WASHINGTON — Over the past six years, endorsing Donald Trump on his wildest claims has become something of an art form among ambitious Republicans, but during the House committee hearings on Jan. 6, those same Republicans who now have sights set on the White House in 2024 have been remarkably quiet about the attack on Capitol Hill.
On the first anniversary of January 6, 2021, top-tier contender for 2024 Ron DeSantis criticized the commemorations of the attack as a “smear against Trump supporters.” But in the midst of last month’s hearings, rather than repeat Trump’s election lies or voter fraud conspiracy theories, Florida’s Republican governor ruled out talk of January 6 altogether, saying he was a “loser.” as a problem with the voters.
When former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson wowed Washington and the country with her testimony that Trump tried to shake through the troublemakers Carrying military-style weapons past Secret Service security screens and then marching with them down Pennsylvania Avenue to join the insurgency, typically outspoken Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz skipped the weight all together.
Instead, Cruz launched into a Battle on Twitter with Elmo from “Sesame Street” on coronavirus vaccines for children, which generated a lot of coverage for the potential 2024 contender. A person familiar with Cruz’s thinking said the Texas senator has not been watching the Jan. 6 hearings and, like other Republican senators, calls the House hearings a “clown show.”
And former Vice President Mike Pence, who was the subject of a full committee hearing in the past month, led by his own top advisers, he has avoided almost all talk of Jan. 6, let alone any defense of Trump.
The reasons are myriad: Republicans are tired of carrying water for Trump, he is burned too many bridgesthe does not dominate the power used to do it, republican voters they are not engaged by Trump’s election lies, but they all come to the same conclusion: This is just Trump’s fight, according to interviews with more than a half-dozen GOP strategists, campaign workers and veteran staffers who monitor the party’s nomination campaign in 2024 .
“They are fatigued,” said a former Trump adviser. “They feel like, ‘Hey, I don’t agree with everything that happened in the election, I don’t agree with X, Y, Z. But I don’t want to have to re-litigate your issues every day.’
For more than a month, the House select committee investigating Trump’s effort to maintain power, culminating in the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill, has dominated headlines. And Trump, without the White House or Twitter, has been relegated to send “truths” from his beleaguered social media company reporters to stop the deluge of startling revelations.
A small group of House Republicans, led by Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, whom House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to serve on the committee, have rejected select elements of the panel.
But the conspicuous absence of Trump supporters from the hearings has led the former president grilling House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for leaving committee after fighting with Pelosi over it.
“Unfortunately, a bad decision was made. This committee: It was a bad decision not to have representation on this committee.” trump told him a right-wing radio host last month, shortly after the hearings began.
Instead, most of the GOP apparatus has been harping on the issues they see resonating with their voters: inflation, the rise of China as a global threat, social issues like transgender women’s participation in women’s sports, and other hot topics. .
At the same time, Trump’s position as the de facto favorite for the 2024 nomination has continued to slide, while others like DeSantis are seeing their stock rise. A University of New Hampshire Survey released last month showed Florida’s governor leading Trump in early voting status. and a Yahoo/YouGov poll published in late June found that DeSantis came within 9 percentage points of unseating Trump as the party’s favorite by 2024.
And as his position has slipped in recent months, Trump has been telling Republican operatives meeting with him that he wants to launch a third White House bid this summer. A Trump adviser noted that Trump said he planned to announce on July 4, but Independence Day came and went without an announcement.
“It’s the most selfish and fucked up thing you can do. He has to change the channel, because everything is bad for him,” said a veteran Republican strategist.
And it is the years of those games that have caused Republicans to sour for supporting Trump.
“I have two words for you: Mo Brooks,” said another Republican strategist. The Alabama congressman helped Trump try to unseat the 2020 election and was subpoenaed by the House committee as a result, yet Trump still withdrew his endorsement of Brooks for Senate because Brooks was trailing in the polls.
“He has broken his word too many times, to too many people,” the veteran strategist said. “If you defend him, you look crazy. If you look like a lunatic, cut ties.”