The GOP quietly removed a webpage hailing Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban as the militant group seized power in Afghanistan

Trump Afghanistan
Then-President Donald Trump at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

  • The GOP has removed a page hailing Trump’s 2020 deal with the Taliban.
  • The removal was made on Sunday, amid scenes of chaos in Kabul as the Taliban seized back power.
  • Both Trump and Biden have sought to blame each other for the debacle.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Republican Party has removed a page from its website that praised former President Donald Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban and bid to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan.

The webpage, which was first posted on the Republican National Committee’s website during last year’s presidential election, had hailed Trump’s foreign policy achievements. An archived version of the page can be found here.

The internet-archive site Wayback Machine noted that the page was removed on August 15, as chaotic scenes emerged from Kabul of US forces evacuating officials from its embassy as Taliban militants seized back control of the country.

Here is a screenshot of the archived version of the webpage, which was recorded on Wayback Machine:

Archived version of RNC page touting Trump's Taliban deal
An archived version of a Republican National Committee webpage that touted former President Donald Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban.

And here’s what it looked like as of Monday morning:

GOP Trump Taliban 404
Screenshot taken on August 16, 2021, showing an error message on a page that previously praised Trump’s withdrawal deal with the Taliban.

The apparent removal of the page was first highlighted by the Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel. The RNC did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The page had praised Trump’s attempts to end the US’ two-decade military involvement in Afghanistan, describing how he “continued to take the lead in peace talks as he signed a historic peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which would end America’s longest war.”

It was referring to a February 2020 conditional peace deal between Trump and the Taliban, which committed the US to cutting the number of troops in Afghanistan if the Taliban did not provide support to terrorist groups.

The page went on to claim that Trump’s rival, now-President Joe Biden, had a “history of pushing for endless wars” and listed times he had called for more troops to be deployed in Afghanistan.

Biden had remained committed to withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan while in office, pledging earlier this year to complete the pullout by September 11 despite the Taliban’s rapidly gathering gaining strength and seizing back swaths of territory from embattled Afghan security forces.

Observers have drawn parallels between the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan with its shambolic retreat from Saigon in 1975 after its defeat in the Vietnam War.

Trump had made his pledge to end America’s so-called “forever wars” in the Middle East and Central Asia one of the centerpieces of his reelection campaign last year. Biden had long opposed US involvement in Afghanistan, though on the campaign trail he signaled that he was considering keeping a small US military presence in the country, a decision he later reversed.

But as the Taliban routed the Afghan army and swept back into power just weeks after the US withdrew most of its forces on July 8, both Trump and Biden have been seeking to blame each other for the crisis.

Trump has called on Biden to resign, claiming that he failed to follow Trump’s withdrawal plan. Biden has said that Trump’s Taliban deal left him with little option but to fully withdraw US troops.

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Trump helped the Republican Party raise $56 million online in the first half of 2021

Donald Trump
Former US President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan on July 19, 2021.

  • Trump raised $56 million online in the first half of 2021, more than any other Republican.
  • The sum reflects the former president’s continued dominance of GOP politics.
  • A large chunk of the money came from recurring payments, which the party has reportedly halted.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump helped the Republican Party raise $56 million online during the first half of 2021, a clear reflection of his continued dominance within the party.

Trump helped the GOP raise the substantial sum between January 1 and June 30, which was disclosed in campaign filings on Friday, according to The New York Times.

The former president raised more money than any other Republican through WinRed, the GOP’s fundraising platform that launched in 2019 to counter ActBlue, the highly successful Democratic platform, according to federal records.

Since ActBlue’s founding in 2004, nearly $8.9 billion has been raised on the platform for Democratic and Democratic-aligned candidates.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

Trump’s fundraising haul includes $34.3 million via a shared account with the Republican National Committee (RNC), which is also known as the “Trump Make America Great Again Committee,” according to The Times. Much of the money raised by the committee was generated through a recurring donation program, where supporters made repeated payments, per The Times.

A Times investigation from April revealed how the program caused a series of fraud complaints and refund requests, due to many respondents unintentionally signing up for recurring payments. As of July, GOP officials have halted the withdrawals, according to an individual familiar with the situation who spoke to The Times.

The former president also raised more than $21 million which was funneled into two political action committees (PACs) that he oversees.

Trump’s fundraising slowed as the months passed by; after the January 6 Capitol riot and during his second impeachment trial in February, he raised $13.8 million, but that number had declined to $2.6 million by June.

The second-most dominant fundraiser was Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, a potential 2024 presidential contender who gave the GOP response to President Joe Biden’s first joint address to Congress in late April. He raised $7.8 million online.

Fundraising has been more urgent than usual for the GOP as the party ramps up efforts to regain control of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections and prepare for the 2024 presidential election.

Trump has not yet confirmed a final decision on whether he will pursue another White House bid in 2024.

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The GOP’s top lawyer said Rudy Giuliani’s 2020 election lawsuits were ‘a joke’ and ‘are getting laughed out of court’

sidney powell rudy giuliani
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, left, listens to Sidney Powell, both lawyers for President Donald Trump, during a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Thursday Nov. 19, 2020, in Washington.

  • An email The Washington Post obtained shows division within the GOP over the 2020 election.
  • The Republican National Committee’s top lawyer criticized lawsuits disputing the election results.
  • Rudy Giuliani retaliated by trying to have the lawyer fired, The Post reported.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

While former President Donald Trump and his allies were falsely claiming voter fraud cost him the election, a top Republican lawyer complained those claims were “getting laughed out of court.”

In a November 2020 email obtained by The Washington Post, Justin Riemer, chief counsel at the Republican National Committee, urged a party spokesperson not to amplify the charges being made by Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, who filed dozens of lawsuits seeking to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory.

“What Rudy and Jenna are doing is a joke and they are getting laughed out of court,” Riemer wrote in the email to the RNC’s Liz Harrington. “They are misleading millions of people who have wishful thinking that the president is going to somehow win this thing.”

The Post reported Giuliani and other Trump allies tried to have Riemer fired.

In a statement provided to the newspaper, Riemer portrayed his criticism as legalistic. Prior to his role as chief counsel, Riemer worked as a lawyer for the Department of Education under Trump.

“I will say publicly now what I then said privately: I take issue with individuals who brought lawsuits that did not serve President Trump well and did not give him the best chance in court,” he said.

The revelation comes as lawyers who sought to overturn the 2020 election are facing potential legal repercussions.

At a hearing on Monday, a federal judge, Linda Parker, said she was concerned that Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood – pro-Trump conspiracy theorists – had pushed false and “bad faith” claims in court that they had not bothered to research. The lawyers, who sought to nullify President Biden’s win in Michigan, face unspecified legal sanctions.

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‘Who the f— do you think you are?’ Giuliani told RNC chief counsel to resign for questioning Trump election claims, book says

Giuliani Ellis
Members of then-President Donald Trump’s legal team (left to right), former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Jenna Ellis, attend a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC, on November 19, 2020.

  • Rudy Giuliani last November told the RNC chief counsel to resign, according to a new book.
  • At a dinner, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis passed around a note from counsel Justin Riemer.
  • Giuliani was upset at what he perceived to be Riemer’s questioning of Trump’s electoral fraud claims.
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Last November, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis received an email that forwarded a note from Republican National Committee (RNC) chief counsel Justin Riemer, with the GOP official questioning the former president’s election claims, according to a forthcoming book by Michael Wolff.

In the note, Riemer reportedly wrote to his RNC colleagues asking why they were backing Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud, while also expressing that the organization raised more cash battling Democrats than challenging election results.

Ellis, who was having dinner with Rudy Giuliani and former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik, passed her phone around for everyone to view the message, which reportedly left them “stunned.”

According to the assembled group, it was just one more example of Trump having to fight the GOP establishment, which Wolff details in “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency,” an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.

Read more: Joe Biden just fired a top Trump holdover at the Social Security Administration, but these 7 other Trump-era officials are still holding high-level government positions

Giuliani, who was Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, was incensed by Riemer’s email, according to the book.

“Can you f–king believe this,” he said. “They are backdooring us … doing everything in their power not to help us.”

Kerik reportedly said that the note was akin to saying “f— Trump” and “f— Giuliani.”

Wolff goes on to describe how Giuliani angrily called Riemer and threatened his job at the RNC.

“The mayor, sitting in the restaurant but in full battle mode (and with a few drinks in him), damn well got Riemer himself on the phone: ‘Who the f— do you you think you are? How can you be going against the president? … You need to resign and resign tonight … because you are going to get fired,'” the book said.

Giuliani then reportedly called RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel to ensure that the personnel change was carried out.

However, Riemer continues to serve as the chief counsel at the RNC.

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An ex-GOP staffer pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and now faces up to 15 years in prison

Capitol
The US Capitol is shown through security fencing on March 21, 2021.

  • An ex-GOP staffer pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge and faces 12 to 15 years in prison.
  • An investigation found Ruben Verastigui took part in a chat featuring sexual depictions of children.
  • “Verastigui’s release would put the public and children everywhere at-risk,” prosecutors said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A former GOP staffer and Republican National Committee aide pleaded guilty to a child pornography charge after he admitted to possessing 50 photos and 152 videos of child pornography.

Ruben Verastigui, 27, entered a guilty plea during a video conference hearing and could face 12 to 15 years in prison under a plea deal with prosecutors.

Verastigui was involved in a ring of at least 18 other people who were trading child pornography via a chat group on an unnamed website, in which he was accused of trading sexual depictions of children and discussing killing children.

The DC Metropolitan Police arrested Verastigui in February, after an investigation. He was accused of having “distributed, received, and possessed images of child pornography” between March 2020 and February 2021, according to a press release from the MPD.

The Daily Beast reported Verastigui had worked for the Senate Republican Conference as a digital strategist until July 2020, according to his now-deleted LinkedIn profile, and he also designed social media ads for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

Congressional payroll records also showed Verastigui worked as a digital director for the Joint Economic Committee in 2018, Politico reported.

Following his arrest, federal prosecutors wrote in a detention memo in February that Verastigui sought out images of rape of children and discussed “in great detail” how he enjoyed seeing children abused and killed, citing a report from The Daily Beast. Chat logs included messages between Verastigui and another group chat member talking about traveling somewhere with police officers so they could kill a child, according to the memo.

“Verastigui’s release would put the public and children everywhere at-risk,” prosecutors wrote in the February memo.

A judge is set to rule on Verastigui’s sentence on October 12.

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The Republican National Committee said a third-party Microsoft IT contractor was breached in cyber attack last week, but no GOP data stolen

rnc
Signs for the 2020 Republican National Convention outside of the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on August 22, 2020.

  • Russian hackers breached Synnex, a third-party IT contractor that works with Microsoft accounts, last week.
  • The attack took place around the same time a major ransomware attack was executed by a Russian-linked criminal group.
  • Bloomberg News reported the hackers belonged to a group known as APT 29 or Cozy Bear.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Russian government hackers breached Synnex, a third-party IT contractor that works with Microsoft last week, around the same time a major ransomware attack was tied to a Russian-linked criminal group.

Bloomberg News reported that hackers breached the Republican National Committee’s computer systems, but an RNC spokesperson denied that allegation to Insider, saying the group’s team worked with Microsoft to immediately confirm that no RNC data was accessed in the Synnex breach.

Two people familiar with the incident told the outlet that the hackers are part of a group known as APT 29 or Cozy Bear, which has been linked to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. The hackers were previously accused of breaching the Democratic National Convention in 2016 and infiltrating nine US government agencies during a supply-chair cyberattack that was disclosed in December, Bloomberg reported.

The breach comes less than a month after President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin about cyberattacks at a June 16 summit.

A representative for the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

RNC Chief of Staff Richard Walters confirmed to Insider that no RNC data was accessed in the breach.

“Over the weekend, we were informed that Synnex, a third party provider, had been breached. We immediately blocked all access from Synnex accounts to our cloud environment,” Walters said. “Our team worked with Microsoft to conduct a review of our systems and after a thorough investigation, no RNC data was accessed. We will continue to work with Microsoft, as well as federal law enforcement officials on this matter.”

The IT corporation, Synnex, said it was aware of a “few instances where outside actors have attempted to gain access, through Synnex, to customer applications within the Microsoft cloud environment,” in a press release.

A representative for Synnex did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Michael Urban, president of worldwide technology solutions distribution at Synnex told Bloomberg the company was unable to provide specifics while it conducts a full review.

It was unclear if the Synnex breach was in any way tied to the ransomware attacks that took place around the same time, which targeted 200 American businesses using vulnerabilities in Kaseya, a Miami-based IT firm.

Cybersecurity experts have tied the massive attack to Russian-based criminal ransomware-as-a-service organization, REvil, which most recently attacked meat supplier JBS.

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GOP donors and lawmakers reportedly discussed how to tackle big tech during an RNC event at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort

trump grifting
The event took place at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

  • Key GOP players discussed the future of big tech and social media at the RNC donors’ summit, CNBC reported.
  • Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson told the publication he spoke to attendees about bias in social media.
  • Republicans and social media sites are at loggerheads over blockings and content moderation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Key Republican figures spent some of the weekend mulling plans for the future of big tech at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, according to a report by CNBC.

The gathering last weekend saw Republican donors, lawmakers, and strategists discuss their plans for tackling big tech, social media, and corporate America last weekend, the publication reported.

Attendees discussed a “strategy on social media and big tech,” Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and attendee at the retreat, told the publication.

CNBC reported that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said he had taken part in conversations about “concern over bias and growing power of media and social media.”

The two groups have been at loggerheads over what Republicans see as the restriction of free speech and the social media platforms see as the removal of hate speech and misinformation from their sites.

After the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, social media giants rushed to crack down on Trump and his supporters, with Facebook and Twitter both suspending Trump’s accounts.

Twitter also purged 70,000 accounts associated with QAnon, blocked the accounts of Trump allies including Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, and suspended the accounts of both Mike Lindell and his company MyPillow after he used them to spread voter-fraud conspiracy theories.

Many Trump supporters flocked to right-wing network Parler instead, but it was temporarily booted offlinee after its web host Amazon Web Services cut ties.

But Republicans are fighting back against the social media crackdown. Both Trump and Lindell are planning on launching their own platforms, and major Republican donor Roy Bailey told CNBC that he is interested in investing in a site where conservatives wouldn’t have to “worry about censorship.”

The discussions happened during the Republican National Committee’s donor summit, which was held largely at a Four Seasons hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.

The invite-only event lets Republican candidates mingle the party’s donors as they discuss the GOP’s strategy and direction.

The group headed to Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night for a speech from Trump, where he reportedly insulted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and asked people to call the COVID-19 vaccine “Trumpcine.”

Schlapp told the publication that some attendees at the Mar-a-Lago event said they were “being cancelled” by insurance companies and banks and thought they weren’t being denied services because banks thought their businesses were too conservative.

He told CNBC that most of the conversations at Mar-a-Lago were “informal” and that the plans were still developing.

At other points during the RNC retreat, Florida Senator Marco Rubio criticized big tech companies over how they treat their staff and seemed to encourage GOP leaders to attract more support from union workers in the 2022 midterm elections, people briefed on the matter told CNBC.

In mid-March, Rubio became the first GOP senator to publicly endorse efforts by Amazon workers to form a union.

He wrote for USA Today that the tech giant had “waged a war against working-class values.”

Support for the unionization effort, which ultimately was defeated, came largely from Democrat lawmakers including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

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Trump predicts that the GOP will retake Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024

donald trump mar a lago covid
Former President Donald Trump.

  • Former President Donald Trump on Saturday addressed the RNC donor summit in Florida.
  • The former president expressed confidence that the GOP would regain control of Congress in 2022.
  • He also said that “a Republican candidate” would win the White House in 2024.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday expressed optimism that Republicans would regain control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections and win back the White House in 2024, according to prepared remarks obtained by the Associated Press.

In a keynote address at the Republican National Committee’s donor summit in Florida, Trump did not explicitly say if he would be a candidate in 2024, but float the idea of a potential candidacy, according to an attendee who spoke with CBS News.

While the closed-door summit was mostly held at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, attendees were taken to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort to hear him speak.

“We are gathered tonight to talk about the future of the Republican Party – and what we must do to set our candidates on a course to victory,” Trump’s prepared remarks said. “I stand before you this evening filled with confidence that in 2022, we are going to take back the House and we are going to reclaim the Senate – and then in 2024, a Republican candidate is going to win the White House.”

Read more: Visa’s PAC gave politicians $139,000 in March after vowing to pause contributions because of the Capitol insurrection

Trump also lodged attacks at his successor, President Joe Biden, accusing him of pursuing an “unpopular” legislative agenda and criticizing the increase in unaccompanied children that have been arriving at the US-Mexico border.

“With an agenda this unpopular, it is no wonder that Joe Biden is the first new president in modern times not to address a joint session of Congress within his first few weeks,” according to the former president’s prepared remarks.

Trump, along with top GOP leaders, have reportedly expressed confidence that Republicans can win back control of Congress by hammering Biden over his immigration policies.

The former president championed hardline immigration policies and the construction of a southern border wall throughout his tenure in office and during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

Biden has sought to move away from the more aggressive family separation policies that defined the Trump years.

The GOP summit comes as Republicans find themselves shut out of power in Washington DC, with Biden in the White House and Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate, albeit with slim majorities.

In attendance were several potential 2024 GOP candidates that would likely launch campaigns in the event that Trump declines to run, including Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, along with Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

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An Ohio GOP Senate candidate reportedly crashed an RNC donor retreat and was escorted out

Josh Mandel
Ohio GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

  • Josh Mandel, running for a vacant Ohio Senate seat, got escorted out of a donor retreat over the weekend.
  • The retreat was hosted by the Republican National Committee and offered candidates coveted opportunities to mingle with donors.
  • There were also opportunities to schmooze with GOP leaders like former President Donald Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Security removed Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel from a donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee, Axios reported.

The retreat, which took place over the weekend in a Palm Beach, Florida, hotel, welcomed guests on an invitation-only basis. Mandel did not have an invitation and crashed the event, according to Axios.

While he was booted from the event, his main opponent, Jane Timken, got to stay and was invited “because she is a major donor,” an unnamed source told Axios.

The event, which began on Friday, provides a prime chance for Republican candidates to mingle with some of the party’s biggest donors.

Axios also points out that event attendees got access to major GOP figures, including former President Donald Trump. On Saturday night, the group headed to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump currently lives. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was also slated to speak to the group, Axios reported. DeSantis is believed to be considering a 2024 run at the presidency.

By getting booted from the retreat, Mandel loses not only a chance to capitalize on key donor power, but also time to schmooze with the former president and GOP mainstays. It also puts Timken in the spotlight in a contested race for a vacant Senate seat.

Both Mandel and Timken have been fighting for Trump’s endorsement, according to Axios. His endorsement could go a long way in their Senate race to replace Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who announced his retirement earlier this year.

The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

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