A Disturbing Number of Republicans Still Believe All the Lies Donald Trump Tells Them

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One of the enduring legacies of Donald Trump’s runs for office and four years as president is the phenomenon in which a shameless politician can tell a brazen, easily fact-checkable lie and his or her supporters will buy it without question, even when evidence to the contrary is screaming in their faces. The earliest example of this was the claim Trump made when announcing his 2015 bid for office—that he was going to build a wall and Mexico was going to pay for it, an absurd lie that he was still telling in the fall of 2020. And of course an equally audacious lie was the one he started spreading last November and hasn’t stopped spewing to date—that he won the presidential election and a second term was stolen from him.

Obviously, the most chilling repercussion of Trump’s supporters believing he, and not Joe Biden, won the election, was the January 6 attack on the Capitol, an insurrection that left five people dead and which Trump, in his final tweet before being kicked off the platform, described as “the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” And three months after the fact, a majority of Republicans still believe the Big Lie.

According to a new Reuters-Ipsos poll, a whopping 6 in 10 GOP voters believe that the 2020 election “was stolen” from Trump due to widespread voter fraud, which of course there is zero evidence to support. (That same proportion of voters also think Trump should make good on his threat to run again in 2024.) Meanwhile, despite the fact that almost half a dozen people died as a result of the January 6 riot, while dozens of Capitol officers were injured, roughly half of Republicans think the attack was either a) a nonviolent protest (!!!) or b) the work of left-wing activists hell-bent on “trying to make Trump look bad.” That outlook is alarmingly shared by Republican senator Ron Johnson, who has both claimed that the violence was caused by people posing as Trump supporters…

…and that the attack wasn’t “an armed insurrection.“ Obviously, in reality, many of the people who took part in the riot were very much armed, and a significant number of the people indicted have said they believed they were following Trump’s orders when they stormed the Capitol building. In fact, one of the participants, who’s been accused of assaulting an officer, was literally working as a staffer in the Trump administration and continued to do so until January 19. Perhaps because of their refusal to believe Donald Trump had anything to do with the extremely violent event that took place on the 6th—or maybe because of it!—an astonishingly large number of Republicans continue to support him to this day. Per Reuters:

According to the new Reuters-Ipsos poll, Trump remains the most popular figure within the party, with 8 in 10 Republicans continuing to hold a favorable impression of him. “Congressional Republicans have assessed they need to max out the Trump vote to win,” said Tim Miller, a former spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. “That that is the path back to the majority.” Republicans in Congress show few signs of breaking with Trump. Right after the deadly Capitol siege, 147 Republican lawmakers voted against certifying Biden’s election win. The Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached Trump for “inciting an insurrection,” making him the only U.S. president to be impeached twice, but most Senate Republicans acquitted him of the charge in a trial.

The window for the Republican Party to distance itself from Trump seems to have passed, Miller said. “There was a chance after January 6 for Republican leaders to really put their foot down and say, ‘We can’t be the insurrectionist party,’” he said. “Now that opportunity is totally gone.”

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