Too little, too late — Republicans quit Trump after Capitol riot

screenshot / Twitter

One by one, after the Capitol riot, many of Trump’s higher-level sycophants and enablers have begun to find some daylight between themselves and their once-beloved would-be-dictator. Some speak out, others resign their posts, and his allies become fewer and fewer.

They have backed the president’s capricious rule, his bigoted outbursts, and his attempts to rule by breaking all rules. But the mob of Trump fanatics who invaded the Capitol, whipped into a frenzy by the president himself, was more than some could take.

He screwed his supporters, he screwed the country and now he’s screwed himself

Trump spent the hours of the Capitol riot egging on his merry band of bigots by tweet as he hid in the White House. Hours later, Trump finally peppered one of his inflammatory tweets with a suggestion that the mob dispersed. But by then, it was too late. “He screwed his supporters, he screwed the country and now he’s screwed himself,” a 2016 Trump campaign official told Politico.

It’s lonely at the bottom

A sullen Trump stands with a microphone cord trailing down his back.

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

He’s got a bunker mentality now, he really does.

While some officials are speaking anonymously, there is no mystery as to who they are discussing. As one senior Trump advisor put it, “This morning I would have told you the Republican Party is in shambles because of Donald Trump. Now the entire country is.”

Here are some Republicans that have finally found the line they wouldn’t cross, rats that should have jumped ship long ago.

William Barr

Barr standing at a podium

Flickr / Office of Public Affairs

Previously known as the attorney general who would do anything to cover Trump’s ass, William Barr left near the end of 2020 after a fire-resigning exchange via Tweet. But he showed up yesterday after the Capitol riot to slam one more door in the president’s face.

Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.

Calling Trump’s behavior “a betrayal of his office and supporters,” Barr might have been relieved he didn’t have to defend his former boss, since he told the Associated Press that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.”

First to the exit

Profile shot of Stephanie Grisham

Wikimedia

The first principled resignation after the Capitol riot came from Stephanie Grisham, the First Lady’s Chief of Staff. As one of the few long-serving Trump aides, Grisham has hung pretty Trumpy, including a brief stint at White House Press Secretary during which she never held a briefing.

Close on Grisham’s heels, CNN reported White House social secretary Anna Cristina “Rickie” Niceta left the night of the Capitol riot as well. What a president whose only social exposure seems to be with throngs of rabid fans through plexiglass needs with a social secretary is a bit mysterious, but in any case, it won’t be Niceta doing the job anymore.

Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews was out the door as well at the end of a day that left her “deeply disturbed.”

Mick Mulvaney

screenshot / CNN

Once Mick Mulvaney was willing to juggle two jobs, as Trump’s Cabinet as White House Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Now he doesn’t even want to be U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. In what may be the most succinct resignation of the Trump administration, Mulvaney said he told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:

I can’t do it. I can’t stay.”

Mulvaney tried to reach the president through Twitter, tweeting “The best thing @realDonaldTrump could do right now is to address the nation from the Oval Office and condemn the riots,” to no avail. By the time the Capitol riot was over, so was Mick.

“We didn’t sign up for what you saw last night,” he said of his decision to resign. “Those who choose to stay…are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in,” Mulvaney told CNBC. While Mulvaney still clings to the idea there were policies, “that we can be proud of,” he knows, “all of that went away yesterday.”

Chad Wolfe

Chad Wolf with his lips pursed

Wikimedia

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf plans to stay in his job to make sure the transition to Joe Biden’s administration is an orderly one. But the Washington Post reports that Wolfe calls the Capitol riot “tragic and sickening.”

“I implore the President and all elected officials to strongly condemn the violence that took place yesterday.”

Mrs. Grim Reaper

A photograph of Mitch McConnell sitting with his wife Elaine Chao

Screenshot / YouTube

While Mitch McConnell is obviously willing to stomach just about anything that Trump does to destroy America, his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao can’t take any more. Chao said the Capitol riot, “has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside.” AZ Central reported that she would be resigning from her plum position.

Adam Kinzinger

United States Congress / Public Domain / Wikimedia

Adam Kinzinger, a Republican Representative from Illinois, called for Mike Pence and Trump’s Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment so that “we have a sane captain of the ship.”  The 25th Amendment provides for the removal of a president who “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Unmoored not just from his duty or even his oath, but from reality itself.

Kinzinger says it’s time; that Trump has become “unmoored not just from his duty or even his oath, but from reality itself.”

Chris Christie

Chris Christie pointing his fingers

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

One of the many who couldn’t get their pal Trump on the line as the president’s minions swarmed the Senate chamber, Christie resorted to stating the obvious to ABC News. “The president caused this protest to occur,” he said. “He is the only one who can make it stop.”

Once a darling of the Trump inner circle, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might have begun his drift before the Capitol riot. After Christie ended up in the ICU with a severe case of COVID that he likely picked up at the Amy Coney Barrett Superspreader Soirée, he started singing a new song about how important masks were.

Tom Bossert

Tom Bossert standing in front of a flag

Wikimedia

Tom Bossert, a former Homeland Security Advisor who resigned in April 2018, says that his former boss “undermined American democracy baselessly for months.” He laid the blame for the Capitol riot at Trump’s feet, saying he was, “culpable for this siege.”

Bossert had already denounced Trump for not wearing a mask in public. He also said that he was “deeply disturbed” by the idea of Trump pressing Ukraine for dirt on the Bidens.

Scott Jennings

iop.harvard.edu

Scott Jennings was an aide to President George W. Bush and maintains a close relationship with the Trump White House. Or maybe that’s maintained, as the relationship seems pretty rocky right now.

Donald Trump caused this insurrection with lies and conspiracy theories

Jennings is clear. “Donald Trump caused this insurrection with lies and conspiracy theories about the election being rigged against him,” he said. “The election was not stolen but this madness was fomented by the president and his top advisers.”

And as far as Trump’s video to the rioters, Jennings found it “half-hearted [and] completely inadequate.”

Tom Cotton

Tom Cotton looking to the left

Wikimedia

Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton could not muster a full-throated reprimand for his fearful leader, for the Capitol riot, but he did say it was “past time” for Trump to accept his election defeat.

He threw some of his colleagues further under the bus, though, telling Fox News that, “Some senators…for political advantage, were giving false hope to their supporters. Misleading them into thinking that somehow yesterday’s actions in Congress could reverse the results of the election.”

Some even sent out fundraising emails while insurrectionists stormed the Capitol.

Austin Cantrell

screenshot / cancomms.com

Austin Cantrell, who claims he left his job as Assistant White House Press Secretary “on great terms,” doesn’t feel great enough not to weigh in on Trump’s role in the Capitol riot.

Every day, every person chooses to be either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Cantrell spreads the blame around to “President Donald Trump and other Republican leaders,” saying they “should immediately denounce today’s illegal action as an affront to the American experiment of self-government and take into account the power their words have to heal or harm our Republic.”

Mike Pence

Mike Pence Vice President

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

While Vice President Pence has not yet denounced Trump, he managed to distance himself from the attempts to subvert the electoral vote count. The election vote certification was the business of Congress that the Capitol riot — not to mention a few Live Trump or Die style Congresspeople — failed to stop.

One man acted like a toddler, and the other acted like the second-highest-ranking constitutional official in the nation

While Pence was secreted away for his own safety, the only thing the president wanted to discuss about his second in command was his “betrayal.” One official said Trump was so mad at Pence, “he couldn’t see straight.” Trump may get his revenge, though. An ally of the Vice President called the day “the beginning of the end” of Pence’s formerly unshakeable loyalty to the president. But as far as Mike Pence, this “may very well be the end of his political career, too.”

Comparison between the two did not favor Trump. “One man acted like a toddler, and the other acted like the second-highest-ranking constitutional official in the nation,” an official said.

Still confused

A photograph of Trump with Crazy Hair

Flickr / Scott Spiegel

The kindest thing Trump’s aides seem to have to say about the president is that he is confused. One anonymous official reported that the president kept telling anyone who would listen that, “The vast majority of [the Capitol rioters] are peaceful,” and asking, “What about the riots this summer? What about the other side? No one cared when they were rioting. My people are peaceful. My people aren’t thugs.”

Maybe some people are trying to explain it to the president, like trying to get Nigel Tufnel to grasp the difference between ‘sexy’ and ‘sexist.’ But there are plenty in Trump’s orbit who are done trying. This same official said the president, “Was a total monster today,”

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