- The journalist Bob Woodward discussed Trump’s continuing grip over the GOP in a CNN interview.
- “What’s going on now really is an iron curtain of obedience to Trump,” he said.
Trump has maintained his hold over the party, despite leaving office in scandal.
The reporter and author Bob Woodward, whose new book “Peril” details the chaotic final months of Donald Trump’s administration, likened the adamant loyalty still shown to the former president by top Republicans to that seen in the Soviet Union.
In a Monday interview on CNN, the host Erin Burnett asked Woodward about a Sunday rally in which Chuck Grassley, a longtime Republican senator from Iowa, praised Trump onstage after having secured his endorsement for reelection.
Grassley had been critical of Trump’s bogus election-fraud claims and of his failure of leadership during the Capitol riot.
“What’s going on now really is an iron curtain of obedience to Trump. It’s not just polite deference. It is obedience, and it really is an iron curtain because it’s so strong,” Woodward said.
“These people like Sen. Grassley can count. They can look at the polls. They go to their home states. They talk to constituents, and there are tens of millions of people who support Trump.”
Woodward contrasted Trump’s post-presidency career to that of President Richard Nixon. Like Trump, Nixon left office under a cloud of scandal, having resigned in 1974 over the Watergate break-in after Woodward and his reporting partner Carl Bernstein exposed his complicity.
“So this is a political strength that we have rarely seen, never seen, from a former president,” Woodward said on CNN. “After Nixon resigned he didn’t go out and campaign. He conducted a war against history to say Watergate was really just a blip.”
He said that Nixon’s legacy had been “buried” by the weight of evidence against him, but Trump’s popularity continued to grow, meaning there was “work to be done” to get the story out about Trump’s false election-fraud claims.
“Let’s face it. Trump’s popularity, his power in the Republican Party, has grown since he left office. It has not shrunk,” Woodward said.
Trump has long been hinting that he will run for office again in 2024, breaking with a modern tradition of presidents stepping away from the limelight when they leave the White House.
His continuing hold over the Republican base means that even formerly critical GOP lawmakers have continued to show deference to him and have eagerly sought his endorsement ahead of the 2022 midterms.
Grassley, who voted not to remove Trump from office over his role in the Capitol riot during his Senate impeachment trial, was nonetheless highly critical of him at the time, describing his conduct in the lead-up to the insurrection as “extreme, aggressive, and irresponsible.”
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