Insurrection marks moment of reckoning for Republicans

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Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., left, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, speak after Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College votes from Arizona, during a joint session of the House and Senate to confirm the electoral votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was both stunning and predictable, the result of a Republican Party that has repeatedly enabled President Donald Trump's destructive behavior.

When Trump was a presidential candidate in 2016, Republican officials ignored his call to supporters to “knock the crap out” of protesters. Less than a year after he took office, GOP leaders argued he was taken out of context when he said there were “very fine people” on both sides of a deadly white supremacist rally.

Last summer, most party leaders looked the other way when Trump had hundreds of peaceful protesters forcibly removed from a demonstration near the White House so he could pose with a Bible in front of a church.

But the violent siege on Capitol Hill offers a new, and perhaps final, moment of reckoning for the GOP. The party's usual excuses for Trump — he's not a typical politician and is uninterested in hewing to Washington's niceties — fell short against images of mobs occupying some of American democracy's most sacred spaces.

The party, which has been defined over the past four years by its loyalty to Trump, began recalibrating in the aftermath of Wednesday’s chaos.

One of Trump's closest allies in Congress, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said “enough is enough.”

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said Trump’s accomplishments in office “were wiped out today.”

Trump's former acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, now a special envoy to Northern Ireland, joined a growing number of administration officials who are resigning. “I can’t do it. I can’t stay,” Mulvaney told CNBC on Thursday. "Those who choose to stay, and I have talked with some of them, are choosing to stay because they’re worried the president might put someone worse in.”