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Inspired by some in Texas’ far-right, Wyoming GOP chair floats secession in wake of Capitol siege

A Trump-themed Wyoming flag outside a home in Rock Springs, Wyo., in December 2020.
A Trump-themed Wyoming flag outside a home in Rock Springs, Wyo., in December 2020.Kim Raff/For The Washington Post

The chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party this week said secession was something he’d consider in the wake of the failed insurrection at the US Capitol, pointing to a far-right movement in Texas that has championed an effort to do so since 2005.

Frank Eathorne made the comments in the days after the violent siege on Jan. 6 left five people dead and sparked a second impeachment of President Trump, which several Republicans supported. When asked during a podcast interview what guidance he would provide to other conservatives dismayed by the current state of the Republican Party, Eathorne floated the idea of secession.

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“We’re keeping eyes on Texas too, and their consideration of possible secession,” he said as he discussed the idea of leaving the union. “They have a different state constitution than we do as far as wording, but it’s something we’re all paying attention to.”

Eathorne was present in Washington, D.C. on the day of the insurrection. He said in a statement that he attended the rally near the White House to listen to speakers, including Rudy Giuliani and President Trump.

Despite making a “brief stop in the vicinity of the Capitol building property,” Eathorne claimed he did not take part in the violent siege Trump encouraged.

“I retired from the public gathering near mid-afternoon and watched the news of some reported events I personally had not witnessed,” he said.

Eathorne neither condemned nor made any remarks upon the president’s language at the rally, the actions of the insurrectionists, or the ensuing chaos.

Following the siege, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney voted in favor of impeaching Trump, a decision she has since faced serious pushback for from Republicans in her state — including from the Wyoming Republican Party, which issued a vitriolic statement in response.

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The Texas Nationalist Movement has pushed for succession for over 15 years now, San Antonio’s Spectrum News 1 reported at the end of December. The conversation on a national scale isn’t new either, with secession petitions flooding the White House website in 2012, for instance.

But this year’s calls for a “Texit” — playing on “Brexit,” Britain’s term for parting from the European Union — have received greater weight “thanks to some big state and national Republican figures weighing in on the idea” following Trump’s refusal to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, the news channel reported.

When the Supreme Court rejected a case brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seeking to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Michigan, the chairman of the Texas Republican Party suggested secession in retaliation.

“This decision will have far-reaching ramifications for the future of our constitutional republic,” chairman Allen West said in a statement. “Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution.”

Rush Limbaugh, a widely listened to conservative radio host, also said in December that he thought the country is “trending toward secession,” but followed up on his program a day later that he has was just parroting talking points and has never “advocated it, and probably wouldn’t.”

That same month, Texas Republican Representative Kyle Biedermann said in a statement that the “federal government is out of control and does not represent the values of Texans” and for that reason, was filing legislation in the Texas House of Representatives that would “allow a referendum to give Texans a vote for the State of Texas to reassert its status as an independent nation.”

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When reached by the Casper Star-Tribune about his comments over the possibility of secession, Eathorne said he only had a “brief conversation with the Texas GOP in earlier work with them” and that the discussion would not “come up again unless the grass-roots brings it up.”

But whether Texas or Wyoming — or any other state — can actually secede from the country is a different topic, with the US Supreme Court writing in the 1869 case Texas v. White that individual states could not unilaterally secede from the Union, the Texas Tribune reported in an explainer on the topic.

The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia affirmed the decision in 2006.

“The answer is clear,” Scalia wrote. “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede.”

Eathorne made the comments during an interview with former Trump campaign manager Steve Bannon on his controversial podcast. YouTube recently pulled Bannon’s podcast from its platform for “repeatedly” violating its Community Guidelines, and specifically for making baseless claims about election fraud, according to a statement provided to The Wrap. Changes to its standards were implemented a day after the insurrection at the Capitol.

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Shannon Larson can be reached at shannon.larson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shannonlarson98.