‘It’s kangaroo court’: In key state, Trump supporters reject January 6 hearings | Wisconsin

MMillions of Americans spent Thursday night stunned, appalled and amused by the season finale of congressional hearings on the seizing of the Capitol at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency and his role in the murderous insurgency.

The well-planned prime-time hearing showed Trump refusing to call out the insurgents for more than three hours as he watched Fox News coverage from the White House dining room on January 6, 2021. The House committee heard how Secret Service agents protecting Vice President Mike Pence were telling their families they might not come home alive.

Committee members said evidence showed Trump lied, betrayed his oath of office and summoned a crowd to Washington in an attempt to nullify the presidential election. It was, Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger said, “a stain on our history.”

But in the heart of Trump country, there is another catch.

“I looked for kangaroo court,” said Terri Burl, a Republican activist from rural northern Wisconsin, a swing state Trump won in 2016 but lost four years later.
“I’m like, yeah, that’s exactly what it is. What is this supposed to prove?

Burl’s loyalty to the former president — she was an early member of Trump for Women — was unshaken by Thursday’s testimony from former Trump administration officials. She watched for almost an hour before giving up because she said that while ‘violence and destruction is not acceptable because people have forced their way into the Capitol’, the hearing was an attack unilaterally against the former president rather than an attempt to get to the truth.

“There was a dull, unsettling Hollywood movie feel to these theatrical audiences, as if they were starring in a poorly made B-list movie,” she said.

But Burl, a former social worker and substitute teacher, tuned in unlike other Oneida County GOP members and most other Trump supporters.

“I didn’t watch it,” said Kathleen Silbernagel, retired party secretary and program manager for a Pepsi affiliate. “It’s a joke. Most conservatives feel it’s a puppet court. Liberals already hate it, so it’s not going to affect them. But how will it affect independent people, who are still at the middle, is hard to say.

Opinion polls suggest the hearings did not produce the devastating shift in public opinion against Trump that some Democrats were hoping for. Nor did they loosen Trumpism’s grip on the Republican Party. Even though evidence revealed that the then-president “ordered an armed mob to cancel the election,” few Republican politicians turned away from Trump. Those who pay the price.

Opinion polls suggest that the January 6 hearings did not loosen Trumpism’s grip on the Republican Party. Photography: Mark Hertzberg/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Rep. Liz Cheney, who broke with her party leadership to become one of Trump’s top accusers on the House Select Committee, faces a beating in next month’s primary for her congressional seat. at the hands of a rival who has positioned himself as a defender of the former president.

But while the hearings may not have shaken the commitment of the faithful, the weeks of testimony have deepened doubt among some Republicans that while Trump is touting the idea of ​​running for president again, he’s carrying too much baggage to win another election. .

A Wisconsin Marquette Law School poll released Thursday showed that nationally, most Republican voters heard of the Jan. 6 hearings “a little” or “nothing at all.” Only 35% of Republicans paid attention to it, compared to a clear majority of Democrats.

It’s no surprise, then, that opinion on Trump’s guilt splits along partisan lines, with Republicans overwhelmingly exonerating him and Democrats certain of his guilt.

Oneida County Republicans are using many of the arguments heard nationwide from Trump to disparage the Jan. 6 hearings.

“They’re portraying Trump as if he incited this riot,” said Republican County Vice Chairman Peter Biolo, who also avoided watching the hearings. “They arrived at the Capitol and the Capitol police let them in. They didn’t storm the Capitol as reported. And the only person who was shot, this veteran, was shot by a Capitol police officer.

Rather, the hearings are seen as part of a larger witch hunt against the former president, alongside official investigations into whether his company falsified taxes and fraudulently inflated property values ​​to obtain cheaper loans. .

The bad news for those who want to see Trump run again is that a key part of the electorate doesn’t see him that way. According to the Marquette Law School poll, two-thirds of independent voters who closely follow the hearings say Trump bears “a great deal of responsibility” for taking the Capitol. Even among independents who pay no attention to it, a majority say it bears some responsibility.

Burl describes herself as heartbroken that Trump is no longer president even though she criticized his style when he was in the White House, especially his aggressive tweets. “I miss him. I’ve never felt that way for any other Republican president except maybe Ronald Reagan,” she said.

But Burl is looking at his own state where Trump’s victory in 2016 and his defeat four years later were each decided by just over 20,000 votes, or less than 1% of the vote. “I am a Trump supporter to the hilt. But he has too much baggage now, just piled up and stacked. Baggage that makes it harder for him to win over middle-of-the-road voters,” she said.

Silbernagel agrees. Organic no. He wants to see Trump run again because he thinks no one else can keep Trumpism alive. “There are probably people like Trump, but would they have his qualities? Would they be so direct, so confrontational? he said.

Donald Trump is seen from behind as he raises his fist towards a crowd.  A sign behind the crows reads 'Wisconsin welcomes President Donald Trump!'
Donald Trump attends a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin on October 30, 2020. Most Republicans want to see him run for office again. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

This division is being heard throughout Wisconsin where the commitment to Trumpism remains strong, but there are creeping doubts about whether Trump is the man to continue leading it. While most Republicans want to see the former president run again, a sizable minority opposes it.

They warn that “he has alienated a segment of the voting population that he is unlikely to recover” and say it is “time to leave Trump. He had his day, did a lot of good and exhibited a lot. But its level of chaos and division should be left behind. We need a younger guy with less baggage and fewer scores to settle.

Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette poll, said his polls reflected that discrepancy.
“We continue to see Donald Trump being very popular within the party, but more Republicans like him want him to run for office again. One difference — in both state and national polls — is between 75% and 80% of Republicans say they have a favorable opinion of Trump. But it’s more like 60% of Republicans who would like to see him run again,” he said.

“In theory, 60% is a lot to win a primary, so that doesn’t mean they’re giving it up. But you see a shift between looking back and having a favorable vision and looking forward.

This sparks fears among some Republicans who suspect that while Trump might make it to the primaries, especially if others fear the political cost of running against him, he has already lost to Biden once by 7 million votes in the popular ballot. . They also fear that the House committee hearings will provide an abundance of material for Democrats to flood the airwaves with clips showing former Trump loyalists accusing him of leading a coup attempt.

Still, any Republican who runs against Trump had better feel safe beating him or risk killing his own political career.

For now, in Wisconsin as elsewhere, loyalty to Trump continues to be a litmus test for most Republican voters they vote for. Franklin said that includes buying claims that the 2020 election was stolen and that the January 6 hearings are part of the conspiracy.

“If you want to be a good Republican in the current party, you have to report to voters who bought into the voter fraud story,” he said.

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