A top House Republican doesn’t agree with his Senate colleague Bob Corker’s recent comments implying President Donald Trump is a child, but he has an explanation for them:
“It’s easy to be bold when you’re not coming back,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told the Associated Press.
Meadows, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus and has signaled himself to be a close ally of Trump, later clarified with Vox that he does not think there is any truth Corker’s comments.
However, the tacit implication, that Meadows wouldn’t clarify, is that when you don’t have to answer to constituents, your congressional colleagues, the president, or even donors, you can be “bold.” To outsiders the word “bold” seemingly betrays the idea that Corker is simply saying what other Republicans are thinking.
In the past month Corker has questioned Trump’s “stability” and “competence” for office, said there are several White House officials who act without regard for national security, that Trump’s recklessness threatens a World War III, and stated that the White House was an “adult day care center” to control the president.
His comments prompted a series of tweeted attacks from the president, in which Trump alleged he rejected Corker’s request to be secretary of state and to endorse Corker for reelection.
But it’s a poorly kept secret among Capitol Hill Republicans that they believe the Trump administration’s seemingly never-ending scandals has made pushing their agenda more difficult.
The White House has been plagued by scandal and ridicule since day one, with notable Cabinet resignations, policy fumbles, outright appeals to hate groups, and an ongoing investigation into Trump allies’ alleged ties to Russia.
So far congressional Republicans have been careful to walk a fine line — criticizing the White House for some missteps while appealing to Trump’s base and making sure the president’s is happy enough to support their legislative agenda.
After the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this summer, one former congressional aide now working on a contentious Republican 2018 campaign explained the calculus this way: “How do we criticize him enough — because it’s the right to do — to politically insulate ourselves, but continue to work with him for our legislative priorities?”