Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Adams County Fairgrounds in Mendon, Illinois, on June 25, 2022.
CNN  — 

The Washington Examiner isn’t exactly a fount of liberalism. It’s a conservative paper with a conservative editorial board. Which is what makes what that editorial board wrote about Donald Trump in the wake of Tuesday’s House January 6 committee hearing all the more striking.

“Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s Tuesday testimony ought to ring the death knell for former President Donald Trump’s political career,” wrote the editorial board. “Trump is unfit to be anywhere near power ever again.”

Which is pretty striking language. The op-ed goes on to note that Hutchinson, who served as a top aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, was no liberal out to get the former President but rather a conservative with experience working with the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Steve Scalise.

The piece concludes with these paragraphs:

“Hutchinson’s testimony confirmed a damning portrayal of Trump as unstable, unmoored, and absolutely heedless of his sworn duty to effectuate a peaceful transition of presidential power. Considering the entirety of her testimony, it is unsurprising that Hutchinson said she heard serious discussions of Cabinet members invoking the 25th Amendment that would have at least temporarily evicted Trump from office.

“Trump is a disgrace. Republicans have far better options to lead the party in 2024. No one should think otherwise, much less support him, ever again.”

Again, it’s worth remembering that this isn’t some liberal newspaper. This is the conservative editorial board of an openly conservative newspaper.

Now, you’d be right to ask whether this will really change anything. After all, one editorial – no matter how bad it is for Trump – is just one editorial. He has weathered worse – far worse – over the last seven years and is still not just standing but perched at the top of the Republican heap.

And, you’d be right – at one level. Trump, to the extent he even sees this op-ed, will shrug it off as just more haters coming after him because he’s so unafraid and strong and blah blah blah.

The broader question, however, is whether pieces like this represent an actual shift in opinion among conservatives toward Trump and the rest of the potential 2024 Republican field.

It seems unlikely that the party will turn wholesale away from Trump – despite the revelations this week from the January 6 committee that he knew the mob was armed and that he seemed to condone the violent chants directed at then-Vice President Mike Pence.

Rather, the potential shift would be one away from wanting Trump as the party’s nominee in 2024, a belief that his wildness and unpredictability – not to mention his actions in office – represent too big a risk for the party to take as it tries to wrest back control of the White House.

There are already signs that Trump may be weakening slightly. In a University of New Hampshire poll conducted earlier this month, he took 37% of the vote in the Granite State, compared with 39% for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. A year ago, that same poll had Trump at 47% to DeSantis’ 19%.

What data points like that suggest is that Republican voters may – emphasis on “may” – be looking for someone who embodies the elements of Trumpism (anti-political correctness, unapologetic about America’s primacy in the world) without all of the baggage that Trump himself carries.

To the extent that is an active thought in the minds of Republican voters, op-eds like the one in the Washington Examiner will foment those doubts.