US President Donald Trump’s firm grip on the Republican Party in Washington is beginning to crumble, leaving him more politically isolated than at any other point in his turbulent administration.
After causing a ruckus in the crowd that later launched a violent siege on the US Capitol, Trump appears to have lost some of his strongest allies, including South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Two Cabinet members and at least half a dozen aides have resigned. A number of Republican members of Congress are openly considering whether to join the new push for impeachment.
A Republican senator who has split with Trump in the past asked him to resign and questioned whether he would stay in the party.
“I want him out,” Senator Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, told The Anchorage Daily News. “He’s done quite a lot of damage.”
The uprising after a bruised election defeat in Georgia that hurt Republican control in the Senate achieved what another low point in Trump’s presidency did not: compel Republicans to fundamentally reassess their relationship with a leader who has long abandoned tradition and decency.
The result could reshape the party, threatening the influence Trump craves and creating divisions between those in Washington and activists on various swaths of the country where the president is very popular.
“At this point, I won’t stand up for him anymore,” said Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for George W Bush and a Republican strategist who voted for Trump. “I’m not going to defend him for stirring up the pot inciting the masses. He’s alone.”
As the week began, Trump was undoubtedly the most dominant political force in Republican politics and a monarch of 2024, if not the next GOP presidential candidate himself. Currently, there is a growing feeling that he is forever tarnished – and will probably be forced out of office before his term expires in 12 days.
“I’m now focused on us taking control as president and vice president on the 20th and getting our agenda moving as fast as we can,” Biden told reporters.
Trump still has supporters, especially among many Republican voters and conservative activists outside Washington.
Yesterday, there was loud applause and chants of “We love you!” when Trump called into a Republican National Committee breakfast meeting in Florida.
“Most of the committee is in complete denial,” said Republican National Committee member Bill Palatucci, from New Jersey, who attended the breakfast. “They are willing to condemn the violence, but without referring to the president’s role in it all.”
The president insisted he had done nothing wrong. He continued to tell his aides, at least personally, that the election was stolen from him.
Republican officials in the state’s critical battlefield, the attorney general who recently left and a number of judges – including those appointed by Trump – have dismissed the claims as inappropriate.
Trump had to be persuaded to shoot a video released yesterday in which he ended up condemning the rioters and admitting defeat in November for the first time, while initially rejecting the prospect of speaking negatively about “my people”.
He finally agreed to shoot the video after White House adviser Pat Cipollone warned he could face legal danger for inciting unrest.
Others, including chief of staff Mark Meadows and daughter Ivanka Trump, urged Trump to send messages that might quell talk of forced dismissal from office, either by impeachment or the constitutional procedures outlined in the 25th Amendment.
And while Trump acknowledged in the video that a new administration would take over on January 20, he said so today he will not attend Biden’s inauguration. That makes Trump the first outgoing president since Andrew Johnson 152 years ago to miss the inauguration of his successor.
Trump has no plans to disappear from political debate once he leaves office, according to aides who believe he remains immensely popular among Republican ranks.
Lest there be any doubt, Trump’s false claims of voter fraud in the November defeat resonated with hundreds of thousands of Republican voters in this week’s Georgia Senate second round election.
About seven in 10 agree with his false statement that Biden is not a legally elected president, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 3700 voters.
After closely reviewing the most recent Tweets from @bayu_joo and the surrounding context, we have permanently suspended accounts due to the risk of further incitement to violence.https://t.co/CBpE1I6j8Y
The leading poll from the Republican Party, Frank Luntz, has had extensive conversations with grassroots voters and Republican officials about Trump’s position since the siege.
“The professionals are fleeing the sunken ship, but his own supporters have not abandoned him, and they actually want him to continue fighting,” Luntz said. “He will be the voice of God to tens of millions of people, and they will follow him to the ends of the earth and off the cliffs.”
And because of continued voter loyalty, elected officials in the crimson region must remain loyal to the outgoing president as well, even if his own cabinet is not. Hours after this week’s unrest, 147 Republicans in Congress still voted against Biden’s victory, including eight senators.
The dramatic split within the party is reflected in the different paths adopted by the initial list of prospects for the Republican 2024 presidency.
Senators Josh Hawley, from Missouri, and Ted Cruz, from Texas, accepted Trump’s calls to reject Biden’s victory before and after the mob attacks. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton rejected Trump’s wishes, drawing angry tweets from the President earlier this week.
Such attacks were less impactful at the end of the week as they had been given Trump’s weak political state. Yesterday, Cotton slammed fellow Republicans such as Hawley and Cruz, for giving voters “false hope” that Trump’s November defeat could be undone.
Nikki Haley, who served as the US ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, tried to follow suit when she condemned Trump’s actions this week during a closed meeting with the Republican National Committee.
He praised some of Trump’s accomplishments but predicted that, “His actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history.”
Meanwhile, there is no clear path for Republicans without Trump. Speaking to reporters today, even Biden raised concerns about the health of the GOP.
“We need the Republican Party,” said Biden, noting that he spoke with Republican Senator Mitt Romney, a prominent Trump critic. “We need a principled and strong opposition.”
Meanwhile, Trump has planned ways to maintain his political influence once he moves from the White House to his Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, at the end of the month.
Trusting that his supporters will stay with him no matter what, he continues to address the major challenges pushing against Republicans who are not yet loyal enough to him. And he has hinted publicly and privately that he is likely to challenge Biden in a 2024 rematch.
Doug Deason, a Texas-based donor who served on Trump’s campaign finance committee, said this week’s events did nothing to shake his confidence in the Republican president.
“He has been the best president of my life, including Reagan,” said Deason.
The Toyota Racing Series has lost its approval to use a managed isolation facility to transport overseas drivers to New Zealand.
The series, now the traditional pre-European season destination for open-wheel drivers, was initially granted permission to use the quarantine facilities to bring competitors to NZ from abroad ahead of the 2021 season.
However, with the New Zealand government in its capacity with international arrivals, the permit has now been revoked.
As a result there will be no overseas racers on the TRS for the shortened season, which kicks off with the New Zealand Grand Prix later this month.
“After working with [the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment] and Sport NZ we are disappointed that we were unable to get international riders into NZ to compete due to the lack of space in them [Managed Isolation and Quarantine] facility, “said Toyota NZ General Manager Motorsport Andrew Davis.
“We have several international riders lined up and ready to come, so we are disappointed this is the end result, especially as we have worked hard to get the status approved.
“We have seen many TRS riders continue to compete in Formula 1 including international and New Zealand riders and we have done everything in our power to ensure this continues this season.
The implication of this series is that talented young racers in New Zealand will not be able to compete with international racers of the same caliber.
“The economic impact of international riders coming to New Zealand is huge in the local areas where we race.
“However, we are very happy with this series and it will definitely be one of the shows this year with lots of great and upcoming Kiwi talent competing and a significant roster of established Kiwi riders supporting the pitch.
“The 66th Grand Prix will be special in many ways, not least because there are more of New Zealand’s top riders on display in a single race than in New Zealand in quite a while.
“We are delighted to be a part of it with everyone involved determined to put on a great show.”
The NZGP course will feature the likes of Supercars legend and former race winner Greg Murphy and reigning Bathurst 1000 champion Shane van Gisbergen.
The latter has fallen on the right side of the border rule change, van Gisbergen can only take part thanks to the travel bubble that is now occurring between Queensland and New Zealand.
Kiwi racing hero Kenny Smith will also be on the grid for his 50th NZGP start.
NZGP will take place at the Hampton Downs between January 24-26.
Julian Assange’s father has asked New Zealand to offer his son asylum after a British judge blocked a US extradition attempt today.
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The WikiLeaks founder faces espionage charges for leaking diplomatic and military documents. Source: BBC
The mixed decision finds the precarious mental health of the WikiLeaks founder is likely to worsen under the “near total isolation” conditions he will face in a US prison.
US government lawyers said they would appeal the decision, and the US Justice Department said it would continue to seek Assange’s extradition.
After these developments, Assange’s father, John Shipton, added his name to the letter calling on New Zealand to offer asylum to his son.
The letter, made available exclusively to 1 NEWS, was co-signed by Greg Barns, SC Counsel for the Australian Assange Campaign, and Craig Tuck, a Tauranga attorney who was part of Assange’s legal team.
“Julian and his family have ties to New Zealand and New Zealand – the country is in a good position to lead the defense and be the head of the pillar for what is likely to be a year of litigation,” the letter read.
“New Zealand must go where Australia and Britain failed. Julian needs asylum in New Zealand and needs it now.”
The letter said an appeal by the US might mean there would be no real resolution for up to three years for Assange.
Following today’s verdict, Assange’s lawyers said they would seek his release from the London prison where he has been held for more than 18 months at a bail hearing this week.
Assange, who sat quietly on a dock at London’s Central Criminal Court for the decision, wiped his eyebrows as the verdict was announced. His colleague Stella Moris, with whom he had two sons, wept.
Outside the court, Moris said the decision was “the first step towards justice”, but it was not yet time to celebrate.
“I was hoping today would be the day Julian came home,” he said. “Today is not that day, but that day will come soon.”
The verdict marks a dramatic moment in Assange’s long legal battle in Britain – although it is likely not the final chapter.
Amarelinha grabbed a comfortable win in Group 2 of the Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic (1600m) in Ellerslie yesterday. Photo / Kirstin Ledington
Young gun trainer Jamie Richards has written another page for himself in New Zealand’s racing history books and this is one that will probably never be matched.
The 30-year-old coached six winners at the giant gathering of Ellerslie Boxing Day, the first time any coach has coached six people a day on the country’s main tracks, let alone on such a big race day. And they came in consecutive races.
Other coaches have had six winning days on the smaller tracks, but never at the racing base.
One of Matamata Richards’ idols, Dave O’Sullivan, holds the previous record, which was also set on Boxing Day in 1993, when he coached five winners.
O’Sullivan’s son Lance picked up six winners that day but neither coach has a six-win pocket and Richards, coach for Te Akau, also finished second and third in the other two races.
Even for a young man who almost dominated our training rankings, this was something special of a ninth ranked coach in the world.
“These big days are special for all of us, this is why we got out of bed and worked so hard,” said Richards.
“A lot of people have helped this day happen and it’s something I will never forget.”
The six timekeeper started with the Palamos, who looked to be a ready-made favorite for the Karaka Million winning youth race while Entriviere saw open-class material push away its rivals in race four.
Vamos Bebe’s win at the listed Hallmark Stud Sprint did not come without a cloud over him as he bled immediately after the race, forcing a mandatory three month retreat from the race.
The black type acquired yesterday has added further sparkle to the value of his already enormous commercial broodmare but Richards says he may not be retired yet even if it would be a viable option.
Brando looked like a new three-year-old boy with the way he beat his rivals at the top of the Shaw Wire Ropes Uncle Remus gave Richards his fourth win and took the lead next to the Levin Classic at Trentham, where Group 1 triumph looks like his to take.
Mai Tai then stormed the house to claim the Stella Artois Final worth $ 80,000 for a 1500m intermediate horse.
But even after the five beautiful runners, Richards thinks he may have saved the best for last because Amarelinha, only at his third start, won the Group 2 Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic.
He raced past his little rivals on the home side and ran under Opie Bosson, who divided Richards’ six coaching winners with Danielle Johnson.
“We had a lot of talent on display today, but he’s probably the most interesting,” said Richards.
“He’s still untouched and now heading to the Karaka Classic Mile and there should be a chance.”
The six-time timekeeper led Richards to 78 victories in the national premier league, a remarkable 44 wins from second-placed Stephen Marsh who also won twice yesterday. Richards’ catch took him to 13 black-type wins for the season and on the verge of $ 2 million in stakes in New Zealand, without supplementing Probabeel’s hefty Australian earnings.
With a season in less than five months, Richards has had seven months to try and work past $ 4.48 million rivals Murray Baker and home to Andrew Forsman acquired in the 2017-18 season.
A key meeting in the chase is the night of the Karaka Million on January 23, but after yesterday nothing surprised Richards next.