NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s steadfast grip on Republicans in Washington is beginning to crumble, leaving him more politically isolated than at any other point in his turbulent administration.
After riling up a crowd that later staged a violent siege of the US Capitol, Trump appears to have lost some of his strongest allies, including South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Two Cabinet members and at least a half dozen aides have resigned. A handful of congressional Republicans are openly considering whether to join a renewed push for impeachment.
One GOP senator who has split with Trump in the past called on him to resign and questioned whether she would stay in the party.
“I want him out,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told The Anchorage Daily News. “He has caused enough damage.”
The insurrection on the heels of a bruising election loss in Georgia accomplished what other low points in Trump’s presidency did not: force Republicans to fundamentally reassess their relationship with a leader who has long abandoned tradition and decorum. The result could reshape the party, threatening the influence that Trump craves while creating a divide between those in Washington and activists in swaths of the country where the president is especially popular.
“At this point, I won’t defend him anymore,” said Ari Fleischer, a former White House press secretary for George W. Bush and a GOP strategist who voted for Trump. “I won’t defend him for stirring the pot that incited the mob. He’s on his own.”
When the week began, Trump was without question the most dominant political force in Republican politics and a 2024 kingmaker, if not the GOP’s next presidential nominee himself. On Friday, there was a growing sense that he was forever tarnished — and may be forced from office before his term expires in 12 days.
Absent a resignation, calls for a second impeachment on Capitol Hill grew louder on Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress would proceed with impeachment proceedings unless Trump leaves office “imminently and willingly.”
President-elect Joe Biden isn’t putting his weight behind the effort yet, suggesting there’s not enough time between now and his Jan. 20 inauguration to pursue impeachment or any other constitutional remedy.
“I am focused now, on us taking control as president and vice president, on the 20th and getting our agenda moving as quickly as we can,” Biden told reporters.
Trump still has supporters, especially among the many rank-and-file Republican voters and conservative activists beyond Washington.
On Thursday morning, there was loud applause and shouts of “We love you!” when Trump phoned into a breakfast meeting of the Republican National Committee in Florida.
“The vast majority of the committee is in full denial,” said Republican National Committee member Bill Palatucci, of New Jersey, who attended the breakfast.
The president insists he did nothing wrong. He continues to tell aides, privately at least, that the election was stolen from him. Republican officials in critical battleground states, his recently departed attorney general and a series of judges — including those appointed by Trump — have rejected those claims as meritless.