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Why did Trump change his mind about Kentucky’s Thomas Massie?

Two years ago, Donald Trump wanted Thomas Massie thrown out of the GOP. Now, the former president is endorsing the Kentucky Republican.


Around this time two years ago, as Donald Trump endorsed a series of allies in assorted Republican primaries, the then-president and his allies took pride in a brief undefeated streak: Every GOP contender supported by Trump won his or her primary race in the spring and early summer of 2020.

In June 2020, however, the Republican’s streak ended. After Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky tried to derail a Covid relief package, the then-president called him a “third-rate grandstander” and said he wanted the GOP congressman to be thrown out of the Republican Party.

Voters in Kentucky’s 4th congressional district proceeded to ignore Trump’s condemnations: Massie won his primary race by 76 points before cruising to a landslide victory in the fall.

Last week, the former president endorsed the “third-rate grandstander” whom he previously wanted to kick out of the Republican Party. In a written statement, Trump said:

“Congressman Thomas Massie is a Conservative Warrior for Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District! An MIT graduate and a first-rate Defender of the Constitution, Thomas fights hard to Protect your Liberties, especially the First and Second Amendments, which are under siege by the Radical Left. Strong on the Border and our Military and Vets, Thomas Massie has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

He made no reference to the criticisms of the GOP congressman from two years ago.

It’s difficult to say with confidence exactly why Trump changed his mind, though as a Washington Post report noted over the weekend, Massie has carved out a niche as Congress’ most relentless opponent of assisting Ukraine in the wake of the Russian invasion.

Massie, 51, is the only member of the House to hold a perfect 16-for-16 record opposing legislation to support Ukraine and oppose Russia, according to House records and a Democratic analysis provided to The Washington Post.... His views remain a minority, but his allies in this cause include some of the closest allies to Trump, who is strongly considering another run for president and has espoused his own fondness for Putin.

Massie went on to boast to the newspaper that he wants the United States to abandon NATO. The Republican lawmaker also endorsed a policy in which Ukraine preemptively surrendered portions of its country to Russian control.

It was against this backdrop that Trump called Massie last week — according to the congressman, it was their first direct conversation in more than two years — and the Kentucky congressman described the discussion as “glorious.”

A day later, the former president endorsed Massie as “first-rate.”

To be sure, I have no idea if Trump changed his mind about Massie because the GOP congressman is a fierce opponent of supporting Ukraine during the ongoing crisis, but it appears, at a minimum, that the former president isn’t troubled by Massie’s recent efforts.