In a nation united in shock over the breach of the U.S. Capitol, but divided in its views of the cause and significance of the chaos, many Trump supporters are unsure of what’s next for their president and their party.
Nearly all of the numerous Trump voters CPR News spoke to in the days after the chaos denounced the violence in Washington, D.C., describing the images as sad and disturbing.
“I had reasons for voting for him, even though he disgusts me. But now I cannot wait for him to leave,” said Krista Kafer of the president. She’s a columnist for The Denver Post and lives in Littleton. “In my mind, he went from a bad person with some good policies and some good people around him, to simply a bad person.”
She places the blame for the riots and destruction squarely on President Donald Trump.
“He clearly lost in November and he and various enablers have created a conspiracy theory that has really taken people in, including some good people. What happened at the Capitol in some ways was inevitable,” she said.
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Kafer wrote this week about the need for the Republican Party to separate itself from the most ardent of the president’s supporters. It’s a split some who back Trump might also welcome.
“I'm really disappointed in how many of the old-timers, the RINOS, have treated Trump and the way they've come out against him,” said Jackie Thomas of Dacono. “He helped them get elected, some of them. In the end, they stabbed him in the back.”
Thomas believes there was widespread voter fraud during the election, a claim that numerous courts have dismissed. And when it comes to the attack on the Capitol, she thinks it will eventually be uncovered that the people involved were not Trump supporters, but Antifa members in disguise.
“They were dressed as Trump supporters, which, you know, makes sense — they're undercover so they can make the Trump team take the blame. But as a general rule, I don't think that you see Trump supporters behaving like that,” she said.
Many of the rumors of Antifa instigators started with a Washington Times article that wrongly claimed a facial recognition company had identified members of the loosely organized radical movement at the Capitol. The Washington Times corrected the story and said the company actually identified “neo-Nazis and other extremists.”
On Wednesday and in the following days, many people who were at the U.S. Capitol have been identified as Trump supporters through their own social media posts, through comments they made to reporters at the scene, or through the families of those who died. The woman who was shot was a Trump supporter and QAnon believer.
‘There’s a lot of people that are ready to go for it’
As the chaos unfolded in Washington, Gabriel King, a flooring installer in Colorado Springs, was not disturbed by what he was hearing.
“Honestly, I’m happy about it. It’s about time somebody did it because those scum up there are just total criminals,” said King. “They’re not accountable to anybody. They lie about everything and they are just criminal trash.”
Republican Vance Bunker from Berthoud believes efforts to disrupt Congress were wrong, but he does think anger over the election — and the course of the country — has been brewing for a while.
“The ones that are really loyal to [Trump] have been very upset for a long time. And I gotta be honest with you. I'm one of them. I'm sick of the lying and the stealing and cheating,” he said. “There's a lot of people that are ready to go for it. And I don't know if that's the right answer. I certainly don't want to be involved in a civil war or anything of that nature. That’s the wrong way to go.”
Bunker thinks Trump cares about the common man and did a good job as president, but hopes he won’t run again in 2024.
“His ego and his buffoonery, that's what shot him in the foot,” Bunker said. “I think it's time for the rise of a new party. Maybe a party that's run by people like (former Hawaii Congresswoman) Tulsi Gabbard and (Kentucky Senator) Rand Paul.”
Bunker added that he thinks Donald Trump Jr. would make a good president.
As Inauguration approaches, supporters wonder what’s next
The Jan. 6 ‘We Are The Storm!’ rally at the Colorado capitol was a far cry from the events that occured in Washington. The crowd of several hundred stood outside and waved flags and prayed. The event was largely peaceful, with Denver Police reporting only three arrests.
Linette Ballew of Weld County attended the Denver event to object to the election results. She was shocked to see the footage from D.C.
“I just can’t imagine how scary it must have been for the people inside the Capitol.”
Ballew said she’s concerned people will think all Trump supporters are OK with the efforts to take over the Congress' workplace to disrupt the peaceful transition of power to Joe Biden.
“We might have something in common,” she said of the pro-Trump groups that swarmed the Capitol, “but we don't have everything in common. And when we get lumped together, especially if it's negative, that's frustrating.”
Following the deletion of several tweets, the president regained control of his Twitter account and released a video statement in which he said he was “outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem” and acknowledged a new administration will be sworn into office. It was the closest the president has come so far to publicly accepting he will leave office on Jan. 20.
Kimberli Wehmeyer of Fort Collins is still holding out hope for a “miracle” that Trump will remain in office. But once Biden is sworn in, “if that indeed does take place, my place as a Christian is to pray for our president.”
When it comes to the country’s deep disagreements over who won the election and if it was fair, Wehmeyer said they too rest with a higher power.
“There is only one answer and his name is Jesus Christ. Only he can heal division. And I say that proudly.”
Republican Matt Glasgow of Pueblo also hopes the country can move forward and urges Americans to focus on what they have in common.
“I don't live or die by Trump. I don't live or die by the Republican Party. The Democrats have the House, the Senate, and the presidency for the next, at least, two years. Hopefully, they do good,” he said. “Do some infrastructure or something like that.”
Glasgow, who believes the election was fair and that Trump lost, said the president stirs people up but that ultimately individuals are responsible for their own actions. He wants the next Republican president to be someone who brings civility back to politics. In the meantime, for the good of the country, he’s rooting for Democrats not to fail.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to make clear that many people who were at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday have been identified as supporters of President Trump, either through their own social media, through comments they made to reporters at the scene, or through the families of those who died.