- Beatriz Díez (@bbc_diez)
- BBC World News
The straw that broke the camel’s back, the breaking point, the red line.
These are expressions that are repeated in the United States these days to explain why some of President Donald Trump’s historical allies have distanced themselves or have directly broken with him.
From Republican Party legislators to members of his government, several figures have said “enough already” after the events of Wednesday in Washington DC, where a mob of violent followers of the president stormed the Capitol.
The unusual images of dozens of people breaking security, invading the headquarters of the US Congress and occupying several of its rooms caused stupor and outrage in a country not used to this type of scene.
Quickly, eyes were on Trump, who before the march to the Capitol had delivered an incendiary speech in which he insisted, without proof, that the November elections were a robbery.
In view of the chaos and Trump’s lack of forcefulness to reject the attack, multiple voices demanded the resignation of the president or that he be removed from power through impeachment or by invocation of the 25th amendment to the Constitution.
What was striking about the case was that, unlike what happened with other scandals of the four years of Trump’s presidency and his time as a candidate, several of these voices came from the republican field.
Some say that these positions come late, when Trump only has 13 days left in the White House and after other situations that deserved a similar reaction.
For other people, it is better late than neverAnd the union seen in Congress between legislators from rival parties after the alarming events at the Capitol portend better times.
It remains to be seen if the video released by Trump on Thursday afternoon, in which he condemns the events of Wednesday and for the first time clearly admits that on January 20 there will be a new government and ends his term, helps calm spirits and reconciles him with his fellow ranks.
The distancing of faithful allies
In addition to a string of resignations in the Trump environment, which we will explain later, the events of January 6 marked, above all, the growing isolation in which the president finds himself.
His most loyal allies in the Republican Party – the vice president, Mike Pence; the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and the senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham– ended up turning their backs on him in their attempt to reverse the results of the November 3 elections.
This break was particularly evident Wednesday during the joint session of Congress to certify the victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
First, before the session began, Vice President Pence released a statement explaining that he had no authority to unilaterally reject the votes of the Electoral College.
Thus, he settled the debate, promoted mainly by Trump and chanted by his followers, about his ability to turn the result of the elections around. With this he unleashed the anger and criticism of the man to whom he has shown absolute loyalty throughout the presidency.
In the hemicycle, McConnell, in a sober dark suit, delivered a highly praised speech in which he extended an olive branch to his fellow Democrats.
“If this election were reversed by simple allegations of the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” said the still leader of the Republican majority in the Senate.
“We would never again see the entire country accept the outcome of an election. Every four years there would be a power struggle at any cost,” McConnell continued before violence broke out in the building.
“We cannot continue to separate into two different tribes, with different facts and different realities. The country risks taking a dangerous path in which the winner of an election is really the only one to accept the results.”
Another of Trump’s great allies, the former attorney general William Barr, who left office on December 23, issued a harsh condemnation of the president he served.
In a statement sent to the agency The Associated PressBarr called Trump’s conduct “treason to his office and his followers” and denounced that “mobilizing the masses to pressure Congress is without excuse.”
Succession of resignations
In less than 24 hours there have been several resignations in the sphere of the Trump government and in the environment of the first lady.
The most notable have been the resignations of two members of the cabinet: Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Both announced their decision on Thursday.
Chao explained his resignation with these words: “Yesterday, our country experienced a traumatic and totally avoidable event in which supporters of the president stormed into a mob on Capitol Hill after a march in which Trump addressed them.”
“As it surely does with many of you, this has deeply affected me in a way that I simply cannot ignore.”
Chao’s resignation will be effective Monday, nine days before Biden’s inauguration and Kamala Harris.
The reasons given by DeVos, who resigned hours after Chao, are similar: Wednesday’s events and Trump’s tactic of “adding fuel to the fire among his followers.”
Mick Mulvaney, a former White House chief of staff and former director of the Office of Management and Budget, announced Thursday that he is leaving his post as the US special envoy to Northern Ireland.
“I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Those who decide to stay, and I have spoken with some of them, are doing so because they are concerned that the president will make someone else worse,” Mulvaney said on the US channel CNBC.
Thursday’s resignations probably won’t be the last and are in addition to those announced Wednesday.
Two of the main assistants of Melania Trump they resigned abruptly that afternoon in a clear sign of discontent.
During Thursday’s session, there was also speculation about the possible departure of those responsible for national security agencies, but former officials of those services and leaders of large companies in the sector begged them not to do so.
They stressed that their role is important for the continuity of the government and that a political crisis must be prevented from turning into a national security crisis.
Not everything is dissent
However, not everyone has turned away from the president, who continues to have a strong and very loyal base (more than 75 million people voted for him).
In addition, Trump has the unconditional support of a group of people, not only his family but names like the lawyer Rudy Giuliani o Roger Stone, who was recently granted a presidential pardon.
And during the process of certifying the votes of the Electoral College, it became clear that more than 100 members of the House of Representatives and around a dozen senators follow him in their belief that the elections were fraudulent.
Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, whose names sound like potential 2024 presidential candidates, led objections to the results from Arizona and Pennsylvania respectively.
Finally, after the violent irruption of Trump supporters in Congress, which put the safety of legislators of all political colors at risk, only six senators supported Cruz’s initiative and seven that of Hawley, but the support was much greater for both cases in the House of Representatives.
Schism in the Republican Party?
“This is no longer your Republican Party, this is Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” Don Jr., the president’s eldest son, said fervently during Wednesday’s march.
Don Jr. said the act should be a wake-up call for the Republican Party, which he accused of not doing enough to help his father reverse the election results, to “stop the theft.”
“This should send you a message: this is no longer your Republican Party, this is Donald Trump’s Republican Party, the party you putit’s at America first“, he stressed.
He is not the only one who thinks that the Republican Party is no longer the same and that a battle is coming to see who leads it.
The most conservative and historic members of the party are trying to wrest power from Trump and his loyalists.
McConnell seems set to spearhead that turn. Others, like the senator from Utah Mitt Romney, a presidential candidate in 2012 and the only Republican in the upper house to vote to convict Trump in the impeachment February 2020, you can also take on a leadership role.
They will be challenged by others in the party who seem more interested in attracting the Trump electorate.
“It may happen that the party divides, breaks up, as it seemed that it was going to happen this Wednesday. I am not talking about a formal division, but a conformation in which there is one wing of the party that is still strongly aligned with Trump and another that is trying to advance beyond Trump. And if the Republicans are divided, this will strengthen Biden, “he told BBC Mundo Steven Levitsky, Professor of Governance at Harvard University
In that power struggle, it was notorious that Hawley Missouri, the first senator to announce that he would object to the election results, did not deviate from his initiative even as the Senate regrouped after the violence on Capitol Hill.
Neither did Cruz, a senator from Texas who insisted on the need to postpone the certification of votes for ten days in order to carry out an audit.
“Crises can be a political opportunity and there are many politicians who will not hesitate to use them to their advantage, “he wrote Anthony Zurcher, a BBC journalist specializing in American politics.
“Meanwhile, Trump is still in power for now. And once he breaks camp to go home to Florida, he could start making plans to retaliate and, perhaps, one day return to power and rebuild a legacy that, of moment, it’s shattered. “
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.