Over the weekend, people started making lists.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kicked things off on Friday with a tweet that terrified Trumpworld.
“Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future?” she wrote. “I foresee decent probability of many deleted Tweets, writings, photos in the future.”
A group calling itself the Trump Accountability Project sprung up to heed AOC’s call.
“Remember what they did,” the group’s sparse website declares. “We should not allow the following groups of people to profit from their experience: Those who elected him. Those who staffed his government. Those who funded him.”
Rarely a healthy sign in any democracy, the enemies lists started to freak out some normally unflappable Trump officials in the White House.
“At first I brushed it off as ridiculous, but what is scary is that she’s serious,” said a White House official of AOC’s tweet. “That is terrifying that a sitting member of Congress is calling for something like that. I believe there is a life after this in politics for Trump officials, but the idea that a sitting member of Congress wants to purge from society and ostracize us should scare the American people. It definitely should scare the American people more than it scares me. That type of rhetoric is terrifying when you have 70 million Americans who voted for this president. It might start with Trump officials but what if they go further?”
Before the election, when polls suggested an anti-Trump rout, some current and former Trump officials seemed to be positioning themselves for a new era when they would be forced to shed their association with the president. One top official at the White House became a bit of an inside joke among Washington reporters for sending conspicuous private texts taking digs at the administration and claiming to crave post-election life without Trump.
And some Republicans found it curious when a recent RNC official suddenly tweeted his support of Biden the day before the election. Was he having trouble finding a new job? Did he move to Silicon Valley or Portland, Ore.?
But the results, at least for the moment, have changed that conversation, with more Republicans on the Hill and Trump officials now insisting there may be less of a penalty for service to Trump.
Many top Trump advisers now say they’re not worried, and they point to the aftermaths of similarly controversial administrations as reassurance. They argue that if the Bush-era politicians and staffers who led the country to war in Iraq survived without being purged from politics, media and corporate America, then Trump’s advisers won’t either.
“The Bush people faced this,” said one of the president’s closest advisers. “Bush left office very unpopular, people thought thousands of people died in an unnecessary war and he was responsible for it. Everybody forgets that now that he’s an artist who doesn’t do partisan politics.”
This person pointed to the wealth accumulated by the two main architects of the war since Bush left office. “Don Rumsfeld did very well for himself when he left government,” said the close Trump adviser, who already has an unannounced book deal in hand. “Dick Cheney? I’ve been to his house in Wyoming!”
The close Trump adviser did allow that some staffers could have trouble in pockets of corporate America or Hollywood but the adviser isn’t personally concerned about finding work. “For somebody like me, I'm writing a book, I'm going to write a sequel,” the close Trump adviser said. “I get paid handsomely to give speeches. I have my corporate consulting. Maybe that’s not everyone else. But I can’t imagine I’m alone in that way. Are people going to say, ‘Oh shit, Mike Pompeo, you’re not secretary of State anymore so we can’t talk to you!’ Even the younger staffers — people still want people who worked in the White House. You have breathed rarefied air.”