In office, Donald Trump said Republicans in the Senate should scrap the filibuster, by which a minority can block the will of the majority, because it “allowed eight Democrats to control the country”.
Joe Manchin. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Out of office, he has changed his mind – saying in effect it is good that Republican senators and a few Democratic allies can control the country in the precise same way.
The former president told Fox Business on Monday he supported the Democratic senator Joe Manchin in his refusal to budge on the issue.
“It’s a very important thing,” Trump said. “Otherwise you’re going to be packing the courts, you’re going to be doing all sorts of very bad things that were unthinkable.”
Faced with Republican opposition to federal voting rights reform – and other matters including the establishment of a commission to investigate the US Capitol attack – most Democrats favour scrapping the filibuster, under which most legislation must gain 60 votes to pass.
They will not be able to do so, in large part because Manchin, from West Virginia, and the Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema have set themselves against it.
On Sunday, Manchin also set himself directly against the voting rights legislation in question, the For the People Act, a move that pleased Republicans and enraged progressives.
Trump has direct experience of how the filibuster can frustrate a political agenda.
In July 2017, faced with the failure of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he tweeted: “Republican Senate must get rid of 60 vote NOW! It is killing the R Party, allows 8 Dems to control country. 200 Bills sit in Senate. A JOKE!”
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, then Senate majority leader, refused to budge. Now the Senate minority leader, he is still immovable on the filibuster – as are Manchin and Sinema.
In his Fox Business interview, Trump also repeated his lie that his defeat by Joe Biden last year was the result of electoral fraud, a lie which stoked the deadly Capitol attack, after which Trump was impeached and suspended from major social media platforms.
Reporting the interview, the Daily Beast plumped for a succinct headline: “Fox Host Offers Absolutely Zero Pushback When Trump Spews Election Bullshit.”