GOP Inherits What Trump Has Wrought

“The darker forces that propelled President Trump’s rise are beginning to frame and define the rest of the Republican Party,” the Washington Post reports.

“When GOP House candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter who had attempted to ask him a question in Montana, many saw not an isolated outburst by an individual, but the obvious, violent result of Trump’s charge that journalists are ‘the enemy of the people.’ Nonetheless, Gianforte won Thursday’s special election to fill a safe Republican seat.”

“Trump — and specifically, his character and his conduct — now thoroughly dominate the national political conversation… The dynamic is shaping the contours of this year’s smattering of special congressional elections and contests for governor, as well as the jockeying ahead the 2018 midterm elections.”

Republicans Begin Slow Retreat from Trump

“Republicans on Sunday inched away from President Trump amid mounting evidence that he may have sought to interfere in the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election,” the New York Times reports.

“In a sign of growing anxiety, several important Republicans expressed discomfort with Mr. Trump’s firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, who had been leading the agency’s inquiry into whether Mr. Trump’s associates colluded with Russian officials. But the Republicans stopped short of explicitly criticizing Mr. Trump.”

A Republican Reckoning Is Coming

Erick Erickson: “Voters are increasingly dissatisfied with a Republican Party unable to govern. And congressional Republicans increasingly find themselves in an impossible position: If they support the president, many Americans will believe they are neglecting their duty to hold him accountable. But if they do their duty, Trump’s core supporters will attack them as betrayers — and then run primary candidates against them.”

“It is becoming ever clearer that Trump has the potential to cause more damage to the Republican Party than Obama did the Democrats. While there is no doubt the Democrats saw serious electoral setbacks under Obama, there remains a key difference here: Obama is deeply respected and liked by a majority of voters. Trump is increasingly disliked, and the Republicans who enable him are increasingly distrusted.”

“With a horde of vocal Trump supporters cheering on every inane statement, delusion, lie and bad act, the majority of the American people can be forgiven for thinking the GOP as a whole has lost its mind. The Republicans may soon lose a generation of voters through a combination of the sheer incompetence of Trump and a party rank and file with no ability to control its leader.”

Where Are the Statesmen in the GOP?

William Kristol: “On it went all week—one Trumpian argument after another falling apart. And yet Republican officeholders mostly stuck by their president. Some of them praised Trump. Others avoided comment. Still others focused exclusively — reflexively, predictably — on the (very real) inconsistency of Democrats.”

“It’s an understandable impulse. The Democrats, after all, are being monumentally hypocritical — from last summer until this week, they had been calling for Comey’s head, blaming his handling of the email investigation for Hillary Clinton’s defeat. There are cogent arguments, as well, that Comey deserved to be fired long ago. And there are legitimate questions about the FBI’s Russia investigation; the Trump administration is not wrong to be concerned about the many leaks related to these matters. There is, too, a laudable inclination to want President Trump to succeed. He is the president, and the country will be better off if he’s a successful one.”

“We understand these arguments. We’ve made some of them. But there are times, when the stakes are high, that self-respecting officeholders need to lead, even if it’s politically risky, rather than circle the wagons.”

For members: Will Republicans Step Up to Protect Our Democracy?

The Real Reason Jim DeMint Got the Boot

“Jim DeMint’s ouster from The Heritage Foundation came as a shock to the hundreds of scholars and staffers who’ve seen the organization’s political influence grow thanks to DeMint’s controversial decision to align the leading conservative think tank closely with Donald Trump,” Politico reports.

“But interviews with over a dozen sources at the center of the drama suggest Heritage’s stewards… became convinced that DeMint was incapable of renewing the foundation’s place as an intellectual wellspring of the conservative movement.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“I’m pro-environment, I’m pro-trade, I’m anti-debt, I’m pro-immigration, I’m pro-NATO. And when I look at the party, I see it moving in a different direction. But I’ve always said I have the right to define what it means to be a Republican and a conservative.”

— Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), in an interview with BuzzFeed, when asked if he’s still a Republican.

Trump Digital Aide Got $1 Million Payout

“The Republican Party’s top digital strategist in 2016 got a nearly $1 million payout from a firm he co-founded that collected online contributions to the party and its nominee, Donald Trump — despite earlier claims that the strategist had severed his ties to the company,” Politico reports.

“Gerrit Lansing’s joint roles, while legal, have raised questions of cronyism and profit-making at the Republican National Committee… Republican operatives representing multiple GOP presidential and Senate campaigns said that Lansing pushed them to use the company he co-founded, Revv, to collect their online donations after he was hired for the top RNC job — and that he used the fact that the RNC was using his platform as a selling point. Lansing was subsequently named to a top role in Trump’s White House.”

Trump’s Woes Take Toll on the GOP

A new Pew Research survey finds President Trump’s approval rating is 39% — precisely the same as two months ago. The percentage of Americans who disapprove of Trump is virtually unchanged: 54%, compared to 56% in February.

“The most profound shifts in the Pew survey are in Americans’ perceptions of the GOP beyond Trump. Just 40%  of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, down from 47% in January, prior to Trump’s inauguration.”

Suburban GOP Voters Sour on Party

New York Times: “Early missteps by President Trump and congressional leaders have weighed heavily on voters from the party’s more affluent wing, anchored in right-of-center suburbs around major cities in the South and Midwest. Never beloved in these precincts, Mr. Trump appears to be struggling to maintain support from certain voters who backed him last year mainly as a way of defeating Hillary Clinton.”

“Interviews with Republican-leaning voters in four suburban districts — in Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and New Jersey — revealed a sour outlook on the party. These voters, mainly white professionals, say they expected far more in the way of results by now… Should Republican voters remain so demoralized — and Democrats so fired up — it could imperil dozens of congressional seats that are usually safe.”