**Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.**
· Republican brass in fantasyland
· The Veepness intensifies
· FBI director nixes Hillary’s email probe claim
· Positivity is restricting
The recurring fantasy within the Republican Party is that somehow, someway,Donald Trump can be made to control his conduct and conform – or even stabilize – his policy views.
This fantasy has led to some rather pitiful bargaining. And it is all rooted in a misbegotten belief that Republicans hold leverage over their nominee.
In truth, Trump doesn’t need his party to do much of anything other than let him continue to abuse it. As hard as it may be for Republicans to believe, the political advantage lies in being against them, not for them.
When Trump’s predecessor, Mitt Romney, says that it is “disqualifying” for Trump to refuse to release his tax returns we’re not breaking any new ground. Romney and others have listed hundreds of disqualifications for Trump on grounds political, practical, ethical, and even psychological.
The answer from Trump and his supporters is a big, wet raspberry.
Wednesday night, before Trump came to Washington for his chit-chats with party leaders today, he made a surprise appearance at a big-money fundraiser on Long Island. Was this the start of a new, donor-nuzzling and compliant Trump?
Instead, Trump mocked his Democratic counterpart for “getting her ass kicked” in the West Virginia primary, and mocked and derided the Republican presidential contenders he had dispatched.
Does that sound like a horse that is ready to be broken?
Whatever pleasantries have been exchanged in Washington today, it does not change the fact that Trump’s adopted partisan preference is more of a liability than an asset. Nor do a couple of meetings change the fact that the party has much more at risk than its nominee.
Trump has a puncher’s chance in this election, but even if he loses he will have ascended to the highest spire of fame and import. Republicans, meanwhile, are staring down what could be a generational wipeout – whether Trump wins or loses. If they resist Trump and he wins, Republicans could still be punished down-ballot. If they fall in line and Trump gets creamed, the party will bear the scars well beyond the current cycle.
There will be plenty of Republicans who continue to climb aboard Trump’s rollercoaster ride. Some because they weren’t really into that conservative jazz anyway and Trump is a centrist of a sort. Others will comply because they’re, well, politicians. They didn’t get into this business because they were into fighting the power. They got into it because they wanted to be the power.
As for the rest who stay in the holdout caucus? Their support isn’t worth what Trump would have to pay to get it. In fact, it would be tremendous for Trump to run as the candidate so feared by Washington that even his own party’s speaker of the House was against him.
Hillary Clinton is the mothership of the Washington establishment, the receptacle of three decades of conventional wisdom and the status quo. She’s still the odds on favorite to beat Trump, but she has enormous weaknesses and they’re all rooted here inside the Beltway.
What Republicans should be asking from Trump is that he leave them alone, or at least constrain his attacks to generalities rather than specific candidates and individuals as much as possible. In return, they could agree to bite their tongues and gamely defend or ignore what he says in the 180 days until the election.
We’ve said it before and it is even truer now: Trump’s path to victory may be narrow but it runs to the left, not back to the Republican Party.
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE…
You know about “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” but do you know about the Vegas, ahem, trip that came before it? Author Timothy Denevi takes usto the desert with Hunter S. Thompson, who first went to cover a motorcycle race. “He also typed up and sent his caption copy to Sports Illustrated—two thousand words more than they’d initially requested. It was, in his telling, ‘aggressively rejected.’ But he ignored their requests for revisions. Instead, after typing up his notes from the trip … he noticed a larger narrative binding everything together: the story of the trip… But as April wore on, he felt his momentum waning, and he was looking for a way to recreate the rush that had set in motion the initial pages when, by chance, the perfect opportunity presented itself: in his mail he discovered an invitation to attend The National District Attorneys’ Association’s Third National Institute on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs…”
Got a TIP from the RIGHT or the LEFT? Email FoxNewsFirst@FOXNEWS.COM
Real Clear Politics Averages
General Election: Clinton vs. Trump: Clinton +6.4 points
Generic Congressional Vote: Democrats +2.3
THE VEEPNESS INTENSIFIES
In their latest podcast, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt analyze how Trump should play as a general election candidate, and whether Clinton should worry about Bernie Sanders’ persistent popularity among voters. All the while, both have started to pivot their focus on defeating each other in November. To symbolize that the campaigns have floated potential vice presidential picks. Who is on the short list and what strategies will Trump and Clinton play against each other as the race heats up? Listen here.
[UVA’s Larry Sabato lays out the do’s and don’ts of picking a vice presidentas the party nominee. Rule number one: Do no harm.]
FBI DIRECTOR NIXES HILLARY’S EMAIL PROBE CLAIM
Fox News: “Hillary Clinton for months has downplayed the FBI investigation into her private email server and practices as a mere ‘security inquiry.’ But when asked Wednesday by Fox News about Clinton’s characterization of the bureau’s probe, FBI Director James Comey said he doesn’t know what ‘security inquiry’ means -- adding, ‘We’re conducting an investigation. … That’s what we do.’ The FBI director reiterated that he’s ‘not familiar with the term security inquiry’ when told that is the phrase Clinton has used. As for the timeline for the investigation, Comey, during a briefing with reporters, said he prefers doing the investigation ‘well’ over promptly and said he’s not ‘tethered’ to a schedule…Asked Wednesday if he would make a public report, regardless of whether criminal charges are pursued, Comey said he would not say at this time. But he said there are ‘no special set of rules for anybody that the FBI investigates.’”
The Judge’s Ruling: Hillary’s perfect storm - From the FBI interrogation of five of Hillary Clinton’s closest advisers as secretary of state to the revelation that Russia hacked and may release emails from her private unsecured server, Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano details a week of bad news and the gathering storm facing Hillary Clinton. Read it here.
How Trump stole House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Republican Party - WaPo
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Trump’s veep shortlist- The Hill
Trump makes rare appearance at fundraiser in N.Y. - AP
Philosopher and native West Virginian Jedidiah Purdy takes a lesson from his state’s primary election - Scalawag
“I have not supported Donald Trump up to this point, I have not endorsed him…I have some concerns with him. He scares me to death; so does Hillary Clinton. There is no easy choice right now.” – Utah Sen. Mike Lee in a tele-town hall with constituents
POSITIVITY IS RESTRICTING
The Oregonian: “Grumpy at work? That’s your right. In an April 29 opinion, the National Labor Relations Board, the government agency charged with investigating and addressing unfair labor practices, ruled that requiring workers to have a positive attitude could have a chilling effect on their ability to organize a union. The particular company policy under review comes from T-Mobile [who’s employee handbook mentions workplace positivity as an expectation from employees]…The clause was brought before the board by the Communications Workers of America union…The board agreed with the union and found the clause to be too restrictive. The board ruled that T-Mobile’s expectations infringe on Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees employees the right to organize.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.