Analysis: Toxic GOP feud demonstrates challenges for party still controlled by Trump

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Infighting between moderates and loyalists to former President Donald Trump erupted on Tuesday, as Trump continued his attempts to obscure the truth about the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill in court. As President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have fallen to new lows in recent months as Americans stress over the Covid-19 pandemic and a host of kitchen table issues, reluctant voters looking for a different leadership may not have much courage as they watched the debacle unfold in the Republican Party and the leadership’s inability to handle it.

As Trump hovers on the sidelines cheering on GOP antagonists who have embraced his chaos-sowing tactics and vile rhetoric, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried unsuccessfully on Tuesday to lower the heat in a heated feud between Republican first-year Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

Greene started the sniping by calling Mace “trash” on Twitter for condemning Islamophobic comments by his ally, Colorado GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert. Mace was one of the few Republicans to speak out after a video of Boebert was released making remarks at a Nov. 20 event in Colorado, in which the flamboyant Coloradoan told a story about an alleged elevator ride with Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who is Muslim and wears a hijab. The punchline of the story ended with Boebert suggesting that Omar is a terrorist.

The feud spread to other members when Greene challenged Mace’s condemnation of Boebert’s anti-Muslim remarks. South Carolina told CNN on Sunday that Boebert’s statements were “disgusting.” Greene, still eager for a public feud to polish her credentials among her donors, attacked Mace’s conservative Twitter credentials and warned her to “back off” Boebert.

The back and forth between the two Republicans continued throughout Tuesday, with Greene taunting in a tweet that she had just “had a great conversation with President Trump about @NancyMace.” The South Carolina Republican responded, “I love my fellow freshmen who don’t think 9/11 was a hoax…” – a reference to Greene’s past adherence to conspiracy theories – “The one -Here though… totally (nuts). “Mace added that Greene’s conversation with Trump was like running to the manager’s office” because she can’t manage on her own. “

The GOP gutter policy

Taken as a whole, the embarrassing cross-party schism – and the lack of immediate consequences for Boebert’s inflammatory comments – underscored that the gutter policy Trump inaugurated in Washington has only worsened after his withdrawal from the government. White House.

Republican leaders like McCarthy, whose chances of becoming Speaker of the House depend on continued support from Trump and his far-right cronies, have failed to show they have an effective way of dealing with the culture of increasingly angry and toxic in the House of Representatives. this led to frightening threats against members, including Omar. No matter how outrageous or reckless the comments of Trump’s henchmen like Boebert and Greene are, they always seem to find protection in their closeness to the former president, whose grip on the party never seems to weaken.

Without consequences, the behavior only seems to get more heinous – and it could cost Republicans at the polls next year as they attempt to win back moderate and suburban voters who have been alienated by Trump.

At a press conference Tuesday night, Omar called on Republican leaders to take action against Boebert, saying their “silence speaks for itself”. She released a voicemail message she received hours after her call with Boebert on Monday in which a man told her there were many “who would love the opportunity to get you away from the face of the earth.” .

“You’re a fucking Muslim piece of shit. You jihadist. We know what you are. You’re a fucking traitor, you won’t live long, bitch,” the voicemail said.

Omar said remarks condemning this kind of rhetoric “shouldn’t be a partisan issue” and added that “when a sitting member of Congress calls a colleague, a member of the” Jihad Squad “” – like Boebert and Greene both did – “and falsify a story to suggest that I’m going to blow up the Capitol, not just an attack on me, but on millions of American Muslims across this country.” She noted that the anti-Muslim rhetoric used by Trump during his 2016 campaign served as a precursor to the most recent taunts from his supporters.

“To date, the leadership of the Republican Party has done nothing to hold its members to account. It is time for the Republican Party to do something to fight anti-Muslim hatred within its ranks, ”said Omar.

McCarthy’s caucus ignores his admonitions

On Tuesday evening, CNN’s Manu Raju and Melanie Zanona reported that McCarthy had called Greene and Mace into his office for separate meetings urging them to “Stop this”. This seemed to have little effect, given Greene told CNN after the meeting that she and Trump would support a main challenge to Mace in 2022.

South Carolina has not apologized for its criticism of Greene, suggesting the Georgian MP is fueling the feud to raise funds: “She is taking advantage of vulnerable Americans and vulnerable Tories, and making promises that she can’t stand. “

Mace also argued that it was important to challenge Greene’s lies.

“It is incumbent on members like me to step in,” she said, relinquishing Greene’s threat of supporting a main challenge against her. “I don’t fear retaliation, I don’t fear consequences.”

Charlie Dent, the former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who is a CNN contributor, said on Tuesday evening that the debacle showed just how crude American politics had become and called on GOP leaders to bring it under control.

“It’s really incumbent on the leaders of Congress to try to set a better tone and a better content,” Dent told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in “The Situation Room.” “There was a time when members debated policies and ideas and did not hurl slurs or slanders like Lauren Boebert did at Representative Omar.”

“I think it’s important now for Kevin McCarthy to stand up and deal with these issues internally,” Dent said. “Some members need to learn to engage in a debate with their colleagues and, when they are at home, not to go out and make these kinds of irresponsible, insulting and inflammatory comments.”

Trump continues battle to block January 6 committee

While Trump’s political influence over the Republican Party remains largely undisputed, his attempts to control the flow of information to the House committee investigating the January 6 attacks suffered two further key setbacks on Tuesday.

While his tactics may still set the tone for the deleterious political debate in Washington, the former president is not proving as effective in court as he tries to control what the country learns about what he knew before the January 6 attack by his supporters on the Capitol.

For months, Trump has tried to thwart the work of the House special committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurgency at a time by trying to block the release of documents they have requested of his administration through the courts – saying they should be protected by executive privilege – and urging former staff to use the same line of defense to avoid questioning as by committee members.

But the House committee changed the rhetoric of power in this battle of wills with the former president when it made it clear that there would be serious legal consequences to blocking them.

Earlier this year, they started the process of indicting former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was charged with criminal contempt of Congress by a federal grand jury last month. Committee members made it clear on Monday that this may not be a unique circumstance as they indicated they were about to vote on a criminal contempt of congressional referral against Jeffrey Clark , a former senior Justice Department official who pushed the baseless claims of voter fraud after the November election while in close contact with Trump.

Like Bannon, Clark had also refused to cooperate with the committee on the grounds that he could not testify until a court ruled that his communications with the former president were not protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege.

The threat of real legal danger and a possible prison sentence clearly rocked potential witnesses. Faced with the possibility of criminal contempt charges, CNN reported on Tuesday that former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows has now reached an agreement for initial cooperation with the committee.

Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson, who chairs the select committee, told CNN the panel received “probably around 6,000 emails” from Meadows via his attorney.

Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers faced a panel of three skeptical judges at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, as they argued the court should block the release of presidential documents under its demands. executive privilege, even though the Biden administration believes they should be disclosed.

Judges showed little interest in doing the document-by-document review that Trump proposed and asked why the former president’s claim of executive privilege should carry more weight than the Biden administration’s point of view according to which they should be released, in the interests of transparency of about a day. in which Trump supporters attempted a coup that nearly upended American democracy.


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