Republicans are caught in the Trump Loop.
Most do not want to talk about former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, but they also do not want to distance themselves from Trump’s considerable coattails.
West Virginia’s three House of Representatives members, all Republicans, were generally cryptic when asked if they supported or opposed the caucus’s removal of Representative Liz Cheney from her leadership role because of her criticism of Trump.
First District Congressman David McKinley first said he wanted a unified message from Republicans to push back against “the extreme agenda of President Biden and Speaker Pelosi.” However, his office did clarify that he voted to oust Cheney.
Second District Congressman Alex Mooney did not give a direct answer, but instead he referred to a May 6 Talkline appearance where he said of Cheney, “She has the right to apologize for her criticisms of Trump, which I think were unfair, and say she won’t do it anymore.”
Third District Congresswoman Carol Miller thanked Cheney for her long service as House Republican Conference Chair, adding that she is focused “on the future and the issues that affect people’s lives.”
McKinley was a guest on Talkline Tuesday, and I asked him about his Cheney vote and Trump’s continued insistence that the election was stolen from him. I could tell he was getting irritated by the questions. He wanted to focus on issues he believes are more relevant to West Virginians, such as the Biden administration’s energy policies.
I don’t blame him, and the Trump-related questions would dry up if Trump himself would drop the Big Lie. Just three days earlier Trump wrote on his blog, “As our Country is being destroyed, both inside and out, the Presidential Election of 2020 will go down as THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY!”
On the same day, Trump also wrote of the Republican-driven “audit” of election results in Arizona’s largest county, “The entire database of Maricopa County in Arizona has been DELETED.”
Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican who heads that Arizona county’s election department, called that allegation “unhinged.”
“We can’t indulge these insane lies any longer. As a party. As a state. As a country,” Richer tweeted.
Trump remains wildly popular within his party. A CBS News poll released last Sunday shows eighty percent of Republicans agree with the party’s ouster of Cheney from her leadership position, while 66 percent say Republicans being loyal to Trump is important.
So here is the loop: House Republicans oust Cheney from her leadership position because she continued to challenge Trump’s claim that the election was stolen. That makes House Republicans de facto enablers of Trump. If Trump is going to continue to make false allegations, then his facilitators are going to be asked about them.
Clearly there are benefits to Republicans for wanting to stay in favor of Trump and his supporters, but there are also consequences.