While Americans demanded anti-corruption laws in Washington in the 2018 election, and Democrats who won on that promises passed sweeping swamp-draining laws in HR1. However, Republicans are running scared, not from their angry constituents, but from the backslash, they could face from President Donald Trump.
Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told The Washington Post that his ex-GOP colleagues agree that the latest Ukraine scandal represents "new territory" compared to what Trump faced during the Russia investigation.
“There is a concern that he’ll get through it and he’ll exact revenge on those who didn’t stand with him,” Flake said. “There is no love for the president among Senate Republicans, and they aspire to do more than answer questions about his every tweet and issue. But they know this is the president’s party and the bargain’s been made.”
Paybacks are hell in Trump world. When Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) went into full attack mode against Trump during the 2016 election, Trump not only labeled him with the emasculating nickname "little Marco," he did enough that Rubio became another of Trump's followers. The same humiliation was far worse for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), whose wife and father were attacked by Trump. In the case of Cruz's father, Trump's friend David Pecker at the "National Enquirer" began a conspiracy theory that the former Cuban refugee helped assassinate John F. Kennedy.
In the case of Flake or former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), Trump gleefully slugged back so hard against their criticisms that Flake knew he wouldn't be reelected and resigned. Sanford lost his reelection to a Trump-backed conservative.
“It feels like we’ve been constantly moving the line,” said well-known New Hampshire GOP leader Tom Rath. “We say, ‘Don’t cross this line.’ Okay, you crossed it. So, ‘Don’t cross this line.’ We’re finally at a point where patience is exhausted, reason is exhausted and, quite frankly, the voters are exhausted.”
Another Republican who works with several senators as a strategist called Trump's Ukraine scandal “a disaster.” The strategist is urging GOP clients to stay as quiet as possible on the topic.
“There just hasn’t been pushback, and in part it’s because of this perception that he’s like Rasputin with the base with magic powers,” said GOP consultant Mike Murphy, who has never been a fan of Trump's.
Even Trump ally Tucker Carlson confessed in an op-ed for The Daily Caller that “there’s no way to spin” this scandal.
“Nobody wants to be the zebra that strays from the pack and gets gobbled up by the lion,” one of Trump's former officials said about GOP senators. “They have to hold hands and jump simultaneously … Then Trump is immediately no longer president and the power he can exert over them and the punishment he can inflict is, in the snap of a finger, almost completely erased.”