As the firing of FBI Director James Comey pulls President Donald Trump deeper and deeper into scandal, the Republican Party remains deeply ambivalent about how to respond to its wayward leader.
New reports indicate that party leaders in Congress are bucking the president in part because they feel a lack of strong leadership in the crisis-to-crisis environment created by the Trump administration, according to a report by The New York Times. Many Republicans are openly disagreeing with the president on issues like the North American Free Trade Agreement (which Trump has said he wants to pull America out of) or getting rid of the national drug control office, while the short-term spending measure did not prioritize the Mexico border wall that Trump promised during the 2016 campaign.
A big part of the problem for Republicans is the fact that Trump's ongoing tribulations involving the Russia scandal are a constant source of unwelcome distraction. Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have already called on Trump to turn over any tapes he may have of conversations between himself and Comey, while Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona had stood up to the president on a number of other issues — a clear sign that, as they face reelection next year, they're concerned Trump may be more liability than asset.
In a similar vein, Axios reports that senior Republicans are concerned about the Democratic Party's success in recruiting strong congressional candidates for the upcoming House elections in 2018. Republicans congressmen like Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado, Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania, and Duncan Hunter of California are all being targeted.
Not all experts share the prevailing view that the GOP is beginning to pull away from Trump, however.