Jan 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump, the GOP arsonist

President arrives on Marine One on the South Lawn on New Year's Eve. Photo: Ken Cedano/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Trump is torching his own party and its leaders on his way out of power — and tossing gas on the fire with a public call for mass protest next week and a vote to overturn his defeat.

Why it matters: Trump is demanding Republicans fully and unequivocally embrace him — or face his wrath. This is self-inflicted, self-focused — and dangerous for a Republican Party clinging to waning Washington power.

Look at Trump just this week:

  • He's trying to burn down the party's chances in Tuesday's Georgia runoffs, raising doubts for Republican voters by tweeting yesterday that the state's elections are "both illegal and invalid, and that would include the two current Senatorial Elections."
  • He's trying to burn down Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — who won on the back of Trump's primary endorsement — because Kemp wouldn't interfere in the state's presidential results. Trump told Fox News' Maria Bartiromo that he's "ashamed" he endorsed Kemp, and tweeted that Kemp should resign because he's "an obstructionist who refuses to admit that we won Georgia, BIG."
  • He's trying to burn down the party's credibility by stoking protests during Wednesday's congressional certification of President-elect Biden's Electoral College victory. Trump retweeted details about "#StopTheSteal" demonstrations, including one with the web address "WILDPROTEST." He tweeted "See you in D.C." — and "Be there, will be wild!"
  • He's trying to burn down Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who congratulated President-elect Biden on his victory. Trump has falsely claimed credit for McConnell's landslide reelection.
  • He's tossing other Republicans into the fire with the futile efforts to obstruct Biden's certification. McConnell, on a conference call with fellow Senate Republicans, called the upcoming vote "the most consequential I have ever cast," Jonathan Swan reported.
  • He's trying to burn down Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), tweeting on New Year's Day that he wants South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to primary him.
  • He lit the match on the last-ditch effort to raise stimulus checks to $2,000, which threatened to split the party before McConnell killed it.

The big picture: A united Republican Party could have claimed victory for outperforming expectations in House and Senate races, making inroads with Hispanics and delivering stimulus checks. Instead, the GOP is debating an implausible decertification of a presidential election. 

Go deeper