Although some Republican congress members spoke out against Trump and the riot in its aftermath, only 10 out of a possible 207 voted to impeach him as a consequence in the House of Representatives. A Senate vote will take place after Biden’s inauguration.
Not only did many Republicans not vote to impeach, but they actively tried to defend Trump’s actions.
Among those who spoke in Trump’s favour during the proceedings was Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, who tried to claim that the president is a victim of ‘cancel culture’.
“Democrats are going to impeach the president for a second time one week – one week – before he leaves office. Why? Why? Politics, and the fact that they want to cancel the president.”
He went on to name Trump’s Twitter ban as evidence of the “obsession” with “cancelling the president”.
“The Ayatollah can tweet, the president can’t”.
Trump’s Twitter ban was also at the forefront of Wisconsin congressman Glenn Grothman’s mind during the impeachment proceedings.
He sought to explain away the rioters’ behaviour, saying:
“They’re scared to death that nobody else will fight the cancel culture as we head towards an era when some things can’t be said.”
“President Trump has held over 600 rallies in the last four years. None of them included assaulting police, destroying businesses or burning down cities. Democrats have spent all this time endorsing and enabling violent riots. [...] They should be removed for their support of violence against the American people.”
Later, Taylor Greene bizarrely indicated that she intends to file articles of impeachment against Biden on the first day of his presidency for “abuse of power”.
Similarly, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz was booed for suggesting that the largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were more violent than the Capitol riot.
“Make no mistake, the left in America has invited far more political violence than the right. Some cited the metaphor that the president lit the flame; well, they lit the actual flames, actual fires. And we have to put them out.”
Colorado congressman Ken Buck made an even more bizarre false equivalence, comparing Trump inciting his followers to political violence to celebrities’ jokes about the president.
“Robert De Niro said he wanted to punch the president in the face. Madonna thought about blowing up the White House. Kathy Lee Griffin [sic] held up a likeness of the president's beheaded head and nothing was said by my colleagues at that point in time.”
Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert, who famously threatened to carry a gun into the Capitol building, repeated this point on her website.
After the impeachment vote against Trump passed, other Republicans scrambled to try to defend the president.
South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham said on Fox News:
“Well play this out. We impeached the president today without any evidence. It's just sheer hatred. If this becomes the norm, be careful what you wish for today. Under this theory [of] the radical left, if you can impeach a president after they're out of office, why don't we impeach George Washington? He owned slaves. Where does this stop?”
(With Trump – no one has seriously suggested impeaching a president who is dead.)
His son, Eric Trump, meanwhile went down a similar route to Jordan and Grothman, telling the Associated Press that his father is a victim of cancel culture.
“We live in the age of cancel culture, but this isn’t something that started this week. It is something that they have been doing to us and others for years. If you disagree with them, if they don’t like you, they try and cancel you.”
None of Trump’s allies have succeeded in defending their president without resorting to whatabouttery. It’s almost like inciting a deadly assault on democracy is indefensible.