Donald trump acquittal in his second impeachment trial in the Senate revealed deep divisions with the Republican Party over whether to make a decisive break with the former president or adopt his policies further.
Trump was exonerated Saturday, even after seven Republican senators voted to convict him of inciting an insurgency that led to last month’s deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol. Under the US constitution, two-thirds of the Senate was needed to convict him in order for him to be sentenced.
But the final 57-43 vote revealed some serious tensions within the republican party how to recover from their recent electoral losses.
After voting for Trump’s acquittal, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the Senate, excoriated the former president, describing his actions on the eve of the January 6 riot as “a shameful dereliction of duty.”
“There is no doubt that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for bringing about the events of that day,” he said.
However, Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator and fierce ally of Trump, has called on the party to side with the former president ahead of next year’s midterm elections when the GOP attempts to regain control. of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
“Trump plus is way back in 2022,” he told Fox News on Sunday.
Graham also suggested that Lara Trump, the ex-president’s daughter-in-law, should run for a Senate seat in North Carolina, which is expected to become vacant in 2022. “I think she represents the future of the Republican Party. “, he mentioned.
Some moderate Republicans have sought to distance themselves from the former president. Larry Hogan, governor of Maryland and potential 2024 presidential candidate, said the party must abandon Trump’s policies if it is to remain competitive across the country.
“There has been a hostile takeover of the Republican Party,” he told NBC News. “I think we need to abandon the cult of Donald Trump and go back to the basics that the party has always stood for.
Trump, who has kept a low profile since Joe Biden’s inauguration last month, appeared to express his own intentions in a statement on Saturday: “Our historic, patriotic and magnificent movement for Make America Great Again is just beginning.”
“In the coming months, I have a lot to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people,” he added.
The former president, 74, has not ruled out running for president again in 2024. But he is faced with several criminal investigations, including investigations in Georgia and New York, which could complicate his political ambitions.
There were signs yesterday of recriminations against the Seven Republicans – Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania – who voted with Democrats to condemn The President.
Cassidy defended his decision on Sunday after Republican officials loyal to Trump in Louisiana said he was “part of the problem” and should not expect a “warm welcome” upon his return to his home state.
“As these facts become more and more prevalent, if you will, and people have a chance to search for themselves, more and more people will be moving to where I was,” said Cassidy at ABC News. “People… Want to trust their leaders. They want people to be held accountable.”
Several Republican lawmakers publicly or privately condemned Trump’s behavior on January 6. But few of them were willing to break completely with the former president, given the sway he still holds over large swathes of the Republican base.
At the same time, McConnell and others are questioning whether the party can win back moderate Republicans and Independents who ditched the GOP against Trump last November, and public opinion polls are outraged on January 6.
Murkowski, who will be re-elected in 2022, rejected suggestions she would lose her seat following the impeachment vote. “If I can’t say what I think our president should represent, then why should I ask the Alaskans to support me?”