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Any hope, however faint, that Republicans in general and Trump supporters in particular might feel a modicum of humility or shame over Mr. Trump being found liable of sexual battery and defamation on Tuesday was dispelled seconds into Wednesday’s town hall event on CNN: When Mr. Trump walked out onto the stage – to a standing ovation. The people in that audience got on their feet and clapped for the man who one sleep prior had been found liable by a jury of sexually abusing a now 79-year-old woman in a department store dressing room.

And it went downhill from there.

In a truly disgraceful display, the audience of Republicans and undeclared voters not only applauded Mr. Trump’s mere appearance, but they laughed and cheered at his misogyny, his racism, his bad behaviour and his bald-faced lies.

When he called E. Jean Carroll – the woman he was found to have sexually abused and defamed the previous day – a “whack job,” the audience laughed.

When he called moderator Kaitlan Collins – who did a fine job in an impossible situation – “a nasty person,” the audience laughed.

When he called former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “crazy Nancy,” the audience laughed.

When he said as president, he would end Russia’s war in Ukraine in a single day, nobody laughed.

When he ranted about Joe Biden taking classified documents to Chinatown – “where they don’t even speak English,” the audience did not scoff at the racism.

When he said he would pardon many of those convicted in the Jan. 6 insurrection (“a beautiful day”), they applauded.

When he repeated lies about election rigging and Democrats killing babies, the audience applauded. They took this guy seriously. They hung on his words with reverence.

It was the most disheartening TV event I have viewed in a long time. And, listen, I’ve been following the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff run.

I can’t take four more years of this, I thought, watching this horror show. I could barely take four more minutes of it.

How does any woman support this man? Even if the women asking fawning questions of the former president on Wednesday didn’t believe the jury (and there is no reason not to), Mr. Trump was standing there belittling, disparaging, ridiculing and patronizing women right in front of their eyes. The little part of me that still holds out hope in humanity thinks maybe they changed their minds after watching that go down in the flesh?

What really got me down were the very young men in the audience, in their serious ties and blazers they haven’t quite grown into. The delight on their ruddy-complexioned faces was truly distressing as this man – whom they clearly see as a role model – made fun of a woman he has just been found liable of sexually abusing and defaming. What is the takeaway for these Brett Kavanaughs-in-waiting? It might be: Look what we can get away with.

In 2019, when Ms. Carroll told her story, she wrote that she knew she risked “making him more popular by revealing what he did.”

Indeed. Republican America not only lacks shame, but consequences. For Mr. Trump, a US$5-million fine isn’t a consequence. He bragged onstage about the court decision boosting his popularity. And the audience lapped it up. Oh, they laughed. They cheered. They applauded.

And they gave him another standing ovation at the end.

The end of Donald Trump has been declared too many times to believe any more, to hope for. It’s been momentarily comforting, on repeat: the feeling that this must be it. After this egregious development (the impeachment, the second impeachment, the Jan. 6 insurrection, classified documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago, criminal indictment over the alleged hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, you name the offence), there is no possible way he will continue to attract support.

One might think that jury-confirmed sexual abuse would be the line that voters could not cross. How does anyone with any sense of right and wrong support and vote for a man who attacked a woman in a fitting room and later claimed he had never met her (despite photographic evidence that he had) and anyway, she wasn’t his “type”?

Mr. Trump was famously recorded on the Access Hollywood tape talking about what you can do to a woman when you’re a celebrity big shot. (It’s been like that for a million years, he told the New Hampshire audience Wednesday night.) Grab them by the you-know-what. Which is exactly what a jury found Mr. Trump did to Ms. Carroll.

Mr. Trump did not testify in the case (he didn’t want to cause a circus, the ringleader-in-chief said). And no witnesses were called.

After what people witnessed this week, I wonder how anyone could want Mr. Trump in charge of anything. Perhaps they’re willing to overlook it all for self-serving reasons. Tax breaks?

Or perhaps they admire that kind of behaviour. Agree with it. Aspire to it.

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