Top conservatives struggle to escape Trump's clutches

Top conservatives struggle to escape Trump's clutches

After four years locked in an uncomfortable embrace, leading Republicans and Beltway conservatives are beginning their quest to distance themselves and the GOP from former President Donald Trump, who shows no sign of going anywhere.

It began with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who helped Trump advance legislation and confirm conservative federal judges, announcing his vote to acquit the ex-president in a speech that sounded more like a conviction. McConnell said Trump’s “wild falsehoods” made him “practically and morally responsible” for the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, calling it a “foreseeable consequence” of the defeated president’s “false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole” about the election, leading to a “manufactured atmosphere of looming catastrophe” that culminated in mob violence as Trump “watched television happily.”

McConnell followed up with an op-ed arguing that the Constitution, in his view, required Trump’s acquittal due to limits on the impeachment power, even though the then-president’s “behavior

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