by Julie Kelly
In the end, almost everyone got what they deserved.
The president’s Achilles’ heel—relying on the wrong people to advance his political interests—led to his final ouster this week. Donald Trump ran out of runway and instead of preparing for a soft landing, he pumped the gas. It’s hard to blame him: His court challenges had been thwarted by the very judges he elevated to the federal bench, his hodgepodge legal team whirred in defeat, and Republican senators he helped elect quickly turned on him.
As usual, the president was right: extensive proof of vote fraud in key states justified his belief, shared by tens of millions of Americans, that the election was stolen from him. Trump’s instinct to fight back was spot-on but the plan and the people he put in place failed to launch yet again. Despite advance warning that a majority mail-in election would doom his chance to win, the president’s team was infuriatingly unprepared both in terms of messaging and legal strategy. An odd press conference the day after the election featured not top-tier legal killers but his son and daughter-in-law.
The prologue already was written.
A vacuum created by a complete lack of interest from his own Justice Department—led by a man the president refused to fire even though he had cause to do so months before—was filled with any number of caricatures peddling far-fetched claims obscuring legitimate evidence. The president, as is his wont, whether because of loyalty or ignorance, didn’t shut them down until it was too late. The damage to his case was done, another self-inflicted wound suffered unnecessarily at the most crucial time imaginable.
As the president greeted tens of thousands of Americans who had traveled to the nation’s capital to show their support for Trump’s last stand, Senate Republicans learned they would lose control of the chamber after both Georgia races were called for the Democrats.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) used his time from the floor to dismiss valid allegations of election fraud as his conference prepared to certify the election of their longtime Senate colleague, Joe Biden. The outgoing Senate leader falsely claimed that Trump’s lawsuits “received hearings in courtrooms all across the country” while admitting every election has illegalities and irregularities.
“Last year’s bizarre pandemic procedures must not become the new norm” McConnell lectured, clearly unaware that, yes, those rules will of course become the new norm and that there isn’t a damn thing he can—or will—do about it.
The GOP Senate’s long run of failure theater was temporarily shut down as people entered the Capitol, some to cause trouble. Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), a signer to a last-minute CYA attempt to delay certification and appoint a special commission to audit the election, was speaking in support of the move as Capitol security officers evacuated the chamber. When he returned hours later, Lankford, clearly shaken, rescinded his support. “We are headed for tonight the certification of Joe Biden to be president of the United States,” Lankford said. Kelly Loeffler, fresh off her defeat in Georgia, followed suit.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), now having been reelected to a third term, gave a rambling speech late Wednesday night. “I don’t buy [election fraud claims]. Enough is enough. We gotta end this,” Graham ranted. “It is over.”
Indeed it is.
McConnell now will relinquish the gavel and Graham will relinquish his useless chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) introduced a bill to form a commission to examine the integrity of the 2020 election, an odd proposal if, as Senate Republicans have insisted, the 2020 election was totally on the up-and-up.
The junior senator from South Carolina is up for reelection in 2022, so perhaps he wants to make sure what happened to Trump doesn’t happen to him.
Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a Black Lives Matter supporter, ran away from a female constituent confronting him in an airport for not supporting the president’s election challenges. A leftist mob threatened the family of Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on the eve of the Senate’s certification vote.
Within hours of the breach of the Capitol, Graham, who failed for four straight years to fulfill his repeated promises to “get to the bottom” of Barack Obama’s corrupt FBI, called for a special task force to investigate the “domestic terrorists” involved in the January 6 incident. “Sedition might be a charge for some of these people,” the tough talker warned. “The people sitting in the chairs need to be sitting in a jail cell.”
Graham claimed Trump’s “actions” before the incident “tarnished” the president’s accomplishments in office—accomplishments, by the way, that Trump achieved with little help from Senate Republicans, including Graham.
Ending their reign in humiliation and defeat, capped off with final gasps of grandstanding and betrayal, is a fitting end to the GOP Senate in the Trump era.
Trump supporters, unfortunately, didn’t deserve what they got in the end, as they endured more mockery and contempt from the media, Democrats, and NeverTrump hucksters alleged to be in their own political party. The lax double standards that apply to BLM rioters and Antifa thugs, of course, did not apply to the handful of troublemakers who vandalized the Capitol. Just a short trip down memory lane showed politicians and journalists cheering the takeover of the Hart Senate Office Building in October 2018 by leftist “protestors” angry about Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and attacks on U.S. senators. But that wasn’t enough to expose the hypocrisy of the moment.
Like so many times before—be it a mob in Charlottesville or pro-life high schoolers at the Mall in Washington—it was death by proxy. Reporters and pundits want to “cleanse” the country of 75 million Trump supporters, language unthinkable just four years ago.
Trump’s presidency will end, but it’s unclear where he goes from here. The Republican Party as we know it also is over; the GOP’s disloyalty to the president and his voters in the final stretch will not be soon forgotten. And Republican control of the Senate during the Trump era ends just how it began, in making a bargain to do the Left’s bidding and ultimately acting as the Democratic Party’s useful idiots.
Democrats will control the White House, the Senate, and the House for the first time since 2009. A feeble near-octogenarian will pretend to govern as his ambitious vice president waits in the wings for her chance to rule. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will try to inflict God-knows-what on the country for at least the next two years.
It’s unlikely that will end well, either.
It didn’t have to end this way. Senate Republicans could have tackled election illegalities if for no other reason than to the placate the base. The president could have been far better prepared to confront voter fraud cases and stayed focused on the more provable examples rather than fringy, hard-to-prove accusations. The Republican Party could have acted like the Democratic Party by demanding state lawmakers in swing states push back harder.
But none of it happened.
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Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than 10 years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture, and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.