For many years, whenever Donald Trump gets in a jam, he looks for fixers to help rescue him. As the Republican faces the prospect of presidential impeachment, Trump’s attention is now turning to Capitol Hill, where he expects his partisan allies to do what he cannot: make his crisis go away.
On Sunday night, Trump turned to Twitter to ask, “[W]hen do the Republicans finally fight back?” The president didn’t specify what, exactly, he wanted his party to do, though as the New York Times noted, Trump remained focused on this point during an odd White House cabinet meeting yesterday.
Mr. Trump, increasingly embittered by the impeachment inquiry, complained on Monday that Republicans were not defending him aggressively enough.
“Republicans have to get tougher and fight,” Mr. Trump said during a rambling, hourlong question-and-answer session with reporters at a cabinet meeting. “We have some that are great fighters, but they have to get tougher and fight, because the Democrats are trying to hurt the Republican Party for the election, which is coming up, where we’re doing very well.”
As part of the same harangue, Trump added, in reference to his Democratic detractors, “I think they’re lousy politicians. But two things they have: They’re vicious and they stick together. They don’t have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don’t have people like that. They stick together. You never see them break off.”
For anyone familiar with Democratic politics, the president’s description of the party seemed rather bizarre, though Trump’s latest complaint about Mitt Romney reflected his ongoing preoccupation with intra-party defections.
It wasn’t surprising to see Trump demand greater GOP fealty, but what the president doesn’t seem to appreciate is the extent to which he and his White House have made these demands more difficult.
Trump expects congressional Republicans to fight on his behalf, but he’s pushing a policy in Syria that GOP lawmakers hate. Trump expects these Republicans to rescue him, but he briefly touted an indefensible scheme in which he’d host an international gathering at one of his struggling businesses.
Trump expects Republicans to “fight back” against the impeachment process, but he and his team have made that vastly more difficult by releasing incriminating information and, in Mick Mulvaney’s case, practically confessing to wrongdoing.
In other words, the president is insulting prominent Republicans, taking positions at odds with Republican orthodoxy, and embroiling himself in scandals that Republicans find difficult to defend. Trump is also demanding that Republicans “get tougher and fight” on his behalf.
Why? In part because he says so, and in part because, as the president reminded Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) last week, Trump considers himself “the boss.”