MSNBC's Joe Scarborough remains mystified that Republicans refused to stand up to a "failed TV host," nearly seven years after Donald Trump entered politics.
The "Morning Joe" host, a former GOP congressman himself, knows that Republican lawmakers privately loathe and deeply distrust the former president, but they kept their concerns to themselves as he climbed from celebrity sideshow all the way to the White House.
"Everybody has been running scared of this guy from the very beginning, and, again, let's go back," Scarborough said. "I want to go back really quickly to 2016 because how instructive is it that Kevin McCarthy actually said that he thought seriously, he thought Donald Trump was paid off by Vladimir Putin along with Dana Rohrabacher. A lot of other people, of course, thought that about Rohrabacher. He was throwing that in with Donald Trump, he still endorsed him. He got behind him. This is about the same time that Paul Ryan, a longtime good friend of mine who was around when we ran Newt Gingrich out of town, you had Paul Ryan calling Donald Trump a racist, saying what he said in 2016 was about the most racist thing you could say. He endorsed him the next day."
"I don't understand this, I can't even comprehend it," Scarborough added. "I have never seen anything like it, and yet this is how Republicans on the Hill have been acting since 2016. I never acted that way on the Hill. All of my friends, we never acted that way on the Hill. We just didn't do it. I'm not exactly sure how Donald Trump changed the equation for these spineless, feckless Republicans. I don't know how Donald Trump hijacked the party and at the same time made these Republicans cower the way they're cowering. Again, you just compare what they say behind the scenes."
A new book by two New York Times reporters revealed that GOP congressional leaders Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell intended to pressure Trump to resign after the Jan. 6 insurrection but backed down when they realized they could lose their leadership roles, and Scarborough said that showed how thoroughly the former president controlled the party.
"How many times did we have people come on the set saying they hated Donald Trump in 2016 and yet they would speak no ill of him on air, and then they would go out and say the most positive things at press conferences about him," Scarborough said. "We didn't only hear that in '16, we heard that throughout the presidency. Republicans far and wide would talk about how much they loathed Donald Trump, yet they were afraid to speak truth to this failed TV host."
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