Once again, he faced John Gregg, a folksy Democratic lawyer. In the spring of , polls showed the two in a dead heat. The national election, meanwhile, was confounding expectations. As Trump picked up momentum in the Republican primaries, the Koch network became unexpectedly paralyzed.
Marc Short pressed the brothers to dedicate their resources to stopping Trump and promoting his rivals. But executives at Koch Industries considered the strategy risky, and the brothers stayed out of the Presidential race. The Indiana primary was on May 3rd.
The previous month, Ted Cruz had trounced Trump in Wisconsin, but if Trump could win decisively in Indiana he was virtually certain to secure the nomination. Among them were Roderick Ratcliff, the C. Hilbert had built an insurance empire, Conseco, which had been valued at fifty-two billion dollars before collapsing into bankruptcy. In , Hilbert loaned Trump money to buy the General Motors Building, and they had remained friends. As governor, he proclaimed his opposition to any expansion of the gaming industry, but, though the state had banned political contributions from casino operators, cash had flowed generously to him from such sources, through indirect paths.
The casino operator Sheldon Adelson contributed a million dollars. But the single largest donor to the R. Trump handily won the Indiana primary.
Pence, who had tepidly endorsed Ted Cruz , switched to Trump. In , Pence had gone to Trump Tower in Manhattan, seeking a campaign donation.
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Trump brought up some gossip—the wife of Mitch Daniels, the outgoing governor of Indiana, had reportedly left him for another man, then reunited with her husband. Pence reacted stiffly, and their conversation grew awkward. Trump gave Pence a small contribution, but the coarse New York billionaire and the prim Indiana evangelical appeared to be on different wavelengths. Nevertheless, in , political insiders in Indiana began hearing that Pence would welcome a spot on the Trump ticket. Pence was seen as a bridge to Christian conservatives, an asset in the Midwest, and a connection to the powerful Koch network.
Still, Trump remained wary. According to a former campaign aide, he was disapproving when he learned how little money Pence had. In , according to a campaign-finance disclosure form, Pence had one bank account, which held less than fifteen thousand dollars. Yet, in a phone conversation that I had with Trump during this period, he told me that he was torn about the choice. Trump came closer to picking Christie than is generally known.
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On July 11th, Christie appeared at a campaign event with Trump. They joined the Pences for dinner at an Indianapolis restaurant. The foursome emerged looking happy. Samuel, who was at the restaurant, told me that Trump tipped the chef a couple hundred dollars. At dawn on July 13th, Ivanka and Don, Jr. Are you ready?
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But Christie was left hanging for the next three days. He suspected that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner had intervened and turned Trump against him, because years earlier, as a U. Trump began leaning toward Pence. Pence was made the most palatable choice by those around him.
They both knew what it was about. He took out student loans for the kids. He was rolling the dice. But that night, as CNN reported, Trump called his aides to see if he could back out of his decision. He looks like a Vice-President. Several days later, at the Republican National Convention, Newt Gingrich, who had also been passed over for the Vice-Presidency, found himself backstage next to Trump while Pence was giving his acceptance speech.
They urged Trump to pray. Pence exceeded expectations in the Vice-Presidential debate, and traversed the Midwest tirelessly.
He answered those questions. The Kochs continued to withhold financial support from Trump, but Short, the former Koch operative, became a top adviser to Pence on the campaign. The Koch network gained even further sway after Trump won the Presidency. Three days after the election, Trump pushed aside Christie, who had been overseeing his transition team, and put Pence in charge, with Short as a top deputy. He was also superstitious, and during his campaign he had deflected discussions about post-election staffing, fearing that it would bring bad luck.
There was strong think-tank participation from Heritage and others who saw the opportunity. Trump began to appoint an extraordinary number of officials with ties to the Kochs and to Pence, especially in positions that affected Koch Industries financially, such as those dealing with regulatory, environmental, and fiscal policy.
Short, who a few months earlier had tried to enlist the Kochs to stop Trump, joined the White House as its director of legislative affairs. Scott Pruitt, the militantly anti-regulatory attorney general of Oklahoma, who had been heavily supported by the Kochs, was appointed director of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, in turn, placed Patrick Traylor, a lawyer for Koch Industries and other fossil-fuel companies, in charge of the E. The new director of the C. Pence reportedly consulted with Charles Koch before hiring his speechwriter, Stephen Ford, who previously worked at Freedom Partners.
Americans for Prosperity recently announced plans to spend four and a half million dollars on ads that will press three Democratic senators in red states to support the tax cuts. On September 25th, Trump dined at the White House with Tim Phillips, the head of Americans for Prosperity, along with Short and a handful of other conservative activists.
After keeping a careful distance from one another during the campaign, Pence and the Kochs reunited openly for the first time on October 13th, when Pence attended a summit of Koch donors in New York. Anything that will help the middle-class people? Forget it. Before Pence took over the transition team, Christie had warned Trump not to give a high-level job to the retired general Michael Flynn, whose financial ties to foreign interests triggered the investigation. Christie considered him too risky. On November 11, , Christie was chairing a transition meeting, when, according to four sources, Flynn walked in with an ally, General Keith Kellogg.
Christie tried to reclaim control of the meeting, but Ivanka took over. Flynn expressed interest in becoming Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense. Eric Trump, who was also on the team, asked Flynn if he had been out of uniform long enough to head the Pentagon.
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A few hours later, Christie was deposed. Kushner, he felt, had humiliated him a second time. Bannon, who was given the job of dismissing him, admitted to Christie that Kushner had been against him all along, for personal reasons. But Cummings produced an e-mail from the transition staff acknowledging his letter and promising to review it carefully.