The violent assault on the US Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters and his long refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election have jeopardized the president’s political future and tainted prospects for his top lieutenants and family members, current and former administration officials said.
An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, on January 6, 2021. (Reuters)
But his behavior on Wednesday -- goading supporters to march on the Capitol to encourage lawmakers to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s win in the November 3 election, and then failing quickly to call on them to stand down after violence ensued -- has sickened people who work and used to work for him and, they said, changed the equation for his post-presidential relevance.
“It was a dereliction of duty as commander-in-chief and I think he will be mortally wounded from a political career going forward,” one former White House official who worked for Trump said on Thursday. “He has blood on his hands from yesterday. A woman died.”
A woman wearing a protective mask holds a sign during the Get him out! defend democracy rally, a day after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, US, on January 7, 2021. (Reuters)
The former officials who spoke to Reuters for this story had been broadly supportive of the president, even after leaving their posts earlier in his four-year tenure.
Trump has raised massive amounts of money in the period since the election, capitalizing on discontent he has fomented by falsely claiming the election was rigged against him through widespread voter fraud.
But another former White House official said the president’s ability to bring in cash would be inhibited now, too, with the exception of smaller donations from still-ardent supporters in his political base.
“I think anything above low-dollar-crazy is going to be a problem,” the former official said. “Anything above the $100 giver is out.”
Many elected officials within the Republican Party have turned on Trump because of the violence, a break that could lessen his leverage over the political futures of other Republicans as well as his own. Senator Lindsey Graham, a long-time defender of the president, declared on Wednesday night that “enough is enough” and said Biden had been elected lawfully.
“I don’t think he’s going to be elected to anything else,” a third former White House official said of Trump. “As time goes on, he will continue to be a very strong voice and he will have a very big following, but ... I think this lessens the chances that he runs for anything.”