CPAC's dangerous embrace of Trump

Article Image

Former President Donald Trump will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, marking his first public appearance since leaving the White House. Trump's former senior adviser Lara Trump told Fox News that he may be interested in running for office again in 2024.

Posted: Feb 22, 2021 4:51 PM
Updated: Feb 22, 2021 4:51 PM

What happens when you incite an insurrection to prevent the congressional certification of the 2020 election results? Turns out you get invited to speak at a high-profile gathering of GOP elected officials and conservative activists. As outrageous as that appears, this is exactly what we're seeing with the American Conservative Union's invitation to Donald Trump to speak at this week's annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando.

To be clear, I'm not urging CPAC to cancel Trump's speech. Rather, my hope is that all Americans will use the event to reflect on the dangerous developments for our democracy from the right. First, the majority of GOP members of Congress refused to hold Trump accountable for his two months of nonstop lies about the 2020 election and his incitement of the January 6 attack -- as we saw with only 17 of the 261 Republicans in the Senate and House voting to impeach or convict Trump.

Now CPAC, which bills itself as "the largest and most influential gathering of conservatives in the world," is going a step further by celebrating the man who spewed the "Big Lie" and who encouraged people to storm our Capitol. Indeed, countless insurrectionists stated point blank they attacked the Capitol to "Stop the Steal" for Trump, with some proudly declaring during the deadly insurrection, "Trump sent us," and that they were following his directions.

Notably, Vice President Mike Pence -- who rejected Trump's calls not to certify President Joe Biden's electoral win -- is reported to have declined an invitation to speak at the gathering.

Even CPAC's schedule appears to be crafted to further Trump's Big Lie. Under the guise of "Protecting Elections," the conference will feature seven panel discussions on election fraud and irregularities despite Trump's own homeland security officials telling us the November 3 vote was "the most secure in American history." The titles of the sessions -- if indicative of the content -- suggest that speakers will seek to reaffirm Trump's baseless thesis the election was stolen.

One of them is subtitled "Other culprits: Why Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence." In reality, there were over 60 lawsuits by Trump and his allies including a two-day trial in Arizona that all went against Trump. Others have names like "Failed States (PA, GA, NV, oh my!)" -- which focus on states where Trump disputed his loss -- and "The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up and Even Admits It."

This all sets the table for Trump's speech, scheduled to close the conference on Sunday afternoon. While CNN has been told that Trump will speak about "the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement," we know Trump typically talks about whatever he wants. That likely means he will further spew lies about the election being stolen, as he did Wednesday when he called in to Fox News to ostensibly talk about the passing of Rush Limbaugh. Instead, Trump pivoted to the election telling the Fox News host, "Rush thought we won, and so do I, by the way. I think we won substantially." Trump then added, as he again raised the specter of violence, that if this happened to the Democrats, "you would have had riots going on all over the place."

Biden seems to recognize that statements like these are a threat to US democracy. On Friday, he warned in a speech from the White House to the international Munich Security Conference that "in so many places, including in Europe and the United States, democratic progress is under assault." Biden stated bluntly -- in a comment that demands far more attention -- that we are at an "inflection point" between those who think "autocracy is the best way forward" versus those who understand that "democracy is essential."

Biden urged Americans and their democratic allies to understand we all have a role in preserving our democracy, explaining that, "Democracy doesn't happen by accident. We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it."

CPAC -- and the GOP members of Congress who refused to hold Trump accountable -- are doing the opposite. They are apparently trying to sell a new "Big Lie" to the American people: that Trump's assault on our democracy through his post-election lies and incitement to insurrection is no big deal. Or worse, such conduct is acceptable in the pursuit of political power.

Biden declared near the end of his speech that despite the current battle between authoritarianism and democracy, "I believe that -- every ounce of my being -- that democracy will and must prevail." I agree with our President that democracy "must" prevail -- but given the direction of today's GOP, I'm not as confident it "will." That will depend on whether the GOP course corrects on its own or if Americans stand up in large numbers to reject the party.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
78° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 81°
Columbus
Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
Cloudy
77° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 78°
Tropical Depression Claudette has now moved into Alabama and Georgia, leaving with some cloud cover but dry conditions. Most of us will stay dry through this Father's Day but some spotty showers will likely through the late afternoon.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather