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Roving Periscope: Trump sees second life; may contest again in 2024

Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: Political thinkers have often seen politics as the ‘art of the possible. Former Indian Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh, who ran his short-lived government in 1989-90, like a trapeze artist balancing between the Right and the Left, had even said that politics is, after all, ‘management of contradictions’.

Nobody, perhaps, personifies these observations better than Donald Trump!

Fresh from an acquittal in an unprecedented second impeachment case, the former US President may have found a new life within a month of handing the power of the White House to his successor, Joe Biden.

Irrepressible, Trump is likely to contest in 2024 to regain his presidency lost to ‘election fraud’ in November 2020.

Media reports suggested he is seeing a resurgence in support among Republican voters as senior figures in the party offered him an olive branch and urged him to join the fight to win back control of the US Senate next year. Some of the Republican rebels are even trying to close ranks with him.

A recent poll showed 59 percent of Republicans want Trump to play a “major role” in the party in the near future. That was an 18-point jump since a similar poll taken the day after the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2020, when his angry supporters stormed the US Congress on Capitol Hill trying to reverse the November election result.

Within three weeks, however, his approval rating among Republicans has gone back up to 81 percent, having slipped to 74 percent last month.

His popularity among the Republicans shot up after a Democrat congressman sued Trump in a civilian court, seeking damages over the riot.

Bennie Thompson, who chairs the homeland security committee, brought up the case against Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and extremist groups, known as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Thompson invoked the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which prohibits violence intended to stop Congress from doing its constitutional duty.

President Joe Biden supported the right to “take steps through the judicial process,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, according to media reports.

Reacting to this, a Trump spokesman responded that the former US President has been acquitted in the Democrats’ “latest impeachment witch hunt and the facts are irrefutable.”

Intriguingly, the prosecution case at the impeachment trial did not seem to have impacted Trump’s standing with Republican voters.

The former President’s rival Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, however, reiterated that Trump’s actions were “unconscionable” and he “bears moral responsibility” after “shouting unhinged falsehoods into the world’s largest megaphone”.

But watching Trump support reviving, he told Wall Street Journal that the former President could play a “constructive” role in winning back the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.

Trump has already indicated that he will return and that he will support candidates in Republican primary races who back his agenda.

McConnell’s balancing act is also seen as a move to reassure wealthy donors that the Republican Party was not headed for a split between pro-and anti-Trump factions.

Trump’s latest acquittal means he is free to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, media reported.

The recent poll found that, if the presidential poll was held today, Trump would win 53 percent of the vote, making him a huge favorite.

Meanwhile, Ron Johnson, the Republican senator from Wisconsin, said he did not think the January 6 riot looked like “an armed insurrection”. He blamed “agitators” for the violence.

Johnson said: “This will get me in trouble, but I don’t care, The group of people that supported Trump, the hundreds of thousands of people who attended those Trump rallies, those are the people that love this country. They never would have done what happened on January 6.

“That is a group of people that love freedom. That’s a group of people we need to unify and keep on our side.”

Interestingly, a Republican congressman who voted to impeach Trump was disowned by 11 members of his own extended family.

In a letter, they accused Adam Kinzinger of joining the “devil’s army”.

The relatives wrote: “Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and the Lord! You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!”