A Trump "intervention": With his campaign on the brink of implosion, GOP officials reportedly plot alternative options

Panic at the top ranks of the GOP after Trump appears to go on the warpath against the Republican establishment

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 3, 2016 4:14PM (EDT)

Donald Trump; The Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 18, 2016.  (Reuters/L.E. Baskow/Aaron Josefczyk/Photo montage by Salon)
Donald Trump; The Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 18, 2016. (Reuters/L.E. Baskow/Aaron Josefczyk/Photo montage by Salon)

Once again, Donald Trump is at war with his own party.

We are less than 100 days out from the general election and still no sight of any "presidential pivot."

The Republican civil war is raging on as Trump looks to be causing a complete unraveling by Congressional and party leadership. After a wild post-DNC period for the GOP nominee, there are now multiple reports of both a planned intervention to rein back the unhinged nominee by his family and close aides, as well as the exploration of last-minute alternatives to Trump by GOP leaders.

While Trump's outrageous anti-Muslim rhetoric, irresponsible statements on NATO or attacks on Gold Star parents have not seemed to be enough for either his most ardent backers or the Republican Party's top leaders to denounce the political neophyte's run for the White House, his refusal to openly support the reelection campaigns of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Arizona Senator John McCain may have proved to go too far.

Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus is reportedly “apoplectic" and "furious" after Trump's interview with The Washington Post, which has been banned from Trump rallies.

“I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” he told the paper on Tuesday. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”

Additionally, Politico reported Wednesday that "more than half a dozen of Trump’s former campaign staff members or leading volunteer organizers from around the country" are actively aiding the campaign of Ryan’s primary challenger, businessman Paul Nehlen.

Hours after Trump's refusal to endorse two of the highest ranking Republicans in the country, ABC News reported that "Republican officials are exploring ... [w]hat would happen if the party's presidential nominee dropped out":

So how would it work?

First, Trump would have to voluntarily exit the race. Officials say there is no mechanism for forcing him to withdraw his nomination. (Trump has not given any indications that he no longer wants to be his party's nominee.)

Then it would be up to the 168 members of the Republican National Committee to choose a successor, though the process is complicated.

One Republican legal expert has advised party officials that, for practical reasons, Trump would have to drop out by early September to give the party enough time to choose his replacement and get the next nominee's name on the ballot in enough states to win.

NBC News is also reporting that Priebus, along with former Republican New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, is "plotting an intervention with the candidate after a disastrous 48 hours."

“The current race is which of these two is the more unacceptable, because right now neither of them is acceptable,” Gingrich told the Washington Post Wednesday morning. “Trump is helping her to win by proving he is more unacceptable than she is.”

NBC's Chuck Todd reported the planned intervention is set to take place this weekend, although Trump's campaign manager Paul Manafort said on Fox News he had heard of no such plans.

CNBC correspondent John Harwood reported Tuesday that Manafort is "not challenging Trump anymore. Mailing it in. Staff suicidal." And while Trump's communication staff attempted to tamp down the negative reports, NBC News's Ali Vitali cited a Trump campaign source responding to Harwood's reporting, who called it "all true" and "way worse than people realize."

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Donald Trump Election 2016 Elections 2016 Gop Gop Civil War Reince Preibus Rnc