One of ‘Trump 10’ heads to exit

Katko is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his actions (and inaction) during the January 6 riots at the US Capitol. He is now one of three — Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and Adam Kizinger of Illinois being the others — who have announced they will leave Congress at the end of this term.

The reality for Republicans right now is that breaking up with Trump — especially in such a high-profile way as an impeachment vote — is political poison. And the former president himself will try to make you drink.

“1 down, 9 to go!” Trump said in a statement issued after Gonzalez’s announcement. “2 down, 8 to go!” He said after Kizinger’s decision. The former president reacted to Katko’s news, saying, “Good news, another dust blown away.”

Keeping aside three retiring members, the remaining seven are also in varying degrees of political crisis.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney has already been stripped of her leadership role after outspoken criticism of Trump and she is fighting for her political life against a Trump-backed rival.

The former president has also backed the primary challengers to Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State, Peter Meijer of Michigan and Fred Upton of Michigan. (The prospect of Upton retirement remains as well.)

The message here is simple: Break up with Trump and see the end of his political career (or face the toughest primary challenge you can imagine). This is not an incentive for elected officials to voice any criticism or differences with the former president.

PointThe current Republican Party is more closely related to a cult of personality than to a national political organization. And every time one of the “Trump 10” bows out, the former president’s grip on the party gets a little tighter.

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