Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan at Axios:I’m furious R’s are cowardly about Trump. But here is what they say in private: 1.) Trump is a disgrace. 2.) I give fiery press conf tmmrw saying that. 3.) Nothing changes, Trump remains nuts and remains POTUS. 4.) A nut beats me in next primary. So how does my pol suicide help? https://t.co/ZitCfRogHd— Mike Murphy (@murphymike) July 17, 2018
Yes, almost every elected Republican we talk to privately thinks President Trump’s warm embrace of Vladimir Putin was unexplainable, unacceptable and un-American. Yes, they wish they could say this publicly. No, they won’t — not now, and probably never.
The cold, hard reason: They see no upside in speaking out — and fear political suicide if they do, numerous Republican officials tell us.
We just witnessed this power on full display:
- Why it matters: This is the mind-control power Trump has, thanks to 90 percent of Republicans approving of his tactics and performance.
- These 90 percent empower and are empowered by Fox News and a pro-Trump social media ecosystem that always comes to the president’s defense, even if they flinch for a moment or two.
GOP lawmakers' immediate complaints about the press conference were quickly tempered. Trump’s cleanup and turnaround yesterday ("I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't'") had one audience: Capitol Hill.
- You had a rare moment where virtually every Republican was aghast at Trump’s words.
- But almost every Republican — except those leaving the stage — softened their direct criticism of Trump and ran from TV or reporters like the plague.
Senior staff saw a real risk of backlash — worse than after Charlottesville — if the brewing rebellion wasn’t nipped in the bud quickly, per sources close to White House.