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‘Boot licker brigade’: Former GOP congressman says Trump cult will only grow

WASHINGTON — In the wake of former President Donald Trump’s guilty verdict, America’s about to see GOP unity like never before.

Only this time, Republicans will be unifying around a convicted felon, which should terrify us all, a former Republican congressman tells Raw Story.

“He’s a coward. And the guy doesn’t like to defend himself. He wants other people to do it for him, just like we saw on January 6,” former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) told Raw Story. “The base instinct of Donald Trump is to hide behind the walls of Mar-a-Lago or wherever his homes are and let the sycophants go out there and actually do the battle. So he’s scared. He’s a bit of a little boy right now.”

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Whether Trump’s a little man, large boy or something else altogether, Riggleman says he’s braced for today’s Republicans to continue defending, praising and cheerleading for Trump through Election Day. Mug shot, perp walk and all.

“We’re gonna see the vice presidential sweepstakes start, and you’re gonna see coordinated messaging from the NRCC [National Republican Campaign Committee], the RNC [Republican National Committee] and from the [House GOP] whip team. And you’re gonna see all them coming out with the same exact messaging,” said Riggleman, a former intelligence analyst who served as a technical analyst for the U.S. House Jan. 6 Select Committee.

Now that Trump’s a convicted felon, one might believe his support in the Republican Party would wane, but the former Republican congressman isn’t so sure.

“I just don’t see this having a blip on polling. Not even a blip. It’s another day. Just another day,” Riggleman said. “I just hope that there’s still enough gravitas in Congress on the right and the GOP to recognize that there’s never been a former president convicted. I think it should disqualify him. And I think the American people should be very wary of a man who refused to testify in his own defense.”


Former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA). JLauer / Shutterstock

Why would card-carrying Republican voters buck the party’s leaders?

After all, Trump was joined at his New York City trial by a veritable who’s who in today’s GOP: House Speaker Mike Johnson, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) — who’s running to replace Sen. Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader — and many others.

“It’s the boot licker brigade, and you can quote me on that,” Riggleman bemoaned. “I think that’s what scares me — you have such a lack of courage and a lack of gravitas in Congress now.”

Pre- and post-verdict are two different Trumps, according to Riggleman. Anyone who embraces Trump now is embracing a convicted felon, after all.

“That’s what’s going to be so ‘fun’ to watch, is who comes out and belly crawls and actually subjugates himself the most to Donald Trump, and we’ll see who those people are,” Riggleman said.

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Such a scene illustrates how the Republican Party has so dramatically changed, Riggleman said.

“What’s changed in recent years, I think the real underbelly of hate and xenophobia and racism have bubbled up so hard,” Riggleman said. “And there’s a more coordinated effort. I think social media has really been the discriminating factor with radicalization across the board for a significant portion of the GOP.”

But for their pro-Trump bluster and confidence-projecting, Republican leaders are running scared, Riggleman said.

“They’re worried about the mob. And just like Rome, they have to keep the mob happy. That’s it. It isn’t about courage. It’s not about telling the truth. It’s about winning. It’s about polling. It’s about fundraising,” Riggleman said. “And it’s about bootlicking Trump in order to stay in power or to have your own type of gravitas on whatever far-right avenue you’ve decided to drive in.”

While Riggleman hasn’t served in Congress since 2021, he still monitors the House of Representatives. He’s sensed a change in the GOP conference from afar.

“I think the other scary thing is that you have true believers,” Riggleman said.

That’s new.

“When Jan. 6 happened, they said ‘of course it was Trump’s fault, but we can’t say that or we won’t get reelected,’” Riggleman recounted. “But I do believe that we now have true believers. I think they do believe this is a war of good against evil, with Trump being ordained from on high. And you see the evangelicals behind Trump, which has now become that Democrats are demonic. It’s still a QAnon type of belief system.”

While some Republicans despise the term “Christian nationalism” — publicly, at least —, others in the GOP embrace it, just as they embrace the notion that America is God’s chosen promised land.

“I think Christian Nationalism has really gained a much bigger foothold than anybody can imagine,” Riggleman said.


Supporters participate in a prayer during a campaign rally for U.S. President Donald Trump at the BOK Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Okla. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Riggleman bemoans the devolution.

“Ignorance has become sort of a badge of honor for many millions of Americans,” Riggleman said. “And I find it interesting that stupidity is now a superpower, and I think that should scare the sane.”

Going forward, Riggleman’s most afraid that Trump and company are getting ready to upend government as we know it if they recapture the White House in November. He points to the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 blueprint for sweeping reforms under a second Trump administration.

“I really think that’s the founding document for what’s gonna happen in the future, and I think Trump is really the leader of the project 2025 movement,” Riggleman said. “It’s an administrative purge, and, I think, they’ve learned a lot of lessons.”

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In the White House, Trump was sometimes blocked by the likes of, say, former Vice President Mike Pence or former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Not so much going forward. Riggleman says Trump has chosen “loyalty over competence” this go round.

“What you have now is loyalty over competency. I think that should scare the American public —- the ones that actually believe in reality, it should scare the s— out of ´em,” Riggleman said. “I still don’t think the Democrats, independents or center-right Republicans who are #NeverTrump, I don’t think they recognize that threat. I still think they’re living in a bubble and got their head in the sand and they don’t understand the danger.”

Riggleman also fears the energy on the right. And he knows every indictment or guilty verdict only intensifies the storm that’s brewing.

“Remember, crazy has so much more energy than sanity. So the sane better take a case of Red Bull with them and start getting going right now. I’m telling you, the sane need to step up,” Riggleman told Raw Story. “You better understand what you’re up against … this isn’t gonna to do a damn thing to stop the Trump train.”

Source: Raw Story – Celebrating 20 Years of Independent Journalism

TruthPukes Take:

  • And you’re gonna see all them coming out with the same exact messaging,” said Riggleman, a former intelligence analyst who served as a technical analyst for the U.
  • And I think the American people should be very wary of a man who refused to testify in his own defense.
  • “I just hope that there’s still enough gravitas in Congress on the right and the GOP to recognize that there’s never been a former president convicted.
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