniel from his office on board Air Force One. 'I'm starting my own party.'"
  • "'You cannot do that,' McDaniel told Trump. 'If you do, we will lose forever,'" Karl said, quoting the conversation.
  • Republican leaders told the former president that if he left, they would stop paying his legal fees and give out for free Trump's email list, "an asset Trump makes millions on renting out to candidates," per Karl.
  • By the following week, Trump decided against leaving the GOP.

The big picture: "Trump's attitude, according to a source who heard the conversation, was that if he lost, everyone around him deserved to lose too," Karl said.

The other side: McDaniel said Monday that Karl's reporting was not true.

  • "This is false, I have never threatened President Trump with anything," McDaniel told ABC News. "He and I have a great relationship. We have worked tirelessly together to elect Republicans up and down the ballot, and will continue to do so."
  • Karl responded to McDaniel on air, saying that her statement on his book "is a lie," adding, "I spoke to multiple people about this, including a direct witness to the initial conversation with Donald Trump and direct witnesses to the subsequent conversations."
  • Karl read quotes from his sources, who said, "[Trump] didn't care. It was a punishment."
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