Jeff Masons at Reuters has been looking at what Wednesday’s violence might mean long-term for the Donald Trump political project.
The outgoing one-term president has previously dangled the possibility of running again in 2024, and political operatives had expected him to exert influence over the Republican Party for years to come.
But, Mason reports, his behavior on Wednesday – goading supporters to march on the Capitol to encourage lawmakers to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s win, 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.”
“There’s no recovering from what happened. It was sedition. I don’t see how there’s a future,” said another former administration official, referring to Trump and his top aides. “I think the Cabinet members that stayed and that aren’t speaking out now or even quietly resigning have a stain forever.”
Trump’s low-key video address on Thursday night is as close as he has come to a concession and it came after intervention from his daughter, Ivanka, according to one current White House official. They noted that the political hit from the week’s events would extend to his family members, such as daughter-in-law Lara Trump, a potential candidate for the US Senate in North Carolina.
Mason says that the anonymous 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.”
“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.”