Trump foes fear retribution if he’s re-elected: From the Politics Desk

Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the on the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

Today’s edition features new reporting from senior White House reporter Peter Nicholas on growing concerns that Donald Trump would seek revenge in a second term, plus analysis from senior national politics reporter Jonathan Allen on the former president’s silence over the Alabama IVF ruling.

They spoke out against Trump. Now they fear retribution if he wins again.

By Peter Nicholas

Former President Donald Trump said this week that if he returns to the White House, his “revenge will be success.” Those who have run afoul of him aren’t buying it.

Interviews with a dozen people who’ve drawn Trump’s ire for various reasons reveal deep worry that he will seek retribution if he wins another term. Many are considering ways to protect themselves should he use the office’s vast powers to punish them over grievances that he’s been nursing.

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Some are planning to leave the country. Others are consulting attorneys or setting aside money to fight back in case they’re targeted.

A natural assumption would be that the targets of Trump’s ire are Democrats or political rivals who tried to beat him at the ballot box. But it’s not quite so simple. History shows there are all sorts of ways to leave Trump aggrieved, and some who feel they’re in jeopardy worked directly with him or believed in his agenda. Once snugly inside Trump’s orbit, they may have provoked him by doing their jobs as they understood them or speaking candidly about what they considered his failings.

Now they’re outside and largely on their own. Stephanie Grisham is among them.

Grisham joined Trump’s political operation when he was running in 2016. She went on to hold senior positions in the White House, including press secretary. But she became an outspoken critic, writing a tell-all book about her experiences inside the West Wing.

She and some of her former colleagues are part of a text chain in which, in a bit of gallows humor, they’ve discussed moving to countries with nonextradition treaties.

“It’s terrifying,” she said. “I’ve been saving money and making other arrangements.”

Grisham said her mother once tried to reassure her that Trump wouldn’t have time for vengeance if he returns. “I’m like, ‘OK, Mom. You don’t know him,’” Grisham recounted in an interview.

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As Alabama’s IVF ruling roils the GOP, Trump remains silent

Analysis by Jonathan Allen

Only one person can tell Republicans what to do about IVF: Donald Trump.

It’s a question members of the GOP have been scrambling to answer as Alabama clinics pause IVF treatments in response to a court ruling that embryos created through in vitro fertilization are considered children under state law.

Nikki Haley created a new kind of high-dive twist in trying to address it in the last 24 hours or so.

First, she told NBC News on Wednesday that “embryos, to me, are babies” and “I do see where that’s coming from when they talk about that.” Then, in an interview with CNN on Wednesday night, she tucked, rolled and froze midair: “I didn’t say that I agreed with the Alabama ruling,” she said. And finally, in another interview with CNN on Thursday, she pulled a full reversal, splashing into the water with her opposition to the Alabama decision.

Haley’s team says her position has been consistent — that believing an embryo is a life is not at odds with opposing the Alabama ruling.

Maybe this is all why Trump has kept his mouth shut. A Trump campaign spokesperson did not reply to a request for comment on when he will weigh in.

But Republicans will look to him on the issue. As the leader of the party — the two-time nominee, one-time president and prohibitive favorite for the GOP nod this year — only Trump can formulate a policy for them to get in line behind.

Trump has pointed to his selection of three of the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade as exhibits A, B and C in making the case that he is the most anti-abortion president in American history. But he has also watched his party struggle with the political fallout of the court’s decision giving states the right to make their own abortion laws.

Now, that means putting IVF in jeopardy — at least in Alabama, and possibly in other states.

Republicans will have to wait to see what he says about whether the law should define life as beginning at conception. Democrats, who have used the Dobbs decision to great effect in recent elections, will be listening carefully, too.

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at

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