New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a one-time ally of the President’s, told The New York Times on Thursday that it was time for Republicans to “separate message from messenger” because “I don’t think the messenger can recover from yesterday.”
Stuart Varney, a Fox News anchor and longtime defender of Trump, was even more blunt. “I think the political consequences are beginning to unfold,” he said Thursday. “I think the President is tarred with the brush of Wednesday, January the 6. … I think the support for the President, within the Republican Party and the administration, is crumbling.”
I wouldn’t be so sure that Wednesday marked the end of Trump’s influence within — and hold over — the Republican Party. Especially when you consider that:
* Even after the violent seizure of the US Capitol by Trump-backing rioters, 138 House Republicans voted to object to the Electoral College results in Pennsylvania — despite the fact that there is a total of zero evidence that there was any widespread wrongdoing in the 2020 vote in the state. That number includes the two top-ranking GOP leaders in the House: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (California) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (Louisiana).
* On Friday morning, Ronna McDaniel was unanimously reelected as chair of the Republican National Committee. McDaniel was the hand-picked choice of Trump and, in her speech after winning another two-year term, she praised the outgoing President for having “redrawn the political map for our party and proved that we can compete and win in non-traditionally Republican communities.” She offered no criticism, veiled or otherwise, of Trump’s actions this week.
And that’s not to mention the slew of conservative pundits and media types who have scrambled to defend Trump’s actions (and inaction) over the past 48 hours — drawing apples-to-oranges comparisons between what happened on Wednesday and the largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests over the summer and pushing fact-free assertions that Antifa was secretly behind the rioting.
Seen in that light, the idea that Wednesday ended Trump — or Trumpism — in any meaningful way looks a whole lot like wishful thinking on the part of Republicans.
Look, there’s no question that Trump’s abdication of leadership over the past few days has cost him the support of some within the GOP — including some of those who had long stuck with him including Cabinet secretaries like Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos — both of whom resigned their positions on Thursday.
But to assume that these high-profile departures represent a broader abandonment of Trump within the Party is a mistake. It’s based on an assumption that Trump backers who either stormed the Capitol on Wednesday or watched the storming were somehow remorseful or apologetic about what they had done. The opposite is in fact true. The stormers were elated, barely containing their excitement about what they had “accomplished.”
And there was zero evidence in the wake of the riot that the broader Trump base was demoralized by what had happened. Trump was cheered by RNC members when he called into the group’s winter meeting on Thursday, according to The Washington Post.
Trump — and the base he leads — isn’t going away because of what happened Wednesday at the US Capitol. As Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse told conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt Friday morning: “Donald Trump was walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren’t as excited as he was as you had rioters pushing against Capitol Police trying to get into the building. …That was happening. He was delighted.”
The only way you can conclude that Trump is over is to believe that Wednesday’s riot was seen by him and his supporters as a black mark on not just his presidency but the presidency. Instead, all available information suggests they saw it as a triumph.
And that’s why neither Trump nor the movement he leads is going anywhere anytime soon.
Read more at CNN.com