During an interview on Thursday’s edition of Fox & Friends, Donald Trump Jr. was asked to respond to comments Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) made the day before about the “cult-like situation” that President Trump’s Republican Party has become.
Trump Jr. didn’t totally reject the characterization. Instead, after he was played a clip of Corker’s remarks, he said, “you know what, if it’s a cult, it’s because they like what my father is doing.”
“You see real Americans actually winning for a change,” Trump Jr. continued. “Conservatives actually getting things done.”
Just minutes after making those comments, Trump Jr. concluded the interview by looking into the camera and wishing his dad a happy birthday. (He wasn’t even the first Republican to do that while being interviewed on Fox News on Thursday morning.)
“Hopefully he’s watching, I imagine he is — happy birthday dad, I love you very much,” Trump Jr. said.
While Trump Jr. was trying to downplay the significance of Corker’s remarks about how the GOP is in “a strange place” because “it is becoming a cultish thing… as it relates to a president that happens to be of purportedly the same party,” Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) was on MSNBC sounding the alarm about the state of his party.
Earlier in the week, Sanford — a longtime congressman — lost his primary election to a political newcomer after Trump waged a last-minute attack on him. On the day of the primary election, Trump tweeted that Sanford — who has voted with him 73 percent of the time — “has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA.”
Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
Sanford said his primary race was unusual in that perceived loyalty to the president became a key issue.
“We swear an allegiance to the Constitution and we pledge allegiance to the flag and what was weird about this race that I’ve never experienced before in any race I’ve been a part of was an allegiance question where people say, ‘Are you for or against the president?'” Sanford said. “I’ve never before had a question of allegiance to a person, rather than allegiance to the flag and Constitution, and to a degree that’s what this race came down to.”
On Wednesday evening, Republican Party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel stuck a vaguely threatening note when she tweeted that “Anyone that does not embrace the [Trump] agenda of making America great again will be making a mistake.”
Complacency is our enemy. Anyone that does not embrace the @realDonaldTrump agenda of making America great again will be making a mistake.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) June 14, 2018
The premium placed on loyalty to Trump in today’s Republican Party was on display on Fox News on Wednesday, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was pressed during an interview to explain a tweet he posted on Tuesday calling totalitarian dictator Kim Jong Un “a total weirdo who would not be elected assistant dog catcher in any democracy.”
Rubio’s tweet — which came while President Trump is lavishing praise on the North Korean dictator as “a strong guy” with “a very good personality” who is “very strategic” and “very impressive” — piqued Fox News host Sandra Smith, who pointed out to him, “the president, he sits down with Sean Hannity, he’s talking about Kim Jong Un as someone who appeared to be funny, he’s smart, the president has said of him. So, could you clarify?”
Rubio responded by pointing out that Kim is a totalitarian dictator who runs a “cult that they’ve created in their own country.”
“I’m not going to ignore that reality,” he added.