But it turns out there’s even more to the backstory here, and it makes Trump’s rage-fest look considerably uglier than it did at first.
In his weekend tweets, Trump fumed that Cooper was in a “Shutdown mood,” and had not yet given a “guarantee” that by August, he and Republicans would be “allowed full attendance” in their arena. Trump threatened to pull out and find another convention site.
But it appears the Republican National Committee and the state of North Carolina were already engaged in negotiations over what the convention should end up looking like — negotiations that were part of a process that appeared to be unfolding in a reasonable way. Trump has now upended these talks.
We know this because of a letter that the North Carolina health department has sent to the CEO of the Republican National Convention in response to Trump’s rage-tweets.
In that letter, a copy of which was sent to me, North Carolina officials say they and Cooper held a phone meeting with the GOP convention chair and other Republicans last Friday, that North Carolina had requested detailed plans for what Republican convention planners are hoping to do, and that such a written plan would be the starting point for continued discussions.
A source familiar with those negotiations tells me there wasn’t anything contentious in them, and that the RNC had not insisted on an immediate guarantee that the convention could proceed at “full attendance.”
In other words, things may have been proceeding in a relatively rational manner. Then Trump erupted.
Thank you for taking the time to meet by phone on Friday with Governor Cooper, me and [Director of Intergovernmental Affairs] Jordan Whichard. As we discussed, we look forward to continuing to work with you and your team to ensure a safe RNC Convention for your participants and the people of Charlotte. I wanted to reach out today as we saw the tweet from President Trump this morning sharing an accelerated decision-making timeline regarding hosting the Convention in Charlotte.As we work together, it is important to have a written plan from you and your team as soon as possible for how you plan to approach the COVID-19 safety aspects of the convention. A written plan provides a necessary and valuable starting point to planning discussions with our public health teams at the county and state levels. Jordan Whichard from Governor Cooper’s team shared with you the written protocols that NASCAR developed and then refined after discussions with our public health teams which allowed that event to occur in the Charlotte area this past weekend. While the RNC convention is obviously a very different event with its unique challenges for COVID-19, we hoped it would help illustrate the type of plan that would facilitate further conversations.We also discussed on Friday the need to plan for different levels of impact of COVID-19 so the RNC convention logistics could be tailored to the COVID-19 situation we find ourselves in at the end of August. As you know, North Carolina is now in Phase 2 of easing restrictions but this Saturday we saw our highest day of new lab confirmed COVID-19 cases in North Carolina. The status of COVID-19 infections in our state and in the Charlotte area continues to rapidly evolve, thus, it will be important to have several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation.
North Carolina is now in “Phase 2” of lifting restrictions, which allows many different types of businesses to operate at partial capacity, per state guidelines.
If all in the letter is true, it would appear that the process was unfolding in a good-faith manner involving Cooper and the GOP convention’s CEO. North Carolina requested detailed plans so that talks could continue in a way that would also benefit the Republican convention itself, since, presumably, Republicans also want convention attendees to remain safe.
By tweeting in a rage over this, Trump essentially demanded that North Carolina commit in advance to giving him exactly the arrangements he’s demanding, regardless of what they conclude about the impact that would have on the state’s public health and well-being.
This, even though Republicans themselves appeared to be in negotiations with North Carolina to stage the convention in a way that would respect those concerns, while ensuring that the event goes smoothly amid a situation that’s highly dangerous and will continue to be fluid and unpredictable.
One big question now is how GOP officials will respond when it does provide North Carolina with its desired plans. One hopes that Trump’s demand does not push his convention officials into a less-compromising position than they had originally been willing to adopt.
The problem here, as always, is that Trump operates with bottomless depravity and bad faith, and invariably has his own perceived self-interests at the top of his mind.
Needless to say, it’s far too much to expect Trump to shelve his usual destructive impulsiveness and megalomania and exercise a moment of caution amid a complex situation — even when what’s at issue is a matter of urgent public health, and the decisions in question could potentially cost lives.
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