Expressions of regret from Trump apologists isn't enough

Expressions of regret from Trump apologists isn't enough
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It was what Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE wanted — a violent mob storming the Capitol to intimidate any representative or senator who wouldn't keep him in office.

He earlier told the mob that the election and their country was being stolen from them. How did he think they'd react — by offering a silent prayer?

This is a man acting more like a caged animal as he indiscriminately lashes out. Until now, it was unthinkable that former Defense secretaries, most of them Republicans, would warn the military to be on guard for any illicit orders they might get from the commander in chief; the signees included two of Trump's former Pentagon chiefs.

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This isn't going away; Trump won't call off the dogs. The only possible way to tamp down more violence is for his cowardly political enablers to forcefully condemn him and what he might do after Jan. 20.

Going forward, this is a huge Republican problem.

Right after the November election, Katheen Belew, an expert on and author about white power terrorism, told me that if these fringe elements — larger in numbers and more organized than commonly supposed — believe the presidential election was "rigged," as Trump screamed daily, "there will be major spikes in violence, deliberate attacks." She was worried.

I contacted her after the mob invaded the Capitol. She was more worried: "This is extremely volatile, particularly as news spreads of the young woman killed while breaching the Capitol; this fits into a narrative that has worked for the movement in the past. What we saw was highly organized and did succeed in a major disruption of Congress. They will see it as a green light for future action."

Trump called the mob to Washington to contest the constitutionally mandated counting of presidential electoral votes; he promised them it would be "wild."

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Hours earlier, he incited them at a rally, indicating he would lead the charge down Pennsylvania Avenue. Instead, he was safely protected in the White House when the violence ensued two miles away.

At the same rally, Donald Trump Jr., in an expletive-laced tirade, threatened any Republican politicians who didn't support overturning the legitimate election outcome. Later, Trump's daughter, Ivanka, while calling for an end to the violence, initially alluded to the perpetrators as "patriots."

To review quickly, there is no issue here. Joe BidenJoe BidenPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Pressure grows to cut diplomatic red tape for Afghans left behind President Biden is making the world a more dangerous place MORE won the election by 7 million votes; there have been machine counts, hand counts and recounts. Trump's efforts to overturn this have been rejected by scores of courts, including Trump-appointed judges, conservative-dominated state supreme courts, Republican governors and the U.S. Supreme Court.

There is no ambiguity: The election wasn't close, and claims of fraud are a canard.

Yet, to appease Trump's fury and narcissism — he hates that he's a loser ­— and fuel their political ambitions, Trump apologists in and out of Congress fanned the flames by pretending to pursue a legitimate quest to expose a dishonest election. The only election many of them are interested in is 2024, when they hope to run for the presidency.

Several of them have urged constituents who believe there was election fraud to link to a Republican fund-raising website. That is pure Trumpian: a scheme that raises money.

Now, all of these Trump apologists are expressing regret, even shock, at the violence at the citadel of democracy, the United States Capitol. Yet, other than a handful of courageous Republican truth-tellers like Congresswoman Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyCheney on same-sex marriage opposition: 'I was wrong' Cheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Anti-Trump Republicans on the line in 2022 too MORE (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGraham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Utah), they all condemned the incident but not the instigator. 

The widely accepted notion that any Republican with a future had to identify with Trump ended last Wednesday. Trumpism will vanish when the enablers find the courage to call him out for what he is. Otherwise, Kathleen Belew's fears of more violence may be understated.

There's probably not enough time to impeach and convict Trump, though he deserves it, and it's doubtful the Cabinet will invoke the 25th Amendment to drive him from office before he has to leave in ten days.

As for those Republican senators and House members who, even after the violence last week, still voted for the ludicrous motion to reject Biden's electors from Arizona, the Trump association will be a diminishing asset — the stench will stick with them.

Al Hunt is the former executive editor of Bloomberg News. He previously served as reporter, bureau chief and Washington editor for the Wall Street Journal. For almost a quarter century he wrote a column on politics for The Wall Street Journal, then The International New York Times and Bloomberg View. He hosts 2020 Politics War Room with James Carville. Follow him on Twitter @AlHuntDC.