Recognizing, perhaps, that he might just need Mitt Romney after all, President Donald Trump invited him to the White House yesterday as the chances that the Senate will ultimately decide Trump’s fate grow by the hour.
A natural ally in Trump’s apparent efforts to woo Romney amid the impeachment drama would seem to be the woman who calls him “Uncle Mitt”: Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. But judging by recent comments, it sounds like McDaniel would just as soon stay out of it.
Hours before the White House meeting, McDaniel met with reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast devoted mostly to the 2020 election. There, I had a question for her. The president she’s working to reelect has called her uncle a “pompous ass” who has failed his Utah constituents; her uncle has said Trump’s effort to get dirt on Joe Biden from foreign powers is “appalling.”
“Who’s right here?” I asked.
“Thanks for that really great, fun question,” McDaniel said.
There’s no great answer. McDaniel is in an untenable spot, but it’s one she’s enthusiastically accepted. Taking a plum position from the 45th president involves certain trade-offs. Trump demands loyalty and expects people in his camp to defend behavior that is tough to excuse, setting up moral and ethical dilemmas that on occasion play out in public. I once spoke with a top White House official who confided that he was embarrassed to tell friends he worked for Trump. Other officials have worried that if they gave dubious public justifications for the president’s conduct, they’d forever stain their reputations. When serving Trump splits families, it can be excruciating to watch, as people make the most fundamental of choices: politics or blood.