Over the last four years, the GOP’s values were inexorably tied to the whims of a president who regularly undermined democratic institutions and traded the party’s longstanding commitment to fiscal discipline, strong foreign policy and the rule of law for a brash and inconsistent populism. The party now faces a decision about whether to keep moving in that direction, as many of Trump’s most loyal supporters demand, or chart a new course.
“We have to decide if we’re going to continue heading down the direction of Donald Trump or if we’re going to return to our roots,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a potential 2024 White House contender.
“The party would be much better off if they were to purge themselves of Donald Trump,” he added. “But I don’t think there’s any hope of him completely going away.”
Whether the party moves on may come down to what Republicans like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz do next.
Cruz acknowledged Biden’s victory on Wednesday, but he refused to describe it as legitimate when pressed.
In the wake of the Capitol riot, a small but notable faction of high-profile Republicans are taking a stronger stance against Trump or distancing themselves from him.
The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, said on the eve of the inauguration that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol was “provoked by the president.” Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president and long considered his most devoted cheerleader, skipped Trump’s departure ceremony to attend Biden’s inauguration.
Those close to Trump believe he will lay low in the immediate future as he focuses on his upcoming impeachment trial for inciting the riot. After that, he is expected to reemerge, likely granting media interviews and finding a new home on social media after losing his powerful Twitter bullhorn.
While his plans are just taking shape, Trump is expected to remain politically active, including trying to exact revenge by backing primary challenges against Republicans he believed scorned him in his final days.
Right after Joe Biden took his oath of office, Lindsey Graham was on FOX News defending Trump – ignoring the Capitol Hill riot on Jan. 6 – saying Trump will remain a dominant voice in the GOP.