Analysis: Trump got the perfect birthday present: full GOP capitulation | CNN Politics



CNN

Donald Trump received his 78th birthday present a day early, a handshake from his long-time bitter critic, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, summing up the Republican Party’s total submission to the nominee. her alleged presidential.

The twice-impeached 45th president and newly convicted felon returned to Capitol Hill on Thursday for the first time since his supporters beat police officers and smashed their way through the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

A rendition of Happy Birthday by House Republicans contrasted with calls more than three years ago to hang Mike Pence from Trump’s crowd as they acted on his plea to fight like hell after weeks of promotion of false allegations of electoral fraud. Eager to please their champion and create an optimistic omen for November, members of the House of Representatives paid tribute to the former president with a bat and game ball they won after defeating Democrats in the annual Congressional Baseball Game on Wednesday. There was a distinct impression of subordinates paying homage to a strong leader.

Florida GOP Senate. Marco Rubio, a former 2016 primary challenger now seen as a possible GOP vice presidential candidate, called the team back as GOP senators celebrated Trump just two weeks after he became the first former president to was convicted of a crime. Another 2016 foe of the former president, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who endured Trump’s insults to his father and wife, rose to his feet to applaud his winner.

But the most striking image of the day was a handshake between McConnell and the former president captured in a photo by The New York Times’ Doug Mills that encapsulates an era. The veteran Kentucky senator has never hidden his disdain for Trump, though he has always sought to preserve his power and has not taken steps to impeach him in Senate trials following his two impeachments. The dislike has been mutual, with the former president attacking McConnell as an old crow at rallies and making racist comments about McConnells wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

In January 2021, McConnell said: The crowd was fed lies. They were provoked by the president. He said Trump was morally and practically responsible for the attack on his beloved Capitol.

On Thursday, after meeting with Trump for the first time since that infamous day, he described their meeting as entirely positive, during which the former president shook McConnell’s hand in both of his own. It would strain credibility that McConnell has denied his private disdain for the former president. But he told reporters who asked him about their meeting: I can’t think of anything to tell you that was negative.

The exchange between McConnell and Trump was a fitting emblem for a day Trump choreographed to show unity in his party despite thousands of votes cast in the GOP primary for the former South Carolina governor. Nikki Haley for several months after suspending her campaign.

There is tremendous unity in the Republican Party, the former president said. We want to see the limits. We want to see a strong army. We want to see that money is not wasted all over the world.

Trump’s assertion of omnipotence over his party was an example of the power projection he worships, which often requires the submission of supplicants. And it also showed what Republicans who want their power are prepared to do to keep it. The show of adoration on Capitol Hill was also another reminder that there will be no price for Trump to pay in his own party for trying to destroy democracy in order to stay in power. And it was likely a preview of the respect for Trump’s autocratic instincts and the zeal for revenge that America can expect from Republicans in Washington if he were to win back the White House even from those in a branch of government supposed to constrain presidents. .

Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts as he is applauded by Republicans at the Republican Senatorial National Committee headquarters in Washington on June 13, 2024.

Another of Trump’s potential vice presidential picks, Ohio Sen. JD Vance, was asked how some top Republicans who had condemned Trump after Jan. 6 could meet and applaud him now.

No real Republican with any credibility in the party still blames him, said Vance, who was not yet elected at the time, adding that some of Trump’s critics in the room were supportive. I think it’s a good thing and the Republican Party is in a good place.

Vance is not wrong. Almost every major Republican who stood against Trump in 2021 has left or is on his way out the door. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is retiring. Former Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney was ousted from the leadership of the House of Representatives and then Congress for telling the truth about his election lies. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan slammed Trump this week for breaking his oath to uphold the Constitution. But his comments on Fox News came in the midst of a comfortable retirement, all his ambitions long gone.

Lawmakers who stood by Trump on Thursday didn’t necessarily do so because they like him. His huge popularity in the GOP base means they know they can kiss their political future goodbye if they choose not to. This is also the case when Trump’s deportation violates the normal codes of behavior expected of a presidential candidate.

Trump’s return to Washington came a day before he turned 78, the age at which President Joe Biden, who his predecessor says is too old to serve, took office after defeating him in the 2020 election. Their 2024 matchup is neck-and-neck, according to polls, with each seeking to make the race a referendum on the other’s single terms. Biden’s campaign was quick to try to capitalize on Trump’s return visit to a city he left scarred and traumatized by the Capitol riots, releasing a new campaign video showing scenes of the attack.

There is nothing more sacred than our democracy, but Donald Trumps is ready to burn it all down, said a broadcaster in the ad, which is airing in battleground states.

Biden, 81, was thousands of miles from Washington when Trump appeared, attending the G7 summit in Italy. It’s the second trip abroad in two weeks that he’s using an allegory for a US presidential season he’s trying to cast as a fight to save American democracy. Unveiling a series of new plans to boost Ukraine diplomatically, militarily and economically, the president recalled that the US and its allies had repeatedly been asked whether they would stand by a country that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to wipe off the map.

We will say it again, yes, again and again and again we would stand with Ukraine, Biden said, as he stood with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The slew of initiatives to institutionalize Western support for Ukraine that were unveiled at the summit are a clear attempt to hedge against the possibility that Trump could return to power on Jan. 20, 2025. The former president often hung out with Putin while in office. and he said he would end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours, a feat that could only be achieved by locking in Russia’s territory the gains from its brutal invasion.

President Joe Biden joins G7 leaders as they gather to watch a parachute drop at San Domenico Golf Club - Borgo Egnazia during the first day of the 50th G7 Summit in Fasano, Italy, on June 13, 2024.

Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton warned Thursday that Biden could not guarantee that the 10-year pact covering military training, intelligence cooperation and other areas he signed with Zelensky on Thursday would last.

I think it’s delusional, though, for anyone to think that Trump would be compelled by this. If Trump is inaugurated at noon on January 20 of next year, around five in the afternoon he could have dismantled this deal entirely, Bolton told CNN International’s Bianna Golodryga.

If Trump is elected and leaves Ukraine, he will complete the transformation of a Republican Party that once prided itself on defending democracy around the world and that, under President Ronald Reagan, won the Cold War.

You can’t bind a future president who doesn’t want to be bound, Bolton said.

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