Insider has built a database of people and entities critical to Trump’s rise to power and his substandard conduct. Of the 125 individuals and entities, four sought to distance themselves from Trump for the record. Whatever the former president’s verdict, the bitter politics of the Trump era could outlive him. Visit Insider’s Business section for more stories.
Many in Washington are eager to turn the page on the Trump era. But just as most Republican voters believe Donald Trump should play a leading role in the party, the vast majority of those who helped the mogul reach the White House continue to stand by him.
After Insider created a database of the 125 people and entities most responsible for Trump’s rise to power, we reached out to as many as possible for comment. We wanted to know what they thought about their role in Trump’s rise to the White House and the efforts in Congress to prevent him from running again due to the deadly January 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
Only four distanced themselves from Trump, while four others reiterated their strong support and called the Senate impeachment trial a political witch-hunt. The others declined to comment or did not respond at all.
Some on the list who returned to Insider have of course made their feelings about Trump known. His adult children, and many of his collaborators, have remained staunch advocates. Conservative media figures have also remained largely in the Trump team.
Others who played a role in Trump’s rise to power are anything but supporters of the now former president.
Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg made an unsuccessful attempt in 2020 to topple Trump, whom he called a “barking carnival clown.” Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, now regularly do excoriating Trump segments. Piers Morgan, who has returned to London to host a morning show, sharply criticized Trump’s baseless insistence that he was conned out of a re-election victory, as did Chris Christie, the former governor of the New Jersey became an ABC News expert.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer and now one of his outspoken critics, told Insider he deeply regrets his role in Trump’s rise.
“I am Dr Frankenstein in this equation and he is clearly the out-of-control monster that unleashed a cascade of destruction and division during his presidency over the country and the world,” he said in an interview.
Cohen, who in 2019 told Congress that Trump was a “racist, con artist and cheater,” said he was not surprised that most Republican senators refused to condemn the former president during the his February trial.
“Donald will once again escape responsibility for his nefarious actions, which he has managed to avoid all his life,” he said.
Others questioned their presence in this coterie of facilitators after berating the president for years. Forbes magazine helped Trump polish his image among the national elite by placing him on its annual list of America’s 400 richest people during the 1980s and 1990s. It later retired Trump after concluding that ‘he wasn’t telling the truth about his wealth.
“As we have said previously, Donald Trump lied to inflate his position on our lists,” said a spokesperson for Forbes. “There is no crime in lying to a reporter, but it speaks to the character.”
But Trump’s willingness to fight his opponents and claim the election was stolen from him made his supporters believe in him as fervently as ever.
Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was on Insider’s list due to his oversized role ahead of the 2016 election to help Trump gain a larger place among some of the nation’s most rabid conservatives. They both spread the same lie that President Obama was not born in the United States. Arpaio, whose tough stance on illegal immigration made him a national political figure, subsequently endorsed Trump in front of all members of Congress.
In an interview, Arpaio said Republicans across the country support Trump more strongly than GOP officials in Washington because they continue to identify with him.
“He says what he likes to say and he doesn’t hold back. That’s why people love this guy,” Arpaio told Insider. “He’s going to be okay. My prediction is that he will have more support.”
Two other Trump supporters on Insider’s list have defended their ties to the president. Mike Cernovich, an alternative right-wing political commentator, said the populist energy in the country that brought Trump to the White House in 2016 is “stronger than ever.” And Ali Alexander, who helped organize the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Washington Mall on January 6, called the impeachment process an “illegitimate show trial”.
But some business leaders with long-standing relationships seem to believe their past affiliations with Trump and his family business are no longer to their advantage.
Deutsche Bank, which has $ 340 million in outstanding loans to the Trump Organization, has stopped doing business with the president’s company. Last December, longtime Trump banker Rosemary Vrablic also left Deutsche Bank. Vornado Realty is reportedly considering buying out Trump’s stakes in two commercial properties.
And then there is the President and CEO of Signature Bank, Joseph DePaolo. He called on Trump to step down immediately after the January 6 attacks to ensure a peaceful transfer of power and stability for the US government.
“We have received emails supporting what we have said and not supporting what we have said,” DePaolo told Insider. “They were on the far left and the far right and some were downright vicious. Reading some of them, it seems like you would never change your mind.”
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