Republicans who let Trump ‘bully’ party will seal midterms defeat, GOP senator says

Relitigating 2020 will not fuel a win in 2024, says Bill Cassidy, who cast a guilty vote at Trump impeachment trial over Capitol attack

One of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial warned on Sunday that the former president’s “bullying” of the party would lead to electoral defeat in next year’s midterms and beyond.

Bill Cassidy of Louisiana was speaking days after the Ohio Republican congressman Anthony Gonzalez, who voted to impeach Trump over the US Capitol attack, announced he would not seek re-election.

On Saturday, another Republican Trump critic in the House of Representatives, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, released a hard-hitting video statement in which he told colleagues “silent” about the state of their party the “time for hiding is over”.

Cassidy told NBC’s Meet the Press: “Politicians are not victims. Politicians make a choice. If we choose to look forward, bringing positive solutions to the American people who have needs, we win. If we choose to be bullied, we lose.”

The two-term senator also appeared to reference an extraordinary letter sent this week by Trump to the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, demanding he decertify the “illegitimate” presidential election result.

Joe Biden’s win in Georgia is central to Trump’s big lie that the election was stolen. His previous efforts to overturn the result are the subject of a criminal inquiry.

“The broader question, frankly, is do Republicans continue to relitigate 2020, or do we look forward with a positive agenda?” Cassidy said.

“If we relitigate 2020 over and over again, it won’t change the result in 2020 but we’re sure to lose in 2024. On the other hand, if we have a positive agenda, which addresses the fact that the Biden administration is in disarray, whether it’s inflation, the border, Afghanistan, then the country will win and we’ll win.

“But if we choose to be bullied, we’ll lose.”

Allies of Trump have said they expect him to run for the White House again. A Senate vote to convict him after his second impeachment would have disqualified the former president from running for office again. It brought a fierce backlash from members of his own party and Trump himself. But the Louisiana senator does not face re-election until 2026.

Others who have spoken out have felt the wrath of Trump and his acolytes, including Liz Cheney, the Wyoming congresswoman ousted as the No 3 Republican in the House after voting for impeachment, and Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, a 37-year-old former NFL player, said he was standing down to spend more time with his family. But he acknowledged that “toxic dynamics inside our own party” were also a significant factor.

In a New York Times interview, Gonzalez said Trump was “a cancer for our country” whom he did not believe could ever be president again. He also dismissed Trump’s inevitable “good riddance” response, voiced in a statement on Friday.

“I haven’t cared what he says or thinks since 6 January, outside when he continues to lie about the election, which I have a problem with,” Gonzalez said.

Cassidy would not be drawn on whether Gonzalez’s departure was good or bad for the party.

“Anthony is choosing his personal priorities. You read his statement, it stands for itself,” he said. But he stressed that the GOP was in dire need of a new direction.

“We answer to voters. And so if we don’t answer to voters in a positive way, we lose,” he said. “If all you do is talk about the past, you’re yesterday’s news.”

• The sub-heading with this piece was amended on 20 September 2021 to correspond with story text in stating that Bill Cassidy’s vote related to Donald Trump’s impeachment trial (as distinct from the preceding vote to impeach).


Richard Luscombe

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
US midterm elections 2022: Trump backlash grows as top Virginia Republican says ‘I could not support him’ – as it happened
Lieutenant governor says former president has become ‘liability’ amid speculation over 2024 White House run – follow the latest

Sam Levin (now), Maanvi Singh, Chris Stein and Martin Belam (earlier)

11, Nov, 2022 @10:48 AM

Article image
Pelosi puts anti-Trump Republican Kinzinger on US Capitol attack panel
Speaker asks Illinois representative to join Liz Cheney after minority leader withdrew support over rejection of Trump allies

Martin Pengelly in New York

25, Jul, 2021 @5:12 PM

Article image
Trump for 2024 would be ‘bad mistake’, Republican says as blame game deepens
Alabama congressman Mo Brooks, a once-zealous Trump ally, comments after party fails to retake Congress in midterms

Martin Pengelly in New York

14, Nov, 2022 @5:54 PM

Article image
This Will Not Pass review: Trump-Biden blockbuster is dire reading for Democrats
Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns have made waves with tapes of Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans – but the president’s party has more to fear from what they reveal

Lloyd Green

01, May, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Midterms scenarios: will Republicans take the Senate and the House?
A handful of general scenarios could play out on Tuesday, each having huge significance for Biden and Donald Trump

David Smith in Washington

08, Nov, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Trump announces 2024 run nearly two years after inspiring deadly Capitol riot
Twice-impeached ex-president makes election announcement despite shaky midterms and surge from rival Ron DeSantis

Lauren Gambino in Washington and Martin Pengelly in New York

16, Nov, 2022 @4:33 AM

Article image
Nancy Pelosi says she will not seek re-election as Democratic leader in House – as it happened
Decision comes after Republicans win slim House majority – follow all the latest politics news

Chris Stein in Washington

17, Nov, 2022 @9:00 PM

Article image
Trump says opposing tax cuts will cost Democrats 'very big' in midterms
President hails Senate’s passage of tax bill as ‘one of the big nights’ but critics call bill a shameless giveaway to the wealthy

Edward Helmore in New York and Emma Graham-Harrison

02, Dec, 2017 @6:45 PM

Article image
Chuck Schumer insists Democrats can hold or expand Senate majority – as it happened
Majority leader acknowledges race will be ‘tight’ but says he believes Democrats will keep control of Senate

Chris Stein in Washington

03, Nov, 2022 @8:00 PM

Article image
FBI was reportedly warned agents were ‘sympathetic’ to Capitol rioters – as it happened
NBC News reports No 2 Paul Abbate received warning about large number of bureau employees in email – follow the latest

Chris Stein

14, Oct, 2022 @8:03 PM