The inside story on the Trump putsch in Cleveland and beyond

Well, I just got off the phone after the conference call with Regina Thomson of Free the Delegates and other leaders of the anti-Trump movement among the delegates to what is referred to as a convention last week. I finally have the story straight- and it's an ugly one. It's also of a piece with Donald Trump's divisive (and, I believe, ultimately self-defeating) approach to politics: intimidate the opposition and purge those who are not intimidated.

Bo Correll, a Virginia delegate, said that what happened at Quicken Loans Arena was "a scripted TV show, not a convention." The microphones at the delegation standards were turned off, he said, and elected delegates were not permitted to participate except as extras in the show.

He finally clarified the business about the petitions. Petitions for a roll call vote were submitted, signed by a majority of eleven state delegations. Seven were required to force a roll call vote. Under pressure from the RNC and Trump loyalists, three states revoked their support for a voice vote. That left eight states- one more than was needed under the rules to make a roll call vote mandatory. But the RNC claimed that only nine states had submitted petitions- a deliberate falsehood- and that the withdrawal of the support of the three state delegations dropped the number supporting the roll call to only six!

In one sense, this is understandable, since originally only petitions from nine states were submitted. But petitions from two more were submitted by former Sen. Gordon Humphrey and accepted by RNC official Eric Euland about 2:20, before the expiration of the deadline.

Apparently, they were then ignored, and the convention proceeded as if they had never been submitted. I am ashamed to say that one of the delegations that allowed itself to be intimidated into recanting its support of the demand for a roll call vote was Iowa.

The voice vote was then steamrollered through in gross violation of parliamentary procedure "without objection-" even though dozens of delegates were standing  at dead mics and loudly objecting!

Free the Delegates members felt that they won the voice vote. The chair ruled otherwise. The entire episode was shown on C-SPAN and is presented in the first twenty minutes of the video below, so you can judge for yourself.

In the weeks leading to the convention heavy-handed pressure was brought to bear on delegates to vote for Trump despite court rulings stating that state laws binding delegates to the candidate who won the primary or caucus in their state were unconstitutional. At the same time, delegates won by other candidates were intimidated into voting for Trump! Cruz swept the Arizona state convention, but according to delegate Jared White state and national party leaders and the Trump campaign ruthlessly pursued a policy of "deliberate consolidation of power out of the hands of the grassroots and into the hands of the RNC and Trump cronies." State Chair Robert Gramm demanded that delegates vote for Trump and to sign a pledge that they would do so. White said that a delegate named Laura (I believe her  last name was Hack or Houk, I didn't hear it clearly) refused, and Gramm responded, "That's a resignation. "He removed her credentials. She went to Cleveland and attempted to recover them, but to no avail. At least one Rubio delegate from the District of Columbia, whose primary was won by Marco Rubio (Trump finished a distant fourth) had her credentials removed under trumped-up (ahem!) claims that she didn't live in the District.

Correll said that efforts to intimidate or purge

Even though the courts have held laws such as Arizona's binding delegates to be unconstitutional, Republican State Senator Andy Biggs, currently a candidate for Congress, had introduced a bill to repeal the law. He was intimidated by the state party and the RNC into withdrawing it, being told that his political career was over if he didn't.

Leaders of Free the Delegates said that a similar effort to intimidate or purge has been underway all over the nation. Correll specifically mentioned Michigan and North Carolina. In Virginia, the Executive Director of the Republican Party, John Findlay, has been trying to goad a party official who expressed disapproval of Trump's behavior after the convention into either resigning or publicly stating that he was supporting a candidate other than Trump- an action which, under state party rules, would not only force him out of party office but ban him from holding any other for four years. An example of that effort can be found here.

White stated that he was not allowed to cast a single vote for the record; none of his votes were counted or recorded.

White added that Gramm is running to replace Reince Priebus as chair of the RNC, and should not be supported.

More shocking than any of this was the news that the Trump campaign- which is so vocal about the obligation of all Republicans to support Trump- is organizing Super PACS to defeat anti-Trump Republican candidates! Trump had renounced his own pledge to support the party's nominee

White concluded with a quote from Ronald Reagan: "Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."

The members of the group seemed reconciled to voting for Trump  in November and to believe that Hillary Clinton must be defeated at all costs. The Reagan quote above is part of the reason why I believe otherwise, and will never vote for him.  The very behavior they describe is part of a disturbing pattern. Trump instinctively reacts to opposition or even criticism with threats, intimidation and  if necessary, retaliation. He rather reminds me of Democrats that way- which makes sense, since he was one up until less than a year ago.

I myself will not be party to putting a sociopath with that proclivity n the Oval Ofice. Freedom, as Reagan said, is too fragile and tenuous a thing to take such a risk. In any case, it isn't hard to read between the lines the belief of the Free the Delegates people that Trump will be defeated despite their support. They urge real Republicans to stay in the party and join them to fight to pick up the pieces in November.

They seem overwhelmingly to be Cruz people, a sub-genus of the Republican animal I have warmed to in the past week. While I'm proud of principled men like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham, who have refused to support the man-child the Republicans nominated in Cleveland, too many of the kind of Republicans I identify with and have supported- people like Marco Rubio and Joni Ernst- seem willing to do business with the devil. Ted Cruz- a deeply flawed candidate I would vote for in the general election but would be unlikely ever to support for the nomination due to his rigidity and my conviction that our nation needs uniters rather than dividers like Obama and Clinton and Trump right now- in my opinion, has shamed them with his courage. There is a time for compromise and a time to fight. Cruz seems to think it that it's always a time to fight.

I wish him and his supporters luck in theirs. We need a conservative party to balance the leftist Democrats and the newly authoritarian Republicans.