Josh Hawley avoids talking about Trump to keep his political hopes alive: CNN analyst
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According to an analysis by CNN Chris Cillizza, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is more than willing to talk about the topics of the day with reporters as long as he doesn't have to talk about former president Donald Trump.

Hawley, who has come under harsh criticism over his attempts to derail the electoral vote count on Jan 6 just before supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol, reportedly has high hopes of becoming president one day and, as Cillizza documents, was given a chance to mildly criticize the former president who hinted at pardoning the Capitol insurrectionists over the weekend, but Hawley couldn't bring himself to say a disparaging word.

Asked about Trump's Texas rally comments that led close Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to state on CBS, "I don't want to do anything from raising bail to pardoning people who take the law into their own hands because it will make violence more likely. I want to deter people who did what they did on Jan. 6. And those who did it, I hope they go to jail and get the book thrown at them because they deserve it." Hawley took a pass.

"I leave to the former president -- I never judge the appropriateness or not of his comments, I mean, that's not my role," the Missouri Republican told reporters. "So, he -- you know, I think, that that's his view, then that's his view."

READ: Trump blows up on the Jan. 6 committee and demands they investigate Mike Pence

According to Cillizza, "Um, what?"

Calling it a "weird" response, Cillizza added, "It seems like that a) is sort of a big deal and b) might be the sort of thing that a prominent senator like Hawley might have formulated an opinion on."

"Here's the thing: Hawley likely wants to run for president -- whether that's in 2024 (if Trump doesn't run) or in 2028 (if he does run). And right now, the only path to running a credible campaign for the Republican nomination for president is to be seen as someone in the Trump mold" he wrote. "And because Trump is Trump, the only way to ensure that you stay on his good side is to never, ever, ever criticize him -- no matter whether you believe him to be right or wrong. If you don't have anything nice to say, it's best to say nothing at all -- because Trump seems to not only hear any and all criticism of him, but also tends to respond to any Republican who questions him."

Turning back to Hawley, he suggested, "This is the opposite of leadership. But it's also yet more proof that the current version of the Republican Party functions as more a cult of personality than what we would traditionally consider a national party apparatus."

"The only imperative is to stay on the right side of Trump -- principles or policy stances be damned," he concluded.

You can read his whole piece here.

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