Republican lawmakers and supporters are walking a political tightrope ….
President Trump’s decision to suddenly withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria has angered evangelical Christian leaders and Republican hawks, cleaving his political coalition at the very moment he is trying to fortify his standing to survive the intensifying impeachment inquiry in Congress.
Instead of enjoying uncontested GOP support as he plunges into a constitutional showdown with House Democrats and prepares for a bruising reelection campaign, Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his party.
The president simultaneously has been laboring to silence dissent over his conduct in pressing Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival and over his Syria decision — a move critics blame for Wednesday’s Turkish offensive.
The past few days have tested the bounds of Trump’s Republican support at an unusually frenzied political crossroads that has brought uncertainty for elected officials. While GOP lawmakers have been skittish about directly engaging the subject at the heart of the impeachment debate — the president’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart — many have felt free to loudly condemn Trump’s Syria decision, underscoring the fluidity within GOP ranks.
Consider Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, whose Twitter feed has neatly illustrated this dynamic this week. In the span of 15 hours, he parroted Trump’s points by accusing House Democrats of “destroying” the Constitution with their impeachment proceedings and condemned the Trump administration for having “shamelessly abandoned” Kurdish allies. “This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS,” Graham added.
Or consider Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a member of her party’s leadership, who backed up the president last week by tweeting that the impeachment probe was “starting to seem like a political set up.” On Wednesday, she issued a scorching statement: “President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria is having sickening and predictable consequences.”….