In wake of election loss, Trump’s enemies list keeps expanding

Some Republican Trump backers are now receiving backlash from the president for not discrediting the election.

Trump and Georgia governor Brian Kemp were once political allies, until Trump soured on Kemp after the election [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

US President Donald Trump has a long history of making enemies out of people on whom he had previously heaped praise. From his longtime lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, to former Cabinet officials, Trump regularly undercuts those he feels have wronged him.

Now, as he continues his efforts to deny Joe Biden’s presidential victory, a new list of Trump friends-to-enemies has emerged: a group of extremely loyal backers, now on the outs because Trump feels betrayed by them.

Attorney General Bill Barr

Minutes after Biden’s Electoral College victory was affirmed, Trump announced Barr had submitted his resignation, effective a month before his term was to end. Though Trump has insisted Barr is leaving on good terms, reportedly Trump soured on Barr after his early December remarks to The Associated Press that he has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election”.

Trump is also reportedly upset at Barr for not fast-tracking a conclusion from a Justice Department investigation into the FBI’s handling of its probe of the Trump campaign.

Soon after Barr’s comments to the AP, Trump was asked if he had “confidence” in Barr, and Trump refused to answer.

And just before Barr submitted his resignation letter, Trump called him out on Twitter for not doing enough regarding investigations into the foreign business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter.

Fox News

To say Trump had a cozy relationship with right-leaning Fox News is understating things a bit. Yet despite years of giving exclusive interviews and receiving nearly unwavering support from many of the network’s hosts, Trump has now taken to discrediting Fox programming in lieu of more conservative, non-network news.

What set Trump off? First, he was reportedly livid that Fox was the first network to make a projection on election night that Joe Biden would win Arizona, something Trump believes set an early narrative that he would ultimately lose the election to Biden. His fury intensified after Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace corrected a correspondent to refer to Biden as president-elect to regular Fox News guest Geraldo Rivera admitting that Trump is “not speaking to me right now because of my position on the election being over”.

Trump, in particular, seems to be attacking “daytime” Fox News, where the segments are more news-heavy in contrast to the late-night, opinion-based programming in Hannity and Carlson’s segments. The president now is recommending his supporters get their news from programs like Newsmax and OANN, two networks that helped Trump and his supporters promote the unfounded allegations that the election was “rigged” and “stolen” by the Democrats from Trump.

Georgia Republicans

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was endorsed by Trump in 2018 and Kemp endorsed and campaigned for Trump in 2020, but now he finds himself facing re-election with the president already touting his replacement. As governor, Kemp ultimately signed off on certifying the results of the presidential election in Georgia, where the state voted for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1992.

Before this, Trump viewed himself as the key factor in Kemp’s election win, saying in a news conference in April that “I worked very hard for his election … he ended up winning a primary after I came out and endorsed him. So, a lot of good things and there’s a lot of good feeling between myself and Brian Kemp. I like him a lot.”

Yet, the Trump administration is now slamming the state’s top Republican for not interfering in the vote-counting process to benefit Trump.

In retaliation, Trump began urging one of his unwavering backers, US Representative Doug Collins, to run against Kemp in 2022. “Doug, you want to run for governor in two years?” Trump said at a rally in Valdosta, Georgia, earlier this month, adding that Collins would “be a good-looking governor”.

Trump’s wrath has also been directed at other top Georgia Republicans, including Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both of whom were insufficiently loyal, in Trump’s view. In reality, they, along with Kemp, were simply following standard procedure for counting and certifying the state’s votes.

Despite Raffensperger saying he has been a lifelong Republican and insisting that he hoped that Trump would have won the election, Trump once again responded with calls for resignation.

Governor Doug Ducey

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, similar to Kemp, has been facing blowback after signing off on results in general elections results in Arizona, giving Biden electoral votes in another previously reliably Republican state.

This is a far cry from Trump’s words for Ducey during his campaign in October, calling Ducey “one of the best governors in the country”, going further to say, “there’s no other human being on earth other than maybe Doug Ducey that could have handled the crap that I’ve had to handle”. So how does Trump go from “anything we can do, you’re going to call me” to saying Ducey has “betrayed the American people”?

Ducey has come out strong in his own defence, saying “If you want to contest the results, now is the time. Bring your challenges. That’s the law. I’ve sworn an oath to uphold it, and I take my responsibility seriously.”

Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

When Mark Esper was promoted to acting defense secretary in June 2019, Trump said he had “no doubt he will do a fantastic job!”

Esper was subsequently fired last month, and his dismissal was just a matter of time after Esper publicly disagreed with Trump mid-year, saying that active-duty US military should be used to quell protests in American streets.

After protests and looting took place in several US cities following the police-involved death of George Floyd in May, Trump threatened to send in “the Federal Government … and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military”.

Esper told reporters that the military, “should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire of situations”.

Esper’s job was considered in peril after that comment and Trump dismissed him on November 9.

Source: Al Jazeera