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The relentless messaging by Trump and his supporters has inflicted a measurable wound on American democracy. “I became worse.” That’s how double impeachment changed him, Donald Trump told a conservative audience in Dallas last weekend, without a trace of a smile. This was not Trump the insult comic talking. This was the deepest Trump self. And this one time, he told the truth.The ex-president praised Ashli Babbitt, the woman slain as she attempted to crash through the door that protected members of Congress from the mob that had invaded the Capitol: “innocent, wonderful, incredible woman.” He praised the insurrectionist throng: “great people.” He denounced their arrest and jailing as unjust. And he implied that Babbitt had been shot by the personal-security detail of a leading member of Congress. “I’ve heard also that it was the head of security for a certain high official. A Democrat. It’s gonna come out.” The relentless messaging by Trump and his supporters has inflicted a measurable wound on American democracy. The Trump movement was always authoritarian and illiberal. It indulged periodically in the rhetoric of violence.

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