Hogan: Trump at ‘lowest point ever’ on day of Jan. 6 report

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican weighing a 2024 White House bid, said Monday he believes former President Donald Trump is “at his lowest point ever,” as the House Jan. 6 committee wrapped up its investigation into what Hogan described as “one of the darkest days in American history.”

In an interview with The Associated Press shortly before the committee released its recommendations, Hogan said he believes the former president should be held accountable, after he “inflamed kind of a riotous mob to go attack the seat of our democracy.” However, the outgoing, term-limited governor was not specific about how Trump should be held accountable.

“I’m not a lawyer and don’t know what kind of legal accountability he should have, but I thought it was one of the darkest days in American history,” Hogan said, adding that the president bore some responsibility for what happened.

“The people that try to whitewash Jan. 6 as if nothing happened are delusional. It was an assault on democracy,” he said.

Later in the day, the House committee urged the Justice Department to bring criminal charges against Trump and his allies, wrapping up its investigation of the violent 2021 Capitol insurrection with what lawmakers called a “roadmap to justice.”

In the interview, Hogan said he did not know whether Trump would benefit politically from a criminal prosecution, though he said the FBI’s August raid of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s resort home in Palm Beach, Florida, “got his supporters all fired up.”

“I think President Trump is at a low point in his career,” Hogan said. “I mean, I think he peaked in November of 2020, and, you know, it was slow to erode some of the base, but now I think he’s at his lowest point ever, and even though he just announced a month ago that he was running for reelection, it doesn’t seem to be going very well, and I don’t see how this could really help.”

Hogan, an early critic of Trump’s presidency, also declined to speculate on what impact a prosecution of Trump could have on the country.

“I think no man is above the law, not even the president of the United States, but I understand why people would feel that it’s over, let’s just move on,” Hogan said. “But I think other people have strong opinions that somebody has to be held accountable, and whether that’s the president or people in the administration — certainly they are holding accountable the people that actually did the rioting and the destruction at the Capitol.”

The governor, who won two terms in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, said while he doubts the committee’s recommendations will affect the opinions of Trump’s core base of supporters, the recommendations could have an impact on voters who supported the president’s policies but “don’t like this behavior.”

“They’re sort of tired of the drama and may be ready to move on, and they may be looking to go in a different direction,” Hogan said.

Hogan also said the number of Republican critics of Trump has grown since the governor’s early days of criticizing him while he was president. He said former Cabinet members, former supporters in Congress and other governors also have stepped up to criticize Trump, widening a lane to oppose the former president in a GOP primary.

“Apparently a lot of Republican leaders think that there’s a lane there because they’re all starting to move into where I already was, and they’re starting to sound an awful lot like where I’ve been,” Hogan said.

With about a month left as Maryland’s governor, Hogan has said he will make an announcement about his future political plans after he leaves office. He said he plans to talk to his family, close friends and various past advisers.

The governor has admitted he would be an underdog in a GOP primary, but many considered him a longshot to win the governorship using public campaign finance funds in a heavily Democratic state.

“To me, it’s similar when I was running for governor,” Hogan said. “It was like, you know, I know it’s almost an impossible thing, but is there a path, and is it worth the effort, and can I make a difference, and those are the kinds of questions I’ll have to try to answer, but I don’t have a timeframe.”

Hogan said he believes having experience as a chief executive like a state’s governor is an important consideration for seeking the presidency, experience members of Congress do not have. Hogan cited his experience in responding to unrest in Baltimore by sending the National Guard to the city in his first year in office in 2015 as well as being governor during the COVID-19 pandemic, and working with a heavily Democratic state legislature to pass tax relief.

“It’s a different job that requires a different skill set, but I have been running a $50 billion-a-year operation with 60,000 employees and making real-time decisions in a number of crises, from riots to the global pandemic and dealing with budgets and dealing with a legislature and getting things done and working across the aisle,” Hogan said.

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