Republican Party future in balance as Trump trial looms | Daily News

Republican Party future in balance as Trump trial looms

Former President Donald Trump still holds sway in the Republican Party (GOP).
Former President Donald Trump still holds sway in the Republican Party (GOP).

US: US Republicans on Sunday braced for a battle over the future of their party after Donald Trump changed lawyers days before his impeachment trial in an apparent sign he is determined to maintain the 2020 election was fraudulent.

Trump's Senate trial is due to start on February 9, but he parted ways with his legal team after they reportedly refused to focus their defense on his baseless claims of election fraud, rather than on constitutional issues.

The trial of the former president for alleged "incitement of insurrection" over the storming of the Capitol by his supporters has exposed a rift between Trump loyalists who dominate the Republican Party, and its moderate wing.

"The Senate trial... is going to call all Republicans to take a position more clearly," Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson told ABC's "This Week." "President Trump has helped build the party in the last four years; I hope he does not help to destroy the party in the coming four years."

Hutchinson added: "We've got to have a regard for those people that supported Donald Trump... But at the same time, we don't want to gloss over the terrible actions that happened at the Capitol."

Trump looks increasingly likely to avoid conviction due to party support in the Senate -- where all but five Republicans already backed an attempt to throw out the case on constitutional grounds.

But the trial is still sure to see battle lines drawn over who controls the party following Trump's first-term defeat.

On January 6, Trump gave a fiery speech outside the White House exhorting his supporters to march on the US Capitol to overturn the election results. The protesters then violently stormed the Capitol building in scenes that shocked the world.

"The President's comments that day were partly responsible for what happened, for the horrible violence," Republican Senator Rob Portman told CNN's "State of the Union." "What he did was wrong and inexcusable.

Adam Kinzinger, one of 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives to vote for impeachment earlier this month, said Sunday that Trump was "desperate to continue to look like he's leading the party."

"We need to quit being the party that even an iota defends an insurrection, a dead police officer and other dead Americans on the Capitol," Kinzinger told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Kinzinger has launched a new political action committee seeking to raise funds to challenge the Trump wing of the party. - AFP