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Trump calls ex-official who revealed he was ‘Anonymous’ whistleblower a ‘sleazebag’ who should be prosecuted

President predicts victory in Arizona and other swing states just ‘like 2016’ as he barnstorms in late blitz

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Wednesday 28 October 2020 23:34 GMT
Trump hits out at Republicans turning against him after public clashes with Lincoln Project: 'Lowest form of life'

Donald Trump used his second campaign stop of the day in Arizona to call for the author of a years-old anonymous op-ed that harshly criticised him to be “prosecuted” as he dubbed the former Department of Homeland Security official a “sleazebag.”

“I thought it might have been Hope Hicks. I thought it might have been Jared [Kushner],” the president told rally-goers in Goodyear jokingly.

Mr Trump then turned to former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor, who outed himself on Wednesday as the former official who penned a September 2018 op-ed piece criticising the president: “He should be prosecuted.”

“The whole thing was just one more hoax from the Washington swamp,” he said before his supporters chanted, “Drain the swamp!”

The president back then vowed to find the author, who described themselves as a then-current official who was part of a “two-track” government, with Mr Trump doing is own thing while rank-and-file employees did another.

“The dilemma — which (Trump) does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,” Mr Taylor wrote under the alias. “I would know. I am one of them.”

“But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic,” the no-longer-anonymous author wrote in 2018. “That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

The president also made unfounded claims about his Democratic foes and leaders of states who belong to the opposition party. “My biggest problem is if they cheat with the ballots,” he claimed, saying without evidence that some ballots were found in a trash can.

His supporters got in on the act.

“Lock him up!” they chanted in Goodyear as he predicted Mr Biden would usher in a “massive” tax cut. The chant was misplaced: a potential President Biden would not be able to raise taxes alone or illegally – he would have to push a tax-raising bill through Congress before signing it into law.

The president’s stop in Goodyear was his second rally of the day in Arizona, after first revving up supporters in Bullhead City.

He spent most of his Wednesday in Arizona, which he won in 2016 but now must erase a 2.4 per cent poll deficit to Mr Biden in five days.

While an average of polls from battleground states shows Mr Biden with a 3.6 percentage point edge in those states, the president contended before leaving Las Vegas that his campaign’s internal polls are “like 2016,” meaning more accurate than ones done by polling firms and news organisations.

Though he sounded a confident tone, several political prognosticators have moved Texas, a GOP presidential lock since 1976, into the “toss-up” column. One of them, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, says that is a sign the president might have run out of steam.

‘Win every state’

“To win the election, Trump will need to win every state we currently have in the ‘toss up’ column: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa, Ohio, Maine's 2nd [congressional district], as well as the newest addition, Texas,” she wrote. “Even then, Trump would be 22 electoral votes short of 270.”

But several political operatives contacted this week by The Independent say they still give Mr Trump higher odds of winning the Lone Star State.

As Mr Trump continued his late-campaigning barnstorm tour of the most-competitive battleground states, a new poll by The Independent showed Mr Biden widening his lead.

The former VP has a 14-point national lead over the president with less than six days remaining before the final ballots will be cast, according to the survey.

That is a three-point increase for the Democratic presidential nominee in just a few weeks when compared with another version of the same survey, which was conducted by JL Partners.

Fifty-five per cent of 844 likely voters surveyed 26-28 October said they intend to vote for Mr Biden. Forty-one per cent selected the president.

The president was off to Florida for a rally in Tampa on Thursday before another one that evening in yet another swing state: North Carolina.

But before those campaign events, with more coming on Friday and until Election Day, Mr Trump revved up supporters at his first Arizona stop when he dubbed Republicans officials who oppose him the “lowest form of human life.”

“A RINO might be the lowest form of human life. … They have nothing but disdain for you and your values,” he told rally-goers in Bullhead City of so-called “Republicans in name only.”

His comment come after months of public clashes with the Lincoln Project, which has published a number of slick videos harshly criticising the president. The group was founded by a group of well-financed former Republican officials who have long opposed Mr Trump.

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