Insurgent GOP Delegates Describe Physical, Verbal Intimidation by Trump Allies

One delegate was ‘physically restrained’ from submitting petitions, Virginia official claims

2016 Republican National Convention
Delegates waves make America safe again signs on the floor of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland / AP
July 19, 2016

Delegates pushing for a vote on the Republican convention’s controversial rules package were restrained by security and physically and professionally threatened by allies of presumptive nominee Donald Trump, sources tell the Washington Free Beacon.

The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee exerted immense amounts of pressure on nominees from a handful of states that unsuccessfully pressed for a recorded vote on the convention rules on Tuesday.

Alaska delegate Fred Brown was "physically restrained," according to former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, one of the leaders of the rogue delegates that objected to the rules package.

"Security guards physically removed him from where he was trying to turn in the state’s petitions," Cuccinelli said of Brown in an interview Tuesday morning. Efforts to reach Brown were not successful.

Brown said only that security "turned me away" in a statement forwarded to the Free Beacon.

"This was not a good demonstration of delegate accommodation, nor of full, open, honest debate of the rules as was promised during the rules committee orientation," Brown wrote. "I had secured more than enough signatures from Alaska delegates."

Alaska was one of 11 states that Cuccinelli and others involved in the insurgency say submitted signatures from a majority of their delegates demanding a roll call vote on the rules package, crafted under controversial circumstances over the weekend.

Under convention rules, if seven states submit such signatures from a majority of their delegates, they can force a recorded vote by all of the convention’s 2,472 delegates.

The Trump campaign and the RNC were determined to ensure that did not happen. The campaign worried that the move would "unbind" delegates, allowing them to vote for an alternative presidential candidate. The RNC, Cuccinelli said, was out to consolidate the party establishment’s power over convention rules.

He recounted threats made against other delegates from states that joined the effort such as former Washington state Rep. Graham Hunt, a delegate from the Evergreen State.

"They told him his political life would be ruined," Cuccinelli said. Hunt did not respond to requests for comment made by email and through his website.

Kera Birkeland, a delegate from Utah, another state involved in the effort to force a recorded vote, told Yahoo News that she was threatened by two Trump supporters in a convention bathroom.

"You should all die," one told her.

"I didn’t feel like they meant they were going to hurt me, just that they were upset," Birkeland told Yahoo. "It shook me and concerned me, not that they were going to hurt me, but that there was that much anger and animosity."

An individual familiar with the RNC’s efforts to prevent a roll call vote said operatives were instructed to "berate" delegates from the relevant states in an effort to embarrass them into acquiescence.