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Ex-GOP senator suggests forming new party, calls Trump 'ringmaster' of Republicans

William Cohen, a former Republican senator from Maine and Defense secretary under former President Clinton, blasted GOP lawmakers challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election in a Thursday interview in which he suggested the formation of a new political party. 

Cohen made the comments on CNN's "The Situation Room" while discussing Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Democratic super PAC targets Hawley, Cruz in new ad blitz Hotel cancels Hawley fundraiser after Capitol riot: 'We are horrified' MORE's (R-Mo.) plans to object during Congress's counting of the Electoral College vote on Wednesday. Cohen called Hawley's actions "shameful" but warned that Republicans are just following President TrumpDonald TrumpFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Sasse, in fiery op-ed, says QAnon is destroying GOP Section 230 worked after the insurrection, but not before: How to regulate social media MORE's lead, calling him the party's "ringmaster."

"We have to remember that the current occupant of the White House is a ringmaster and what he expects to do is snap his whip and all the elephants hop up on chairs," Cohen said. "What they have to understand is he is going to continue to snap the whip whether he's in office or out of office. And every time they're going to have to jump up and sit on that stool to satisfy him and his supporters."

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"He is always going to up the ante, he cannot be satisfied. There's nothing in him. There's no moral core, and so they are going to be extorted or bribed in order to avoid a primary in 2022 or 2024," Cohen continued.

Discussing the future of the Republican Party, Cohen noted a clear divide among GOP lawmakers, saying more centrist Republicans such as Sens. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (Utah) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (Maine) are very different from Trump allies. He asked: Where are the lawmakers "standing up for the rule of law?"

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"For Trump it is pathological, for those who are jumping up to support him, it's diabolical and I don't think it's diabolically clever. I think they will find they will be hostage for the rest of their time in the Senate and going forward if they are only there to appease the Trumpsters," he said.

"Maybe it's time for a new party. One that abides by the rule of law," Cohen concluded. "But also faithful to the people of this country, who vote to elect them."

Cohen's New Year's Eve comments come just days before Congress's counting of the Electoral College vote. Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerUpton becomes first member of Congress to vote to impeach two presidents The Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? Kinzinger says he is 'in total peace' after impeachment vote MORE (R-Ill.) said Wednesday he thinks as many as 100 Republicans could challenge the results.

The move is considered a long-shot bid to overturn the election, but more Republican lawmakers have come out in support of the effort.