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What Steve Scalise’s answers to Donald Trump really tell us

Nothing, apparently, has changed.

Karl: But – but, wait a minute, I mean, [Donald Trump] did not take responsibility. You heard Kevin McCarthy say – I mean, do you agree with what Kevin McCarthy said here, that the president has to take responsibility, that the facts demand that he take responsibility for what happened. past January 6?

Ladder: Well, first of all – now I’ve written a Wall Street Journal op-ed on where I think the blame rests for Jan. 6. And surely there is a lot of blame to be done.

But in the end, the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6, it was a shame. And they must be held accountable. And in fact, more than 180 have already been arrested. And I know the FBI is working to root out every person who broke into the Capitol, who attacked the police. There is no place for that.

Um, “surely there is a lot of blame to be done?”

Well, yes there is. Trump, his facilitators in Congress, conservative radio and television, the political professionals who grabbed the stolen election are lying to line their pockets …..

But I don’t think that’s what Scalise means. In fact, he appears to be engaged in a “two-siderism” argument, the idea that bad people from all walks of life were responsible for the damage done to Capitol Hill and to the country on January 6.

In fact, as the interview progressed, Scalise went further down the path of “whataboutism”.

“When you look – look, Donald Trump denounced what happened, and I think everyone should have unequivocally denounced what happened, not just on January 6 but during the summer, when ‘they were setting fire to towns, shooting at cops, beating people in the streets, “he told Karl.” You – you saw … the left denounce on January 6, as we have seen made. They did not denounce what happened during the summer. “

Note here: while there was a few violence during protests for racial equity in the summer of 2020, it was a) not widespread and b) not an attack on the U.S. Capitol as the U.S. Vice President and members of Congress were there.

Also of note: Trump never denounced the violence on January 6. Quite the contrary.

“We love you. You are very special,” Trump told rioters that day.

Asked by Karl whether Joe Biden was the “legitimate” president, Scalise replied, “Look, Joe Biden is the president. There were a few states that did not follow their laws. This is really the dispute that you have seen continue. “

Which is not a simple “yes”.

What Scalise’s interview shows is that the internal politics of the House GOP conference – and the party’s broader base – simply leave no room for anyone to cross paths with Trump. Always. Regardless of whether Scalise believes what he says about the election and the January 6 riot, he feels compelled to say these things because he knows that if he doesn’t respect the line, he can s ‘expect a challenge to the leadership, a censorship of his state party. and a main challenge likely next year.

This fear of retaliation means the GOP is still Donald Trump’s party, and will be until its elected leaders begin to shift principle to political calculation.

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