Westneat: What happened to the Republican Party under Trump?

FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, file photo, President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, after returning from Texas. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey broke his silence to defend his company's ban of Trump as the right decision, but warned that it could set a dangerous precedent. The ban, he said, revealed Twitter's "failure" to create an open and healthy space for what Dorsey calls the "global public conversation." (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

What, in the world, just happened in the Republican Party?

"A lot of people in the party have been close to brainwashed, it seems to me," says a former Republican congressman, Rod Chandler. "I hardly recognize it anymore."

Last Monday, Chandler signed a letter along with 25 former GOP U.S. House and Senate members calling for President Donald Trump to be impeached in the wake of the Capitol insurrection.

I called Chandler because he's a lifelong Republican I got to know well when I was a reporter back in the 1990s. He was heavily involved in conservative politics from the Reagan era through George W. Bush, including serving 10 years in Congress.

I wanted to explore two things: How did it happen that so many in the GOP came to back a delusional gambit to overturn a not-that-close election? And would another impeachment help snap it back to reality - or make things worse?

The second part first: "You have to impeach," Chandler insisted.