One thing that the Trump presidency has made crystal clear is the depths to which Republicans will sink to hold onto power. They do not care about The Norms, as seen in their blocking Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination only to insist that Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed immediately. They do not care about adding to the deficit if it gives a tax break to massive corporations. And they do not care that the president is probably guilty of coordinating with Michael Cohen to do a big old crime.
Neither, more importantly, do their donors, according to a new story in Politico. Apparently, donors have “shrugged” at the news that the president is implicated in a federal crime:
“The impact of Cohen’s guilty plea on RNC fundraising will be infinitesimal, just as the revelations about Steve Wynn and Elliott Broidy have had no material impact,” GOP donor Dan Eberhart told POLITICO. “At the end of the day, donors care about how the party is going to help their family, business, community and country.”
You could just go ahead and strike out family, community, and country from that. It’s about business. Eberhart is the CEO of Canary, “one of the largest privately-owned oilfield services companies in the United States.” An oil guy donating to the Republican party is an investment. Supporting the party and the presidency that denies climate change is a real thing, fights tooth and nail any proposals to alleviate it and gives away policy wins to the oil industry like candy, is an investment. It’s entirely divorced from principles, meaning it doesn’t matter if Trump is caught doing something bad, even if it’s really bad— even if it’s blatantly illegal.
Of course, there are still donors who are motivated by the other side of the Trump coin—anti-immigrant, pro-borders fervor—like this one quoted by Politico:
“What am I supposed to overlook? The fact that Trump was having sex with Stormy Daniels?” [Joanne] Zervos said. “Who cares, honestly?”
“There are refugee issues, tariff issues and border issues affecting people’s lives,” Zervos said. “Compared to everybody else, he’s willing to take a position and act on it.”
Well, it’s actually about him doing a federal crime in relation to that sex, not the sex itself, but whatever, Joanne. We know what this is about for her: “Refugee issues” and “border issues” don’t need much translation.
Elite Republicans and their donor class do not care about whether the president broke the law; they would only care if it began to seriously threaten their power over the policymaking process, like if it started to look like Trump would actually be impeached. We are not there yet, and it will take a lot more bad news to get there.