Donald Trump is out for revenge, and his primary target appears to be members of the GOP establishment — whom he often refers to as "Republicans in Name Only," or RINOs — who haven't blindly supported him.
In a column published Monday, CNN editor-at-large Chris Cillizza notes that despite his many attacks on "socialist Democrats" and "fake news," Trump's "real focus since leaving office has been to cleanse the GOP of those establishment types who didn't fall into lockstep with him."
Cillizza points to Trump's efforts to "depose" GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, as the latest example.
In one telling statement this month, Trump said: "If we didn't have RINOs, the Republican Party would totally dominate politics. The good news is there are far less than there were four years ago—it is a dying breed—but nevertheless, and unfortunately, they still exist!"
Before attempting to "depose" McConnell, Trump moved against the Senate GOP leader by endorsing Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's challenger in Alaska and pushing Herschel Walker into the Georgia Senate race, Cillizza notes.
In addition to obsessing over McConnell — who refused to go along with his "big lie" — Trump has spent his post-presidency lashing out at other so-called "RINOs," including Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington. All three voted to impeach the former president for inciting the Capitol insurrection.
"Time and time again in recent months, Trump saves his most stinging vitriol for members of his own party. Which is consistent with the campaign he ran in 2016 in which he positioned himself as opposed as much to the presidency of George W. Bush as he did to that of Barack Obama," Cillizza writes, pointing to Trump's recent attack on Bush himself regarding the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
"To the extent Trump has any sort of grand strategy -- and I am somewhat skeptical he does -- it appears to be pointed primarily at destroying the version of the Republican Party that was dominant before he entered politics in 2015," Cillizza writes. "What's more remarkable? The vast majority of establishment types seem totally fine with it."