In the wake of the deadly attack on Capitol Hill incited by former president Donald Trump, a few top Republicans read the room and decided it wouldn’t be a great look to condone violence or the instigator of said violence. “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy proclaimed. Speaking on the Senate floor, Lindsey Graham told his colleagues, “Trump and I, we’ve had a hell of a journey,” but “all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.” Now, in a turn of events that should shock exactly no one, they’ve gone from “Trump did something really bad and we’re done with him” to “Hey, big guy, my flight lands at 11 a.m., hope to be by your place before noon! Can’t wait, missed you tons! You want me to pick up anything on my way? Bottle of Diet Coke? Dessert? I know how you love those Little Debbie snack cakes.”
Yes, three weeks after the 45th president of the United States incited an insurrection against the U.S. government, one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress who could, if he wanted to, decide to consign Trump to the scrap heap of political history is…meeting with him at his private club. Probably over lunch. A date for which they had to fly 1,000 miles in the middle of a pandemic.
In case anyone was holding out hope that McCarthy was sitting down with Trump to explain to him that he’s no longer president and will therefore have to relinquish the stranglehold on the party he’s had for the last four years, Politico reports that he is in fact there to make nice with the guy who, again, has made the GOP the party of violent insurrections. According to Politico, McCarthy will “try to smooth things over,” believing that “it’s in his interest to be on Trump’s good side.” Presumably, McCarthy is also going to walk back his initial, disloyal comments about Trump being responsible for the attack. According to The New York Times, “Mr. Trump had been livid with Mr. McCarthy and, according to people close to the former president, privately referred to him with a vulgarity commonly used to describe a coward after his speech during the House debate on impeaching the former president for ‘incitement of insurrection.’” Last week McCarthy told reporters he didn’t believe Trump had “provoked” the fascist mob, and on Sunday said that he thinks “everybody across this country has some responsibility” for the Capitol attack. So presumably, he’ll open today’s meeting by bowing and telling Trump, “my liege, I come here today to beg for your forgiveness.” Trump world, unsurprisingly, is reportedly “ecstatic about the visit, viewing the huddle as proof of a comeback in the making” and a “solid bit of evidence” that he is “still in charge of the party.” A Trump adviser predicted to Politico that he is “going to give Kevin an earful about the 10 members who impeached him” and, like a mob boss, will be “crossing his arms and smiling while he reminds Kevin that Matt Gaetz is going out to Wyoming to challenge Liz Cheney and that he could be next.”
Elsewhere in Republicans who momentarily had an attack of conscience in the immediate wake of the attack, Lindsey Graham would like it to be known that Trump will always be his president, if not in reality then in heart and mind. After attempting to blame the Capitol riot on Nancy Pelosi, the South Carolina senator set Trump up with a lawyer and on Wednesday told the Daily Beast that the two had recently chatted about how great it was that 45 Republicans had voted to scrap the Senate trial entirely.
“He’s very interested in the outcome of the trial and I talked to him yesterday, and I told him the vote yesterday is a sign of things to come,” Graham said Wednesday.
“I said [to Trump] there will be a motion to dismiss [the impeachment trial], I think on the 8th. We need 51 to dismiss the case. I was stressing to [Trump] that we’re most likely not going to get that, but we are going to get more than enough for an acquittal. Getting 51 votes on a motion to dismiss will probably be very difficult…He’s in the mindset of [concluding the trial] sooner rather than later…I’ve been saying this for a long time: There’s no appetite on our side for this trial.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy is apparently extremely broken up about the fact that moderates in his party are mad at him for standing by Trump, while MAGA diehards want him to take an even stronger line and strip Rep. Liz Cheney, who called for Trump’s impeachment, of her leadership position. On Saturday, his digital director reportedly sent out an email to GOP communications staffers asking them to repost a tweet from McCarthy claiming, “From the minute the Capitol was attacked, I called for the rioters to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and have repeatedly said that it is incumbent upon every person in America to help lower the temperature of our political discourse.” According to an aide to the minority leader, “We’re eating s–t for breakfast, lunch, and dinner right now.” Well, not right now, right now. Right now they’re eating lunch at Mar-a-Lago.
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