eric trump 2019 FILE
CNN  — 

In case there was any doubt that President Donald Trump and his allies see Wednesday’s votes in Congress as a pure loyalty test, Eric Trump cleared that up with a single tweet Tuesday night.

“I will personally work to defeat every single Republican Senator / Congressman who doesn’t stand up against this fraud - they will be primaried in their next election and they will lose,” tweeted the son of the 45th president of the United States.

Eric Trump’s tweet is in keeping with what has been coming out of his father’s political account for weeks now: Vote to object to the Electoral College results on Wednesday (with no proof of any wrongdoing!) – or else.

“The ‘Surrender Caucus’ within the Republican Party will go down in infamy as weak and ineffective ‘guardians’ of our Nation, who were willing to accept the certification of fraudulent presidential numbers!” President Trump tweeted earlier this week.

Add to that Donald Trump, Jr., who reminded Republican members of Congress during a rally Wednesday morning that in the upcoming vote, they can choose to be a “hero” or a “zero.” “The choice is yours, but we are all watching,” Trump Jr. said to cheers from the crowd gathered in Washington.

Don’t gloss over what is happening here. The President of the United States – and his sons! – are openly threatening sitting Republican members of Congress with political opposition. And the threat revolves around a totally and completely debunked notion: That the Electoral College votes, which have already been certified in all 50 states, are somehow tainted or wrong.

The choice, then, before Republican senators and House members on Wednesday is simple: Do you vote with the facts (and the Constitution!) or with a President who won’t be president in two-ish weeks? Or, put another way: Will you vote on principle or out of fear?

The practical effect of so baldly and openly threatening members of Congress is that, after today’s vote, you will likely have two Republican parties: The Trump dead-enders and, well, everyone else.

And to be clear, the latter group is by no means small! A quarter of Republican senators have said publicly that they plan to object to the Electoral College results today and more than 140 House members have said the same.

Today’s vote plus Trumps’ open threat presage a potentially disastrous next several years for Republicans, in which the two Republican parties battle for supremacy in a series of contentious primaries, opening the door for more Democratic gains.

Trump himself is already encouraging just that scenario.

“I hope to see the great Governor of South Dakota @KristiNoem run against RINO @SenJohnThune in the upcoming 2022 Primary,” Trump tweeted on January 1. “She would do a fantastic job in the U.S. Senate, but if not Kristi, others are already lining up. South Dakota wants strong leadership, NOW!”

If Trump is willing to publicly court a primary challenge to Thune – a solidly conservative vote and the No. 2 ranking Republican in the Senate – what would stop him from doing the same with, say, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Roy Blunt (Missouri) and Jerry Moran (Kansas) who are all a) up for reelection in 2022 and b) planning to vote against the Electoral College objection?

The answer is that nothing would – or will – stop him.

For those Republicans who hope that Trump will simply lose interest in politics once he is no longer in office and not be willing to go through with his threats of primarying those who crossed him, let’s remember a few things:

1) Trump is absolutely desperate to stay in the spotlight. That’s for both political reasons (preserving the possibility of running for president again in 2024) and personal ones (he needs to make money to pay off hundreds of millions of personally-guaranteed loans and being relevant is the only way to do that.)

2) Trump is vengeful. If there’s one defining Trump character trait it’s his desire to punish people he perceives as having wronged him. Trump is so dug in on the idea that he not only won the election but did so in a “landslide” that he will choose to see every vote refusing to object to the Electoral College count as a betrayal. And he will want to pay each and every one of them back. “I hope the Democrats, and even more importantly, the weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party, are looking at the thousands of people pouring into D.C.,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday night, tagging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as well as Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Thune. “They won’t stand for a landslide election victory to be stolen.”

Add it all up and you get this: The fracturing of the Republican Party will be formalized today. And Donald Trump will spend the next two years trying to beat every Republican who supposedly betrayed him by voting to uphold democracy.