Republican Lawmakers Are Challenging Trump More Often, But They Won't Abandon Him Until His Base Does

President Donald Trump is engulfed in a firestorm of controversy as he faces an impeachment inquiry over his conduct with Ukraine and the blowback from his decision to withdraw US military presence from Syria — but Republicans in Congress are unlikely to turn on Trump until his base does. 

Over the weekend, Trump ultimately scrapped a controversial plan to host the 2020 G-7 summit at one of his company's properties, the Trump National Doral Resort in Miami, following serious blowback from both Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress who were "tired of defending him," the Washington Post reported. 

While the pushback on Trump could signal cracks in GOP senators' support for all of Trump's actions, it doesn't necessarily mean that all criticism holds equal weight, or that they'll be more likely to convict him in the Senate. 

Both a political historian and a veteran GOP strategist interviewed by Insider said while Republicans may publicly push back on Trump on certain issues, their fate is ultimately tied to his — and a vote to convict could usher not just the end of Trump's presidency, but their careers as well. 

Veteran Republican political strategist, Ford O'Connell agreed, telling Insider in a Friday phone interview that Republicans in the Senate who disagree with the way Trump went about the Syria withdrawal don't necessarily disagree with Trump's overall foreign policy — or that the US's overall strategy in Syria will be an inflection point in the election. 

"He's challenging Republican orthodoxy. He's not necessarily challenging the two parties and frankly, most Democrats and independents agree with him that we should be very careful about how we go there," O'Connell said of Syria, adding, "the Democrats aren't real thrilled about going overseas, even against ISIS."

As Axios previously reported, Trump currently benefits from a big "red wall" of 36 GOP senators from states where Trump's approval rating swings more favorably. Fifteen of those senators are up for reelection in 2020, and an additional 10 senators represent states where Trump's approval rating is underwater but are not up for reelection next year. 

As O'Connell pointed out, the 2016 election saw record low ticket-splitting of voters backing Trump but voting for a Democratic Senate candidate. In every state that Trump won with a concurrent Senate race, the Republican candidate for Senate also won — further evidence that totally rejecting Trump would be a political death sentence for many. 

"Their political livelihood is tied to Trump. So barring some enormous smoking gun that we do not yet have — and despite the chirping of Mitt Romney — they are not as it is known right now going to go against the president," O'Connell said of vulnerable Republicans in the Senate. 

"Giving up on Trump over impeachment without some bombshell is a mistake. So the best thing that Republicans can do is make the case that this is a partisan exercise to appease a rabid base," O'Connell said. "If they make that case, they're going to be able to have the best chance to survive."

Read more from Grace Panetta at Business Insider 

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