The first rule of keeping your creepy and dangerous Trump cult secret in DC is to talk to Politico about how cool Trump club is, I guess.
The club, an informal gathering that provides solidarity and networking opportunities in a hostile Washington, is open to what it calls “the Team” — Trump administration appointees as well as alumni of the campaign, transition and inaugural committee. Members wear a lapel pin fashioned after the butt end of a .45 caliber bullet casing and attend semi-regular gatherings that often feature remarks by better-known Trump-world figures such as Brad Parscale, Corey Lewandowski and Scaramucci.
Its operations, described here for the first time, offer insight into how the anonymous foot soldiers of Trump’s Washington have organized their social lives: discreetly, with an eye toward exclusivity and the aspirational lifestyle that has always marked the Trump brand.
Not quite a secret society, the club nonetheless goes to some lengths to fly under the radar: Public hints of its existence are scarce, and the locations of its events are withheld from attendees until they RSVP, all the better to evade the notice of pesky activists and nosy reporters. “In this political climate, there’s a lot of people who would not have pure intentions of coming to network,” explained a former campaign staffer familiar with the club. “They may be trying to infiltrate.”
This is totally normal behavior for people old enough to have drivers' licenses.
While it is common for veterans of presidential campaigns and administrations to form alumni groups, the 45 Club has taken on an outsized role as a refuge for junior operatives and appointees who have few connections in the capital. Barack Obama’s young staffers were the toast of Washington, and George W. Bush rode into town with a clubby, multi-generational political network that was heavy on the GOP establishment. But, in a reflection of his outsider campaign, Trump’s hires often came from outside the traditional feeding grounds of Republican politics. And in a city that has largely shunned them — dating app profiles here often declare an unwillingness to meet Trump’s supporters, let alone his aides — Trump’s young aides have formed an insular social scene.
“When you’ve kept the Washington Illuminati at a distance, I think you’re more likely to form groups of your own,” explained one club member.
Of course, because this is the Trump administration, there has been infighting: The 45 Club has been the subject of internecine sniping over charges that it is run by hangers-on bent on exploiting their tenuous connections to the president.
“They’re trying to create an exclusive club because they’ve been banned from every other exclusive club in D.C.,” sniped one former campaign staffer.
“Ironically enough, the two guys who started it were never on the campaign, never in the administration,” lamented Kevin Chmielewski, a member of the campaign’s advance team who went on to serve at the Environmental Protection Agency. “We were all kind of pissed about it, because it’s like, ‘Who are you to do that?’”
I can understand that when everyone in DC hates you because Trump is human filth, and that outside their little White House fiefdom, Trump people are rightfully shunned, that you would want your little clubhouse so you can commiserate in how awful the world is for white guys.
But these guys are all nursing a grudge against the country just like their boss, and I'll be damned if these guys don't have visions of being Trump's army to take over DC.