Politico: “Republicans unleashed perhaps their most aggressive outcry of the Trump era after he abandoned the U.S.’s Kurdish allies and ceded northeastern Syria to Turkey. But now GOP lawmakers are dialing back their direct criticism of the president — instead working with Trump, dinging Democrats and trying to move forward.”
George Will: “The canine loyalty of Senate Republicans will keep Trump in office. But until he complies with House committee subpoenas, the House must not limply hope federal judges will enforce their oversight powers. Instead, the House should wield its fundamental power, that of the purse, to impose excruciating costs on executive branch noncompliance. This can be done.”
“In 13 months, all congressional Republicans who have not defended Congress by exercising ‘the constitutional rights of the place’ should be defeated. If congressional Republicans continue their genuflections at Trump’s altar, the appropriate 2020 outcome will be a Republican thrashing so severe — losing the House, the Senate and the electoral votes of, say, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina and even Texas — that even this party of slow-learning careerists might notice the hazards of tethering their careers to a downward-spiraling scofflaw.”
“I don’t think there is a voice of moral clarity of any weight in the Republican Party today, and I think that’s just terribly sad… I think it’s just amazing to me that there really isn’t anyone.”
— George Conway, on Stay Tuned with Preet.
“Even as the White House appears to settle on the legal tactics to stave off Democrats’ impeachment demands, uncertainty and unease over Trump’s messaging approach remains high among his Republican allies, who see the ever-growing inquiry consuming the White House,” CNN reports.
“Trump has offered scant indication he is turning his focus to governing… Instead, the President has spent hours tweeting about the impeachment and lighting up the phone lines of his allies on Capitol Hill — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to whom he’s stressed the importance of Republican unity.”
“In private, Trump is increasingly leaning on the Republican leader in the Senate. In a return to the President’s panicked behavior during the height of the Mueller investigation, Trump is calling McConnell as often as three times a day.”
Ruth Marcus: “Fifteen current Republican senators served in the House or Senate during the Clinton impeachment. All but one of those — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — voted either to impeach Clinton or to convict him and remove him from office. I’d challenge any of them to explain why they deemed Clinton’s behavior so bad and are so unmoved by Trump’s.”
“Polling suggests the American people are not distracted by this noise and grasp the gravity of Trump’s conduct. Perhaps their leaders will read and follow.”
Axios: “Trump’s campaign has poured millions of ad dollars into issues that resonate with his base. Immigration was the driver. Now, it’s impeachment.”
“It’s not just Trump — this is a party-wide effort to cash in. The House and Senate Republican committees are also putting the majority of their digital ad dollars behind impeachment.”
“President Trump’s campaign helped orchestrate rule changes at party conventions in dozens of states, including Georgia, to weaken a potential GOP insurrection before it can start,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
“Three senior Trump campaign officials said on a conference call Monday that they pressed party officials in 37 states to make it harder for a Republican primary opponent to emerge at the nominating convention in Charlotte in August 2020.”
“The Republican party has got to get a grip on itself.”
— Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, on CNN, adding that the country’s foreign policy is “in shambles right now.”
Axios shows just how strong that wall is: 51 Republican senators from states Trump won in 2016. He only needs 34 to save him from being convicted and removed from office if the House impeaches him.
- 36 Republican senators represent Trump states where he’s still popular. 15 of them are up for re-election.
- 15 Republican senators represent Trump states where his approval ratings are underwater, but only 4 of them are up for re-election.
- Trump could lose 17 senators from his red wall — or 19 Republicans if Collins and Gardner were in the mix — and still stay in office.
The bottom line: Trump believes the combination of right-wing media backing plus GOP senators’ fear of crossing Trump voters will save him.
Adam Serwer: “Elected Republicans know that Trump is unfit for office. The president’s own subordinates know that Trump is unfit for office. They know this, because when the president issues ridiculous orders, such as the demand that a leader of the opposition party be arrested, they ignore his demands. A nation in which the opposition cannot criticize the head of state without facing criminal sanction is not a democracy, but it is the kind of country over which Donald Trump would like to preside. The result is that American democracy rests on the willingness of bureaucrats to ignore the commands of their democratically elected chief executive.”
“Unable to defend the substance of the president’s extortion attempt, Republicans have turned to complaining about the process. But Thursday’s performance on the White House lawn renders those baseless complaints moot—the president just did publicly what the Democrats have accused him of doing privately. The only argument against removing Trump from office is that Trump’s raving is just Trump being Trump, and is not to be taken seriously. But the fact that the president’s madness must be ignored from time to time for America to continue to function as a democracy is an argument for, not against, his removal.”
“Although congressional Democrats and Republicans are divided on impeachment, there is vanishingly little disagreement on whether or not Trump abuses his authority or is fit to be president. The distinction is that, for the moment, Republicans appear not to care.”
Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) demanded that Republicans in Congress “unequivocally” condemn President Trump’s call for Ukraine and China to investigate Joe Biden and his son, The Hill reports.
Said Curbelo: “This is unacceptable. Republicans must condemn it unequivocally. Time is running out for them to get on the right side of history. Our institutions and being diminished in a very dangerous way.”
Rick Wilson: “In private, Republicans are in the deepest despair of the Trump era. They’ve got that hang-dog, dick-in-the-dirt fatalism of men destined to die in a meaningless battle in a pointless war. They’ve abandoned all pretense of recapturing the House, their political fortunes in the states are crashing and burning, and the stock-market bubble they kept up as a shield against the downsides of Trump—’but muh 401(k)!’—is popping.”
“You want to know why so few Republicans have held town-hall meetings since early 2017? Because Trump is the cancer they deny is consuming them from the inside out. They see the political grave markers of 42 of their GOP House colleagues—and several hundred down-ballot Republicans—booted from office since 2017 and know that outside of the deepest red enclaves, they’re salesmen for a brand no one is buying.”
“I have some bad news, Republicans. It never gets better. There is no daylight at the end of this tunnel. Trump is a suicide bomber, and you’ve strapped yourselves to him so tightly that when he explodes, you’re going out to meet the 72 porn stars of the Trumpian afterlife with him. (Spoiler alert: They all look like Ivanka.)”
“What you most hear from congressional Republicans on impeachment this week is the sound of silence,” CNN reports.
“GOP sources say they have a good reason for that fear. They have no idea what else House Democrats’ investigation will uncover or what comes next.”
“Along with that fear is frustration with President Trump: his ranting in performances full of false claims, like Wednesday in the Oval Office and White House East Room, and stream of consciousness rapid-fire tweets — curse words and all — are not exactly an anti-impeachment road map for his fellow Republicans.”
Janan Ganesh: “Since the Ukraine scandal emerged, it has been natural to assume total Republican commitment to Mr Trump. Such is the tribalism of a riven nation.”
“There is another scenario, though, and it does not stop at one or two Republicans peeling away. Instead, to save itself, the GOP establishment might desert Mr Trump as swiftly and unexpectedly as it bent the knee to him in 2016. Whether this manifests as the Senate supermajority needed for his ousting is still hugely doubtful. But there are other kinds of defiance: a staff exodus from the White House, senatorial refusals to defend him, the turning of implicated parties on one another.”
“Skeptics will say this requires the party to wake up from its cringing passivity. But it has been doing that, in fits and starts, for a while now.”
“President Trump’s political advisers have concluded a monthslong effort to tighten the rules for choosing delegates to the Republican National Convention, all but ensuring there are no dissenting speeches at the gathering of party officials in Charlotte next year,” the New York Times reports.
“In 37 states and territories, there have been changes to the rules that will all but stamp out the possibility of any raucous divide on the convention floor. Those kinds of schisms have plagued party conventions in years when a Republican incumbent went on to lose his re-election bid, Republican officials said. Mr. Trump himself confronted an effort to strip him of delegates in 2016.”
“Two Republicans, one of them former congressman Bob Inglis, have sued the South Carolina Republican Party over its decision to cancel its GOP presidential primary next year,” the Charleston Post & Courier reports.
“Under a deal with federal prosecutors, North Carolina’s former state Republican chairman could testify against other defendants in the state’s largest-ever case of political bribery,” the Charlotte Observer reports.
“Robin Hayes would plead guilty to a single felony count of lying to the FBI under the deal. He’s scheduled to formally enter his guilty plea in federal court Wednesday. The plea agreement calls for Hayes to cooperate with prosecutors. That includes testifying against his co-defendants… Hayes, a former member of Congress, was one of four men indicted last March on multiple charges of conspiracy and bribery.”
Jeff Flake: “In my case, I had not supported the president’s election. One year into his presidency, I knew that I could not support his reelection. While I had hoped that I could still run for reelection to the Senate in 2018 as someone who would help to provide a check on the president’s worst impulses, it soon became apparent that this was not what Republican primary voters in my state were looking for. Whatever reservations they might have had when they voted for Donald Trump, one year into his presidency they wanted a senator who was all in…”
“Our country will have more presidents. But principles, well, we get just one crack at those. For those who want to put America first, it is critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all, here and now, do just that.”
“Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.”