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GOP governor: Trump should never hold office again over Capitol riot

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson gestures during an interview with the Associated Press, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022 in Washington. (AP photo)

Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas says former US President Donald Trump should never be allowed to run for public office again over inciting the deadly violence on January 6, 2021.

Hutchinson, who is considering running for president, reiterated on Sunday that he preferred a different GOP presidential candidate in 2024 who was not Trump. Hutchinson, 72, leaves office in January after serving eight years as Arkansas’ governor.

“I do not believe that Donald Trump should be the next president of the United States,” Hutchinson said. “I think he’s had his opportunity there. I think Jan. 6 really disqualifies him for the future.”

The Arkansas governor said he’d do everything in his power to make sure that there is an alternative Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential race.

“I want to see everything I can do to make sure there is the alternative, and that Donald Trump is not the nominee of the party. That’s the first thing. And let’s figure out how to do that,” Hutchinson said.

But Hutchinson also recognized that Trump’s polls are good and still considered to be the party’s nomination.

“I think you have to start him out as the front-runner simply because he’s polling that well. He’s the former president,” Hutchinson said.

He pointed out Trump’s campaign so far has been relatively quiet despite “chaos” that has surrounded Trump in the past.

“It’s an opportunity for other voices to rise, that are going to be problem-solving, common sense conservatives,” Hutchinson said.

“You need to simply have a message that’s authentic to yourself, a message that is problem solving, and say, ‘this is what we need to do as a country.’ And that, to me, is the right contrast.”

The US House select committee lawmakers probing the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021 concluded in their final report, released on December 22, that Trump was to blame for the deadly incident and also accused him of orchestrating the riot in a failed attempt to cling to power after losing the 2020 election.

“The central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,” the report asserted in its executive summary, placing the mob invasion of the Capitol within “a multi-part plan to overturn the 2020 Presidential election.”

The 845-page report, produced after months of witness testimony heard by the bipartisan nine-member panel, said, “President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results” in the two months between the election and the Capitol riots.

The committee also made a series of 11 recommendations for actions that Congress should take to prevent efforts similar to those to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election from happening again. It also made referrals for the Justice Department to pursue four criminal charges against Trump.

Trump said the American people have been “deceived with lies” about the January 6, 2021 attack from the House select committee investigating the incident.

Trump said the House committee “cut the part” of his speech at the rally at the Ellipse preceding the unrest out in which he said demonstrators will be walking to the Capitol “peacefully and patriotically.”

But he also said in his speech that people must show “strength” to “take back our country” and called on people to “fight like hell.”

On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters occupied the US Capitol while lawmakers were in the process of reviewing the certification of state electors which indicated Biden's victory. Some Trump supporters had hoped that this process could have resulted in some of the electors being disqualified, thus overturning the outcome of the presidential election.

It is claimed by some that the demonstrators were infiltrated and incited by provocateurs from US intelligence agencies, who orchestrated the “false flag operation” in order to get rid of Trump.

Some among the crowd clashed with police, and some made threats to beat up a number of Democratic lawmakers. Some also inflicted damage on parts of the Capitol building.

Trump has been casting doubt on the outcome of his loss by insisting it was the result of fraud. He has said that the 2020 presidential election was “the greatest Election Hoax in history.”

Trump’s claims have significantly delegitimatized the democratic process in the United States. A recent poll has found that at least 50 percent of Republican voters surveyed believe their vote will not be counted accurately the next time they cast a ballot.

In his earlier remarks last month, Hutchinson called a third Trump White House bid the “worst scenario” for Republicans and said his call for terminating parts of the Constitution hurts the country.

Hutchinson however didn’t rule out backing Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee.

“That’s really the worst scenario,” Hutchinson said of another matchup between Trump and Joe Biden. “That’s almost the scenario that Biden wishes for. And that’s probably how he got elected the first time. It became, you know, a binary choice for the American people between the challenges that we saw in the Trump presidency, particularly the closing days, versus Biden, who he made it that choice.”

“The midterm elections made it clear to me that the GOP needs a bold agenda, but also new voices that’s articulating what our party stands for, the direction we want to take our country,” Hutchinson said.

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