Trump loses his impeachment team amid unfaltering loyalty from the GOP

Former President Donald Trump’s lies and his insistence that the November election was rigged against him may have turned out to be a bridge too far for the attorneys who were slated to defend him in his upcoming Senate impeachment trial in a little more than a week. But his party has largely stuck with him. After a brief flirtation with reason and sound judgment in the weeks following the January 6 siege at the Capitol, the Republican Party has decided to honour their deep and often blind allegiance to Trump, choosing to overlook his role in inciting the deadly insurrection rather than pay the price of crossing him and his base next year at the ballot box. The collapse of Trump’s legal team amid a disagreement over legal strategy, which CNN first reported Saturday night, stood in stark contrast to the slow crawl of Republican elected leaders back into the former President’s corner as the anger lawmakers feel about the insurrection fades and his potential power to help or destroy them in the 2022 elections becomes paramount. While the Republican Party continues to bend to Trump’s whims, forgive his dangerous behaviour, and quiver in the face of his election threats, the judiciary and the legal profession are adhering to a higher ethical standard — and have largely refused to tolerate his efforts to ramrod the nation’s democratic institutions and founding principles throughout his baseless election charade — making the GOP’s loyalty to Trump even more appalling.

Senate Republicans say Trump should be held accountable for riot — but not by them A person familiar with the departures of the five attorneys — Butch Bowers, Deborah Barbier, Josh Howard, Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris — told CNN that Trump wanted the attorneys to centre his defense on the notion that there was mass election fraud in November and that the election was stolen from him, instead of questioning the legality of convicting a president after he’s left office. Trump was not receptive to the discussions about how they should proceed, according to CNN’s Gloria Borger, Kaitlan Collins, Jeff Zeleny and Ashley Semler. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who recently voted with the majority of his party to table a discussion about the constitutionality of impeaching Trump — which was viewed as a test vote indicating that the former President would be acquitted after the trial because of his substantial support within the GOP ranks — said Sunday that he believes the question of whether a president can be convicted after leaving office needs to be answered, but that the country needs to move on from Trump’s allegations of election fraud. There were not “adequate irregularities or fraud, not widespread enough to change the result of the election, period,” Portman told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “We have to acknowledge that this election was lost and we have to move on. “And yet, most of the GOP has shown their uneasiness about forcing repercussions for the former President. They demonstrated how much the party has been irrevocably changed by Trump’s corrosive influence last week when Republican members stood by mostly silently and refused to reprimand Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who should have ended the week in disgrace after CNN’s KFile exposed that she previously indicated support for executing prominent Democrats. Instead, like Trump, the freshman Republican has doubled down and escaped largely unscathed, avoiding any punishment from GOP leaders as she falsely claims to be the victim of a “blood thirsty media.” On Saturday, she emerged defiant on Twitter after claiming to have had a “great call” with Trump, continuing to spout falsehoods about the presidential election and failing to show a shred of remorse for her endorsement of violent threats against lawmakers or offensive and baseless theories about the Parkland shooting. While her conduct gets a pass from GOP leaders, some Republican state parties and local leaders are rushing to condemn the GOP lawmakers who dared to vote for the impeachment of the former President. The case of both Trump — who is expected to be acquitted in the Senate — and Greene is the latest example of how the party of Lincoln has become the party of no consequences, untethered from its moorings by Trump’s embrace of baseless conspiracy theories and his coddling of the most dangerous fringe elements of the party. In phrases that could have been ripped from Trump’s own permanently suspended Twitter account, Greene asserted Saturday that she’ll “never apologize” or “back down” despite CNN’s revelations about her shocking, conspiracy-laden social media feeds, including the fact that she liked a comment suggesting that “a bullet to the head would be quicker” as a way to remove House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She also expressed support for comments about executing FBI agents.

‘People are angry’: House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump face backlash at home House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who should be the person responsible for enforcing discipline within his ranks and setting the guardrails of decorum, indicated that he intends to talk to Greene this week about the posts threatening to kill lawmakers. But he too spent last week trying to cozy up to Trump at Mar-a-Lago and make amends for his fleeting reprimand of the former President after the insurrection that endangered the lives of his members, paying homage to the standard bearer in a party that’s already gearing up for a divisive primary cycle. At least 50 House Democrats have called for Greene to be removed from the House, with others calling for censure or stripping her of her committee assignments, but there is no indication yet that she will be upbraided by GOP leadership. Before she was elected to the solidly red district last fall, Republican strategists expressed concern about Greene’s ties to Islamophobic and anti-Semitic tropes, and her past support for Q Anon — whose followers believe the baseless conspiracy theory that Trump was engaged in a battle against celebrities and Democrats who abuse children. But she won and has been among Trump’s strongest supporters, backing his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent. She has worn a mask to the Capitol that reads “Trump won.” “I had a GREAT call with my all-time favourite POTUS, President Trump!” Greene tweeted Saturday. “I’m so grateful for his support and more importantly the people of this country are absolutely 100% loyal to him because he is 100% loyal to the people and America First.” Trump’s office has not responded to requests for comment about the call.

Republicans feeling the heat for impeachment vote

Meanwhile, it is the Republicans who defied Trump with their votes on impeachment earlier this month who now appear to be in the most political peril. On Saturday, the South Carolina Republican Party voted to formally censure Rep. Tom Rice for voting to impeach Trump, with South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick claiming that the vote amounted to “nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door,” and one that “played right into the Democrats’ game. “A number of the other nine House Republicans who joined Rice in that impeachment vote — as well as state officials who certified the election results showing President Joe Biden won — are facing a backlash at home, with the Trump-aligned flank of their party promising primary challenges, rebukes from local leaders and an onslaught of spending against them. Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey was recently censured by his state’s GOP, along with Cindy McCain and former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, because rank-and-file Republican members in Arizona viewed them as insufficiently loyal to Trump. But Ducey, who certified the results showing Biden’s win, called the censure an action “of very little consequence. “On Sunday, he told Bash that the censure reflected a “long history of discontent” in his party in Arizona. Once the vote was audited and determined accurate, “I had very little choice but to do the right thing, follow the law and the Constitution. “Several GOP lawmakers have called for stripping Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking House Republican, of her leadership position after she supported impeachment. Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a close Trump ally, trolled her with a rally in her home state on Thursday and Trump has been weighing how he should exact his revenge, reportedly showing allies polling to make the case that she has been weakened at home. In Cheyenne, Gaetz sought to inflame the divisions within his party as he championed “prairie populism” and called on Republicans to defeat Cheney when she runs for re-election, going so far as to take a phone call from Donald Trump Jr. to amplify that message. He claimed that Cheney was part of a “private insider club” that includes Biden, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Pelosi that wants to use government to “enrich themselves.” “Washington, DC, mythologizes the establishment power brokers like Liz Cheney for climbing in a deeply corrupt game. But there are more of us than there are of them and we see the fakes and the phonies more clearly than ever before,” Gaetz said during the rally. “If you want to prove you have the power, defeat Liz Cheney in this upcoming election and Wyoming will bring Washington to its knees. “Cheney told her party that her vote on the impeachment article — accusing Trump of “incitement of insurrection” — was a vote of conscience. McCarthy has said he supports Cheney but has “concerns.” The votes for impeachment by Cheney and the nine other Republicans could come up at a meeting with all House Republicans on Wednesday, but it is unclear whether or how McCarthy intends to address the controversy over Greene’s social media posts. So far, he’s only publicly weighed in through a spokesman who called Greene’s comments “deeply disturbing.” The minority leader already cancelled a GOP leadership meeting scheduled for Tuesday — because he will be traveling back from Houston from an energy event, his spokesman told CNN. However, he offered no additional details for why it wasn’t rescheduled, and a source familiar believes one of the reasons McCarthy cancelled is because he doesn’t want to discuss Greene.

‘Lies of a feather flock together’

In her Twitter thread Saturday, Greene tried to claim that, like Trump, that she is a victim of “blood thirsty media” and “the socialists hate America” Democrats. Alluding to Pelosi’s comments during a news conference this week that “the enemy is within the House of Representatives,” Greene sought to define the enemy as “a poisonous rot of socialist policies” and “America last sell outs who are pompous hypocrites that believe they are untouchable elites. “She was rebuked by Romney — a rare Republican who’s frequently spoken out against Trump — on Twitter Saturday: “Lies of a feather flock together: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s nonsense and the ‘big lie’ of a stolen election. “Portman said on “State of the Union” Sunday that Republicans ought to “stand up and say it is totally unacceptable what she has said.” “There is no place for violence in our political dialogue,” said the Ohio senator, who announced early last week that he will not seek re-election after his current term in office ends in 2022.But as most Republicans remain silent about Greene, tensions continue to rise between her and some of the Democrats who want to see formal action to reprimand her for her past comments. Rep. Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat, plans to move to an office farther away from Greene’s after the two had an argument over mask wearing earlier this month. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, said on Saturday that “the Republican leadership has to step up at this point” because Greene “is an embarrassment to us all. “Thompson called on McCarthy to take a stand for the good of his party, calling it a sad day for Republican politics in America: “He has the number one position in the Republican party in the House of Representatives,” Thompson said of McCarthy during an interview with CNN’s Ana Cabrera on “Newsroom” Saturday. “He has to demonstrate that leadership. Otherwise, he’s complicit in what she’s doing with his silence. “But McCarthy’s visit to Mar-a-Lago this week suggested his top concern is staying in Trump’s good graces, which means Greene — and those who share her beliefs — likely won’t be going anywhere. This story has been updated with comments from Sen. Rob Portman and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on “State of the Union.”

Source: CNN