Ex-GOP lawmaker: Trump is a 'cult figure' who has forced Republicans to abandon their principles
Local residents react as U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at a rally in Huntington, West Virginia, U.S., August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Former GOP lawmaker William Cohen, who was among the congressional Republicans who turned on former President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, tells NBC News that there is no way his party will ever turn on President Donald Trump.

Reflecting on the differences today between the GOP under Trump and Nixon, Cohen said that GOP officials in the 1970s felt far more free to challenge their own party's president than they do today.

"I've never seen anything like it," Cohen said. "The Republican Party today is not loyal to principles as such, but loyal to the person of Donald Trump. He is really a cult figure. Nixon was not a cult figure. With Nixon, you didn't feel the personal loyalty to the man, but to the party."

Cohen also claimed that American society has gotten far more polarized over the past four decades, as the rise of partisan media has allowed Americans to choose their own sets of facts while being dismissive of alternate views.

"We're living in a really different era," he said. "The partisanship is deeper. It's a cynical, suspicious society. The conspiracy theories that were once fringe elements have been allowed to filter into the mainstream."