Trump camp scrutinizes Arizona delegates in move to prevent disruptions at convention

trump camp scrutinizes arizona delegates in move to prevent disruptions at convention

Trump camp scrutinizes Arizona delegates in move to prevent disruptions at convention

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign moved this week to quash a potential disturbance at next month’s GOP convention in Milwaukee by seeking to replace six delegates to the convention who they thought were potentially going to initiate “unnecessary distractions” on the floor.

John Findlay, the Trump campaign’s convention delegate selection director, placed phone calls to six of the campaign’s “alternate delegates” in Arizona and requested that they challenge the status of six delegates to the convention out of concern for their loyalty to Trump, according to correspondence obtained by NBC News.

Days later, however, the Trump campaign abandoned efforts to replace the delegates, saying it “cleared the air” with the delegates who sparked the concerns after days of deliberation.

On Thursday night, the Trump campaign’s political director, James Blair, posted on X an explanation of the campaign’s decision to pull back on its request for challenges.

“As true MAGA patriots, [the alternate delegates] challenged several AZ delegates to the Republican National Convention to prevent unnecessary distractions from being organized during President Trump’s formal nomination,” Blair’s statement reads. “Given AZ delegation chair [Shelby] Busch’s public clearing of the air and commitment to following the campaign’s lead, we feel it is appropriate for the six to withdraw their challenges.”

As of Friday morning, each of the six alternate delegates had withdrawn their challenge.

“This was not started by anyone in the Arizona delegation or of the alternates,” said one of the alternate delegates who filed a challenge and requested anonymity. “It was presented to us from someone on the Trump team, and we were helping the campaign.”

The move speaks to the Trump campaign’s desire to keep tight control over the July convention and limit distractions beyond the scheduled programming. Trump won 92% of the total delegates to the convention after rolling through his competition in this year’s primaries and caucuses.

The episode also comes amid some online chatter on the right about pushing Michael Flynn — the retired lieutenant general and conspiracy theorist who briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI before trying to reverse that plea, and won a pardon from Trump in late 2020 — to be Trump’s running mate in 2024. Since his pardon, Flynn has traveled the country hosting conferences promoting Christian nationalism in recent years.

On Tuesday night, shortly after the Trump campaign sought these initial delegate challenges, Patrick Byrne, a close ally of Flynn, posted on X about the prospect of Flynn serving as Trump’s vice president. Byrne, the former Overstock.com CEO, met with Trump and Flynn in the Oval Office in December 2020 as part of a push to overturn the 2020 election results.

“They tell Trump to name as VP a milquetoast who will not overshadow him,” Byrne wrote. “In two weeks Trump is going to be either in jail or under house arrest. His VP needs to be a General: @GenFlynn.”

The alternate delegate who requested anonymity told NBC News that Findlay, the Trump delegate selection director, “reiterated” to her a rumor that some of the delegates wanted to put Flynn into nomination for the ticket.

“That’s how it was presented to us,” the alternate delegate said. “It seems kind of far-fetched, but who knows these days. It was presented that they were concerned about eight states coming together to change the rules on the floor of the convention.”

Two other alternate delegates told NBC News that they were not directly told by the Trump campaign that Flynn was the concern. One said that conversations with other GOP activists made it “very clear” that the campaign was taking the step due to that suspicion that there was a desire to nominate Flynn for the vice presidential slot.

“[The Trump campaign] felt there was a credible threat to the convention and a disruption to the convention,” the second alternate delegate said.

Busch, the Arizona convention delegation chair, did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment when reached by phone about this week’s challenge of her role at the convention.

In a statement sent internally among Arizona’s convention delegates that was obtained by NBC News, Busch wrote: “As a result of what has happened over the last few days, I have been in touch with the Trump Campaign and assured them neither me nor anyone I influence will participate in any disruption to the convention, including challenging the rules, platform, programming, or otherwise. We had no intention to do so and absolutely will not.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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