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Scores of former Bush officials leaving GOP because party won’t repudiate Trump, threaten to never come back

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Officials associated with the administration of President George W. Bush say they are abandoning the Republican Party because of its refusal to repudiate former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.

At least 60 former Bush administration officials are said to be upset with elected members of the party who won’t or don’t agree with the narrative that Trump’s claims of election fraud sparked the riot, which is being characterized by Democrats and some Republicans as an “insurrection.”

According to Reuters, some of the officials who say they are leaving the GOP served in the uppermost echelons of the Bush White House. The outlet said many hoped that the party would disown Trump after he was defeated in November and denounce his claims that the election was stolen.

But that hasn’t happened. Most elected Republicans have remained loyal to the former president, including many who have repudiated his post-election rhetoric and held him at least somewhat accountable for the Capitol incident in which five people died.

“The Republican Party as I knew it no longer exists. I’d call it the cult of Trump,” Jimmy Gurulé, who served as Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the Bush administration, told Reuters.

Kristopher Purcell, part of the Bush administration’s communications office for a half-dozen years, told the outlet that 60 to 70 former Bush officials have said they are leaving the GOP or ending their association with it, based on conversations he has had.

“The number is growing every day,” Purcell told Reuters.

While many so-called establishment Republicans have denounced Trump, his support among the GOP base remains strong, even after the incident at the Capitol.

An NBC News survey released Jan. 17 showed that nearly nine in 10 Republicans approved of his job performance, “a figure virtually unchanged from just ahead of the November contest,” CNBC reported.

“The poll, which comes as Trump faces an unprecedented second impeachment trial in the Senate, suggests that Republican support for the president did not waver as a result of the Jan. 6 attack,” the outlet added.

Among GOP voters who principally support Trump, his job approval stood at 98 percent, according to the survey. For voters who primarily support the Republican Party, his approval stood at 81 percent.

Just 5 percent of those surveyed said they regretted voting for the former president after the Capitol riot; two-thirds said Trump’s words and actions since the attack did not change their views of him.

Meanwhile, Axios reported that Republicans in the House and Senate believe that Trump will remain a potent force in GOP politics moving forward, especially during the next two election cycles in 2022 and 2024.

To that end, Corey Lewandowski, one-time campaign manager for Trump in 2016 and now an adviser, told  Fox News last week that the former president plans to remain active in politics via his well-funded new political action committee.

“The president continues to have enormous support and approval among Republican primary voters. He continues to have hundreds of millions of dollars in his campaign account, which he can utilize. And he will continue to be actively involved in recruiting candidates and holding elected officials accountable for their votes,” Lewandowski said.

But if Trump’s support among the party’s base continues, then former Bush officials will continue to leave, they say.

“If it continues to be the party of Trump, many of us are not going back,” a former Treasurer of the U.S. under 43, said.

“Unless the Senate convicts him, and rids themselves of the Trump cancer, many of us will not be going back to vote for Republican leaders,” she said.

Jon Dougherty

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