With Trump still a political force, Republicans face a Catch-22

WASHINGTON: It is still former president Donald Trump's Republican Party - for now.

The vote by 43 of the 50 Republican senators to acquit Mr Trump on the charge of inciting last month's deadly riot at the US Capitol, with only seven voting for conviction, highlights just how powerful a grip he has on the party he remade in his image over the past five years.

Mr Trump commands fervent loyalty among his supporters, forcing most Republican politicians to pledge their fealty and fear his wrath.

But after two impeachments, months of false claims that his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden was rigged, and an assault on the US Capitol by his supporters that left five people dead, Mr Trump is also political poison in many of the swing districts that often decide US elections.

That leaves Republicans in a precarious position as they try to forge a winning coalition in the 2022 elections for control of Congress and a 2024 White House race that may include Mr Trump as a candidate.

"It's hard to imagine Republicans winning national elections without Trump supporters anytime soon," said Mr Alex Conant, a Republican strategist.

"The party is facing a real Catch-22: It can't win with Mr Trump but it's obvious it can't win without him either."


Some members of both parties have called for creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the attack on the Capitol. Such an exercise could further tarnish Mr Trump's reputation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted to acquit Mr Trump, later slammed him as "practically and morally responsible" for provoking the violence.

Mr McConnell's words will not help the party in the 2022 mid-term congressional elections, Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday. - REUTERS, AFP