It’s a lesson oddsmakers have long learned the hard way: never assume the imminent political demise of one Donald Trump.
But the one-two punch of the Congressional investigation into the Capitol Hill riot and the seismic impact of Roe vs. Wade raises new doubts about Trump’s persuasiveness.
“Trump is unfit to ever come close to power,” wrote the editors of the right-wing weekly Washington Examiner, a publication that has long honored the former president, this week after the commission’s surprise hearing on Jan. 6.
The hearing was called at the last minute to showcase the revelations of former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who described in shocking, if not surprising, detail Trump’s state of mind in the waning days and hours of his ill-fated presidency.
That hearing “confirmed a damning portrayal of Trump as unstable, untethered and absolutely negligent of his sworn duty to effect a peaceful transition of presidential power,” the editorial continued.
“Republicans have much better options for leading the party in 2024. No one should think otherwise, let alone support him, ever again.”
Jan 6 Panel Sues Trump White House Attorney After Explosive Testimony
Hutchinson, a special assistant to the president and chief of staff Mark Meadows, told the committee that Trump seemed desperate to join his supporters at the Capitol on Jan. 6, unfazed by the fact that many of them were armed — “they’re not here.” to hurt me,” she heard him say.
She described hearing from officials that Trump had ordered Secret Service to take him to the Capitol, and that he grabbed the steering wheel of the presidential SUV and even the neck of a member of his intelligence agency when those orders were rejected.
And she told how White House counsel Pat Cipollone desperately tried to get the president to resign, but Meadows told him that Trump seemed indifferent to the impending danger facing his vice president, Mike Pence.
Mark had responded along the lines of, ‘You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it,” Hutchinson said.
‘I’m the f–ing president’: Former aide testifies that Trump demanded to join US Capitol siege
The select committee issued a subpoena late Wednesday for Cipollone, a longtime Trump loyalist whose pleas to Meadows and others that day included the warning, “We will be charged with every crime imaginable” if the president ventured to the Capitol.
Thousands gather in Ottawa for Canada Day celebrations, protests amid tight security
Uvalde’s mother says police harass her after saving children from shooting
It was yet another part of a study that shook off the sedate, procedural approach to congressional hearings in favor of a carefully dosed, serialized style of storytelling that has made all five hearings to date a must-see TV.
“They did a really good job of presenting things,” said Paul Beck, a political science professor at Ohio State University, noting that the absence of Trump-loyal Republicans on the committee has allowed for a more streamlined narrative.
Hutchinson, he said, “has no self-interest to be honest, and did a good job of distinguishing between things she saw and knew firsthand, and things she’d heard.”
Emergence of Conspiracy Theories Shows Canada Isn’t Immune to US Problems
Trump, predictably, has tried to discredit Hutchinson’s story by describing it as “lies” and “made up stories” and Hutchinson himself as a “false social climber”. Whether it will affect his far from confirmed plan to seek the 2024 presidential nomination is another matter, Beck said.
“I think there’s some evidence for that, although it’s very slight — there’s some movement in the polls,” he said.
Supporters “are still quite steadfast in their support of him. I think there’s reason to believe that, you know, that support is eroding. But is it hollowed out enough? We’ll have to wait and see.”
The most immediate concern for Republicans and Democrats alike is abortion, and the Supreme Court’s decision to undo Roe, setting a rock-solid precedent for courts in the US and around the world, and a star for reproductive rights champions since 1973.
Trump, who gave the court the conservative majority needed for last week’s decision, posted a message on his Truth Social platform celebrating the ruling as “the biggest WIN for LIFE in a generation”. But the New York Times has reported that he personally fears it could be “bad for Republicans” in the long run.
President Joe Biden seems to agree: When asked at a press conference in Madrid on Thursday about deep-seated pessimism among American voters, he couldn’t bring it up fast enough.
“The only thing that is destabilizing is the excessive conduct of the United States Supreme Court in not just setting aside Roe vs. Wade, but essentially challenging the right to privacy,” Biden said.
“If the poll data is correct and you think this court decision was a disgrace or a serious mistake, please vote. Come by and vote.”
US Capitol Siege Hearings Focus on Trump’s Pressure Campaign to Undo the 2020 Election
Polls show that a majority of Americans believe the Supreme Court went too far with a decision that Biden perceived as a threat to other privacy-based freedoms, such as same-sex marriage and birth control — just what the doctor ordered for Democrats who try the furniture in the middle of a difficult in-between season.
Whether Biden, who remains defiant about his plans to run again, will face his old nemesis or a new face in 2024 remains to be seen, Beck said.
“There’s a sense that a lot of (Republicans) like what Trump did, but not necessarily who he is,” Beck said.
“There is support for Trump, no matter how obscene his activities, for policy reasons. Can another Republican pick up that kind of support? Probably ? but we still need to realize that we are two years away from a presidential campaign and a lot can happen in that time.”
© 2022 The Canadian Press