With Party in Utter Crisis, Trump and RNC Chief Priebus Meet — But Stick to Small Talk

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Donald Trump speaks with Reince Priebus
Priebus offers "routine" briefing to the man who is destroying his dreams. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/2016 Getty Images

By all rights, RNC chairman Reince Priebus should regard Donald J. Trump somewhat as the Western Roman cmperor Honorius regarded the Visigoth Alaric when he arrived in Rome to sack the Eternal City in 410. Trump has been an instrument in the frustration of everything the Priebus planned for this cycle. He trashed the RNC’s 2013 “autopsy report” and pushed the party in more or less the opposite direction it wanted to take. He helped snuff the candidacy of Priebus’s own governor Scott Walker and is now threatening the once unassailable House fortress of Priebus’s close associate Speaker Paul Ryan. He’s been the driving force in the incredible coarsening of discourse within the GOP. And now, he’s dumped the loyalty pledge Priebus maneuvered him into taking back in September, making it possible for the other remaining candidates to opt out as well and reintroducing the specter of a completely fractured GOP going into battle against a united Democratic Party.  

So when Trump dropped by the RNC for a meeting that Priebus apparently requested, did they discuss any of these weighty matters? Doesn’t sound like it, according to Bloomberg’s Bender and Cirilli, who say the loyalty pledge didn’t come up at all:

Donald Trump met with party chairman Reince Priebus in Washington on Thursday, but the two did not discuss the Republican front-runner’s problems with a pledge to support the party’s eventual nominee.

According to a person who attended the meeting, there was no mention of the recent controversies that has surrounded Trump’s campaign ….

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes, and Trump attended with campaign counsel Donald F. McGahn of Jones Day and other advisors, the person said. 

In a statement, the RNC portrayed the meeting between the two men as routine in nature. 

The Chairman and Mr. Trump had a productive conversation about the state of the race. The Chairman is in constant communication with all of the candidates and their campaigns about the primaries, general election, and the convention. Meeting and phone conversations with candidates and their campaigns are common and will increase as we get closer to November,” RNC spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

The gathering was scheduled with an agenda to discuss party operations, and to brief Trump on plans for the Republican National Convention in July, said a Republican with knowledge of the meeting. That person, who requested anonymity to speak about the private huddle, said the goal was to bring Trump—who is seeking his first elected office—up to speed on the party’s data operations to target voters, ground troops in states to push voters to the polls, and the financial infrastructure that pays for it all.

Yeah, just another RNC service for first-time candidates, it seems. 

Given the number of topics apparently covered in the 30-minute meeting, you’d have to assume the discussion of “plans for the Republican National Convention” did not get into potential credentials or rules fights that might lead Trump to denounce Priebus and all other party officials as a pack of thieves. And the talk about general-election operations must have been equally bizarre insofar as it involved sharing party intel with someone who might be actively campaigning against the GOP nominee if it’s not his own self. 

Perhaps Priebus will show his neutrality by holding a similar briefing for the rival whom Trump now routinely calls “Lyin’ Ted Cruz.”  They, too, can discuss the RNC’s plans for an upbeat convention and a successful, unified general-election campaign. And then they can ride around Washington on unicorns, signing show tunes and trading Reagan anecdotes.  It’s all just “routine.”