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Port: On Jan. 6, Sen. Cramer seemed to blame Trump for the riot

“Sometimes I’m not even certain what his end goal is,” Cramer said of Trump, adding, “As you know, I’m one of his top loyal people in the Senate. He’s never called me, none of his attorneys have ever called me. Sometimes I wonder if he even really—what the real motive is.”

The U.S. Capitol Building is stormed by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021
A mob of supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
Leah Millis / Reuters
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MINOT, N.D. — As a congressional committee continues to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, riot — a Trump appointee on the federal bench just ruled a subpoena for the Republican National Committee's emails to be valid — Americans are confronted with some dissonance from Republicans between how they felt about the riot on the day it happened and how they talk about it now.

The most glaring example is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who may well be speaker of the House and third in line for the presidency if his party wins back a majority in the midterms. McCarthy immediately after the riot said that President Donald Trump ought to resign.

McCarthy lied about saying it — publicly he never called for Trump's resignation and has since sought Trump's approval and endorsement — but a subsequently released recording caught him out in that lie.

A new book out this week from New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, "This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America's Future," paints a similar picture of private versus public support for Donald Trump after Jan. 6, this time for North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer.

Martin was kind enough to provide me with a pre-publication excerpt from the book describing the chaotic moments inside the Capitol building as members of Congress sought safety while an out of control mob fought to force its way in.

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"Cramer had been a trusted Trump ally and, like many Republicans, thought the president’s inflammatory behavior was mostly harmless, just the antics of an entertainer-politician," Martin and Burns write.

MORE FROM ROB PORT
"It's going to be painful, but Republicans can't just turn away from Trump. Republicans have to lead their people away from Trumpism and the morass of conspiracy-addled grievance and unvarnished racism it has become," Rob Port writes.

"The last few weeks had been different, though, and Cramer thought Trump had behaved in a grossly irresponsible way in the run-up to January 6," they continue. "Cramer had felt the sting of that anger: He had announced a few days earlier that he would vote to certify the election, because there were simply no grounds for doing otherwise."

"The most damaging thing the president has done yet was the way he talked about Pence and his responsibilities," they quote Cramer as saying.

The book describes Cramer moving through the basement of the Hart Senate Office Building toward a secure location while looking at pictures of the mob breaching the Capitol building. "Oh, wow,” Cramer reportedly said. “That’s right there, all right. How the heck did they get in?”

And then came Cramer's moment of doubt.

“Sometimes I’m not even certain what his end goal is,” Cramer said of Trump, adding, “As you know, I’m one of his top loyal people in the Senate. He’s never called me, none of his attorneys have ever called me. Sometimes I wonder if he even really — what the real motive is.”

But was there any real doubt about what Trump's motive was?

He wanted to stay in office, despite a national election showing him the door. I'll leave it to you readers to decide if Trump actually believes his own conspiracies about a stolen election, or if he only promotes them to avoid having to concede defeat, but his motive has always been clear.

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He didn't want to leave the White House.

The question for Cramer is, how could that not be clear to you, be it on Jan. 6, or even now?

I'll be interviewing Martin on the Plain Talk podcast on Wednesday, March 4, and Cramer himself will be on the podcast March 6. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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