US media are struggling to figure out Donald Trump’s influence now that he’s no longer president. Ex-adviser John Bolton urged ignoring him altogether, but Sen. Lindsey Graham argued he’ll dominate the GOP for years to come.
“He will go from sitting in the most powerful office in the world, the Oval Office, to sitting by the swimming pool at Mar-a-Lago,” Bolton, whom Trump fired as national security adviser in 2019, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday. “We are about to see a change of incalculable dimensions.”
Speaking a few hours before Democrat Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, Bolton said supporters and critics alike had yet to fully appreciate that Trump was actually leaving center stage. While supporters can’t believe he’s actually leaving, critics may struggle to give up “the fun they’ve had” scrutinizing Trump for the past four years.
“For those who still just have to cover Donald Trump because they’ve done it for four years, really, get over it,” Bolton said. “If you’re going to waste your time on that, you’re going to miss a lot of what’s happening that really affects the future of the country.”
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Figuring out the level of attention to give to Trump now that his presidency has ended is a major challenge for CNN and other media outlets, which relied on the controversial leader to drive their ratings over the past four years. Trump made an intriguing exit from Washington on Wednesday morning, telling supporters he will be “watching” and will “return in some form.”
Graham (R-South Carolina) was trounced by Trump in the 2016 presidential primaries but went on to become an on-again, off-again ally in the Senate afterward. He told Fox News on Wednesday that Trump will remain the strongest voice in the party for years, and that it would be a disaster for Republicans and disadvantageous for Trump if the former president started a new party, as it was rumored he might do.
“I hope President Trump understands that his legacy and his best future lies in the Republican Party,” Graham said. “I hope people in our party understand the party itself. If you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re going to get erased.”
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