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Third Republican Senator Breaks With Trump On Whistleblower

“Where is the line?" a constituent asked.

For four years now, it has been an open question of what it would take to get Republican congressmen to break with Donald Trump. As the whistleblower scandal widens, it appears that we may be reaching a point of enough-is-enough. So far, at least three Republican senators have broken with the party to criticize President Trump for requesting that Ukraine aid his personal attorney in investigating Joe and Hunter Biden.

The first Republican senator to speak out against the president’s actions was Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a frequent Trump critic. Back in September, Sasse said that the whistleblower allegations contained “real troubling things.” Sasse added, “Republicans ought not just circle the wagons” to protect Trump.”

Earlier this week, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), joined Sasse in breaking with the Administration. In particular, Grassley was at odds with Republican attacks on the credibility of the whistleblower based on the belief that the complaint was based on secondhand information.

“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers,” Grassley said in Politico. “Complaints based on second-hand information should not be rejected out of hand, but they do require additional leg work to get at the facts and evaluate the claim’s credibility.”

Now, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is also breaking ranks. “Whistleblowers should be protected,” Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa told a constituent at a town hall yesterday. “I stand with Chuck Grassley on this. We have laws in place.”

NBC News reported that the constituent also asked, “Where is the line [that Trump would have to cross to lose Republican support]?”

“You didn’t pledge an oath to the president, you pledged it to our country, you pledged it to our Constitution. When are you guys going to start standing up and actually be there for us?” the constituent asked.

Ernst answered, “The president is going to say what the president is going to do. It’s up to us as members of the Congress to continue working with our allies making sure that we remain strong in a face of adversity.”

A lot of Americans would like to know just what it will take to break the bond between Trump and the GOP. This is not the first time that Republican officials have criticized the president’s actions. Some Republicans have criticized the president on issues such as the firing of James Comey, interference in the Russia investigation, and the trade war. However, few, if any, have gone so far as to retract endorsements of the president’s re-election campaign.

It is beginning to look like the 2020 campaign may look a lot like a mirror image of 2016. In the last election, Hillary Clinton was damaged by the constant drip of damaging information from her email scandal and WikiLeaks dumps of stolen DNC emails. This time around, it appears that the drip of damaging information may be aimed at Donald Trump.  

At this point, it appears that the whistleblower scandal will continue to unfold in a slow dribble of embarrassing and possibly incriminating leaks about Donald Trump. With 13 months left to go before the election, Republicans have time to rally behind an alternative candidate, but time is running out. If the leaks are coordinated, as it appears that they are, Democrats may stage the scandal so that the most embarrassing and damaging information comes out after Mr. Trump has clinched the Republican nomination next year, leaving Republicans with both a mortally damaged candidate and an economy that is slowing due to the trade war. 

While most Republicans are still standing by the president at this point, the excuse that “this is just Trump being Trump” only goes so far. If continued revelations of poor judgment and possible criminal wrongdoing, together with a slowing economy, continue to dog Trump to the point where his campaign appears to be beyond salvaging, Republicans may finally start to make a clean break with the president. By then, however, it may be too late for 2020.

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