These people publicly trashed Trump but now work with him
Once he announced his candidacy for president in 2015 at Trump Tower with a now infamous speech, Donald Trump galvanized the nation. The billionaire real estate developer and former reality television star either elicits fiery hate or undying love from people — there is no in between. During his four years in the White House, he’s made as many enemies as he has fans, and Trumpism appears that it’s going to be around for a long time after he vacates the Oval Office.
But like everything with Trump, whether or not he leaves the White House is a matter of opinion or which news source you subscribe. Since the 2020 general election between him and former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump and his legal team have filed more than 30 lawsuits to contest the results and there’s no sign that Trump plans to concede any time soon.
However, Trump isn’t fighting this battle alone, and some of the soldiers in his ranks once crossed enemy lines. Here are a few people who publicly trashed Trump but now work with him.
Trump's legal advisor Jenna Ellis once called him an 'idiot'
“I could spend a full-time job just responding to the ridiculously illogical, inconsistent, and blatantly stupid arguments supporting Trump. But here’s the thing: his supporters DON’T CARE about facts or logic,” Trump’s legal advisor previously wrote in a Facebook post in 2016. “And this is the cumulative reason why this nation is in such terrible shape: We don’t have truth seekers; we have narcissists.”
According to CNN, she has a history of calling Donald Trump pretty much every name in the book, including “idiot” and “bully,” prior to joining his campaign in 2019. Flash forward to 2020 and Ellis has become one of Trump’s most ardent supporters. She took center stage after the 2020 presidential election by leading the charge to question the integrity of the results, which resulted in lawsuits in several states. Ellis, like other Trump supporters who believe the unproven allegations of widespread election fraud and other forms of wrongdoing, wrote in an op-ed for Fox News that she is “[awaiting] judicial rulings on our challenges” before accepting Joe Biden’s apparent victory.
So, how does she justify this sharp about-face? “I was completely wrong about Trump back then and I’ve said that over and over publicly,” she told CNN, adding, “As I saw him keeping his promises, and then eventually getting to know him personally. … I am proud to stand with him and his goals for the future of this country and all of its citizens.”
Ted Cruz had a change of heart and got a new nickname
During the 2016 Republican primary, Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump didn’t hold back in their hatred of one another. Trump went full Trump on “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz; mocking the appearance of the senator’s wife, suggesting that Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination, claiming that Cruz wasn’t Christian because he was Cuban, and reviving his birtherism attacks due to Cruz being born in Canada (via The Washington Post). Yikes.
Cruz responded in kind, calling Trump a “sniveling coward” and “utterly immoral.” He added, “He is proud of being a serial philanderer. This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies.” Well, the two have made up since then and Cruz has been one of Trump’s closest allies. The Texas senator was one of Trump’s most outspoken supporters during his impeachment trial and Trump found a new nickname for him: “Beautiful Ted.”
At the time of this writing, Cruz remains on the Trump Train, lending his voice to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 election. Appearing on the Fox News staple Hannity, Cruz accused “the news media” for framing the narrative that Biden won. “Those lawsuits have to be resolved,” Cruz added. “And there are serious allegations of violations of law. The right standard is that every single legal vote that was cast should be counted, but any votes that were illegally cast shouldn’t be counted.”
Lindsey Graham went from Trump hater to Trump loyalist
“You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell,” Lindsey Graham said on CNN in 2015. To put it simply, the senator from South Carolina was not a fan of then-candidate Donald Trump. Graham made his stance on Trump even more clear in a 2016 tweet, writing, “If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed…….and we will deserve it.” Well, Trump was nominated and Graham voted for Independent candidate Evan McMullin, saying (via The Washington Post) that he “couldn’t go where Donald Trump wanted to take the USA & GOP.”
After Trump’s election, however, Graham actively sought favor with the new president and became a Trump loyalist. “I’ve got an opportunity up here working with the president to get some really good outcomes for the country,” he told The New York Times in 2019. One of those outcomes was aggressively steering Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination through the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs.
Graham also allegedly pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to invalidate large quantities of mail-in ballots, which could help Trump overturn the 2020 election results. Graham denied the allegation, telling The Washington Post that he was simply trying to protect “the integrity of mail-in voting,” and understand how “signature verification work[s]” in the state. But he did also tell Fox News (via The Hill), “If Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again.”
Mitch McConnell's doubts turned into a gift
Arguably the most powerful man in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had quite a few reservations about the prospect of a Trump presidency. In 2016, the Kentucky lawmaker claimed “it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t know a lot about the issues” and pushed back on Trump’s incendiary rhetoric during an appearance on Bloomberg Politics podcast. “I object to a whole series of things that he’s said — vehemently object to them. I think all of that needs to stop. Both the shots at people he defeated in the primary and these attacks on various ethnic groups in the country,” he continued. Perhaps most amazingly, however, McConnell also said that despite all of that he was “comfortable supporting” Trump.
And the moral trade-off paid out big time, as theTrump presidency proved to be a godsend to the conservative hardliner: A 1.5 trillion tax cut bill, a 6-3 Supreme Court, and 200+ federal judges confirmed to lifetime appointments. You can see why he wouldn’t be adverse to Trumps serving a second term. So when Trump questioned the results of the 2020 election, McConnell provided no pushback.
“President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” he said on the Senate floor less than a week after the 2020 election (via NBC News), adding, “Suffice it to say, a few legal inquiries from the president do not exactly spell the end of the republic.
Kellyanne Conway once called Trump a whiner
During the 2016 election, Kellyanne Conway worked for the Ted Cruz campaign and didn’t hold her tongue in criticizing her then boss’ primary opponent. “Donald Trump has literally bulldozed over the little guy to get his way,” she once said in 2016 (via The Hill). Trump was complaining about election rigging back in 2016 during the primary, and Conway went on CNN to roast him. “We hear from the Trump campaign, rules … the rules change, it’s not fair, the system’s rigged, the system’s corrupt,” she told Jake Tapper (via HuffPost). “He can whine and complain all he wants that he didn’t know the rules.”
Once Cruz dropped out of the race, Conway joined Team Trump and the rest is history. Who can forget her now infamous rant about “alternative facts?” Her role as Counselor to the President ended in August 2020, but Conway remains a strong supporter of her former boss and is helping amplify his attack on the 2020 election.
“His campaign manager is out there saying, ‘Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States.’ That should not be said, because we are still counting votes. And just as Joe Biden is telling people to be patient, I’ve been saying that since election night,” she said during an interview with Fox News. “If they spent three years investigating this president, impeaching this president, we can certainly wait for three hours, three days, three weeks or three months, however long it takes.”
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