The Senate’s findings on the last days of Trump’s presidency are grim. Will it matter?

<span>Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP</span>
Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP
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Last week, the Senate’s judiciary committee released its staff report on Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and bend the justice department to his will. Subverting Justice: How the Former President and his Allies Pressured DOJ to Overturn the 2020 Election lays out in grim detail the ex-reality show host’s concerted effort to weaponize the government’s legal machinery in his desperate bid to cling to power.

One conclusion reads: “President Trump repeatedly asked DOJ leadership to endorse his false claims that the election was stolen and to assist his efforts to overturn the election results.” Another informs us that “Trump allies with links to the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement and the January 6 insurrection participated in the pressure campaign against DOJ.”

As if we didn’t already know. Don’t expect the report to change hearts or minds.

On a Saturday night visit to Iowa, Trump told the crowd that he had not conceded defeat. Indeed, one day later, Steve Scalise, the No 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, refused to say that the election wasn’t stolen. Trump has the Republicans in a hammerlock. The impact of the Senate report is likely to be negligible.

As America’s cold civil war continues, hyper-partisanship is the rule, not the exception

Since Trump’s backers pillaged Congress back in January, the Republican party has selectively forgiven and forgotten. By the numbers, 57% of Republicans now believe “too much attention” has been paid to the 6 January riot. Only roughly a third of Republicans concede that storming the Capitol was about overturning the election. Too many Republicans still blame it on antifa.

The new normal is neither particularly normal nor new. As America’s cold civil war continues, hyper-partisanship is the rule, not the exception. And among Republicans, fealty to Trump is the acid test.

Look at Mike Pence, Trump’s hapless vice-president and an aspiring 2024 presidential nominee. Even after having been kicked to the curb by his former boss and targeted for hanging by Capitol rioters, Pence continues to play political lapdog.

He is all too aware that Trump remains the Republican party’s boss and that his future rests in Trump’s hands. “I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January,” Pence told Fox News.

“One day in January” – really?

Apparently, signs that screamed “Hang Mike Pence” were an illusion, as were the gallows near the Capitol. Then again, Pence’s brother Greg, a congressman from Indiana, voted against certifying the election despite his having seen first-hand what his sibling had endured.

Although the report will not change the political landscape, it is likely to have real consequences for Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant attorney general and the most senior justice department official to plot with Trump. The report recommends that the DC bar’s disciplinary counsel “evaluate Clark’s conduct to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted”.

Related: Republicans overplayed their hand in California – and Democrats are laughing | Lloyd Green

In plain English, the Senate’s Democrats are inviting the DC bar to strip Clark of his law license. Working for Trump frequently comes with a downside.

Tellingly, the committee’s Republicans do not offer a particularly full-throated defense of Clark. Instead, Senator Charles Grassley, the committee’s ranking Republican, intimated that Clark had failed to receive sufficient due process. “Committee Democrats opted to release their report having not yet received requested government documents and having not yet heard from Jeffrey Clark,” Grassley said.

Substantively, the Republican party appears ready to sacrifice Clark to spare Trump. The president “listened to all data points”, they wrote in a competing report, and the path advocated by Clark “would be rejected”. In all fairness, he wouldn’t be the first person to thrown in a front of the proverbial bus for the sake of a sitting president.

Not surprisingly, where there’s a raging dumpster fire, Rudy Giuliani is close by.

According to the committee, Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, asked the justice department to investigate a theory pushed by Giuliani known as “Italygate”, which “held that the Central Intelligence Agency and an Italian IT contractor used military satellites to manipulate voting machines and change Trump votes to Biden votes”.

Let that sink in.

As the Senate report recedes from the voters’ consciousness, expect the House’s investigation to emerge as a focal point for all things Trump, with the ex-president seeking to block the cooperation and testimony of his former aides, including Meadows, all in the run-up to the midterms.

Beyond that, Trump is also invoking “executive privilege” to keep Steve Bannon, his 2016 campaign chairman, from testifying. To be sure, Bannon was not a member of the administration when 2021 rolled around. He had left the White House in the summer of 2017.

Instead, Bannon was goading Trump, telling him, according to Peril, the latest Bob Woodward book, co-authored with Bob Costa: “People are going to go, What the fuck is going on here? We’re going to bury Biden on January 6th, fucking bury him … We’re going to kill it in the crib, kill the Biden presidency in the crib.”

For the record, Bannon had previously suggested that Anthony Fauci’s head be severed from its body. Whether Bannon is found to be in criminal contempt for refusing to testify before Liz Cheney and others is a live question.

The bottom line remains that Trump was never going quietly into the political night. Short of his own re-election, he viewed the process as “rigged” and “corrupt”.

How the House and the courts handle all this remains to be seen. Right now, the broader public is far from riveted, and the Republicans are either on board with Trump or simply cowed.