When deranged extremist Paul Gosar (R-AZ), was asked if the country is headed for a civil war, he replied "We’re in it. We just haven’t started shooting at each other yet." He may well have been describing his own political party-- not to mention his own family-- more than mainstream America. Gosar and other fanatics in Congress like him are threatening to blow up the GOP. Reporting for The Hill this morning, Niall Stanage, wrote that "The Republican Party is riven by internal tensions, and moderate voices fear it is headed for disaster at the hands of the far right. The centrists’ worry is that the party is branding itself as the party of insurrectionists and conspiracy theorists. This spells catastrophe for the GOP’s ability to appeal beyond a hardcore base... Tensions within the party are at boiling point."
Ted Cruz's former communications director, Rick Tyler, is very conservative. He told The Hill that he agrees with AOC's assessment of Georgia QAnon congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene. "She's insane," said Tyler. Stanage reported that "in Tyler view the rot in the party began with Trump’s victory in the 2016 Republican presidential primary and is now reaching a nadir. The immediate future he foresees is one in which Trump-like candidates can win primaries in solid Republican districts but will have a disastrous impact on the party’s overall appeal. 'The Republican Party will lose general elections, lose Senate seats, lose governorships-- but they will continue to send nutcases like Taylor Greene to Congress because they will win red districts. Then that will become a self-fulfilling prophesy, making the party more and more radicalized until people won’t stand for it anymore.' Even Republicans skeptical of Trump or appalled by QAnon recognize that elected GOP officials face a grim calculus. Can they distance themselves from ideas beloved by the base and escape with their political lives?"
“If you don’t win your primary, you have no November,” said Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee.
Heye, like others in the center right, does not hold out much hope of his wing of the party reasserting control anytime soon.
“Republicans can only fix this if they want to,” he said. “And right now it appears they don’t want to, given their warm embrace of Trump and everything that came with that.”
Exactly. As Gabby Orr and Meridith McGraw noted in Politico this morning, Trump may poison the party, but Republicans have decided they need him. They wrote that just 3 weeks ago, "Trump was radioactive, even in the top quarters of his own party. Now, those same Republicans are convinced they can't live without the energy he gives off, even if it proves toxic." They want his help in the midterms; they may be very sorry. The FBI is examining various Republican office holders' ties to domestic terrorist groups.
All of the officeholders are Trumpist die-hards, like Gosar, Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (Q-CO), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL)... Luke Broadwater and Matt Rosenberg reported that "It is not clear whether any elected officials played a role in directly facilitating the attack on the Capitol, other than helping to incite violence through false statements about the election being stolen from Mr. Trump. Officials have said they are investigating reports from Democrats that a number of House Republicans provided tours of the Capitol and other information to people who might have gone on to be part of the mob on Jan. 6. So far, no evidence has surfaced publicly to back up those claims... But in signaling either overt or tacit support, a small but vocal band of Republicans now serving in the House provided legitimacy and publicity to extremist groups and movements as they built toward their role in supporting Mr. Trump’s efforts to subvert the outcome of the 2020 election and the attack on Congress. Aitan Goelman, a former federal prosecutor who helped convict the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, said that when elected officials-- or even candidates for office-- took actions like appearing with militia groups or other right-wing groups it 'provides them with an added imprimatur of legitimacy.' An examination of many of the most prominent elected Republicans with links to right-wing groups also shows how various strands of extremism came together at the Capitol on Jan. 6... To some degree, the members of Congress have been reflecting signals sent by Trump."
Few Republicans have been more linked to extremist groups than Gosar.
“He’s been involved with anti-Muslim groups and hate groups,” said Gosar’s brother Dave Gosar, a lawyer in Wyoming. “He’s made anti-Semitic diatribes. He’s twisted up so tight with the Oath Keepers it’s not even funny.”
Dave Gosar and other Gosar siblings ran ads denouncing their brother as a dangerous extremist when he ran for Congress in 2018. Now they are calling on Congress to expel him.
“We warned everybody how dangerous he was,” Dave Gosar said.
In the days after the 2020 election, Gosar and Biggs helped turn Arizona into a crucible for the Stop the Steal movement, finding common cause with hard-liners who until then had toiled in obscurity, like Ali Alexander. The two congressmen recorded a video, “This Election Is A Joke,” which was viewed more than a million times and spread disinformation about widespread voter fraud.
Alexander has said he “schemed up” the Jan. 6 rally with Gosar, Biggs and another vocal proponent of Stop the Steal, Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama. Alexander’s characterization of the role of the members of Congress is exaggerated, Biggs said, but the lawmakers were part of a larger network of people who helped plan and promote the rally as part of Trump’s efforts to overturn the will of the voters.
After the election, Alexander emerged as a vocal proponent of the president’s stolen election claims, setting up a Stop the Steal website on Nov. 4 and making incendiary statements. On Dec. 8, he tweeted that he was willing to give up his life to keep Trump in office.
The Arizona Republican Party followed up, retweeting Mr. Alexander’s post and adding: “He is. Are you?” Alexander has since been barred from Twitter.
Ten days later, Gosar was one of the headliners at a rally in Phoenix that Alexander helped organize. Gosar used the rally to deliver a call to action, telling the crowd that they planned to “conquer the Hill” to return Trump to the presidency.
During his time onstage, Alexander called Gosar “my captain” and added, “One of the other heroes has been Congressman Andy Biggs.”
Although Mr. Biggs has played down his involvement with the Stop the Steal campaign, on Dec. 19, Alexander played a video message from Biggs to an angry crowd at an event where attendees shouted violent slogans against lawmakers. At the event, Biggs’ wife, Cindy Biggs, was seen hugging Alexander twice and speaking in his ear.
In 2019, Biggs spoke at an event supported by the Patriot Movement AZ, AZ Patriots and the American Guard-- all identified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, according to the Arizona Republic. In 2015, he sat silent at an event as a founder of the Oath Keepers called for the hanging of Senator McCain, calling him a traitor to the Constitution. Biggs told The Republic at the time that he did not heel it was his place to speak up and denounce the comments.
...Just like Gosar’s family, Biggs’s two brothers have publicly denounced him, saying he was at least partly responsible for the violence on Jan. 6. In addition, a Democratic state representative in Arizona, Athena Salman, has called on the Justice Department to investigate the actions of Gosar and Biggs before the riot, saying they “encouraged, facilitated, participated and possibly helped plan this anti-democratic insurrection.”
In December 2019, hundreds of protesters descended on the Colorado Statehouse to oppose a new state law meant to take firearms out of the hands of emotionally disturbed people.
Among those at the rally were members of the Three Percenters, which federal prosecutors describe as a “radical militia group,” and a congressional hopeful with a history of arrests named Lauren Boebert, who was courting their votes. Armed with her own handgun, she posed for photographs with militia members and defiantly pledged to oppose the law.
In the months that followed, militia groups would emerge as one of Ms. Boebert’s crucial political allies. As her campaign got underway last year, she wrote on Twitter, “I am the militia.”
Militia members provided security for her campaign events and frequented the restaurant she owns, Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo. In a recently posted video, a member of the Three Percenters was filmed giving Ms. Boebert a Glock 22 handgun.
Another member of the group, Robert Gieswein, who posed for a photograph in front of Ms. Boebert’s restaurant last year, is facing federal charges in the storming of the Capitol and attacking the police.
...One of the animating forces behind the attack on the Capitol was the movement known as QAnon, and QAnon has few more high-profile supporters than Taylor Greene.
QAnon is a movement centered on the fantastical claim that Mr. Trump, secretly aided by the military, was elected to smash a cabal of Democrats, international financiers and “Deep State” bureaucrats who worship Satan and abuse children. It prophesied an apocalyptic showdown, known as “the Storm,” between Mr. Trump and his enemies. During the Storm, their enemies, including Mr. Biden and many Democratic and Republican members of Congress, would be arrested and executed.
The mob that attacked the Capitol included many visible QAnon supporters wearing “Q” shirts and waving “Q” banners.
Among them was Jake Angeli, a QAnon devotee who styled himself the “Q Shaman.” Mr. Angeli, whose real name is Jacob Chansley, stormed the Capitol in horns and animal furs, and left a note threatening Vice President Mike Pence.
...Greene was an early adherent, calling QAnon “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out.” Many of her Facebook posts in recent years reflected language used by the movement, talking about hanging prominent Democrats or executing F.B.I. agents.
Greene has also displayed a fondness for some of the militia groups whose members were caught on video attacking the Capitol, including the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters. Speaking in 2018 at the Mother of All Rallies, a pro-Trump gathering in Washington, she praised militias as groups that can protect people against “a tyrannical government.”
I wonder which incumbent members of Congress would be among the first batch to migrate with Trump to the Patriot Party if he really goes through with his threats to start it (unlikely, but not more unlikely that he could ever win an election). My guess would be that the first lunatics to sign up would be the QAnon ladies, the 2 Arizona psychopaths, Gaetz, Mo Brooks, maybe Louie Gohmert, Jeff Van Drew... maybe some of the kooks and nuts from Georgia and Tennessee. And if a senator decides to go along, I'd expect Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) to be first. It will certainly be interesting to watch. Remember, a third of all GOP voters say they're in. In some districts, it's likely that there will be a majority of Republicans who go for the MAGA party over the GOP.