Ex-GOP senator hammers lawmakers quaking in their boots out of fear of Trump: 'Why are you there?'
(AFP/File / Brendan Smialowski)

Appearing on CNN on Wednesday morning, retired Sen. William Cohen (R-ME) hammered members of his own party still sitting in the Senate who refuse to take on Donald Trump, saying they are failing the country and themselves by standing by in fear.

Speaking with CNN hosts Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto, Cohen said kowtowing to the president is nothing new, but has grown worse over the past ten years.

"Some of it has to do with external pressures, that of social media, talk radio, specific channels that have a particular view and then hammer that view home to the constituents who then pressure the members of Congress," he explained. "But you have to ask yourself: Why are you a senator? Why are you there? Are you acting out of sheer fear that if you speak up and take a position that's controversial you'll be punished?"

"If that's the reason you're in the Senate, to simply be safe and to play it safe, then you really ... you really are undercutting what the role of that Senate should be," he insisted. "You're losing respect. 20 percent of the American people have respect for the Senate, and that number is going down. It's going down because people are not doing their job. As you point out, Poppy, in any private sector if you were not doing your job, you'd be out."