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Tags: Donald Trump | Trump Impeachment | gop | future | republican | acquittal | 2022

Trump Remains Dominant Force in GOP Following Acquittal

president donald trump points to the rally crowd in his first rally after his covid-19 recovery
President Donald Trump (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

Sunday, 14 February 2021 05:59 AM

The Republican Party still belongs to Donald Trump.

After the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last month, the GOP considered purging the norm-shattering former president. But in the end, only seven of 50 Senate Republicans voted to convict Trump in his historic second impeachment trial on Saturday.

For Trump's loyalists, the acquittal offers a vindication of sorts and a fresh connection to the former president's fiery base.

By most objective measures, Trump's grasp on the GOP and its future remains airtight.

Gallup reported last month, Trump's approval among self-described Republicans stood at 82%. And more recently, Monmouth University found 72% of Republicans continue to believe Trump's claims President Joe Biden won the November election only because of widespread voter fraud.

Lest their be any doubt about Trump's strength, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly last week to defend diehard Trump loyalist, Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., even after evidence surfaced she had repeatedly embraced violence, bigotry, and conspiracy theories on social media.

Just days after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called Trump responsible for the violent attack, McCarthy reversed himself and made a personal visit to Trump's Florida estate to ensure there was no lingering animosity.

Of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump on Saturday, only one faces reelection in the next four years. Indeed, in Trump's Republican Party, there are very few willing to cross him if they harbor future political ambitions.

One of them, 2024 prospect Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, drew attention this week after telling Politico that Trump's role in the Dec. 6 attack essentially disqualified him from running for office again.

"He's fallen so far," Haley said. "He went down a path he shouldn't have, and we shouldn't have followed him, and we shouldn't have listened to him. And we can't let that ever happen again."

Another Republican presidential prospect, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., voted to convict Trump on Saturday, declaring Trump's "lies" about widespread voter fraud endangered "the life of the vice president" and are "bringing us dangerously close to a bloody constitutional crisis."

While Sasse might run for president in 2024, he will not face Republican primary voters in Nebraska again unless he chooses to run for reelection in 2026.

Despite McConnell's criticism, Trump's most vocal Republican opponents at this point will likely consist of a collection of retired Republicans on cable news and a "never-Trump" movement grappling with its own existential challenges.

The Lincoln Project, perhaps the most prominent and best-funded anti-Trump Republican group, is coming off a tumultuous week following revelations its leaders knew about multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against a co-founder several months before acknowledged them publicly.

The self-described "senior leader" of the organization, veteran Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, stepped down from the board on the eve of the Senate impeachment vote, a day after the Lincoln Project announced plans to bring in an outside investigator.

The fallout threatens to undermine the organization's fundraising appeal and its influence, even as the super PAC works to expand its reach through a popular podcast and expanding streaming video channel that drew more than 4 million views last month alone.

Even before the crisis, co-founder Reed Galen acknowledged Trumpism was winning.

"The authoritarian side of the Republican Party is the dominant side," he said. "They have the momentum. For now, they have the money."

Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who leads the anti-Trump group known as Defending Democracy Together, said "what the last two months have shown is if Donald Trump was a cancer on the country and the party, he's metastasized."

"I thought we could push past him," she said. "But now I don't think that."

Still, the Republican Party faces tremendous political risks should its leaders continue to embrace Trump and his brand of norm-shattering politics.

Already, scores of Republican-friends businesses have vowed to stop giving money to Trump's allies in Congress, cutting off a critical revenue stream just as Republicans hope to reclaim the House and Senate majorities in next year's midterm elections.

Trump's critics in both parties are vowing to make sure the business community and voters alike do not forget what the former president and his allies did.

"We will remind voters that Republicans were willing to neglect their oaths of office all out of loyalty to one man, and that one man was more important than their constituents, more important than the Constitution of the United States, more important than the democracy that we have in this great nation," said Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison.

But Trump himself is not going away. Immediately after his acquittal, he issued a written statement promising to re-emerge "soon."

"Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun," Trump said. "In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people."

This story has been corrected by deleting a reference to President Andrew Johnson's impeachment in 1868 as drawing the most support of members of his own party. No members of Johnson's party, the Democrats, voted for his removal.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


US
The Republican Party still belongs to Donald Trump.After the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol last month, the GOP considered purging the norm-shattering former president. But in the end, only seven of 50 Senate Republicans voted to convict Trump in his historic second...
gop, future, republican, acquittal, 2022, 2024
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2021-59-14
Sunday, 14 February 2021 05:59 AM
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