Biden reflects on ‘diminished’ GOP at NATO in wake of post-Trump fallout
President Biden on Monday said some foreign leaders he’s met with in recent days have been “shocked” by the fallout over former President Trump’s time in office and, in particular, the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, while expressing confidence that the political turmoil in the U.S. was a passing phase in the nation’s history.
His response came at a NATO press conference on Monday where he was asked how he’s been able to reassure allies that the U.S. will be a reliable and stable partner moving forward, especially given the violence of Jan. 6 and Trump’s continued hold on the Republican Party.
The president has repeatedly emphasized at the Group of Seven (G-7) and NATO summits that now is a critical time for democracies around the world.
“The leaders I’m dealing with in NATO and the G-7 are leaders who know our recent history, know generically the character of the American people and know where the vast center of the public stands,” Biden said. “We’re a decent, honorable nation. And I think that they have seen things happen, as we have, that shocked them and surprised them that could have happened. But I think they, like I do — the American people are not going to sustain that kind of behavior.
“The Republican Party is vastly diminished in numbers. The leadership of the Republican Party is fractured. And the Trump wing of the party is the bulk of the party,” Biden added. “But it makes up a significant minority of the American people.”
Biden went on an extended riff about the state of the Republican Party in U.S. politics, arguing that it’s imperative he’s successful in defeating the pandemic and revitalizing the economy to restore trust in government, particularly among young Republicans.
“I think it is a shock and surprise that what’s happened in terms of the consequence of President Trump’s phony populism has happened. And it is disappointing that so many of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, who I know know better, have been reluctant to take on, for example, an investigation because they’re worried about being primaried,” Biden said, referencing the refusal of the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans to support an investigation into the Jan. 6 riot in which pro-Trump mobs overwhelmed law enforcement and sent lawmakers scrambling for safety in an effort to stop Congress’s counting of Electoral College votes affirming Biden’s victory.
“But at the end of the day, we’ve been through periods like this in American history before, where there has been this reluctance to take a chance on your reelection because of the nature of your party’s politics at the moment,” the president added. “I think this is a passing — I don’t mean easily passing. That’s why it’s so important that I succeed in my agenda.”
Biden has made it a point to highlight the return of American leadership to the world stage during his first foreign trip as president. He trumpeted after the G-7 that “America is back at the table,” and he described the NATO mutual defense clause as a “sacred obligation.”
Those comments, and Biden’s broader efforts to return the U.S. to the forefront of international alliances, follow four years in which Trump promoted his “America First” agenda while repeatedly chastising allies, including those in NATO and the G-7.
Despite initial condemnations from Republicans for his role in the Jan. 6 violence, Trump has retained his grip on the GOP since leaving office, even as he continues to spout unsubstantiated claims about election fraud.