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Trump’s True Believers

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NEW YORK – There can no longer be any doubt about the facts of what happened in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. Despite being told by his own inner circle, including by his loyal attorney general, William Barr, that he had lost a fair election in November 2020, US President Donald Trump broke democracy’s cardinal rule: He refused to accept his defeat and has been pushing conspiracy theories about electoral “fraud” ever since. Trump deliberately incited an armed mob to storm the Capitol, and when the crowd started baying for Vice President Mike Pence to be hanged, he did nothing and told his staff that Pence deserved it because he had refused to stage a coup on Trump’s behalf.

These were the conclusions reached by the US House of Representatives’ January 6 Committee after it had conducted over 1,000 interviews. Some of the most damning evidence came from members of Trump’s own staff. Liz Cheney, the committee’s Republican vice chair, said in her closing statement: “Can a president who is willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of January 6 ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation again?”

For most Republicans, who tend to regard Cheney as a traitor, the resounding answer is, “Yes, he can.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to have anything to do with the committee. According to a recent poll, 40% of Republicans believe that what happened on January 6 is nothing to worry about. The same proportion think that the violent assault on the Capitol was a legitimate political protest.

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