GOP shudders at Trump Jan. 6 speech

Senate Republicans are cringing at former President Donald Trump’s plans to speak on Jan. 6, openly fretting he’s trying to pull their party back into debating his false election claims.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “I guess it depends on what he’s going to say. But early assumptions are that it’s going to be an aggressive statement. I just don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Then there’s Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who wants to “stay focused on congressional activities.” And Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who voted to convict Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 attack, said the event isn’t a “terribly good idea,” but added, “What am I going to do about it?”

And those were the members who decided to even talk about it. While Trump plans to defend the rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol nearly a year ago at a press conference Thursday, Senate Republicans largely prefer to ignore him, still seeing scant purpose in provoking a prickly Trump, even a year after he’s left office. In interviews Tuesday, several declined to comment and instead said their attention is on moving forward.

Senate Republicans’ opting not to discuss Trump’s latest grievances highlights the ongoing tension within the GOP over how much attention to give to the former president, especially as he continues to falsely state that the 2020 election was stolen. While many Senate Republicans condemned Trump in the immediate aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack — when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol — he still holds substantial sway over the party, particularly in GOP primaries.

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