U.S. Politics

Republicans Might be Reaching Their Breaking Point With Trump

For Republicans on Capitol Hill, Donald Trump may finally have gone too far.

Republicans are privately beginning to worry that they may one day have to sit in judgment of Trump, or that more damaging information from Comey could force the president to step down.

Trump asked James Comey to end the criminal investigation into Michael Flynn was more than just another embarrassing revelation for a president used to a near-daily barrage of scandal and staff intrigue.

U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up

There was a distinct shift among congressional Republicans. Who until now have mostly resisted criticizing Trump, let alone demanding the president be held to account for all he says or does.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah); immediately said he’s prepared to subpoena the memos that Comey reportedly wrote contemporaneously to document his interactions with Trump.

Chaffetz sent a letter to the FBI on Tuesday night asking for any notes; documents or records of Trump and Comey’s conversations to be turned over to his panel by May 24.

His request was echoed by AshLee Strong: “We need to have all the facts. It is appropriate for the House Oversight Committee to request this memo.”

Comey has also been invited by Sen. Lindsey Graham to testify publicly at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to “tell his side of the story” about his dealings with Trump.

More Republicans have openly discussed the possibility of a select committee or the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into the Trump-Russia connection. It’s still a minority of GOP lawmakers, but Republican leaders are watching closely.

The White House vehemently denied the New York Times report. Trump has defended his firing of Comey and reported disclosure of classified information to Russian officials.

Not since October’s “Access Hollywood” moment when many Republicans believed Trump would have to drop out of the race. Over his hugely offensive comments about women  has the president faced such a serious political threat.

Even conservatives from districts that Trump won overwhelmingly in November want to find out what occurred between the president and Comey.

This is a dramatic turn for the party that’s been whiplashed by Trump’s drama since his first day as a candidate yet has still stuck with him.

Sen. Lindsay Graham listens as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse holds up a copy of “The Kremlin Playbook” at a hearing of the Senate Judicary Committee’s Subcommittee

“It is important to get to the bottom of it,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus. Meadows was last seen celebrating passage of the House GOP health care bill in the Rose Garden with Trump and dozens of his Republican colleagues. “We’ve got one standard, and we need to make sure that applies to everybody.”

Kellyanne Conway met with the Freedom Caucus on Tuesday night and would not say afterward what they discussed.

Meadows insisted the Comey matter did not come up. but he told reporters that he intends, through his role on the Oversight Committee, to help get to the bottom of what happened. And he expects cooperation from the White House.

“If this is legitimately something that there was some kind of influence or pressure from Comey doing his work, I’m going to be very disappointed,” added Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

In private, top Republicans fear that this latest Trump controversy — coming just a week after he fired Comey. Only one day after it was revealed that the president revealed highly classified intelligence information during a meeting with Russian officials — will overwhelm everything they are trying to do legislatively.

Health care, tax reform, building up the Pentagon — all of it is potentially threatened by the latest furor.

And if Republicans are paralyzed and can’t pass anything despite control of the White House and Congress. How can they justify their majorities when they go before voters next year?

“I don’t think we can just shrug our shoulders and walk away from this one,” said a top House Republican, who asked not to be named. “I don’t know where this goes.”

What is most worrying for congressional Republicans is how easy this latest episode is to explain to the public . UMP reportedly tried to interfere with a criminal investigation by the FBI but was rebuffed. Then fired Comey — and thus fodder for endless cable TV coverage.

That could spur moderate Republicans in swing districts, already nervous about 2018, to openly break with Trump.

“If these allegations are true, it’s deeply troubling and it certainly opens up a new chapter that all of us have to consider very carefully,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) outside the House chamber Tuesday night.

“We need to get to the truth as soon as possible. This weekly scandal, this weekly controversy is unhealthy for the country. It’s a major distraction for the country and it’s just bad for the psyche of every American.”

“I hope Director Comey testifies before Congress as soon as possible,” said Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), who earlier broke with Trump and his own leadership over health care reform legislation.

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