The Last Stand of Congress’s Never Trump Brigade

Dec 2006
New Haven, CT
The Last Stand of Congress’s Never Trump Brigade

During the lame duck period of the 115th Congress, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is pushing for the United States to take a tougher stance with Saudi Arabia.
By Sean Sullivan
December 2 at 12:54 PM

Some of President Trump’s loudest Republican critics are asserting themselves during their final weeks in Congress, as the GOP prepares to usher in a class of lawmakers poised to show stronger support for the White House.

One defiant Republican is seeking to protect the special counsel investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, another wants to toughen U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia, and a third is warning that embracing Trump is perilous for the future of the Republican Party.

The moves amount to a last gasp from a wing of the GOP that has been unable steer the party away from Trump during the first two years of his presidency and will see its ranks diminished in the next Congress. The shifting dynamic reflects Trump’s dominance in the party and the marginalization of dissenting voices, even after a disappointing midterm election for Republicans in which Democrats won back the House.

“This is the president’s party now. It really is. I don’t think you can read it any other way,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is retiring and has frequently voiced concerns about Trump.

But first, he is trying to use his remaining time in office to press for a vote on a bill to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III from being fired by refusing to support Trump’s judicial nominees until he gets one.

The strategy, which Flake said in an interview was prompted by Jeff Sessions being forced out as attorney general, has irked some Republican senators.

“Has it given Jeff leverage? Sure. Does he have a right to do it? Yes. Do I agree with him? No,” said Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.).

In speeches, media interviews and a book, Flake has strongly condemned the president’s style and has decried the political tribalism that he says has become widespread during Trump’s leadership. But Flake’s comments have left most Republican lawmakers unmoved.

“I think one politician complaining about another does very little,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a former critic of Trump who has transformed into one of the president’s most enthusiastic allies.

Flake said embracing Trump after his 2016 win would have been the “path to reelection, but I couldn’t do it.” He added, “Whether I accomplish anything or not by my opposition to some of his policies and some of his behavior . . . I just couldn’t do that.”

The senator said he hasn’t ruled out running against Trump in 2020.

“I know where New Hampshire is. I’ve been there a few times,” Flake said with a chuckle, naming a crucial early nominating state.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), another Trump critic who is retiring, has voiced concerns about Trump’s strong support for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Corker tweeted in response to a Trump statement last month.

Corker was one of just 14 Republican senators who voted to move forward with a resolution to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. He said he is working on a potential substitute measure to express “what we’d like to see happen to Saudi Arabia in general.” He has also pressed the administration to consider tougher sanctions against the kingdom.


What I find particularly scary - and depressing - about this, is that after Trump leaves office (whether that's 2020 or 2024), what will be left of the GOP (a huge and powerful political force in the nation) will be Trump's brand of Republicanism. He has forever - or at least for our lifetimes - changed the GOP forever. And, as it caters and appeals to the lowest base instincts of their core supporters and base, it doesn't bode well for our country.
Nov 2012
Lebanon, TN
The "Protect" Mueller Crowd are the Chicken Littles of the world.. Trump isn't going to fire Mueller. He is too incompetent to fire.

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