RNC Strikes Back Against Delegates Unbound

A key confidant of GOP Chairman Reince Priebus today fired a shot directly at the #FreetheDelegates and #DelegatesUnbound movements. Priebus’ hand-picked general counsel for the Republican National Committee, John Ryder, forcefully came out against the notion that delegates could be unbound. His remarks constitute legal advice to the RNC Standing Committee on Rules. It was the strongest language to date by an official of the RNC against the effort to deny Donald Trump the nomination here in Cleveland next week.

The key question is will it matter either way?

Earlier today I met with Delegates Unbound cofounder Dane Waters. In a Facebook Live interview, Waters acknowledged that the battle his group is waging is a tough and uphill fight. They fully expected the RNC to align with the Trump campaign to try and stop any attempt to open the convention and stop Donald Trump.

Today’s opinion by Ryder, who also serves as the National Committeeman from Tennessee, confirms that the RNC is gearing up to quash any movement against Trump.

Ryder opened his legal advice by saying, “the Rules of the Republican Party both permit and require the binding of delegates.” Ryder went on to say that the new Rule 16 of the Republican National Committee, as adopted by the 2012 convention, requires that delegates are bound if there is a primary in their state. He further stated that it is his opinion that the decision in Correll v. Heller, issued yesterday, confirmed that rule 16 is in effect.

Conservative Review obtained a statement emailed to all RNC members after the committee meeting. In the statement, Ryder’s office said:

We are pleased that the court correctly found that Rule 16 of The Rules of the Republican Party is in effect and that delegates remain bound in accordance with their states’ presidential preference votes. The court recognized long-standing precedent that gives primacy to national party rules in the selection of delegates to the national convention. This ruling also makes clear that the rules of the Republican Party of Virginia are in conformity with The Rules of the Republican Party regarding binding and allocation. In light of the court’s decision, all party rules regarding binding and all state laws consistent with those rules are in effect.

Ryder’s remarks were pointedly aimed at Curly Haugland, the Republican National Committeeman from North Dakota. Ryder countered Haugland’s assertion that the delegates are unbound due to the longstanding history of the party. He countered that early Twentieth Century language supplanted language from the late 1800s that instituted a so-called “conscience clause.”

Haugland forcefully fired back. Haugland reminded the counsel that there are no current rules for the convention until the delegates adopt them on Monday, an assertion with which Ryder disagreed. Haugland then undercut Ryder’s argument that Rule 16 and Rule 37 were synergistic, meaning that Rule 16 required delegates to be bound through the nominating vote. Haugland recanted a point of order that he brought up during the 2012 Rules Committee debate regarding the two sections.

Haulgland said, “I raised the question of order saying that 16 conflicts with 37 He [2012 Convention Rules Committee Chairman John Sununu] said, ‘are you suggesting 16 conflicts with 37, is that your point of order?’ I said yes. He said, ‘there’s no conflict, rule 16 deals with delegate selection, and rule 37 deals with voting.’ We can only vote in one place, we either vote in the primaries or we vote in the convention. I submit we vote in the convention.”

The reality of what happened today is that it will be tough for the forces who want to both unseat Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party and replace him at convention. It has been a tough fight for that side from the beginning. Today’s legal advice, offered by a close Reince Priebus confidant shows that the party apparatus is taking the side of Donald Trump in that fight.

It will be a tough floor fight to try and enforce the view that all delegates are unbound and can vote their conscience. Free the Delegates, and Delegates Unbound have a strong floor strategy with 38 state whips, and a robust delegate communication method for the days of the convention. Waters, of Delegates Unbound, also claims they have identified a majority of delegates who do not want to see Trump as the nominee. Will those delegates have the desire to translate that dislike of Trump into action?

That’s the question on everybody’s mind, and today’s proceedings showed that the Trump camp has come to Cleveland ready to take on that fight. (For more from the author of “RNC Strikes Back Against Delegates Unbound” please click HERE)

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