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Of 435 Members of the House of Representatives, three — 3! — have lost primaries in 2016. Two of them were retired by redistricting. One Democrat — Rep. Chaka Fattah — couldn’t overcome the small matter of a federal indictment.

Not exactly an anti-establishment wave filled with angry voters set on undermining, setting fire to, or jamming hot spears of frustration into the rusty gears of the corroded DC machine.

Analysts looking to excuse Republicans for nominating a demagogue relying on racist tropes have turned to two alibis.

First, we hear about “economic anxiety” — a defense that gets hollowed out by antiracist educator Tim Wise’s simple assertion: “If the only reason for Trump’s support was economic anxiety, then people of color should be flocking to Trump.” Because people of color, statistically, are still suffering far more in this economy, which has been generally improving for almost six years. If there’s anyone who should be “economically anxious,” it’s Black people — who give Trump the highest unfavorable rating of any group at 94 percent. In America, that’s as close as you can get to unanimous.

Secondly, we hear about a general anti-establishment desire to watch the whole craphouse go up in flames in which Trump’s appeal is explained by the charm of his blather on the stump, the kitsch of his rallies, and statistical anomalies of a few vocal women or people of color backing the self-proclaimed billionaire.

I understand the urge to absolve our fellow Americans of being seduced by bigotry’s craven lure. But in the past few weeks any attempt to excuse Trump supporters from at least being tolerant of racism has become even more futile.

A Washington Post/ABC poll released on Monday showed that 7 of 10 Americans disapprove of Donald Trump. This data followed two weeks in which the probable GOP nominee continually explained that a heroic federal judge born in Indiana couldn’t give Trump a fair trial because the judge is “Mexican.”

Even Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called Trump’s outburst an example of “textbook racism.”

Trump supporters who found their hero’s attack on the judge’s heritage compelling argued that it couldn’t be “racism” because “Mexican” isn’t a race. Apparently, to them, it’s a massive coincidence that Trump’s worst qualities — his birtherism, his suspicion that the president is secretly Muslim, his urge to deport millions, and his insistence that we cower behind a wall — all tend to be evoked by fears of non-white people.

It’s a decent sign for America that even Trump supporters want to dance behind the pretense of acceptability — as if just insulting someone’s ethnic heritage alone isn’t disqualifying for a presidential candidate. And though Republicans were the only group that didn’t overwhelmingly find the comments racist, many in the Party of Lincoln recognize the stench of this bullshit.

Remember: A majority of the party voted for another candidate in the primary. And several party leaders have refused to fall behind Trump, a genuinely brave stance that could cost their movement a majority on the Supreme Court.

But the “anger” of Trump’s unapologetic supporters needs to be examined — not absolved — if there’s any hope of using this abominable moment in our nation’s history to expose how conservative tropes have long used strategic anti-minority rhetoric to turn people against the institutions that built the middle class..

If Trump said that Canadians or Germans or Israelis were “rapists” who bring drugs to America, though some are probably okay, the offense would be obvious. Trump supporters might argue, “Well, he wouldn’t say that because it isn’t true,” without any more data to debunk those accusations than Trump had to utter his slurs against Mexicans. And that’s exactly the point.

Trump carefully picks his targets — as he always has. Though he is in general rude and abrasive to anyone who doesn’t kiss his ass, the Trump political style, derived from George Wallace, is designed to focus a wellspring of hate against convenient targets — generally with a thin veneer of strategic deniability.

You see now that GOP establishment figures are attempting to legitimize Trump’s bigotry by writing apologia for his “temporary Muslim ban,” which would have prevented exactly zero terror attacks. Trump didn’t invent the bigotry he is using. Republicans have argued for Muslim internment camps and House Republicans have voted for mass deportations over reform over and over and over.

Trump has awakened an urge that has been mostly sublimated in the Republican party toward outward bigotry. And I wouldn’t make such accusations if the data didn’t back them up.

Let’s start with the group that Trump decided to target by choosing birtherism as a way to make himself politically relevant, after decades of looking for ways to get people to beg him to run for president.

“The Republican Party relies almost entirely on whites, who provide about 90 percent of its votes,” New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait points out.

This has been true since the mid-1960s and is either the result of a huge coincidence or an overwhelming, undeniable sense that the party prioritizes one identity over others. Republicans occasionally argue that this is is the result of minority voters’ passion for “free stuff,” or maybe of Black and Latino voters being fooled into the “Democratic Plantation” — which are racist arguments in themselves.

Millionaires who support Democrats vote against their own material interests, as do working people who vote for Republicans intent on destroying collective bargaining rights. We all vote against our narrow interests sometimes, because voting is mostly about identity and values. We should assume that Black, Latino and Asian voters understand what they’re voting for and and are able to formulate their own visions of America.

And we should assume the same about Trump voters.

“Among the vast majority of GOP voters who think that the growing number of newcomers to the U.S. ‘threatens traditional American customs and values,’ 59 percent have warm feelings toward Donald Trump – with 42 percent saying they feel very warmly toward him,” Bradley Jones and Jocelyn Kiley of PewResearch explain.

Demos policy analyst Sean McElwee — along with his collaborators Jason McDaniel and Philip Cohen — looked into the polling data and found that “racial resentment” is the defining factor of Trump’s appeal.

“[I]ncreased levels of racial stereotyping among white respondents — as measured by beliefs that Black people, Muslims and Hispanics are ‘lazy’ or ‘violent’ — strongly increases support for Trump, even after controlling for other factors,” McElwee and McDaniel write. “The opposite is true, however, when it comes to support for Marco Rubio.”

This doesn’t mean every Trump supporter is a raging racist or even conscious of his or her own racism. It just means Trump supporters are, according to, McElwee and Cohen, “dramatically more likely to embrace racial stereotypes than the average Republican or Democrat.”

Even the slogan “Make America Great Again” harkens to some mysterious period in the past, which he won’t quite identify. But you can be sure that wherever in the past Trump takes us, it will be an era when women, minorities, and the LGBTQ community had fewer rights and less dignity.

We shouldn’t insult Trump supporters by suggesting that they are in denial of the ugly overtones and undertones that define the Trump campaign. They aren’t oblivious to the qualities that have made Trump the choice of David Duke, Stormfront, and hordes of online anti-Semites. They get why students at a Des Moines high school chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” at the students of a predominately Latino high school that defeated them in basketball.

America has often been confronted by a choice between our worst instincts and our better ones. Trump campaign is unprecedented in the way he lies and abandons any responsibility for reason, preparation, or consistency. But his worst crime is to play on the infectious and deadly prejudices that have been ingrained in our society. And now the Republican Party needs to decide whether it is willing to align itself this twisted version of “patriotism” forever.

 

Photo: Demonstrators protesting Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (in window, L) are reflected in the side of his car as he departs after he was deposed for a lawsuit involving partners in a restaurant venture at offices in Washington, U.S. June 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst 

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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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