Republicans offered only minor reprimand when President Donald Trump said there were “very good people” on either side of a white supremacist rally. When they were caught pressuring Trump a foreign leader, they stayed in line and later defended dealing with a deadly epidemic.
But with a sudden force, the wall of Republican support that enabled Trump to weather a seemingly endless series of crises has begun to fade.
Trump’s weak side, standing between his own party, will come into focus more on Wednesday when impeachment is expected in the House. President to spark a riot in the US Capitol last week. A handful of Republicans have already said they will join the effort, a number that could increase near the vote.
The choice to face Republicans is not about the immediate fate of Trump, who has just seven days left to become president. It is about whether the party’s elected leaders are ready to move on from Trump, who is popular with many GOP voters, but is now toxic in most parts of Washington.
How can they determine whether the party can be divided in the upcoming elections or in such a way as to limit their relevance.
“We are at the moment where we see a fracturing, breaking, because of the unprecedented situation – molestation, violence, death,” said Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican strategist who left the party because of Trump.
The surprising nature of the deadly insurgency – and Trump’s role in fueling it – has shaken many lawmakers. Rape Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, gave rank and file patrons the green light to leave Trump in an derogatory statement on Tuesday evening.
He alleged that the President of the United States and his oath to the Constitution never caused a major betrayal.
More ominously for Trump, The New York Times reported Most Senate leader Mitch McConnell feels Trump has committed a nefarious crime and is happy that Democrats are going against him.
Citing influencers familiar with the thinking of Kentucky Republicans, the Times reported that McConnell believed that moving against Trump would help the GOP become independent of the future of a divisive, chaotic president.
Stunning, fast-paced developments do not ensure that Trump will be forced from office ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration of Democrat Joe Biden. The timing of the Senate trial is unclear and Biden may hold the presidency.
But for the first time, there are real signs that a significant faction of Republicans wants to purge Trump from his party.
Already, three Trump cabinet members have resigned in protest. Former Attorney General Bill Brar, who left the White House a month ago, accused his former boss of “betraying” his office.
It took nearly a week for Vice President Mike Pence, whose relationship with Trump has soured since he and his family were forced to hide during the Capitol siege, to publicly announce that he Will not implement the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove Trump from office. .
Despite the defenses, Trump is popular with a significant portion of his political base. The president’s remaining allies have warned that Republicans who surpass him publicly risk a conservative response in their next elections.
Trump’s adviser Jason Miller said, “Public and private voting Republicans strongly oppose impeachment of grassroots voters.” “Any Republican senator or congressman who voted for impeachment will be held accountable in their next primary election.”
Trump emerged from his White House fortress for the first time when riots traveled to his administration’s wall along the Texas border. When he left Washington, he insisted that “we don’t want any violence,” but denied any responsibility. For insurance.
Once he reached the border, his remarks were quite silent for the small crowd. In the end, he spoke for just 21 minutes and spent less than 45 minutes on the ground in what was expected to be his final trip to his presidency.
Before leaving, he offered an indomitable warning to lead Democrats in charge to remove him from office: “Be careful what you wish for.”
This threat came in the form of the nation – and members of Congress – hanging for the potential for greater violence before Biden’s inauguration. The FBI this week warned of plans for armed protests in all 50 state capitals and in Washington.
Capitol security officials made the extraordinary decision to require members of Congress to pass through metal detectors to enter the House chamber starting on Tuesday, although some Republicans opposed the new rule.
It is unclear whether the chaos in Washington represents a potential threat to the party, but it is almost certainly a threat to undermine the GOP’s short-term political goals.
Several major corporations, many of them reliably Republican donors, have promised to stop sending political donations to any of the 147 Republicans who falsified Trump’s false claims last week by voting to reject Biden’s victory .
The fundraising challenge comes at a bad time for the GOP. History suggests that the Republican Party, as a minority party in Washington, should regain control of the House or Senate in 2022.
At the same time, a collection of ambitious Republicans are trying to position themselves to run the White House in 2024. They are also competing with Trump’s legacy.
One of them, Maryland Village Larry Hogan, reminded reporters on Tuesday that he has been denouncing the Trump presidency since the beginning.
“I have been at the same place for four years. Many people have just changed their position, “Hogan said,” vowing not to leave the GOP. “I don’t want to leave the party and let these people who had taken over a hostile takeover four years ago.”
Despite Hogan’s confidence, he is far less popular among Trump’s loyal base – a group that has great sway in the party’s selection of its next presidential candidate – compared to the censor’s choice. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, two others 2024. Prospects who voted to reject Biden’s victory last week, even after the rebellion.
“Republican leaders don’t know how to proceed,” Republican pollster Frank Luntz said. “Donald Trump will ask people to come after him, but everyone is afraid, but they also realize that they are losing America’s center.” They are trapped. “
Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Alamo, Texas, and Zake Miller in Washington contributed to this report.