In an effort to unsettle the GOP’s apparently unflappable loyalty to Donald Trump, the January 6 committee has spotlighted a slew of Republican witnesses, many of them self-professed Trump voters, who stood up to the former president as he and his aides attempted to overturn the election.
The problem, though, is that many of those very witnesses seem unwilling to quit Trump themselves.
Take, for example, Rusty Bowers, the speaker for the Arizona House of Representatives. In the months following the 2020 election, Bowers steadfastly refused to go along with Trump’s diktats to toss out the vote in Arizona on the basis of nonexistent evidence of fraud. During yesterday’s hearing, he was one of the committee’s marquee witnesses, grimly describing the smears and harassment he experienced after refusing to violate the constitution at Trump’s behest.
“I do not want to be a winner by cheating,” Bowers said. “I will not play with laws I swore allegiance to.”
Nevertheless, Bowers told the Associated Press on Monday, he’d still vote for Trump in the 2024 presidential election if he were once again the GOP standard-bearer.
“If (Trump) is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I’d vote for him again,” Bowers said. “Simply because what he did the first time, before COVID, was so good for the county. In my view it was great.”
By affirming that he’d still support Trump over Biden, Bowers joined the likes of former Attorney General Bill Barr and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, both of whom have repeatedly condemned Trump’s election lies and coup attempt—only to state that they’d still support him in a general election.
Bowers may have upheld his oath after the 2020 election. He may have agreed to testify live before the January 6 committee. But if people like him maintain their willingness to back Trump in the face of clear and convincing evidence that he poses an unprecedented threat to democracy, they’re just increasing the likelihood that the coup attempt that horrified them in 2020 will be repeated, with more success, in the near future.