Donald Trump, an inescapable electoral asset or on the contrary instigator of the assault on the Capitol that must be avoided forever? The knives were drawn Sunday among Republicans, deeply divided after the trial of the former US president.
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Despite the acquittal verdict, the Democrats believe for their part to have garnered a moral and political victory which finally allows the new president Joe Biden to tackle his major issues, primarily his ambitious economic recovery plan.
The “Grand Old Party” is torn apart around the billionaire. With the gaze already turned towards the parliamentary elections of “midterms” in 2022, when the Republicans hope to regain a majority in the Senate, and in the House of Representatives.
“My goal is to win in 2022 to end the most radical program that I see coming from the Democratic presidency of Joe Biden, and we cannot do it without Donald Trump”, hammered Sunday on the Fox News channel Senator Lindsey Graham, one of his staunchest allies.
“He is ready to enter the campaign”, “to rebuild the Republican Party” and “I am ready to work with him”, he added, confiding that he had spoken to him on Saturday evening and that he planned to meet him at his home in Florida next week.
“Donald Trump is the most energetic member of the Republican Party”, his “most powerful force”, the “Trump movement is in great shape”, launched the senator.
Settled in his luxurious residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, the real estate mogul has kept a low profile during his historic Senate trial, where he was accused of inciting the January 6 violence.
But he followed the hearings. And reacted quickly, by press release, to his acquittal on Saturday evening.
“Our magnificent, historic and patriotic movement, Make America Great Again, has only just begun,” wrote the 45th US President.
Senators were a majority – 57 out of 100 – to vote for his conviction of the billionaire. Including, notably, seven Republicans. But it would have taken two-thirds of the upper house (67 votes) to reach a guilty verdict which could have been followed by a sentence of ineligibility.
“Fallen too low”
Among those who acquitted him, influential Republican senatorial leader Mitch McConnell explained that for him the Senate was simply not competent to do so. Before launching a scathing criticism, without appeal, of the former president.
“There is no doubt, no, that President Trump is, in fact and morally, responsible for causing the events of this day,” he thundered in a long speech.
His actions “constituted a shameful, shameful breach of his duties,” continued Mr. McConnell, suggesting the possibility of legal action: “He is still responsible for everything he did while he was in office. . He hasn’t escaped anything at all yet. ”
This speech “does not represent the sentiment of Republicans”, wants to believe Lindsey Graham, by confiding that Donald Trump was “angry with certain people”. Understand: Senator McConnell and the seven Republicans who wanted to condemn him.
But the powerful Republican leader is not the only ex-Trump stalwart to sever ties.
His former ambassador to the United Nations, and prospective candidate for the 2024 presidential election, Nikki Haley, said the billionaire could never stand again.
“He fell too low,” she told Politico, in an interview published Friday, before the verdict.
Deprived of the spotlight turned towards the White House and of his Twitter account, a long powerful megaphone, “his strength will decrease,” predicted Sunday one of seven Republicans to have voted for his conviction, Bill Cassidy. “The Republican Party is much more than one person,” he said.
Except that this senator is already facing a fierce reaction in his party in Louisiana.
“We’re going to see a real battle for the soul of the Republican Party over the next two years,” the moderate Republican Gov. of Maryland, Larry Hogan, predicted Sunday on CNN.
“I think a lot more people think we need to turn the page Donald Trump,” he said.
“Many Republicans are outraged, but do not have the courage to say it, because they are afraid” of losing their elections.
Faced with these Republican divisions, the Democrats have sought to drive the point home. First among them, Joe Biden who said that despite the acquittal, the charges against Donald Trump were not “contested”.