Jan 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Republicans enabled Trump. Then, a few strangled him

Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after the joint session of Congress resumed. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

It is an ironic, poetic ending to the raucous reign of Donald J. Trump: Enabled — and enabling — Republicans put the final knives in their beloved, besieged, beaten president:

  • It was often conservative judges appointed by Trump who rejected his desperate lawsuits to overturn the election results state by state.
  • It was Trump appointees on the Supreme Court, who he assumed would do his bidding, who rejected his pleas for Supreme salvation.
  • It was the Georgia governor he almost single-handedly helped put in office, and Trump supporters below him, who refused his unprecedented pressure to flip the state his way.
  • It was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who turned a blind eye and silent mouth to countless Trump actions he privately ridiculed, who took to the Senate floor to insist that Congress certify President-elect Biden's victory.
  • It was Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a key Trump ally on the Hill and a 2024 contender, who loudly condemned what Trump is doing — a sign that some believe Trump, as ex-president, won't be the scary political threat he hopes to be.
  • It was scores of Republicans, most of whom sucked up to Trump for four-plus years, who voted against final pleas to reject the election of Joe Biden. (At 3 a.m., the House voted 282-138 against an objection to Pennsylvania's electoral votes; the Senate shut down the same objection, 92-7, just after midnight.)
  • And it was his own vice president, Mike Pence, who will go down in history as one of the most loyal supplicants to serve in his office, who rejected intense pressure to violate the Constitution to deny Biden his office.

The big picture: There are no heroes here — courage brimmed only at the precipice. But a few people who watched the system breach, in the end, did not allow it to break. Only in time will we learn the reward or consequences of their actions.

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