WASHINGTON – Four months after instigating a violent attack on the Capitol in a last-ditch bid to retain power, former President Donald Trump on Wednesday demonstrated that he continues to maintain his grip on his party, as GOP officials of the House were preparing to purge Wyoming’s Liz Cheney of her leadership role. for criticizing him.
The move, the latest assault on one of the few Republicans elected to publicly claim that Trump’s actions in the weeks leading up to and on January 6 should ban him from public life, have alarmed authoritarian experts who have pointed to historical parallels. disturbing.
Tom Nichols, a scholar from the former Soviet Union and professor at the US Naval War College, said the situation sounded familiar. “The whole atmosphere is one of loyalty to the leader and to the party, and none to principle or politics,” he said.
And Jonathan Weiler, an authoritarian expert at the University of North Carolina, found parallels going back to Nazi Germany. “It’s interesting that Cheney is condemning Trump specifically for his use of the term ‘the big lie’ to assert his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen,” he said. “The ‘big lie’ itself is a term often attributed to chief Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels – the idea being that if you relentlessly and utterly push a lie, you can make ordinary people believe it.
Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) And Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) In recent days have both signaled their desire to push Cheney for president. Republican House Conference and their willingness to replace it with Rep. Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.), who has repeatedly spread Trump’s lies about the election.
Trump himself followed up on press releases Wednesday attacking Cheney, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) And his own former Vice President Mike Pence for failing to accept his false claims that he had won the election but had been stolen. from him.
If Mike Pence had returned information on six states (it only takes two) to state legislatures, and the instinctively and clueless MINORITY leader Mitch McConnell (he blew up two seats in Georgia which should never have been lost), fought to expose all the corruption that was presented at the time, with more discoveries since then we would have had a much different presidential result, ”Trump said in a released statement. simultaneously on his new blog.
“The idea that something as absurd as the stolen election claim would itself become a test of loyalty for mainstream GOPs is ominously reminiscent of how fascism demanded loyalty to its cause,” Weiler said.
Cheney is one of more than 20 Congressional Republicans who refused to accept Trump’s election lies, and among 17 who voted to impeach or convict him for instigating the Jan.6 attack on voter certification.
Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler said lawmakers are not backing down. “The question is whether the Republican Party is going to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and attempt to whitewash what happened on January 6. Liz won’t. That is the problem, ”he said.
As to the likely attempt to get her out of her No.3 position at the Republican House Conference meeting next week, Adler said Cheney was not yet commenting. “Liz will have more to say in the next few days. This moment is much more than a fight at the head of the House, ”he said.
Trump spent months leading up to the election telling his supporters that the only way to lose reelection was if Democrats were wrong. Trump lost the November 3 election by 7 million votes, but his lies that he actually won in a “landslide” began in the wee hours of November 4 and continued with dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits for cancel his losses in various states, through the Electoral College vote on December 14, and then through January 6, when he repeated them at a rally he organized near the White House.
There, he encouraged the thousands in attendance to march to the Capitol to intimidate Pence and Congress into reversing his 306-232 loss to the Electoral College and let him retain power, then watched from the White House of hundreds of them storm the building. After Trump tweeted that Pence had “lacked the courage” to undo his loss, many in his crowd began chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they searched for him.
Seven people, including three police officers, died this afternoon and the following days, two by suicide.
While a host of Republicans, including McCarthy, initially accused Trump of instigating the attack and failing to stop it once it started, most have since backed away from criticism. , and Trump renewed his lie about the Republican House leadership election. seems to have made official caucus policy.
Neither McCarthy’s office nor Stefanik responded to questions from HuffPost on Wednesday.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a history professor at New York University and an expert on fascism, said their loyalty to Trump was further proof of the party’s leadership. “The decision to purge Liz Cheney is another example of the authoritarian style party discipline adopted by Trump’s GOP. This is further proof that the GOP has become a far right party beholden to a ruling sect, ”she said.
The only saving grace, Nichols said, is Trump’s lack of competence, even being an effective authoritarian. “The Soviets banned people from the party, or worse, for disloyalty,” he said. “The best the GOP can do is hold a primary election against Cheney while an old crank in Florida issues angry memos that no one will read.”
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