March 25, 2023

trump: Despite Trump stranglehold on Republican Party, few GOP stalwarts break free – Times of India

WASHINGTON: A Republican Party in the thrall of former President Donald Trump censured two moderate lawmakers on Friday even as his vice-president Mike Pence publicly parted ways with him and hinted at a White House challenge in 2024.
The twin developments revealed fractures — and a potential split — in the Grand Old Party despite it being under Trump’s spell — and stranglehold — even as Democrats face their own inner-party turmoil with two of their lawmakers more aligned with the right than with their party.
In rebuking GOP House members Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the Democrat-led investigation into the January 6 Capitol Hill attack by Trump-supporting mobs, the Republican Party also described the event as “legitimate political discourse,” in line with the former President’s effort to de-stigmatize the violence and suggest his supporters were simply upset by the “rigged” results. He has spoken of pardoning those convicted for rioting.
But Trump’s effort to claim victory in the 2020 elections and argue that his then vice-president Mike Trump could have overturned it on January 6, when electoral votes were to be certified, suffered a setback when Pence himself asserted on Friday that it was not his remit to do that.
“President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that anyone person could choose the American president,” he said remarks at a Federalist Society conference, endorsing the results that have made Joe Biden the President. The remarks were greeted with applause, as some GOP leading lights began to stand up to the former President, who has established almost total sway on the party.
“Shame falls on a party that would censure persons of conscience, who seek truth in the face of vitriol. Honor attaches to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for seeking truth even when doing so comes at great personal cost,” former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said following a party conclave at which Trump loyalists tore into the dissidents.
Describing herself as a “constitutional conservative,” Cheney, who is the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, accused party leaders of making themselves “willing hostages to a man who admits he tried to overturn a presidential election and suggests he would pardon Jan. 6 defendants, some of whom have been charged with seditious conspiracy.”
“I do not recognize those in my party who have abandoned the Constitution to embrace Donald Trump. History will be their judge. I will never stop fighting for our constitutional republic. No matter what,” she asserted in a statement.
The Republican National Committee resolution censuring Cheney and Kinzinger accused them of “participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse” and said their behaviour “has been destructive to the institution of the US. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic.”
The two Republicans sit on the House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Although Pence did not come out in support of the censured duo, who are rare dissenters in the party over which Trump holds complete sway, he hinted at his own challenge to his former boss, saying, “Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.”
Trump lashed back at Pence in a statement, calling him “an automatic conveyor belt for the Old Crow Mitch McConnell to get Biden elected President as quickly as possible.”
McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, is another Trump critic, but like Romney and the few anti-Trumpers in the party, has little nationwide grassroots support of the kind the former President has. Both Romney and McConnell have been elected to six-year Senate term recently — after being deferential to Trump during polls — and are secure till 2024 and 2026 respectively. But Cheney and Kinzinger — who are members of the House of Representatives with two-year terms — face the prospect of being “primaried” this year, which is defeated in inner-party polls that decide whether they will be party candidates for the 2022 Congressional election.

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