"New information is emerging about former President Trump’s attempts to overturn the result of the 2020 election — including in a Senate report released Thursday.
The accretion of new details makes it starker than ever that Trump’s wishes, had they been followed, would have hurled the United States into a constitutional crisis.
Yet none of this seems to matter at all to the GOP grassroots, or to most of the party’s elected officials, who overwhelmingly give Trump their support.
The former president will hold a rally in Iowa on Saturday, the second campaign-style event he has headed up recently. His appearance in the state which hosts the first contests in the presidential primary process will sharpen speculation that he will seek the White House once again in 2024
It’s enough to send a chill not just through liberals and Democrats, but through the minority of Republicans who see Trump as a dangerous demagogue.
“In the beginning, a lot of people thought that while he would have liked to have overturned the results, that it was a slapdash, half-assed incompetent effort,” said John "Mac" Stipanovich, a longtime Republican operative in Florida and a Trump critic.
“With the passage of time, and particularly more recently, it has become more apparent how calculated the attempt was,” Stipanovich added. “And probably the most frightening aspect of it to me is that a significant number of the American public — I mean, a large minority — is OK with that. It seems to me now that the Trump base is accepting that it was a coup attempt and regretful that it failed.”
Trump supporters would phrase their views very differently. But more and more evidence has piled up about the former president’s frantic efforts to hold onto power.
Thursday’s interim report from the Senate Judiciary Committee recounted a meeting on Jan. 3, three days before the Capitol Hill riot, in which Trump’s desire to appoint an ultra-loyalist as the acting attorney general was only thwarted when top Department of Justice (DOJ) officials threatened to resign.
The DOJ’s leaders were joined in that promise by White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who apparently argued that Trump’s plan to install Jeffrey Clark as attorney general amounted to a “murder-suicide pact.” Clark, a previously obscure member of the DOJ, was among the most vigorous voices pressing Trump’s fictional claims of election fraud.
The Senate report came on top of the revelation last month of a memo written by conservative lawyer John Eastman that laid out a path for then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election’s outcome.
The six-point plan, revealed by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their book “Peril,” called for Pence to avoid certifying President Biden’s election win and instead assert that the results in seven states were in dispute.
Under the plan, Pence, presiding over a joint session of Congress, would announce that no electoral votes would be counted from those states, note that Trump held the most votes from all other states and “then gavels President Trump as re-elected.”