OPINION | Donald Trump’s Influence Fades

Alejandra Ramos Barreda

Editor’s Note: Michael D’Antonio is the author of the book “Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success” and co-author, with Peter Eisner, of the book “High Crimes: The Corruption, Impunity, and Impeachment of Donald Trump” . The opinions expressed in this comment belong solely to its author. See more opinions here.

(CNN) – You would be forgiven for thinking that the first anniversary of the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol would be a day reserved for solemn reflection. However, former President Donald Trump seems to think it should be a day when we all pay attention to him.


Trump plans to mark him with one of his favorite indulgences: a press conference in which he will likely repeat lies about the election he lost and lash out at fellow Republicans who disagree with him.

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“I will have a press conference on January 6 in Mar-a-Lago to discuss all these points, and more,” the former president said in a statement so bogged down with outlandish claims and extravagances that it reads as if he dictated it in a single sigh.

Holding the press conference is a gruesome choice that dishonors those who died in the battle between the police and Trump loyalists who wanted to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. But Trump has two apparent goals: He wants to perpetuate false claims of voter fraud and rewrite history with the lie that the attack was simply an “unarmed protest” in response to the “rigged election,” as his press release puts it. By making these false claims, he also wants to tighten his grip on the Republican Party by criticizing those who refuse to accept his alternate version of reality.

In both respects, the Trump trick suggests that a man operates not from a place of trust and strength, but from anxiety and confusion. Anyone who follows the House Select Committee on January 6 would understand why. News from the commission indicates that they are focused on Trump and his inner circle, with the possibility that they could make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, sources told CNN. Meanwhile, key figures such as the rally organizer Ali Alexander cooperate with the commission.

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It is clear that the former president wants to strengthen his position within the party, but considering his efforts to stay relevant in the past year, it is safe to say that his power is limited.

Sure, Trump has played a huge role in shaping the Republican Party; His lies about voter fraud have taken hold within the party, Republican-controlled states have passed a series of laws restricting voters, and he has ushered in an era of growing extremism. But now that he no longer holds the highest office in the country, Trump himself is far from the kingmaker he wants to be.

Looking back at the year, Trump’s attempts to wield his power over the Republican Party have been spotty. All attempts at the state level to overturn the results of the 2020 election have failed, and when the former president lobbied the Texas governor to advance electoral audit legislation, he got nowhere.

Meanwhile, his chosen candidate for the US Senate seat in Pennsylvania suspended his campaign amid allegations of domestic abuse. And in Alabama, his support for Senate candidate Mo Brooks seems to have little effect (you will recall that Trump’s weakness showed itself in Alabama in 2017 when his US Senate elections lost in both the primary and general elections. ).

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Other Trump setbacks include his candidate’s failure in a special congressional election in Texas. And those who are fighting primary battles against incumbent Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6 uprising are struggling with fundraising. In the most glaring example, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a member of the Jan.6 commission – a Republican who may top Trump’s list of enemies – has 10 times more campaign cash than her Trump-backed rival, according to the Most recent filings from the Federal Electoral Commission for October.

In Washington, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in office, appears to be distancing himself from Trump. He recently expressed interest in the January 6 commission’s effort to “reveal to all the participants who were involved” and added: “It was a horrendous event, and I think what they are looking for is something the public needs to know.”

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Trump and his television allies have bombarded McConnell with criticism for months. And despite the former president recently declaring McConnell a “disaster” that should be replaced, Republican senators seem not to feel like doing so, according to Politico.

To understand the state of Trumpism almost a year after January 6, we can also look at his recent lectures. Trump teamed up with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to launch a “historic tour,” but they failed to sell enough tickets to fill some of the spots. In Dallas, some audience members booed Trump when he said he had received the Covid-19 booster shot. O’Reilly said he had reassured Trump about his position on vaccines earlier that day.

After the weak performance in the political races, the resistance of McConnell, the tireless investigation of the commission of January 6 and the impact of hearing boos in an arena that did not sell out, it is not surprising that Trump is planning a press conference to commemorate the anniversary of the horrific attack on the United States Capitol. You may be in warm Palm Beach, Florida, where the sun is shining on your Mar-A-Lago resort, but you desperately need the warmth brought by the media attention and controversy it will inevitably stir.

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