Top Republicans sharply diverged on Sunday over former President Donald J. Trump’s future influence in the party, and especially his role in Senate and House campaigns in 2022, following his acquittal in the impeachment trial.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina made a full-throated case for Mr. Trump as an essential player in the party in the coming Senate and House elections, saying “Trump-plus is the way back in 2022.” Another Republican, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, called the president a waning force and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky indicated he might get involved in Republican races if Trump-backed candidates put seats at risks.
There is no easy path forward for Republicans, including for Mr. Trump. On one level, his acquittal makes it easier for him to brazenly claim political vindication for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, remain a powerful force in the party, seek retribution against those who crossed him and run for the presidency again — an option he has not ruled out.
But on another level, he is profoundly damaged, perhaps the most disgraced American president in history, and with uncertain abilities to rally the party now that he lacks his Twitter bully pulpit and near-total fealty among Republican Senate and House members (though many of them still back him).
Mr. Graham, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” said that Mr. Trump was “ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party,” adding that he planned to talk with Mr. Trump about the 2022 midterms soon over a game of golf in Florida.
Describing a Saturday night phone call with Mr. Trump, Mr. Graham said: “I said Mr. President, this MAGA movement needs to continue. We need to unite the party. Trump-plus is the way back in 2022.” Mr. Graham claimed that the former president was “ready to hit the trail” to campaign for candidates, though Mr. Trump has told aides he would like to take a break for several months.
Mr. Cassidy, who voted to convict Mr. Trump on Saturday, painted a far different picture of Mr. Trump’s future. In appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Mr. Cassidy said of the former president, “I think his force wanes,” and contended that more Republicans would come around in time to sharing his view of Mr. Trump’s guilt for the attack on the Capitol.
“The Republican Party is more than just one person,” he added. “The Republican Party is about ideas,” he said, arguing that the party’s candidates would rise or fall in the future on policy issues like the economy and Covid-19.
Mr. McConnell, the minority leader, crystallized some of the extreme straddling going on in the G.O.P. by voting to acquit Mr. Trump on disputed technical grounds and then condemning him as responsible for inciting the attack. In an interview with Politico after the conviction vote, Mr. McConnell said Senate candidates in 2022 may have Mr. Trump’s backing or not, but “the only thing I care about is electability.”
“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November,” Mr. McConnell said. He added: “I’m not predicting the president would support people who couldn’t win. But I do think electability — not who supports who — is the critical point.”
How Mr. McConnell and Senator Rick Scott, the Florida Republican who heads the party’s Senate campaign arm, navigate Mr. Trump is one of the big questions in 2022. Many Republican voters still see Mr. Trump as the leader of the party; some senators see Mr. McConnell as the de facto leader, given his standing in the Senate and his ties to party donors. But Mr. McConnell has nowhere near Mr. Trump’s sway with the base, activists and the leaders of many state Republican organizations.
Mr. Graham, for his part, suggested that it was Mr. McConnell, not Mr. Trump, who could face an uncertain future if Republican candidates suffer in 2022, noting Mr. McConnell’s speech criticizing the former president.
“I would imagine if you’re a Republican running in Arizona or Georgia or New Hampshire, where we have a chance to take back the Senate, they may be playing Senator McConnell’s speech and asking about it as a candidate,” Mr. Graham said. “I imagine if you’re an incumbent Republican, they’re going to be people asking you, ‘Will you support Senator McConnell in the future?’”
The blowback against the seven Republican senators who supported former President Donald J. Trump’s conviction in his impeachment trial gained intensity on Sunday.
In Louisiana, the state Republican Party’s executive committee voted unanimously on Saturday to censure Senator Bill Cassidy, who was just re-elected in November and was among those who voted to find Mr. Trump guilty.
The state’s Republican attorney general, Jeff Landry, said Mr. Cassidy had “fallen into the trap laid by Democrats to have Republicans attack Republicans” — a candid summation of the challenges facing a party splintering into camps divided by loyalty to the former president.
Two of the Republicans who voted for conviction, Senators Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, are not seeking re-election next year, giving them more political freedom than many of their colleagues. But they still faced rebukes at home.
Lawrence Tabas, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, called the trial “an unconstitutional theft of time and energy that did absolutely nothing to unify or help the American people,” adding, “I share the disappointment of many of our grass-roots leaders and volunteers over Senator Toomey’s vote today.”
In North Carolina, the chairman of the state Republican Party, Michael Whatley, said Mr. Burr’s vote was “shocking and disappointing.” Representative Dan Bishop, Republican of North Carolina, expressed support for censuring him.
The only thing that kept Nebraska Republicans from passing their resolution censuring Senator Ben Sasse for his vote was the weather: Subzero temperatures and punishing winds forced the state committee to postpone a meeting planned this weekend until later this month, according to party officials.
Of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Mr. Trump, only one of them, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, will be on the ballot in 2022. But she is a uniquely formidable candidate in her state, having once won re-election as a write-in candidate after losing a primary.
So far, reaction among Republicans in her state has been relatively muted. The state’s junior senator, Dan Sullivan, gave her some political cover by saying he was infuriated by Mr. Trump’s actions — after voting to acquit.
The Republican senators who broke with their party during the former president’s trial joined 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach him, triggering an earlier backlash within the G.O.P.
During the first trial of Donald J. Trump, the former president commanded near-total fealty from his party. His conservative defenders were ardent and numerous, and Republican votes to convict him — for pressuring Ukraine to help him smear Joseph R. Biden Jr. — were virtually nonexistent.
But this time, seven Republican senators voted with Democrats to convict Mr. Trump — the most bipartisan rebuke ever delivered in an impeachment process. Several others, including Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, intimated that Mr. Trump might deserve to face criminal prosecution.
Mr. McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor after the vote, denounced Mr. Trump’s “unconscionable behavior” and held him responsible for having given “inspiration to lawlessness and violence.”
Yet Mr. McConnell had joined with the great majority of Republicans just minutes earlier to find Mr. Trump not guilty.
The vote stands as a determinative moment for the party Mr. Trump molded into a cult of personality, one likely to leave a deep blemish in the historical record. Now that Republicans have passed up an opportunity to banish him through impeachment, it is not clear when — or how — they might go about transforming their party into something other than a vessel for a semiretired demagogue who was repudiated by a majority of voters.
Yet Mr. Trump remains the dominant force in right-wing politics.
Indeed, in a statement celebrating the Senate vote on Saturday, Mr. Trump declared that his political movement “has only just begun.”
The lineup of Republicans who voted for conviction was, on its own, a statement on Mr. Trump’s political grip on the G.O.P. Only Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is up for re-election next year, and she has survived grueling attacks from the right before.
The remainder of the group included two lawmakers who are retiring — Senator Richard M. Burr of North Carolina and Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — and three more who just won new terms in November and will not face voters again until the second half of the decade.
In Washington, a quiet majority of Republican officials appears to be embracing the kind of wishful thinking that guided them throughout Mr. Trump’s first campaign in 2016, and then through much of his presidency, insisting that he would soon be marginalized by his own outrageous conduct or that he would lack the discipline to make himself a durable political leader.
Several seemed to be looking to the criminal justice system as a means of sidelining Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump is facing multiple investigations by the local authorities in Georgia and New York into his political and business dealings.
Even in places where Mr. Trump retains a powerful following, there is a growing recognition that the party’s loss of the White House and the Senate in 2020, and the House two years before that, did not come about by accident — and that simply campaigning as the Party of Trump is not likely to be sufficiently appealing to win back control of Congress next year.
Republicans who supported the impeachment conviction of former President Donald J. Trump began a defiant counteroffensive on Sunday against the threats thrown at them by Mr. Trump’s defenders, a sign that the divisions exposed in the Senate vote on Saturday were deepening.
At the same time, Mr. Trump’s loyalists, led by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, kept up the pressure, warning that any dissent would prompt a revolt from the right that would result in the election of more pro-Trump candidates, including the former president’s relatives.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of seven Republicans to vote to convict the former president for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6., sent out a blistering takedown of him — after Republicans from the party’s Trump wing promised to unseat her in 2022.
“President Trump was not concerned about the Vice President; he was not concerned about members of Congress; he was not concerned about the Capitol Police,” she wrote in a statement on Twitter. “He was concerned about his election and retaining power.”
She added, “If months of lies, organizing a rally of supporters in an effort to thwart the work of Congress, encouraging a crowd to march on the Capitol, and then taking no meaningful action to stop the violence once it began is not worthy of impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from holding office in the United States, I cannot imagine what is.”
Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a moderate Republican, defended the G.O.P. senators who voted for conviction — Ms. Murkowski, Susan Collins of Maine, Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
“I think there were a lot more people who didn’t have the courage to vote that way,” Mr. Hogan told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “But you’re right, there weren’t enough people willing to stand up.”
He said it reminded him of how his father, former Representative Lawrence Hogan Sr. of Maryland, was the only Republican in the House to recommend all three articles of impeachment against former President Richard M. Nixon — a decision that he felt cost him future elections.
Two of the Republicans who stood up to Mr. Trump, Mr. Toomey and Mr. Burr, are not seeking re-election. The others, including Ms. Murkowski and Mr. Romney, have strong support in their states.
But Mr. Graham, a caustic former Trump critic who has become a dogged defender, warned the seven Republicans that their defiance would have consequences, predicting that Mr. Trump’s daughter-in-law now enjoyed front-runner status in the race to succeed Mr. Burr in two years.
“My friend Richard Burr just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs,” he said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
Senator Richard M. Burr’s decision to vote for the conviction of former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday added fuel to speculation that Lara Trump, Mr. Trump’s daughter in-law, will seek the North Carolina Senate seat Mr. Burr will vacate in 2022.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a former Trump critic turned stalwart defender, on Sunday predicted that Mr. Burr’s somewhat surprising dissent would prompt a revolt from the right that would result in the election of more pro-Trump candidates.
“My friend Richard Burr just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs,” he said in an interview on Fox News.
Ms. Trump, 38, a former personal trainer and television producer who grew up in Wilmington, on the coast, has been floating herself as a possible Burr successor for months.
She did not immediately respond to a request for comment. One senior Republican official with knowledge of her plans said the Jan. 6 riot soured her on running, but said Ms. Trump would decide over the next few months if she would run as part of a coordinated Trump family comeback.
Several other Republicans, including former Representative Mark Walker, a Trump ally, and Pat McCrory, a former governor, are possible candidates. Mark Meadows, the former North Carolina representative and former Trump chief of staff, is also said to be in the mix.
“We are going to take a very long look at all the candidates versus, you know, some kind of coronation,” said Mark Brody, a member of the Republican National Committee from Union County, outside Charlotte.
Doug Heye, a former R.N.C. spokesman who used to work for Mr. Burr, questioned whether Ms. Trump was willing to endure the tussle and tedium of running or serving. “Many people love the speculation and the attention, but being senator is a lot of hard work,” he said.
Then there is the question of residence. Ms. Trump currently lives with her husband, Eric, and their children in the northern suburbs of New York City and would have to move back.
If she runs, the Trump family might be a liability in a battleground that the former president won by a mere 1.3 percentage points in 2020 — or it might confer no advantage at all, depending on the political environment in 2022.
“There is a myth that Trump voters will come out for Trump candidates or family members,” said John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster who has worked on campaigns in the South. “Cult members only come out in full force for the cult leader.”
And Ms. Trump’s candidacy could help increase Democratic turnout, especially among the state’s large Black population, countering the typical falloff experienced in most midterm elections.
But Ms. Trump’s boosters, led by Mr. Graham, are hoping she can use the backlash in the party’s base to catapult her to the front of the field.
After Mr. Burr’s vote, the North Carolina G.O.P. rebuked Mr. Burr, calling his vote “shocking and disappointing.”
Representative Patrick McHenry, a Republican who serves in a leadership position in the House minority, downplayed the importance of Mr. Burr’s vote.
But he said Ms. Trump would “be the odds-on favorite” if she runs, adding, “No one comes close.”
President Biden wanted to see former President Donald J. Trump convicted of inciting an insurrection.
But what Mr. Biden and his team wanted even more was a fast, unfussy and decisive end to the former president’s trial — one that aired Mr. Trump’s misdeeds, highlighted Republican divisions and allowed a fast pivot back to the coronavirus pandemic.
In that sense, Mr. Trump’s acquittal on Saturday, however galling to Mr. Biden personally, was an important thread-the-needle political victory that allows him to refocus attention on the issue that propelled him to victory, a promise to competently deal with the virus and its economic fallout.
White House officials, speaking over the last 24 hours, have said they did not pressure House impeachment managers to abandon their last-minute effort to summon Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington State, to offer evidence that Mr. Trump sided with the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.
But aides to the president including his chief of staff, Ron Klain, have made it clear to congressional Democrats that allowing the trial to last for another week would have created a dangerous distraction from Mr. Biden’s top priority: quickly passing his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.
In a statement sent out late Saturday, Mr. Biden said that while Mr. Trump had been acquitted of inciting the Capitol riot, “the substance of the charge is not in dispute.” Mr. Biden quoted Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, who on Saturday called Mr. Trump’s actions a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
Still, the president’s remarks focused less on his disgust at his predecessor than on empathy for the victims of the riot and their families.
In that regard, his comments mirrored the approach of a man with the same experience of personal heartbreak — the loss of his son. Mr. Biden echoed the words of the lead impeachment manager, Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, whose emotional appeals for decency and patriotism were rooted in the recent suicide of his son, Tommy.
“It was nearly two weeks ago that Jill and I paid our respects to Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who laid in honor in the Rotunda after losing his life protecting the Capitol from a riotous, violent mob on January 6, 2021,” Mr. Biden wrote in the first line.
Mr. Biden, while supportive of the impeachment of Mr. Trump, mostly distanced himself from the particulars of the trial. A notable exception was on Thursday, when he declared that a graphic video of the Jan. 6 riot that was shown during the trial might have changed “some minds.”
As Congress was consumed by the trial this weekend, Mr. Biden was at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
Aides said that Mr. Biden’s plan next week was to return the country’s focus to fighting the coronavirus and helping the economy recover. They have scheduled a televised town hall in Wisconsin on Wednesday focusing on his pandemic response, followed by a trip to Michigan on Thursday to tour a vaccine production facility.
On Sunday, the third anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., Mr. Biden issued a statement honoring the young victims and their loved ones, who, “like far too many families — and, indeed, like our nation — they’ve been left to wonder whether things would ever be OK.”
The Senate’s acquittal of former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday ended the impeachment process against him, but he still faces a set of problems that are potentially more consequential: three investigations, two of them criminal.
Two of the investigations relate to Mr. Trump’s business dealings in New York, while the most recent inquiry surrounds his attempts to overturn his election loss to President Biden in the state of Georgia.
Here is a rundown of the investigations and where they stand:
The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, is overseeing a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump or employees at his family business, the Trump Organization, committed financial crimes. Mr. Vance, a Democrat, has been seeking Mr. Trump’s tax returns for more than a year, a decision that now rests with the Supreme Court.
State prosecutors have issued subpoenas and questioned witnesses, calling some of them before a grand jury. Among those interviewed have been employees of Mr. Trump’s primary lender, Deutsche Bank, and his insurer, Aon, The New York Times has previously reported.
New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, also a Democrat, is separately pursuing a civil investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s company misstated assets to get bank loans and tax benefits. A New York judge late last month ordered that the Trump Organization and some associates must give state investigators documents they had been seeking.
The inquiry grew out of March 2019 testimony before Congress by Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, who said that Mr. Trump had inflated assets to obtain loans and understated them to minimize his tax liability.
The investigators have examined transactions including a financial restructuring of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago in 2010 that resulted in the Fortress Credit Corporation forgiving debt worth more than $100 million. They have also examined whether the Trump Organization relied on inflated appraisals when it received large tax breaks after promising to conserve land where its development efforts faltered, including at its Seven Springs estate in Westchester County.
In Georgia, the district attorney of Fulton County, Fani Willis, last week announced a criminal investigation into election interference efforts in Georgia following Mr. Trump’s loss there in November. The former president and his allies undertook a pressure campaign to overturn the results there, including a phone call by Mr. Trump to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, asking him to “find” votes to erase his loss.
The probe will examine Senator Lindsey Graham’s phone call to Mr. Raffensperger in November about mail-in ballots; the abrupt removal last month of Byung J. Pak, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, who earned Mr. Trump’s enmity for not advancing his debunked assertions about election fraud; and the false claims that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, made before state legislative committees.
Ms. Willis has laid out possible criminal charges in letters sent to state officials and agencies asking them to preserve documents. Mr. Trump’s calls to state officials urging them to subvert the election, for instance, could run afoul of a Georgia statute dealing with “criminal solicitation to commit election fraud,” one of the charges outlined in the letters, which if prosecuted as a felony is punishable by at least a year in prison.
Following the acquittal of former President Donald J. Trump, there are growing calls among lawmakers for a bipartisan commission to investigate the administrative and law enforcement failures that failed to stop the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill and recommend changes for how to prevent another siege.
Such a commission appears to be the main remaining option for Congress to try to hold Mr. Trump to some accountability for his role in the attack. Top lawmakers have squashed a post-impeachment censure of the former president, and the possibility of barring Mr. Trump from holding office again under the 14th Amendment seems remote.
Lawmakers in both parties have called for a commission modeled after the bipartisan panel established after the Sept. 11 attacks, with Representative Madeleine Dean, Democrat of Pennsylvania and an impeachment manager, on Sunday describing it as “an impartial commission, not guided by politics, filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction.”
President George W. Bush signed a law establishing the Sept. 11 commission in 2002, mandated to investigate what caused the attack and what might have stopped it, and outline how to prevent a similar attack from occurring. The commission ultimately offered three dozen recommendations for how to reshape intelligence coordination and congressional oversight.
“We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again, and I want to make sure that the Capitol footprint can be better defended next time,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, on “Fox News Sunday.”
Democrats, who abruptly dropped what had been a successful demand for witnesses during the final day of the trial, on Sunday framed a possible commission as a way to not only understand the failures that had led to the breach of the Capitol, but also to underscore Mr. Trump’s role in the events of the day.
“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that a commission would “make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward and lay bare the record of just how responsible” Mr. Trump was for the attack.
Before the impeachment trial, there had been some discussion of a bipartisan censure resolution in lieu of going forward with a trial. But lawmakers quickly abandoned the idea as the trial moved forward, in part because Democrats had demanded stronger language than what Republicans were comfortable with.
“Every senator has had the opportunity to express his or her views,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who had been involved in those discussions.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, speaking at a news conference on Saturday, declared such a resolution to be “a slap in the face of the Constitution.”
“We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose,” she said. “We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol.”
The two-thirds majority of Senate votes needed to convict Donald J. Trump in his impeachment trial was always extraordinarily unlikely, and everybody involved knew it. As a result, the House impeachment managers often seemed to be speaking less to the Senate than to history.
On Saturday, the senators voted 57-43 to convict Mr. Trump on the charge of inciting the brutal, bloody insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 — failing, as expected, to secure a guilty verdict.
And afterward, it seemed that some Republicans, too, wanted to speak to history, even if doing so seemed rather like trying to have it both ways.
In speeches and statements following the vote, several Republicans who had voted to acquit Mr. Trump still declared him responsible for the assault on the Capitol. Most prominent, and most strident, among them was Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader.
“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” Mr. McConnell said, “and having that belief was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories and reckless hyperbole, which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet earth.” [Watch.]
Mr. McConnell’s stated reason for his “not guilty” vote was that Mr. Trump was no longer in office — even though it was Mr. McConnell who prevented the Senate from beginning the trial while Mr. Trump remained in office.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi took that reasoning to task when she made an unexpected appearance at a Democratic news conference after the vote.
“It is so pathetic that Senator McConnell kept the Senate shut down so that the Senate could not receive the article of impeachment and has used that as his excuse for not voting to convict Donald Trump,” she said.
Nevertheless, it was striking that the leader of the Senate Republicans excoriated Mr. Trump using language that could have come from the House managers trying to convict him — something he certainly did not do the last time Mr. Trump was impeached.
“A mob was assaulting a Capitol in his name. These criminals were carrying his banners, hanging his flags and screaming their loyalty to him,” Mr. McConnell said. “There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”
House impeachment managers on Sunday praised the seven Republicans who voted to find former President Donald J. Trump guilty on a lone charge of “incitement of insurrection,” arguing that it amounted to a historic condemnation of his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol despite falling short of the necessary two-thirds majority to convict him.
“This was the most bipartisan impeachment in our country’s history,” said Representative Madeleine Dean, Democrat of Pennsylvania and an impeachment manager, speaking on ABC’s “This Week.” “I give credit to the seven Republicans who stood with us.”
Those seven Republicans, including Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, have already come under fire from national and state Republicans for voting to convict Mr. Trump.
But Mr. Cassidy said he believed that if the former president decided to run again in 2024, “I think his force wanes,” adding that “the Republican Party is more than just one person — the Republican Party is about ideas.”
“It was clear that he wished that lawmakers be intimidated,” Mr. Cassidy said of Mr. Trump, speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that he had listened to arguments from both sides, but ultimately felt there was a clear motive.
Even as Ms. Dean and other Democrats defended the final decision to not depose witnesses and subpoena additional documents, they began doubling down on calls for a commission to examine the failures that led to the Capitol assault and to recommend changes, similar to the one established after the Sept. 11 attacks. Ms. Dean described it as “an impartial commission, not guided by politics, filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction.”
“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear,” Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said on ABC’s “This Week,” adding that a commission would “make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward and lay bare the record of just how responsible” Mr. Trump was for the attack.
“We didn’t need more witnesses,” Delegate Stacey Plaskett, the Democrat who represents the U.S. Virgin Islands and who was an impeachment manager, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We needed more senators with spines.”
For the past four years, Tom Perez had perhaps the most thankless job in American politics: chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
His final day working for the D.N.C. was Friday, and he spoke with The New York Times a day before about his experience running the party, the results of last year’s elections and his future political plans. Here are a few highlights; you can read the full Q. and A. here.
The thing about this election cycle that is really regrettable is that we had record turnout. And we should be celebrating that on a bipartisan basis, because we did really well. We won the presidency. We have the House. We have the Senate. And Republicans won in a number of critical races. That’s undeniable. They won a number of Senate seats. They won a number of congressional seats. And they won because a lot of their people turned out. And instead, what Donald Trump and the far right chose to do is to invest in this fiction that there was some sort of massive voter fraud, which is inaccurate.
Should Iowa and New Hampshire keep going first in the presidential nominating process?
That will be up to the D.N.C.’s Rules and Bylaws Committee.
I’m aware. But what does the private citizen Tom Perez think?
A diverse state or states need to be first. The difference between going first and going third is really important. We know the importance of momentum in Democratic primaries.
I’ll try one more time. Could you make a case for defending Iowa and New Hampshire going first?
The status quo is clearly unacceptable. To simply say, “Let’s just continue doing this because this is how we’ve always done it,” well, Iowa started going as an early caucus state, I believe, in 1972. The world has changed a lot since 1972 to 2020 and 2024. And so the notion that we need to do it because this is how we’ve always done it is a woefully insufficient justification for going first again.
This is the Democratic Party of 2020. It’s different from the Democratic Party in how we were in 1972. And we need to reflect that change. And so I am confident that the status quo is not going to survive.
How far down the road are you in thinking about running for governor of Maryland?
I’m seriously considering a run for governor in Maryland.
We need a governor who can really build strong relationships with the Biden administration, will build strong relationships with every one of the jurisdictions in Maryland.
Marylanders are just like everybody else. We want an end to this pandemic. We want to put kids back to school. We want to put people back to work. The pandemic has disproportionately touched women and communities of color in Maryland. And I’ve had the fortune of working in local government, and with the nonprofit faith communities and state government there.
So I’m currently listening. I’m on a listening tour in Maryland. And I think we need leadership, really, with a bold vision of inclusion and opportunity because ZIP code should never determine destiny in any community across America.