Where once President Trump's unexpected political success seemed to blur partisan lines, since he took office, Congress and Americans more broadly have tended to re-embrace party allegiances rather than flouting them. One prominent exception is Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), featured Friday in a new profile from Politico.
Sanford first came to national attention in 2009, when he was governor of South Carolina. After disappearing for a week, he revealed an extramarital affair with an Argentine journalist, blowing up his marriage and — per common political wisdom — his political career. But eight years later, Sanford is in Congress, and that very history has given him a unique freedom to criticize a president with whom he shares a party but not a philosophy of governance:
All this gives Sanford a unique sense of liberation to speak his mind about a president whose substance and style he considers a danger to democracy. "I'm a dead man walking," he tells me, smiling. "If you've already been dead, you don't fear it as much. I've been dead politically." [...]
Sanford swears he has nothing personal against the new president; in fact, he's heard good things about him personally from several mutual acquaintances. But, he says, he can't "look the other way" as Trump peddles false information to suit his political aims. "I believe in a war of ideas ... and I tell the staff all the time: Look, we're in the business of crafting and refining our arguments that are hopefully based on the truth," he adds. "Truth matters. Not hyperbole, not wild suggestion, but actual truth." [Politico]
The South Carolinian is known for his "professorial" commitment to his libertarian-leaning political ideals, principles that have him criticizing Trump for "fann[ing] the flames of intolerance" and demonstrating ignorance of the Constitution. Sanford rejects the expectation of intra-party deference to the president, and he recognizes the irony in his new role as champion of truth and transparency in politics. "I've got to be careful," he said to Politico, "because people who live in glass houses can't throw stones." Bonnie Kristian
Republican Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) put her foot down Thursday after President Trump launched a sexist attack on Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. "This has to stop," Collins tweeted, calling for "respect and civility":
This has to stop – we all have a job – 3 branches of gov’t and media. We don’t have to get along, but we must show respect and civility.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) June 29, 2017
Her reminder to the government that they "have a job" comes as Senate Republicans struggle to craft a passable plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Collins has come out against the first draft of the bill, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated would leave an additional 22 million uninsured by 2026, as opposed to under the current law of ObamaCare.
Because Republicans can only afford two defections, Collins' support is key for Senate Republican leadership to win if they want to pass the GOP health-care plan. Trump's sexist Thursday morning tweets about "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" don't seem to be helping the cause. Becca Stanek
Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins (Kan.) expressed her personal offense to President Trump's sexist attack on Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski on Thursday:
This is not okay. As a female in politics I am often criticized for my looks. We should be working to empower women. https://t.co/sV6WDE0EUD
— Lynn Jenkins (@RepLynnJenkins) June 29, 2017
Other Republican lawmakers have also expressed outrage at Trump's comments, although the president was defended by Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and first lady Melania Trump. Jeva Lange
Melania Trump stands by her husband after he viciously attacks a female TV host in a sexist Twitter rant
In a statement released through a spokesperson, first lady Melania Trump stood by her husband Thursday morning after he hurled sexist insults at a woman on Twitter. Responding to President Trump's tweets calling Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski "low I.Q." and "crazy" and claiming she was "bleeding badly from a face-lift" when he rejected her company at his Mar-a-Lago resort, Melania reiterated that her husband just can't help but punch back when he's "attacked."
"As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder," the first lady's spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement.
Ironically, Melania has taken up cyberbullying as one of her causes as first lady. Though she's declared "it is never okay when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied, or attacked," it's apparently okay when a woman is attacked by her 71-year-old husband. Becca Stanek
President Trump's viciously sexist tweets about Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski might have been provoked by the co-host's joke about his hand size. As the Morning Joe team was discussing a fake Time magazine cover with Trump on the front Thursday morning, Brzezinski suggested Trump was hiding his hands in the photo "because they're teensy!"
— Tom Namako (@TomNamako) June 29, 2017
People on both sides of the aisle were horrified Thursday by President Trump's viciously sexist tweets about Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. Even Republican lawmakers took the opportunity to chastise the president, calling his language "beneath the dignity of your office" and "what is wrong with American politics."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted:
Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 29, 2017
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also expressed his disappointment:
Please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office.
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) June 29, 2017
Democrats were also outraged. "If anyone on my staff [tweeted] this, they would be fired instantly," said Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). Jeva Lange
NBC's Senior Vice President of Communications Mark Kornblau seemingly struggled to find the words to respond after President Trump viciously attacked one of MSNBC's anchors in a sexist Twitter rant Thursday morning. In fact, Kornblau suggested in a tweet that it might be "beneath [his] dignity" to even address Trump's viciously personal attack on Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski:
Never imagined a day when I would think to myself, "it is beneath my dignity to respond to the President of the United States."
— Mark Kornblau (@MarkKornblau) June 29, 2017
In a two-part tweet, Trump called Brzezinski "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and deemed Brzezinski's fiancé and co-host, Joe Scarborough, "Psycho Joe." After declaring that Morning Joe is "poorly rated," Trump claimed Brzezinski and Scarborough had "insisted" on spending multiple nights with him at his Mar-a-Lago resort around New Year's Eve. "She was bleeding badly from a face-lift," Trump tweeted. "I said no!"
Eventually, Kornblau — or someone on MSNBC's public relations team — did find the words to respond to Trump's tweets. Becca Stanek
It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.
— MSNBCPR (@MSNBCPR) June 29, 2017
President Trump's former bodyguard and director of Oval Office operations Keith Schiller is on the witness list for the House Intelligence Committee's ongoing investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, ABC News reports. Before joining Trump at the White House, Schiller served as Trump's personal bodyguard for nearly 20 years.
The inclusion of Schiller on the witness list is "the latest indication that the investigations are touching Trump's inner circle," ABC News writes. Ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone are all expected to voluntarily face congressional investigators in the coming months.
While it wasn't immediately clear what specifically brought Schiller to the attention of investigators, the former New York police officer was entrusted by Trump to hand-deliver the letter firing former FBI Director James Comey to the FBI headquarters. Schiller also traveled with Kushner to Iraq in April alongside National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.