SMU experts weigh in on the U.S. Capitol attack and discuss what's next and who's responsible
Jan 10, 2021
Print this page
Email this article

Dallas, Texas (SMU) – These SMU faculty experts share their thoughts about the U.S. capitol attack, explain what the January 6 attack means for President Trump’s standing with the Republican Party and discuss what comes next.

Its now more likely that before
that Trump will try to pardon himself 

“In light of the January 6 pro-Trump mob attack on Congress, it’s now much more likely than before that President Trump will try to pardon himself (and his closest confidants) for any federal crimes before leaving office,” states Dale Carpenter, constitutional law professor at SMU. “That’s because he has not only added to the list of his potential charges but he has also increased the possibility that charges will actually be brought by the Department of Justice.”

Carpenter adds, “There’s another interesting complication, which I’m sure has been discussed in the president’s inner circle: He will want to exercise these powers before any potential (though still unlikely) invocation of the 25th amendment, which would immediately remove him from office and strip his executive powers, including the power to pardon.”

There's a palpable sense in the Republican Party that it's time to regroup
and move on without Trump

“Trump's standing within the Republican Party took a major hit January 6," remarks Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science, SMU. "Republicans who had been reluctant in the past to break publicly with Trump and his supporters (most notably Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell) spoke out quite clearly yesterday in favor of the rule of law and against continued resistance to the electoral outcome. There is a palpable sense in the party that it is time to regroup and move on without Donald Trump."

“There are major challenges to that, however," Wilson said. "Will it be possible to incorporate some Trumpian themes without embracing the personal toxicity of Trump himself?  Can the party be "Trumpy" enough to keep his supporters on board, but not so "Trumpy" that they alienate moderate suburban voters?  That's a fine line to walk, and it got finer yesterday.”

Some Trump supporters won't take responsibility for the events January 6 that resulted in four deaths, including a Capital Hill Policeman 

“My research suggests that those who are not prone to going out and actively participating in rallies (or mobs) will not see themselves in what happened," reported Stephanie Martin, assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts, SMU. "This is because most of these individuals identify with the policies they like but not necessarily the behaviors they don’t." 

Martin goes on to say, “They participate as voters, but they refuse to take responsibility when things get out of hand, even if their votes are partially responsible for the outcomes that are taking place.”

Carpenter’s published book:

Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence V. Texas:  How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012).

Wilson’s published books, speeches, and presentations:

Politics and Religion in the United States. With Michael Corbett and Julia Corbett-Hemeyer. (Routledge Press, 2013).

Understanding American Politics. With Stephen Brooks and Douglas L. Koopman. (University of Toronto Press, 2013).

Martin’s published books:

Visual Ethics: A Guide for Photographers, Journalists and Filmmakers by Paul Martin Lester with Stephanie A. Martin and Martin Smith-Rodden (Routledge Press, 2018).

Columns to Characters: The Presidency and the Press Enter the Digital Age – (Texas A&M Press, 2017).

Decoding the Digital Church: Evangelical Storytelling and the Election of Donald Trump. Manuscript under review. Under advance contract with University of Alabama Press, Rhetoric, Culture, and Social Critique Series.