Inside the secret Republican plot to take down Trump in 2020

Renegade Republicans determined to eject President Trump from the White House in 2020 share a commitment to the cause but are split on strategy and realistic about their long-shot prospects.

Former John McCain aides, members of Evan McMullin’s independent 2016 presidential campaign, disgruntled neocons, and establishment GOPers — the only thing they agree on is a loathing of Trump.

No primary challenger has yet come forward. John Kasich, former Ohio governor, has said he couldn’t beat Trump. Jeff Flake, who stepped down as a senator for Arizona when it became clear he would be beaten by pro-Trump forces in his primary, has taken himself out of the running.

Mostly based in Washington, the “Never Trump” crowd comes in roughly three factions. First is those convinced fielding a primary challenger is the most viable game plan. Second is those inclined to back an independent candidate. A third group advocates for a unifying center-left Democrat — similar to the sort of centrist who captured suburban Republican voters in the midterm elections.

But the blocs are friendly, with some key operatives moving back and forth between them and willing to back whichever approach emerges as the most feasible. Meetings often hosted by Niskanen Center, a conservative think tank that has positioned itself as a headquarters for Republicans opposed to Trump.

Veteran Republican consultant Mike Murphy is among them. “I’m talking to some ‘Never Trumpers’ about an alert-effort to make sure Republican regulars are paying the attention they ought to, so that they start thinking pragmatically about a wipeout in 2020 and what we ought to do about it,” Murphy told the Washington Examiner.

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