When Democrats kicked off Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday with disturbing video of the MAGA mob storming the Capitol, the former president’s red-hatted followers likely weren’t tuning in. “We didn’t watch any of it,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that night. “At this point, honestly, who cares?” he added. “Impeachment? The whole thing is ridiculous. They are literally impeaching a president who isn’t even the president anymore. They’re yelling at someone who’s already left the room.”
Instead of fixating on Trump’s predicament, the MAGA movement appears to be focused elsewhere, such as on President Joe Biden‘s agenda, the GameStop stock controversy, and victims of so-called cancel culture, Politico reports. The shift stretches across the spectrum of Trump’s coalition: the ordinary members of MAGA once obsessed with bogus voter fraud claims have reportedly redirected their attention to Biden’s perceived hypocrisy, and militia and conspiracy groups also appear to be focused on their resistance to the new administration. White nationalist groups “have faded into the white noise of the internet, trying to find ways to rebrand themselves,” according to Politico.
The lack of outrage over impeachment may have something to do with the reality that Trump no longer has any path to staying in power, nor a Twitter megaphone to tell his followers otherwise. Unlike Trump’s first impeachment trial, which occurred when he was in office and thus held potential for his removal, Trump has already left the White House. In the post-election period, Trump galvanized his supporters with cries to “Stop the Steal,” legal challenges to advance his baseless fraud claims, and lies about a “rigged” election that ultimately emboldened the pro-Trump mob to storm the Capitol. Conviction—which requires a two-thirds majority—would bar him from running for office again, but Senate Republicans rendered that outcome unlikely when all but five of them voted last week to dismiss the trial altogether on constitutional grounds, validating the pro-Trump movement’s belief that the proceeding is political theater and not worth wasting energy over.
Some in the pro-Trump media world covered the proceedings, with Sean Hannity interviewing the former president’s lawyer, David Schoen, and bringing on Donald Trump Jr. for his reaction to the first day of the trial. Yet MAGA-friendly outlets also appeared to be more interested in Trumpism spinoffs than the former president’s impeachment plight. As Politico notes, Breitbart’s home page zeroed in on a different impeachment story: Senator Rand Paul calling for the impeachment of Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Right-wing cable networks have taken up the cause of MAGA-aligned lawmakers Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, as well as MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, all of whom have pushed conspiracy theories and come under fire as a result. “The biggest thing in MAGA media right now isn’t Trump, it’s a self-created war against the amorphous triplet boogeyman named ‘Cancel Culture,’ ‘Big Tech,’ and ‘The Media,’” said Amanda Carpenter, a former spokesperson for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign and current political columnist for The Bulwark. Such pursuits, Carpenter told Politico, “are the stand-in until they find the right Democrat to isolate and villainize.”
“Everyone who watched the Democrats’ video of the 1/6 attack and thought ‘how can Republicans possibly acquit Trump?’ needs to see Fox’s prime time storytelling,” wrote CNN’s Brian Stelter. “And then it makes a certain amount of sense. The overarching story from Fox to Newsmax to OAN is: Democrats are mean; no, they’re downright hateful; and, you know what, they stoked violence too; and they’re worse than Trump; so why won’t they just leave us alone?!”
Meanwhile, the former president is expected to shed the low profile he has intentionally adopted since leaving office and is reportedly already plotting how to get revenge on Republicans who voted to impeach him—ostensibly giving MAGA a new set of defectors to rally against, and revitalizing the base in the process.
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