Washington, United States:
The U.S. Republicans prepared for a fight for the future of their party on Sunday after Donald Trump changed attorneys a few days before his impeachment trial. This is an obvious sign that he is determined to keep the 2020 election going.
Trump’s Senate trial is slated to begin Feb. 9, but he split from his legal team after they reportedly refused to focus their defense on his unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud rather than constitutional issues.
The trial of the former president for alleged “incitement to rebellion” by his supporters over the Capitol storm has exposed a rift between Trump loyalists, who dominate the Republican Party, and its moderate wing.
“The Senate trial … will urge all Republicans to take a clearer stand,” Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson told ABCs “This Week.”
“President Trump has helped build the party for the past four years. I hope he won’t help destroy the party in the next four years.”
Hutchinson added, “We have to consider the people who supported Donald Trump … But at the same time, we don’t want to gloss over the terrible actions in the Capitol.”
Trump seems to be escaping conviction with increasing frequency due to the party’s support in the Senate, in which all but five Republicans have already supported an attempt to overturn the case on constitutional grounds.
But the process will still ensure that the lines of battle will be drawn over who controls the party after Trump’s first defeat.
On January 6, Trump delivered a fiery speech in front of the White House calling on his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol to scrap the election results.
The protesters then forcibly stormed the Capitol in scenes that shocked the world.
Trump still responsible?
“The president’s comments that day were partly responsible for what happened, for the terrible violence,” Republican Senator Rob Portman told CNN’s State of the Union. “What he did was wrong and inexcusable.
“I’m a juror. I will stay open when we go through this (trial). But I think this constitutional problem needs to be addressed. We would convict a private individual, someone who is out of office that sets a precedent.”
Adam Kinzinger, one of ten Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted for impeachment earlier this month, said on Sunday that Trump was “desperate to continue looking like he leads the party.”
“We have to stop being the party that defends even an iota of a riot, a dead policeman and other dead Americans on the Capitol,” Kinzinger told NBC’s Meet the Press.
Kinzinger has created a new political action committee to raise funds to challenge the party’s Trump wing.
As Republican senators signal opposition to Trump’s trial, they are instead stepping up efforts to reprimand him for his role in assaulting the Capitol.
While a conviction would result in a simple majority vote on whether or not Trump should be prevented from holding future public office, a critical decision has no such trigger.
Republican divisions have been further exposed in recent days by newly elected lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has advocated conspiracy theories put forward by the far-right QAnon movement and supported Trump’s false claims of electoral fraud.
Party leaders are under pressure to crack down on lawmakers, whose previous online posts point to support for the execution of Democrats and claim that school shootings were carried out to undermine support for gun rights.
But Taylor Greene has stayed defiant, and tweeted on Saturday that she had a “BIG call” with Trump posing as the new champion of the party’s Trumpist wing.
When asked whether she was fit for duty, Hutchinson was not clear, saying that party members should not be punished “because they think otherwise”.
But Portman took a tougher line, saying, “Republican leaders should stand up and say it’s totally unacceptable.”
Trump, who left the White House for Florida prior to Joe Biden’s inauguration, has vowed to remain active in politics in some form.
Kevin McCarthy, minority chairman of the House of Representatives, flew last week to pay homage to the former president at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. He wanted to keep Trump’s huge voter base on board as the party seeks to challenge the Democrats to control Congress in 2022.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)