The Slatest

Embattled Pro-Insurrection Republicans Checking to See if They Can Still Blame Things on the Intolerant Left

A police officer walks in the foreground; across a road from her four other officers stand in front of police cruisers. The Capitol dome is seen behind them in the distance.
Capitol Police at the funeral procession for officer Brian Sicknick, who officials say died of injuries sustained during Wednesday’s riot in D.C. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Over the past two years, Donald Trump and the Republican Party have lost control of the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. But nothing has damaged their political standing as much as last week’s violent occupation of the Capitol by pro-Trump protesters:

• The president’s approval rating has fallen to its lowest-ever level, 37 percent, in Morning Consult’s polling. (His disapproval rating in the poll is at an all-time high of 60 percent.) He has also tied his lowest-ever mark, 33 percent, in Quinnipiac’s poll. In a Data for Progress–Vox poll released Tuesday, 67 percent of independent voters said they blamed Trump for inciting last week’s attack.

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• Airbnb, Amazon, American Express, AT&T, Comcast, Deutsche Bank, Dow Chemical, Marriott, the PGA of America, and Verizon have said they are cutting business ties to Trump or suspending donations to the Republican members of Congress who voted against certifying his election loss. Harvard’s Institute of Politics, which is well-known for its willingness to offer prestigious roles to controversial right-wing figures, removed prominent Trumpist New York Rep. Elise Stefanik from an advisory position.

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• The two Georgia Senate seats that Trump appears to have helped his party lose by turning both races into referendums on overturning the presidential election in a state that voted for Joe Biden remain lost.

• The New York Times reported late Tuesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “is pleased that Democrats are moving to impeach,” and soon after, Syracuse.com reported that New York Rep. John Katko was adding the first Republican vote to the impeachment effort.

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The possibility of becoming a party whose members can’t win elections or find high-six-figure salaries in the “government relations” field after they lose has created some tension. GOP leaders in the House of Representatives are reportedly declining to “whip” (i.e., pressure) members of their caucus to vote against impeachment if it’s brought to the floor on Wednesday as expected, and Politico reports that “at least 10” Republicans are considering yes votes. On Tuesday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s communications director quit and leaked to Punchbowl News (Punchbowl News? Sure, why not) that she did so because she was uncomfortable with his efforts to challenge the election. A senior Republican staffer on the House Armed Services Committee resigned in a letter attacking GOP members of the committee for voting against certification even after the riot.

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Some Republicans, in other words, are trying to distance themselves from themselves. Those who’ve chosen other paths have limited options. Figures like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who are looking for a middle way that will please both Wall Street and Brad From Missouri Who Has a Hitler Tattoo and a Number of Assault Rifles, are trying to circulate the idea that Joe Biden needs to “unify” the country by preventing an impeachment trial. The most hard-line position, though, is that the idea of accountability is itself radical PC police aggression of the sort that made the members of Facebook.com/MAGAMissouriGrenadePatriots so angry in the first place. Here’s Texas Rep. Kevin Brady:

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Trump made similar remarks Tuesday, telling reporters that “for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger.” Stefanik attacked Harvard in a statement for purportedly choosing to “cower and cave to the Woke left” and demonstrate “sneering disdain for everyday Americans.” Cruz is trying to make a thing out of Biden having compared Trump’s stolen-election claim to the concept of “the big lie” credited to Nazi minister Joseph Goebbels, writing on Twitter in his characteristic tone of transparently fake concern that the president-elect’s “choice to call his political opponents literal Nazis does nothing to bring us together or promote healing.” Most other Republicans appear to lack both the motivation and the means to join Cruz in this effort to turn the news cycle back against Democrats, that cycle still being occupied by developments related to the actual, verifiable Nazis who briefly overran the seat of government. There’s nothing lonelier than a failed revolutionary, especially when that revolutionary was already Ted Cruz.

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