Another month, another indictment, another opportunity wasted for Republicans to condemn Donald Trump. It really is a cult.
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If you are wondering what Donald Trump has to do to lose the support of Republicans, including some who are currently running against him for the party’s presidential nomination, then you can cross off “being indicted for attempting a coup” from the list of possibilities.
The fact that the former president was finally charged with crimes related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election wasn’t all that surprising (you can find the indictment here and should read every word of it instead of listening to the talking heads, including this one). Anybody who was paying attention after the election saw what happened, and much of the information in the indictment already came out during the hearings on the January 6 insurrection.
However, what never fails to astound is that Republicans will rally behind Trump no matter what crime he has (very credibly) been accused of committing.
First there was the indictment in New York for falsifying business records. That’s a bit obscure and unrelated to his time in office, so it’s somewhat understandable that his most loyal supporters would stand by him.
The second indictment was not really defensible. Sure, maybe some Republicans wanted to give him a pass for hoarding classified documents, but the detailed obstruction of justice charges were another matter. Still, these were crimes he committed after being president, so maybe that’s an excuse to stick up for him.
By the way, in between the first two indictments, Trump was found guilty of sexually abusing an advice columnist. But it makes sense that the verdict didn’t raise a ton of eyebrows since the former president admitted on tape years ago that he sexually assaults women. Republicans didn’t abandon him then, so why start now?
Today’s indictment, however, is another matter altogether. This coup attempt happened in plain sight and took place while Trump was sworn to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” And, let’s be honest, staging a coup and inciting a mob to storm the Capitol isn’t exactly that.
Yet, even though the crimes alleged in today’s very detailed indictment are about an attack on the bedrock of American democracy, most Republicans reflexively circled the wagons around Trump.
“It’s an outrageous abuse of power,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) tweeted. Now you might think that he was referring to Trump’s attempts to use his authority as president to steal the election, but he was of course talking about the indictment.
Even Trump’s rivals for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination came out in defense of him.
“The corrupt federal police just won’t stop until they’ve achieved their mission: eliminate Trump,” tweeted Vivek Ramaswamy. “This is un-American & I commit to pardoning Trump for this indictment.”
It should be noted that former Vice President Mike Pence struck a different note.
“Today’s indictment serves as an important reminder: Anyone who puts himself over the Constitution should never be president of the United States,” he said. “Our country is more important than one man. Our Constitution is more important than any one man’s career.”
But let’s not forget that some in Trump’s mob were calling for Pence’s head on January 6, so he is probably still unhappy about all of that.
By and large, however, Republicans have come out in support of the former president, which brings us back to the original question: What would he have to do for conservatives to turn their back on him?
The only thing that comes to mind is drinking Bud Light with a transgender influencer.