Not quite time for the Rethugs to throw the women and babies off the life rafts yet…
But the is a serious inventory going on in counting life jackets and available seats on the lifeboats.
This Chumph cookie is beginning to crumble .. fast.
Republicans are trying to figure out a way past swirling questions about ties between the Trump administration and the Russian government, with GOP strategists calling the investigation and surrounding controversies a public relations nightmare that has dragged on for too long.
Former FBI Director James Comey did not inflict any deadly blows against President Trump when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Republicans believe, but they’re concerned there will be more damaging revelations in the weeks ahead.
One worrisome prospect Comey’s testimony raised for Republicans is that there may be additional damaging revelations about Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Comey testified that the FBI was “aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an open setting” that would have made it impossible for Sessions to oversee any Russia-related investigation.
It’s not clear whether he was only referring to Sessions’s failure to disclose two meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak or something that may come to light later.
Another potential headache for Republican lawmakers is that Trump himself continues to keep the story alive.
Trump’s bitter fighting with the media over Russia and his dismissal of Comey has fueled a story that even the president’s legislative director, Marc Short, acknowledged this past week was detracting from the president’s agenda.
But one senior GOP aide said that lawmakers aren’t holding out much hope of changing Trump’s Twitter habit, despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) publicly expressed hopes that there be “less drama” from the White House.
The aide quipped that getting Trump to tweet less is like “tilting at windmills.”
Republican lawmakers are under increasing pressure as, four months into Trump’s first term, they cannot point to any major accomplishments besides conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Instead, Trump’s political problems have distracted from the agenda.
Republicans have publicly downplayed Comey’s testimony, but privately they’re nervous that they’re burning through the legislative calendar while remaining deadlocked over healthcare reform. Meanwhile, unfinished work on tax reform, infrastructure investment and the budget piles up behind it.
The biggest frustration for many Republican lawmakers is that Trump has helped keep the controversy in the headlines by picking fights with the media on Twitter instead of keeping the focus on his own agenda or simply staying quiet at key moments.
“At minimum, it is an unforced PR nightmare that’s gone on for far too long, and at maximum it could be something approaching a scandal,” said one Senate GOP strategist.
“The story doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Whether or not there’s something there, it’s been a huge drag on the last couple of months and I hope they figure out to stop it soon,” he added.
GOP lawmakers and aides say that continuing to pick a fight with Comey is not smart.
“Comey was very compelling. People talked about how credible he seemed,” said the strategist.
Nevertheless, Trump couldn’t resist slamming the former FBI director Friday morning.
“Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication … and WOW, Comey is a leaker!” Trump tweeted, referring to Comey’s admission that he shared a memo summarizing his interactions with the president with a Columbia Law School professor to give to the media.
The emerging consensus among GOP lawmakers, aides and strategists is that the best way for the party to get past the turbulence is for Republicans to pledge to get to the bottom of allegations of collusion with Russia and in the meantime to get to work on passing Trump’s agenda.
“It’s real simple: Go do something. If you don’t have the votes to repeal ObamaCare in the Senate, then get a budget passed, do tax reform. Get some stuff done,” said Chip Saltsman, a Republican strategist.
“The worst thing they can do is get absolutely nothing done and go out for August recess,” he added.