There’s an increasing amount of chatter that congressional Republicans are concerned about President Donald Trump and his fitness for office, but one former GOP lawmaker explained why they’re too afraid to speak out.
David Jolly, a former House representative from Florida who published a critical op-ed Monday aimed at his former colleauges, agreed that Trump had displayed “some very risky behavior” as chief executive, and he told CNN’s “New Day” that two dynamics were stopping members of Congress from criticizing the president’s behavior.
“They’re scared that their political career will be destroyed by a tweet from President Trump,” Jolly said. “The other is, stay silent and pass an agenda.”
The former lawmaker said some Republicans simply agreed with Trump and his controversial views, but many GOP representatives had private doubts about the president.
“Others are struck, kind of, by a paralysis, given the president’s occasional rants,” Jolly said. “Others are negotiating with themselves whether or not they believe the president is actually qualified or up to the task, at least in this first month. But some, obviously, want to pass a Republican agenda, and to do so, they’ve got to be quiet.”
He described House Speaker Paul Ryan as “a man of principle” who had spoken out against Trump the candidate, but Jolly said the speaker had remained silent about Trump the president in order to pass tax reform.
“We’re seeing a lot of silence from Capitol Hill, but I think there are times you need to speak out,” said Jolly, who won a special election for the 13th District seat in 2014 but lost to former governor Charlie Crist in November.
Jolly recalled his own experience as one of the first Republicans to back marriage equality, which drew attacks from other conservatives, but he said a senior lawmaker reminded him that he’d asked for the job.
“President Trump, he needs to stop complaining and do (his) job,” he said. “Stop taking on ‘fake news,’ stop taking on the judiciary, stop taking on senators — John McCain. Do your job — you asked for this job. Stop complaining, do your job, because Republicans should be proud to have a Republican president.”
CNN’s Chris Cuomo said he didn’t mind criticism from the president, but he wished Trump would base those attacks on accurate information — and Jolly agreed.
“Chris, as I’ve said, the purveyor of fake news resides in the Oval Office,” Jolly said.
— New Day (@NewDay) February 13, 2017