On Friday, when Pence pushed back against Trump's whining that he should have thrown out the election results, Pence implied that Trump is "un-American." He said, "Frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president." Josh Dawsey, Dave Weigel and Mariana Alfaro wrote that "Christopher Krebs, a former top cybersecurity official in the Trump administration who was fired by Trump, said: 'Broadly speaking, I think Trump’s influence is waning, particularly among the reasonable people. But it’s really crystallizing in the most malignant way. It’s consolidating and getting much more intense-- and more dangerous-- among the die-hard supporters."
Trump remains the most popular figure in the GOP, according to most public and private polling. His political committee has $122 million-- more than any other major political party committee-- with much of it raised off his false claims that the election was stolen. Many of the party’s members are unwilling to criticize him, even for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, and even some Pence allies expected a sharp rebuke from Trump on Friday that could be politically painful for the former vice president. Trump still draws a bigger crowd than any other Republican.
...Some Pence allies, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said they viewed Trump’s grip on the party as weakening and his actions more erratic-- and that Pence had to speak after repeated attacks from Trump.
“It’s an extremely important moment, and I think Mike Pence must believe that, too,” said Robert Kelner, a prominent Republican lawyer who does not support Trump. “He’s a careful and savvy politician, and I think he chose this time for a reason. I think it sends a message to every Federalist Society lawyer that this is a time to reflect and take stock of the values of the Federalist Society, which have been in hiding for the last five years or so.”
Kelner said Pence was speaking to an elite audience of lawyers that don’t “necessarily reflect what the base of the Republican Party thinks.”
“A shift of the elite opinion in the party is significant, even if it doesn’t have immediate consequences,” he said. “The coming days and weeks will deliver the answer to that question. Either Pence is going to be excoriated and excommunicated or there will be a surprising level of acceptance for what he said. I tend to think it will be more the latter… I am curious to see if we see a succession of others doing their own thing.”
There's no love lost between Trump and Alaska's independent-minded senior Senator Lisa Murkowski but she tweeted today that "What happened on January 6, 2021 was an effort to overturn a lawful election resulting in violence and destruction at the Capitol. We must not legitimize those actions which resulted in loss of life and we must learn from that horrible event so history does not repeat itself. As Americans we must acknowledge those tragic events, and we cannot allow a false narrative to be created. We cannot deny the truth-- to suggest it was 'legitimate political discourse' is just wrong."
Before Murkowski's tweet, David Siders and Natalie Allison, reporting from Salt Lake City this morning, wrote that for all the midterm indications that the GOP is going to clean up, Trump and his followers could still turn out to be an albatross around the party's neck. I would be hard to imagine that even the ill-led Democratic Party, for example, don't undetand the opportunity they were just given when Trump's RNC chair, Ronna Romney called the select committee investigating the coup and insurrection "persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol."
The trio of reporters wrote that "For all the energy he creates at the party’s grassroots, his stranglehold on the party is emerging as one of the biggest threats to the GOP’s otherwise bright prospects in November. He has already singled out 10 House Republicans for extinction. He is attacking GOP governors and backing their primary challengers, while meddling in Senate races where it may lead to the nomination of flawed candidates who are ill-suited for a general election. He is fomenting a rebellion against the party’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell. And this week, in Salt Lake City, it was David Bossie, the former Trump deputy campaign manager, who was leading the effort to kick Cheney and Kinzinger to the curb. 'Some of us who have been around for a while don’t think this makes any sense,' said Bill Palatucci, a Republican National Committee member from New Jersey. 'We’ve got Biden in free fall, [Democrats] can’t get anything done in Washington, and for us to convene a circular firing squad, that make no sense to me.'"