April 11, 2018 | Reading Time: 2 minutes
Will the Republicans Turn on Trump? Depends If There Are Any Left
Paul Ryan's retirement might spark a new wave of exiting Republicans.
House Speaker Paul Ryan won’t run for reelection. The news took Washington by surprise, but maybe it shouldn’t have. Consider the timing of his announcement.
It came two days after President Donald Trump mused aloud during a televised cabinet meeting that he might fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. That musing came hours after the FBI raided the home, hotel room and office of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. If this president is connected to any crimes, Cohen would know, and now the FBI might, too. Those potential crimes are not public, but anyone can see the law is coming for the president. It’s a good time to leave Washington.
Consider too this nugget from Erick Erickson, the conservative writer. He interviewed an unnamed conservative House Republican who believes that there’s only one thing that’s standing in the way of Trump’s impeachment. If any Republican on the House Judiciary Committee is primaried, no impeachment. If they aren’t, and Mueller is fired, he said “a majority of the House would vote to impeach President Trump.”
And why not? he asked:
“If we get to summer and most of the primaries are over, [the Republicans] just might pull the trigger if the President fires Mueller. The sh*t will hit the fan if that happens and I’d vote to impeach him myself. Most of us would, I think. Hell, all the Democrats would and you only need a majority in the House. If we’re going to lose because of him, we might as well impeach the motherf**ker.”
Erickson notes this congressman was venting. He would never say this in public. But his venting suggests something we should all bear in mind. As of now, many don’t believe the GOP will ever break from Trump, no matter what. But it appears that Trump’s support is weak and getting weaker. If this congressman’s venting is any indication, the GOP is already talking about what it would take to turn on him.
But it might not even take Mueller’s firing. Of the 20 or so Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, the ones standing in the way of Trump’s impeachment, six are retiring: Lamar Smith, Trey Gowdy, Bob Goodlatte (chair), Darrell Issa, Ted Poe and Blake Ferenthold. I’d expect more to exit now that Ryan says he’s leaving.
And so does the president:Presidents are usually only as strong as their party. If his party sticks with him, he can survive pretty much anything. Consider for illustration the case of President Bill Clinton. Will the Republicans turn their backs on Trump? I don’t know, but it might not matter if there aren’t any Republicans around to turn their backs on him.
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John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.