Key Republicans went from blaming Trump for the deadly Capitol attack to fighting his impeachment in just 3 weeks
Kevin McCarthy, California Minority Chairperson, speaks with President Donald Trump during an event on water accessibility in California on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 in Bakersfield, California.
Top Republicans have quickly turned from blaming Trump for attacking the Capitol to beating the Democrats for indicting him.
As the initial shock of the insurrection wore off, the Republican tone changed dramatically.
Kevin McCarthy, chairman of the minority of the House of Representatives, no longer said that Trump had "responsibility" but that "everyone" had a certain responsibility.
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Immediately after the violent uprising in the U.S. Capitol, top Republicans who had been staunch allies of President Donald Trump came across him for instigating the deadly attack. But just a few weeks later, they are singing a different tune as the Senate prepares for Trump's impeachment proceedings.
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"The president is responsible for the attack by rioters on Wednesday," said Kevin McCarthy, minority chairman, on January 13 during the House debate on Trump's impeachment.
This allegedly enraged Trump, despite McCarthy not being supportive of indicting him, and it wasn't long before the House GOP leader changed his tone and changed guilt.
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Eight days after McCarthy said Trump was "in charge," he told reporters that Trump did not provoke the attack.
"I don't think he provoked it when you listen to what he said at the rally," McCarthy said on January 21.
Later, in an interview with Greta Van Susteren of Gray Television that aired on Sunday, McCarthy said, "Everyone in this country has some responsibility" for the attack on the Capitol.
The day after the attack, GOP Senator Lindsey Graham said, "When it comes to accountability, the president must understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution."
It was a little over a week before Graham had a flip-flop. On January 17, South Carolina Republican urged President Joe Biden to oppose Trump's impeachment.
"If you don't stand up against President Trump's impeachment after he resigns, you are an incredibly weak figure in American history. President Trump is trying to heal the nation. The prosecution of impeachment after he leaves office will continue to divide the country. " "Graham said on Fox News.
On Jan. 20, Graham told Fox News that he “disagreed” with GOP Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell's allegation that Trump had provoked violence in the US Capitol and said, “Show me where the clip is [Trump] did that. "
Nikki Haley, who was Trump's first US Ambassador to the United Nations, made comments about the siege of the Capitol in comments at an RNC meeting earlier this month, according to Politico.
"President Trump didn't always choose the right words," said Haley. "He was wrong about his words about Charlottesville, and I told him then. He was seriously wrong about his words yesterday. And it wasn't just his words. His actions since Election Day are harshly judged by history."
But forward to Monday, and Haley seemed firmly behind Trump and against impeachment.
"I don't think there's a basis for impeachment," Haley told Fox News' Laura Ingraham, who reportedly has ambitions to run for president in 2024.
"They beat him up before he came into office. They beat him up after he left office," added Haley, portraying Trump as a victim. "I mean, at some point I think give the man a break. I mean, carry on."
- Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) January 26, 2021
With the shock of the Capitol attack, the GOP's condemnation of Trump is waning
Congressional lawmakers urged that Trump be brought to justice quickly after the attack on the Capitol, including by some Republicans, and that impeachment proceedings be initiated quickly.
Impeachment proceedings were served on the Senate, but Trump's trial was postponed until February 9. After the process was pushed back and the initial shock of the January 6 events faded, a door opened for Republicans to return to their previous, unwavering support from Trump.
Seventeen Senate Republicans would have to join all 50 Democrats in the upper chamber to condemn Trump, which could be followed by a vote (requiring a simple majority) to expel the former president from office. With no Republicans publicly supporting the condemnation so far, it seems increasingly unlikely that Republicans will join the Democrats in condemning him.
And instead of trying to defend Trump's actions, many Republicans are following the process, claiming it is unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial after a president has resigned.
"I believe post-presidential impeachments are obviously unconstitutional," Graham said in a recent tweet.
But there is historical precedent for this, and legal experts have dismissed the idea that it is unconstitutional.
"That argument is wrong about text, structure, historical practice, and common sense," wrote Steve Vladeck, professor in the University of Texas Law School, in a New York Times statement rejecting the GOP argument, it is too late to hold impeachment proceedings. "And Mr. Trump is the figurehead for why such accountability is not only constitutionally permissible but also necessary after he has left office."
"It is ultimately a requirement of Congress - for former officers as well as current ones," said Vladeck.
Republicans who supported Trump's impeachment face a backlash
An explosion caused by police ammunition is seen as supporters of President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.
The speech Trump delivered on January 6, calling on his supporters to "fight like hell" and march on the Capitol, clearly provoked the uprising that followed. Trump's week-long attempt to overthrow the election and his unsubstantiated claims of mass voter fraud had set the stage for the violence.
The President was referring to "peaceful" demonstrations during his remarks that day, which a number of House Republicans focused on in Trump's defense, but it was a fleeting moment in an otherwise provocative, lying speech that evoked what is widely characterized as Coup attempt.
Ten Republicans voted to indict Trump. It was the most bipartisan impeachment of a president in US history. They are already facing major challenges and severe criticism from the GOP in their home countries. Trump's allies in the House of Representatives are pushing for Wyoming GOP MP Liz Cheney, number three Republican in the lower chamber, to be ousted as chair of the House Republican Conference for impeachment.
Even after Trump fell out of favor with the White House after sparking a riot that threatened the security of Congress, Trump's influence on the GOP appears to remain a steady, powerful force.
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