Witcover: Trump led the insurgency, but the GOP can’t quit him | News, Sports, Jobs


WASHINGTON — The House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 Capitol Attack continues to effectively serve its purpose in documenting Donald Trump’s destructive role in the insurgency that has claimed American lives and threatened our democratic concept of self-reliance. governmental.

With a meticulous investigation into the assault on Trump and his cronies, congressional hearings left no doubt that the former president was on the verge of reversing his 2020 loss of the Oval Office by all possible means.

Witnesses, including members of the paramilitary Oath Keepers engaged in his illegal power grab, testified to his ruthless efforts, while the committee’s prosecutors mostly avoided grandstanding by soberly arguing against him.

Some of those witnesses rather coyly acknowledged their own credulity in Trump’s big lie about the supposedly stolen election, as committee members considered the compelling evidence against him.

An immediate defense offered by Republicans to Trump was that he relied on aides who never made it clear to him that he really lost in 2020. Ultimately, however, he was exposed as the self- narcissistic waiter without caring about the rule. of the law or the Constitution to which he was obliged to commit himself as president.

The questions that remain now are, first, whether this nation can recover and consolidate its laws and institutions to protect itself against a second “soft” coup attempt. A step towards that recovery is that all culprits, including Trump himself if found guilty by a court, be punished for their wrongdoings.

Another question is whether the Republican Party, which has descended into little more than an association of unscrupulous Trumpites, can find its traditional conservative bearings and show him the way out. Tuesday’s committee hearings offered brief glimmers of contrition. In a text released by the committee, Brad Pascale, the man who ran digital operations for Trump’s presidential campaigns, confessed, “I feel guilty for helping him.” However, these private thoughts, often shared by the collaborators of the disgraced ex-president among themselves, have only rarely translated into public disavowals.

The committee convincingly demonstrated that Trump himself created the conditions that led to the deadly violence during the assault on the Capitol. He tweeted from the White House weeks earlier: “Big protest in DC Jan 6th. Be there; will be wild! That tweet, argued Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, would “galvanize his supporters, ignite a political storm, and change the course of our history as a country.”

Such was the cult of personality surrounding Trump — fueled by a willing caucus of Republicans in the House and Senate, colluded by other Republicans who lacked the guts to stand up to a man they knew was leading. recklessly the United States to possible disaster – that millions of Americans would believe the Big Lie, and that thousands would attack the very heart of our constitutional republic.

The Republican Party desperately needs a leader to bring it back to sanity and moderation. Indeed, Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois have proven to be principled role models in their work with the select committee. But for their trouble, they were practically kicked out of the party.

A theoretical top figure is the party’s newest flag bearer, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who has limited political clout as a past name. Other rising stars, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, is viewed nervously as a budding Joe McCarthy, and is known to have raised his fist in approval from the crowd that had gathered to storm the Capitol on January 6. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is widely seen as a rival for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, but he’s cut from the same cloth as Trump.

The future of the Republican Party therefore seems to be up for grabs while the survival of the American two-party system itself is uncertain. What is certain: the Republican Party is not ready for reform. Not yet anyway.

Jules Witcover’s latest book is “The American Vice Presidency: From Incongruity to Power”, published by Smithsonian Books. You can respond to this column at [email protected]


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