Trump gloats over retirement of Republican who attacked election lie

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welcomed the news that , a prominent conservative who criticized his party for questioning the validity of Joe Biden’s election win, will quit Congress at the next election, crowing: “Good news for the country!”

Buck, from Colorado, announced his retirement on MSNBC on Wednesday and said he was “disappointed that the Republican party continues to rely on this lie that the 2020 election was stolen and rely on the January 6 narrative and political prisoners from January 6 and other things.”

Related: George Santos survives House expulsion vote despite 23 federal charges and history of lies – live

In the wake of the 2020 election many expected Republicans to move past Trump, but subsequently – and despite multiple indictments – Trump has in fact solidified his grip on the party and is now the overwhelming favorite to be its 2024 presidential nominee. The departure of figures like Buck only makes Trump’s control more complete.

Trump, the originator and chief perpetuator of the election fraud lie, which he used to incite the deadly attack on Congress on 6 January 2021, used his Truth Social platform to call Buck “a weak and ineffective Super RINO if there ever was one”, using the acronym for “Republican in name only”.

Buck, 64 and a former federal prosecutor, is a stringent conservative who has nonetheless emerged as a Trump critic, as the former US president faces 91 criminal charges (including state and federal election subversion) and civil trials.

In August, Buck called the Georgia electoral subversion case against Trump, under racketeering law, “a nuclear bomb where a bullet would have been appropriate”.

Buck also made those remarks to MSNBC, which Trump has long called “MSDNC”, a reference to the Democratic National Committee and the network’s liberal stance.

On Wednesday, Trump said Buck “knew long ago he could never win against MAGA [Trump’s campaign slogan, ‘Make America great again’], so now he is … auditioning for a job at Fake News CNN, MSDNC, or some other country-destroying leftwing outlet.”

In his August remarks, Buck said his Colorado constituents were split over Trump, many believing the former president was “being treated unfairly”.

In Congress, he said, it was “difficult” being a Republican when “the news is constantly about Donald Trump and these indictments and his actions during a time of the election and until and after 6 January 2021. And so I think that it is difficult to break through that noise right now and try to get a positive message.”

In October, Buck opposed the candidacy for House speaker of Jim Jordan of Ohio, a prominent Trump supporter. That stance, Buck said, prompted death threats and eviction from a constituency office.

In a video posted to social media on Wednesday, Buck repeated his message to his party.

“Too many Republican leaders are lying to America, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen, describing January 6 as an unguided tour of the Capitol and asserting that the ensuing prosecutions are a weaponisation of our justice system. These insidious narratives breed widespread cynicism and erode Americans’ confidence in the rule of law.”

Buck also said he did not plan to leave the Republican party. He would not say he would not support Trump for president, saying only a “Trump-Biden redo” would present “a very difficult decision”.

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