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By Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan

Senator Ben Sasse was in a fairly lonely place when he wrote on his Facebook page back in February that he could not support Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

That is changing. Since Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, staked out his position, the ranks of Republican Trump critics in the U.S. Congress have grown, with the New York real estate mogul stirring almost constant turmoil within his party.

The following are Republicans in Congress who have said they will not vote for Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential election, followed by those who have said they are keeping their options open.

WILL NOT VOTE FOR TRUMP

Senator Ben Sasse. Wrote in February he could not support Trump or his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Sasse wrote: “Mr. Trump’s relentless focus is on dividing Americans, and on tearing down rather than building back up this glorious nation.”

Senator Lindsey Graham. A strong Trump critic, Graham sought the Republican presidential nomination, but drew little support. He has told reporters he may write in someone for president.

Senator Mark Kirk. The Illinois lawmakers faces a tough battle for re-election and withdrew his endorsement of Trump in June, citing Trump’s attacks on “Hispanics, women and the disabled like me.” Kirk had a stroke in 2012 and uses a wheelchair. He told CNN on Aug. 10 that he will write in former Secretary of State Colin Powell for president.

Senator Susan Collins. The Maine moderate said in a Washington Post opinion article on Aug. 8 that she will not vote for Trump or Clinton. She has said she may write in another candidate.

Representative Carlos Curbelo. A Cuban-American from Florida, Curbelo was an early Trump critic. “If the nominee is a fraud, and someone who’s offensive, and incapable of being an effective president like Donald Trump, I won’t support him,” Curbelo told Reuters in February.

Representative Justin Amash. A libertarian-leaning Michigan congressman, Amash says Trump’s policies go in the wrong direction. “I’m not voting for him,” he told Reuters in March.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. A Cuban-American whose south Florida district is next door to Curbelo’s, Ros-Lehtinen said in May that she will not support Trump or Clinton.

Representative Bob Dold. A longtime Trump critic from Illinois who plans to write someone in.

Representative Adam Kinzinger. Another Illinoisan, Kinzinger told CNN on Aug. 3 he did not see how he could support Trump.

Representative Charlie Dent. The Pennsylvanian said earlier this month he was not planning to vote for Trump or Clinton.

Representative Richard Hanna. On Aug. 2, Hanna, of New York state, became the first House Republican to say he will vote for Clinton. He is retiring from Congress at the end of this year.

Representative Scott Rigell. A Virginian who is also retiring from Congress, Rigell said on Aug. 7 that he would vote for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.

Representative Reid Ribble. The Wisconsinite already was blasting Trump last September, saying Trump was doing “serious damage” to the Republican brand and that he could not support him. Ribble is retiring from Congress.

HAVE NOT ENDORSED

Some prominent lawmakers have not endorsed Trump, but will not say whether they will vote for him, leaving their options open.

Senator Jeff Flake. The Arizona lawmaker on Aug. 9 said there was “slim hope” he could vote for Trump, and added Trump could not win the presidency unless he changes.

Senator Pat Toomey. A Pennsylvanian in a tight re-election race, Toomey has not endorsed Trump and says he has not made a decision on what he will do.

Senator Ted Cruz. A conservative Texan and former Trump rival for the Republican nomination, Cruz was booed at the Republican convention after he pointedly did not endorse Trump and urged delegates to “vote your conscience.”

Senator Mike Lee. A Cruz ally, the Utah senator says he has concerns about whether Trump is conservative enough. “He has not endorsed and he has no plans to do so,” a Lee spokesman said.

Representative Mike Coffman. The Colorado lawmaker has not ruled out voting for Trump, but put out a television ad saying “I don’t care for him much.”

Representative Fred Upton. From Michigan, he says he is not endorsing anyone and has not said for whom he will vote.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis)

Photo: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 21, 2016. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

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Former President Donald Trump, left, and former White House counsel Pat Cipollone

On Wednesday evening the House Select Committee investigating the Trump coup plot issued a subpoena to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, following blockbuster testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, who said the lawyer had warned of potential criminal activity by former President Donald Trump and his aides.

The committee summons to Cipollone followed long negotiations over his possible appearance and increasing pressure on him to come forward as Hutchinson did. Committee members expect the former counsel’s testimony to advance their investigation, owing to his knowledge of the former president's actions before, during and after the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

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