They have been uneasy for months, wary of a president who courts chaos while hopeful that with a fellow Republican in the White House they could achieve long-held conservative goals. But this morning, congressional Republicans are beginning to send President Trump and the nation a new message:
Sorry, Mr. President, I don’t think we can let this go.
Reports that the president prodded fired FBI Director James Comey to drop a criminal investigation of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, seem to be moving GOP lawmakers – haltingly in many cases – toward supporting a congressional investigation of Trump’s conduct and his fitness for the presidency.
That inquiry could be a prelude to impeachment hearings, a possibility that Democrats are now discussing openly but one about which Republican sentiments are especially important because the GOP holds a majority in both the House and Senate.
“Republicans may be reaching their breaking point with Trump,” Politico declared in its lead story this morning. After the New York Times reported Tuesday that Comey created a paper trail documenting the president’s request, “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,” the website said.
Rep. Justin Amash, R-MI, who had been one of only two GOP lawmakers supporting calls by Common Cause and other groups for an independent commission to investigate possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, said that if proven, the new allegations that Trump tried to pressure Comey would be grounds for impeachment.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, insisting he still has confidence in the president, wouldn’t go that far. But he promised “to follow the facts wherever they lead and backed Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, in demanding that the FBI turn over copies of a Comey memo that is said to describe Trump’s request that the bureau drop its Flynn investigation.
His “subpoena pen” is at the ready if the FBI doesn’t produce the records voluntarily, Chaffetz assured reporters.
“Once again, we are faced with inexplicable stories coming from the White House that are highly troubling,” said Rep. Barbara Comstock R-VA,
“It is important to get to the bottom of it,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, chairman of the Freedom Caucus, He told Politico that he expects the White House to cooperate as Chaffetz and the Oversight Committee review whatever records Comey has produced.
Across the Capitol, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, was drawing an ominous parallel. The controversies surrounding Trump grown to “Watergate size and scale,” he told reporters.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-NE, said Wednesday that “there’s a lot here that’s really scary.” And Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-PA, suggested that a Democrat should be selected to replace Comey because “changes are needed at the White House,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Office: Common Cause National