In response to Trump defending the people who attacked the U.S. Capitol and specifically defending their stated desire to assassinate the Republican vice president, Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, fell back on an old favorite of Republican politicians confronted with Trump’s outrages. He dodged and ducked and weaved and said “I don’t agree with President Trump on everything,” but he focused far more on where he does agree with Trump than on this specific disagreement with Trump about whether it was “common sense” for Trump supporters attacking the Capitol to wish to hang Pence.
Literally as far as Barrasso would go to criticize Trump was, “It’s not common sense,” and, “I don’t agree with President Trump on everything.”
But he poured his heart into defending Trump. Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “Can your party tolerate a leader who defends murderous chants against his own vice president?” Barrasso responded “Well -- well, let me just say, the Republican Party is incredibly united right now and it's because of the policies of this administration. And I think the more that the Democrats and the press becomes obsessed with President Trump, I think the better it is for the Republican Party. President Trump brings lots of energy to the party. He's an enduring force.” Then he attacked Democrats for a while.
When Stephanopoulos followed up about the common sense part, Barrasso downplayed the threat to Pence on Jan. 6.
“I was with Mike Pence in the Senate chamber during January 6th. And what happened was they quickly got Vice President Pence out of there, certainly a lot faster than they removed the senators,” he said. “I believed he was safe the whole time. I didn't hear any of those chants. I don't believe that he did either. And Vice President Pence came back into the chamber that night and certified the election.”
Eh, no big deal. I didn’t hear those chants. (Recordings of the chants are widely available.)
Donald Trump lost. He remains widely unpopular. Yet Republican lawmakers remain in thrall to him, too loyal or too fearful to say the most obvious thing, like: "It's terrible to sympathize with the people who stormed the Capitol and said they wanted to kill your sidekick." A few Republicans have been willing to sharply criticize Trump. They are either retiring or fighting for their political lives as they face primaries. Basically all of the rest of the Republicans in Congress or other prominent positions are sending the clear message that Trump remains the head of the Republican Party and they will continue to follow him.
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