Wednesday, August 4

Trump’s final days put the country at a dangerous crossroads (Analysis)

(CNN) — The presidency of Donald Trump is in its final chaotic spiral. But even with the end so near, every hour seems to bring a new threat to America’s fragile democracy.

With less than two weeks left for President-elect Joe Biden to take office, the nation is nervous, unsure whether Trump will incite another round of violence or will simply continue, petulantly, looking for means to complain about the Twitter’s decision to sanction him. Recognizing the instability, the vice president Mike Pence did not rule out an effort to invoke Amendment 25a source close to the vice president told CNN on Saturday night. The relationship between Trump and Pence is fractured: They haven’t spoken since Wednesday, when a violent mob stormed the Capitol, and the president never bothered to verify Pence’s safety.

The insurrection put the country at a crossroads. House Democrats could launch a new round of impeachment proceedings this week, this time over Trump’s role in inciting the deadly riot. If they go ahead, Republicans could face a public test of their loyalty again. The fact that so few seem willing to speak out forcefully, let alone commit to taking action against the president, suggests that the siege of the Capitol is less likely to have marked the bloody end of Trumpism than the opening of a more dangerous chapter.

The “paranoid style in American politics,” as described historian Richard Hofstadter almost 60 years ago is nothing new. However, under Trump and through new organizational channels on social media, has further radicalized the modern Republican Party and has steadily moved from the fringes to the center of political power in Washington and state capitals across the country, which again saw angry clashes this week.

Since their golden bubble, top Republicans have had mixed convictions, mostly centered on Trump and his main allies in the electoral college maneuver, Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley de Missouri, with a familiar refrain: that any meaningful reprimand to this horrific display would only serve to “politicize” it and “further divide” the country. Many Republicans said that Trump’s impeachment plans and even the president’s Twitter account move should be viewed as political tactics rather than rational and overdue measures to combat a vicious attack on democracy.

But those who deny the scope of the threat were stripped of their fig leaves, or delusions, on Wednesday, sparking a nerve-racking rush until January 20, when Pence, but not Trump, will attend the inauguration from President-elect Joe Biden.

Republicans haven’t strayed too far from Trump

But if Pence, in his bid to keep Trump in the game until then, has a great deal of support from his former colleagues on Capitol Hill, he will be disappointed. Shortly before CNN reported that the vice president is keeping the 25th Amendment on the table, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady rejected it, along with any move toward impeachment, and suggested, ridiculously, that doing so was no different from Trump’s goads. .

“Those calling for impeachment or invoking the 25th Amendment in response to President Trump’s rhetoric this week are engaging in immoderate and inflammatory language,” Brady tweeted, “and calling for actions that are equally irresponsible and that may well incite more. violence”.

Meanwhile, Hawley, who is seeking to take over Trump’s move to realize his own ambitions, has spent more time lamenting on Twitter about a canceled book deal than addressing his role in Wednesday’s siege. Cruz also shirked his responsibility and even made the comically implausible argument that, in fact, he has been a constant critic of the president. The Republican leadership has been mostly calm, following motions to condemn the violence while refusing to endorse any meaningful action in response.

The party rank and file have shown little inclination to break with Trump. On Friday, Republican National Commission Chair Ronna McDaniel, a Trump loyalist who has been careful not to completely break with the president, was reelected to her post despite the Republican Party losing control of the House in 2018. , the White House in 2020 and the Senate in 2021.

Even retired Sen. Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, who criticized the effort to change the Electoral College count and told Fox News Saturday that Trump has “committed objectionable crimes«He resisted going ahead with the process.

“I don’t know if logistically it’s really possible or practical and I’m not sure it’s desirable to try to expel him, a day or two or three before the day it will end, anyway,” Toomey said. “So I am not sure that it is the best way forward.”

The refusal of Congressional Republicans to have a meaningful conversation about what’s next has left Democrats responsible for charting the way forward. But they have their own political weights to balance.

Biden has shown little enthusiasm for impeachment, knowing that a Senate trial would suck the oxygen out of his early days in office and give Republicans a high-profile forum to argue that his calls for unity and his commitment to chilling partisan passions were empty words.

“I’m focused on the virus, the vaccine and economic growth,” Biden said when asked about impeachment on Friday. “What Congress decides to do is up to them. But I’m going to have to do it and they are going to have to be ready to start working.

Preparing for what is to come

The political calculations now being consumed by the leaders of both parties are developed in the context of more imminent threats. Safety concerns ahead of Biden’s inauguration on January 20 are growing. The talk on right-wing and pro-Trump social media forums has grown increasingly virulent, and it’s unclear whether the president, even if he wanted to, could control it.

John Scott-Railton, principal investigator at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, told CNN that his group looks at evidence that the inauguration could become another flash point.

“While the general public was appalled by what happened (on Wednesday) on Capitol Hill, in certain corners of the right-wing type of conversation, what happened,” he said, “is considered a success.”

What would the impeachment process against Trump look like? 1:04

After the failure to protect the Capitol last week, there is new concern from some Democrats that the safety of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris could be compromised. Even a short poll of the best-known right-wing and pro-Trump online hubs makes clear the seriousness of the threat – one that, for too long, has been dismissed as anonymous bragging.

Concerns about future violence extend beyond the Capitol and its immediate surroundings. American and United Airlines, with the support of two flight attendant unions, have taken steps to strengthen safety in the air and on the ground. Both carriers have increased staffing at Washington area airports, which will also see Capitol Police deployments prior to the inauguration, and American has ended alcohol service on flights in and out of the region.

Members of Congress will be given increased security, in a coordinated effort by the Capitol Police, the Office of the Sergeant at Arms and the U.S. Marshals Service, as they travel through airports after several senators, including Republican from South Carolina Lindsey Graham – who broke up with the president last week – were harassed by other travelers.

In Congress, Democratic lawmakers are beginning to consider their options, understanding that were it not for the brutal clumsiness of the insurgents and the actions of some members of the Capitol police force, the death toll could have been far worse. Some have started planting the seeds for an in-depth review of security on Capitol Hill, examining not just the logistics, but also the composition of the staff tasked with protecting them.

New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman will draft legislation that would form a commission to investigate the Capitol Police, which in some cases have been accused of withdrawing too easily or even welcoming, as in the case of an agent who appeared to be pose for a selfie with an insurgent during the siege of the building on Wednesday.

“Why could a fascist and supremacist mob overwhelm the Capitol police? Are there links between the supremacists who launched that attack and members of the police force? ”Bowman tweeted. “We need answers.”

Rep. Grace Meng, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, also from New York, publicly endorsed the legislation and the leadership of the Democratic commission, highlighting its role in funding the force, said in a statement that ” the rape of the Capitol raises serious questions about what the police did and what they should have done differently.

Democrats also praised the bravery of some officers, including Brian Sicknick, who died, according to officials, “from injuries sustained while on duty.”

The federal prosecutor’s office plans a federal murder investigation in connection with his death, a law enforcement source told CNN on Friday.

Trump has not personally commented on his death.

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