Enduring Republican support for former President Donald Trump, even after the Capitol insurrection and his second impeachment trial, has left some conservatives wondering if the party still has a place for them.
“The GOP [Republican Party] is in a really dark place right now,” said Olivia Troye, a former aide to then-Vice President Mike Pence, who added that she and others like her now feel politically “homeless.”
Troye, who resigned in protest over the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, is now director of the newly established Republican Accountability Project, a political action committee working to unseat Trump allies and elect “principled conservatives.”
“I’m not saying we’re going to rehabilitate the Republican Party overnight; we are far from that,” she said. “We’re looking at several years of looking at what direction the party wants to go.”
The party is experiencing a major rift, with Trump slamming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just days after the top Republican voted to acquit him.
On Tuesday, Trump called McConnell a “dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack,” urging Senate Republicans to find a new leader and threatening to back challengers against incumbent Republicans in the next election.
Although McConnell had voted “not guilty” in Trump’s impeachment trial last week, he later excoriated the former president on the Senate floor, saying there was no question that Trump was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events” on January 6, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers certified Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Meanwhile, the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump on the charge of inciting an insurrection are now facing severe criticism from within the party. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana were formally reprimanded by the Republican Party apparatuses in their states which held a vote to censure them. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Susan Collins of Maine are also facing the threat of censure.
The infighting comes as polls show that Trump remains a force among Republicans. A Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed that 75 percent of Republicans said they would like to see the former president play a prominent role in the party.
Republican Party rift
On Sunday, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, a conservative outlet owned by Trump ally Rupert Murdoch, warned that Trump would divide the party.
“The country is moving past the Trump Presidency, and the GOP will remain in the wilderness until it does too,” wrote the board.