Still in Trump’s Grip

Donald Trump hints at pardons for the Capitol rioters from Jan. 6, 2021, should he be reelected. There is little opposition from the party.

Donald Trump is still able to cause a stir. While the U.S. House Select Committee’s ongoing investigation continues to unearth new details about the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, over the weekend Trump generously presented the prospect of amnesty for the intruders. “If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly. … And if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons, because they are being treated so unfairly,” Trump said during a speech in Texas, drawing applause from his supporters.

Close to 700 people have been charged so far with seditious conspiracy following the events of Jan. 6, including 11 members of the far-right Oath Keepers. In court, many of the defendants said they had taken part in the protests in the belief that they were following Trump’s direct orders.

Now Trump has doubled down even more: The district attorney’s offices of New York and Georgia are currently investigating possible tax violations and attempts to torpedo the elections. If there are charges, Trump hopes to see the biggest protests the country has ever seen.

Trump has not yet declared whether he’ll actually run for president again in 2024. Formally, most of his campaign-style rallies are now in support of specific candidates for the midterm elections, in which the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are reelected.

The Moderates Have It Hard

Trump’s support is essential for many Republican candidates; however, it’s granted only to those who join in with his loudly proclaimed lies about the stolen 2020 elections.

By demanding pardons for the rioters, Trump raises the bar even further. There is little opposition from his own party. New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine were the only ones to quickly and publicly condemn Trump’s remarks.

Sununu is considered moderate, and Collins was one of the few Republican senators to vote against Trump in the second impeachment trial last year — she’s out of favor with him and his base anyway.

The Toxic Influence Has Remained

But that was it for active Republican protests. Given Trump’s open rejection of democratic institutions and the independence of the judiciary, that’s precious little. Many are probably secretly hoping that Trump will finally shut up — after all, much of the rhetoric of the Republicans in Congress is based on accusing the Democrats and President Joe Biden of further dividing the country by their insistence on investigating the storming of the Capitol. The fact that Trump himself is constantly aggressively repeating the old lies makes this endeavor difficult.

Trump is also currently railing against a bipartisan bill that would make it impossible for the vice president to unilaterally refuse to certify the electoral votes in the Senate. This date was the reason for the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — and Trump had openly called on former Vice President Mike Pence to reject the results so that he would be declared the winner of the election. The conservative media are supporting Trump as well.

Fox News, for example, which had drawn Trump’s animosity at election time because it had declared Joe Biden the victor before CNN, is back in line with its hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham; not to mention the smaller, more radical right-leaning networks One America News Network and Newsmax.

Trump may have lost his direct channels of communication with the ban on Twitter and Facebook, but his toxic influence has remained.

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