Impeachment inquiry

Trump rages over Republican defections

Republican Senator Mitt Romney (above) has signalled he may be open to impeaching US President Donald Trump.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney (above) has signalled he may be open to impeaching US President Donald Trump.

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump, increasingly embittered by an impeachment inquiry that Democrats are intensifying by the day, complained on Monday that Republicans were not united enough in defending him against what he called "vicious" adversaries bent on removing him.

Mr Trump lashed out at Senator Mitt Romney, a Utah Republican, the only member of his party who has signalled he may be open to impeaching Mr Trump, arguing that the senator's defection showed weakness in the party.

Launching into a series of attacks on Democrats, the President said they were "vicious and they stick together. They don't have Mitt Romney in their midst - they don't have people like that".

"You never see them break off," he added at a lengthy question-and-answer session with reporters at a Cabinet meeting. It was the second time in as many days that Mr Trump - coming to terms with the fact that he will most likely be impeached by the Democrat-led House within weeks and face a Senate trial immediately after - has complained about a lack of support from Republicans as he faces the greatest threat yet to his presidency.

"When do the Do Nothing Democrats pay a price for what they are doing to our Country, & when do the Republicans finally fight back?" he tweeted angrily late on Sunday night.

Mr Trump's response comes as Democrats, bent on sustaining public attention and support for the impeachment inquiry, keep up a daily drumbeat of depositions, subpoenas and revelations. At the same time, cracks have emerged in the normally unapologetic monolith of Republican support for Mr Trump on Capitol Hill as the impeachment inquiry marches on.

Some Republicans, already uneasy about the allegations at the heart of the Ukraine inquiry, have grown increasingly uncomfortable with Mr Trump's behaviour. They are increasingly unwilling to defend him on a range of topics, including his decision to pull back United States troops from Syria and his plan - abruptly abandoned in the face of a bipartisan outcry - to hold the Group of 7 summit at one of his resorts in Florida.

 
 
 
 

The admission - later recanted - by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, of a quid pro quo linking foreign aid to Mr Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine to probe his political rivals, was a worrying piece of evidence for nervous Republicans that the President and his team are woefully unprepared to confront the impeachment onslaught.

Mr Romney, a frequent Trump critic, has called the President's efforts to solicit dirt on a rival "wrong and appalling", making him one of the most outspoken Republicans on Mr Trump's behaviour. He has declined to rule out impeachment.

In remarks at the White House, Mr Trump slammed House Democrats for pursuing impeachment, saying it's "very bad for our country" while he is "trying to get our country out of war". He said: "I have to fight off these lowlifes at the same time I'm negotiating these very important things."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2019, with the headline 'Trump rages over Republican defections'. Print Edition | Subscribe