With each new revelation in the ongoing Trump-Russia saga, the same question inevitably gets asked: Will this be the moment Republicans in Congress finally turn on the president?
The answer, so far, has been an emphatic “no.” As evidence piles up pointing to the possibility that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, Republican lawmakers have largely ignored Democrats’ calls for urgent action and continued about their day jobs. Instead of a righteous outcry, there have been muted declarations of “concern”; feeble entreaties that the issue be “taken seriously”; careful expressions of confidence that investigators will—in due time—“get to the bottom” of all this messy business. We know the talking points. We’ve been hearing them for months.
But what do congressional Republicans actually think about the Russia controversy? And what would the investigation have to turn up for members to abandon the president and his agenda en masse? Is a breaking point of that sort even possible—and if so, what would it look like?
Over the past week, I’ve put these questions to a wide range of GOP sources on Capitol Hill (granting most of them anonymity in an attempt to elicit more candor). Their answers varied, as did their relative levels of exasperation with Trump’s handling of the Russia affair. As one senior Senate aide told me, the private reactions from Republican lawmakers to the most recent spate of bombshells has run the gamut. “Some people are like, ‘This is bullshit, this is just an effort to undermine Trump,’ then some are like, ‘Trump needs to be removed from office.’ It’s all over the place.”