At the heart of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a lie, one that was allowed to fester and flourish by many of the same Republicans now condemning President Donald Trump for whipping his supporters into a frenzy with his false attacks on the integrity of the 2020 election.
The response from some of those GOP officials now? We didn’t think it would come to this.
“People took him literally. I never thought I would see that,” said Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s former chief of staff. Mulvaney resigned his post as special envoy to Northern Ireland last week after the riots.
That argument reveals the extent to which many Republicans have willingly turned a blind eye throughout Trump’s presidency to some of the forces coursing through America. Each time Trump promoted a conspiracy theory or openly flirted with extremist groups, Republicans assumed there were still some limits to how far he and his most loyal supporters would go.
Few seemed concerned about the worst-case scenarios, dismissing fears of violence or authoritarianism as liberal fever dreams.
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, who backed Trump in the 2020 election but is now calling for him to resign,