Politics

Trump Lashes Out at Republicans, Saying They Won’t ‘Protect’ Him

President denounces disloyalty of those he ‘carried’ in last year’s election

President Donald Trump, shown here meeting with Republican senators at the White House on June 27, lambasted unnamed Republican members on Sunday for failing to "protect" him even though they rode his coattails to re-election. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump angrily lashed out at unnamed Republican lawmakers on Sunday, saying they should “protect” him as repayment for his 2016 election coattails.

“It's very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President,” Trump tweeted at 4:14 p.m., EDT. That was just over an hour after he arrived back at the White House after spending around four hours at Trump National Golf Club in nearby Sterling, Virginia.

The eyebrow-raising tweet comes amid the ongoing scandal and multiple federal and congressional probes of Russia’s 2016 election meddling, including whether Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin colluded to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Republican lawmakers are increasingly voicing their views that the president should stop tweeting about the matter, especially during the Justice Department investigation being led by former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller.

By launching a public attack on his fellow Republicans, Trump could open the door to an all-out revolt among some members of his own party. While some Democrats talk about possible impeachment proceedings over the Russia allegations, legal and political experts agree that is unlikely as long as the president has the support of Republican leaders and rank-and-file members, who control both the House and Senate.

But if Trump loses his own party mates and Mueller finds damning evidence, experts of all political stripes say the president could find himself in legal and political quicksand.

Some Republicans in recent days and weeks have advised Trump to stop calling the Russia probes a collective "witch hunt." But Trump frequently uses the term, as he did in a tweet he sent minutes before he slammed fellow Republicans.

It was unclear to whom Trump was referring Sunday.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was on CNN and sided with Trump’s legal analysis — which he tweeted out Saturday morning — that any president possesses the power to pardon himself.

“I think, in all likelihood, he does,” Paul said of Trump. “I think that some of this hasn’t been adjudicated.

But he advised caution in handing out pardons.

“I think in a political sphere, I would caution someone to think about pardoning themselves or family members, or et cetera,” Paul said. In a tweet Saturday that instantly lit up the internet and cable news before making the front pages of major Sunday morning newspapers, the president opined that “all agree the U.S. President has the complete power to pardon.”

It was not immediately clear why Trump chose to openly talk of pardons before any law enforcement official has even mentioned possible charges against his campaign advisers, family members, White House staff, or himself. His incoming new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, said Sunday that Trump is not thinking about pardoning anyone — his first major public contradiction of his boss since accepting the job on Friday morning.

So far, there is no clear evidence of a Trump campaign-Russia collusion. His eldest son Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort did meet in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer, who Trump Jr. was told would deliver Kremlin-supplied dirt on Clinton.

Trump’s venomous social media post came after he spent several weeks appearing to go out of his way to publicly praise Republican senators as they try to reach consensus among themselves on the details of a measure to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.

Doing so was a major Trump campaign pledge, and he has made clear the details matter little to him; he and top aides say he would sign whatever the Senate GOP caucus can agree on.

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