President Donald Trump attacked Senator Bob Corker in a series of tweets Tuesday morning, prompting the Tennessee Republican to give a no-holds-barred interview with CNN’s Manu Raju soon after. If the 10-year GOP Senate veteran’s feelings are any indication, establishment Republicans may be turning on the Commander-in-Chief.
“I think many of us, me included, have tried to, you know, intervene, and I have had a private dinner and have been with him on multiple occasions to try and create some kind of aspirational approach, if you will, to the way that he conducts himself,” Corker told Raju. “I don’t think that that’s possible. He’s obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”
And that was probably the nicest thing he said about Trump.
“I think at the end of the day, when his term of over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth-telling, the name-calling … will be what he’ll be remembered most for, and that’s regretful,” Corker said.
He went on to describe Trump’s “absolute non-truths, non-stop, personalizing things,” as well as issues with his “leadership, stability, the lack of desire to be competent on issues and understand.”
Now this goes beyond just petty political squabbles and Corker’s own previous comparison of the White House to a day care center for the President.
If it’s true that “many” in Washington have tried—and failed—to reign in the president’s behavior, a seismic shift could happen right under Trump’s feet. Pay close attention to Corker’s knocks on the president’s stability, competence, and understanding. This sounds a whole lot like Democratic calls to use the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for being unfit to lead.
Now, I’m not saying that Corker or any other Republican would jump on the 25th Amendment bandwagon. Right now, those claims are a stretch, at best. Removal by impeachment, however? That could be something entirely different. It’s unknown what Robert Mueller‘s investigation of Trump’s possible ties to Russia will reveal, but congressional committees are performing their own probes, which could lead to impeachment—should they see fit.
While impeachment by the House and an ensuing hearing before the Senate are supposed to be based on evidence and legal arguments, in the end it all comes down to votes. Removal by impeachment always seemed unlikely. Besides the fact that it’s never happened before, Republicans control a majority in both houses. If enough of them turn on Trump, all it would take is the slightest hint of a case against him to send POTUS packing. Whether there’s enough for that is debatable, but that’s the point, it’s debatable. If you ask Democrats, they’ve had the evidence since the day Trump took office.
Could Trump’s own party now become part of his opposition? Even if it’s not a collective change, it’s clear that Trump is turning off more and more of his congressional base. Last month there was his negotiation with Democrats over DACA that left a bad taste in Republicans’ mouths. Now it’s personal attacks by the president on social media that are finally being met with retaliation.
I’ve long believed that Republicans would stay in Trump’s corner as long as they believed it was in their best interest. We’re now about a year away from mid-term elections. Sure, Trump has made questionable decisions. Even most of his supporters can admit that much. Perhaps more importantly, however, he’s showing no fear when it comes to attacking members of his own party, with no sign of relenting. The GOP has seen what can happen when Trump takes the gloves off against the Republican establishment (just ask Jeb! and Lil’ Marco).
Even if Trump’s attacks are based on “non-truths,” voters may not know this. Bad press is bad press, and you don’t want that when you’re up for reelection. The way things are going, the GOP could start thinking that if Trump is removed from office with enough time for the political climate to calm down under a President Mike Pence, they could save face with their constituents.
One thing I can virtually guarantee during this mess is that Trump is glad we haven’t been bugging him about Russia. If he continues on this course, though, his own party could make this could change very quickly.
[Image via CNN screengrab]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.