GOP worries it's losing impeachment fight

Republican senators fear President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests Sotomayor, Ginsburg should have to recuse themselves on 'Trump related' cases Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' Sanders releases list of how to pay for his proposals MORE and their party are losing the public opinion fight over impeachment.

Many in the GOP think House Democrats are playing politics with impeachment and that Trump’s actions don’t merit impeachment. They also think the media is biased against the White House and the president.

All the same, they think they’re losing the public battle and that Trump’s lack of discipline is hurting them.


“Does he need to be so unhinged? He says the dumbest things,” said one Republican senator who vented frustration with the president’s outbursts on Twitter and in front of the White House press corps.

“Yeah, there needs to be a coordinated response to everything. There needs to be a coordinated effort to just shut up,” the senator said.

GOP lawmakers say that President Trump and his political team need to overhaul their strategy to regain momentum and prevent their party from losing the White House and a number of congressional seats next fall.

They say the White House’s efforts so far not only could limit Trump to one term, but could spell doom for vulnerable Senate GOP incumbents such as Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins: Trump pick doesn't have experience to serve as director of national intelligence Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn The new American center MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Overnight Health Care: Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in US | ObamaCare favorability hits highest level in poll | McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign MORE (Ariz.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way The Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada MORE (Colo.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenate Majority PAC launches first statewide TV ad for Democrat running against Ernst Overnight Health Care: Ernst endorses bipartisan bill to lower drug prices | US partnering with drugmakers on coronavirus vaccine | UN chief says virus poses 'enormous' risks Ernst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices MORE (Iowa) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren up, Bloomberg down after brutal debate MORE (N.C.).

A veteran Republican strategist who advises on third-party independent TV expenditures told The Hill Wednesday that he thinks Trump’s reelection chances are well below 50 percent because his “negatives are so high.”

The strategist acknowledged, however, that many of his peers argue the 2020 battle for the White House is still a 50-50 proposition.

Even Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Congress set for clash over surveillance reforms Five things to know about emerging US, Taliban peace deal MORE (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most vociferous defenders on impeachment who is offering a resolution to condemn the House impeachment effort, said the White House needs to step up its game.

“What's missing here I think is that coordinated effort to put somebody in charge of developing a message and delivering it. I believe that's about to be corrected, I hope,” he said Wednesday.

It’s notable that while 44 Senate Republicans on Thursday signed on to the resolution, nine other GOP senators did not: Collins, Gardner, Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSwing votes steal spotlight in marathon Trump impeachment Q&A Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial The Hill's Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa MORE (Alaska), Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump budget includes proposal for US Consulate in Greenland Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (Alaska), Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way GOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law MORE (Ohio), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBloomberg called Warren 'scary,' knocked Obama's first term in leaked audio Paul Ryan says he disagrees with Romney's impeachment vote Progressives hope Nevada offers roadmap for pro-union 2020 victory MORE (Utah), Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderBill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn The Trump administration's harmful and immoral attack on children Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength MORE (Tenn.), Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonHouse Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid Progressive group backs Senate candidates in Georgia, Iowa Overnight Health Care: Trump budget calls for cutting Medicaid, ACA by T | Trump proposes removing FDA authority over tobacco | Lawmakers frustrated by lack of emergency funds for coronavirus MORE (Ga.) and Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziLawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Republicans scramble to avoid Medicare land mine McConnell will not bring budget resolution to the floor MORE (Wyo.).

Republicans are concerned about new revelations and unforced errors over the past week that have given Democrats new momentum.


One big moment came last week when acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyWhite House preparing to ask Congress for funds to combat coronavirus: report Tucker Carlson calls out Mick Mulvaney on immigration remarks: 'Dishonest and stupid' Trump furious after officials allowed Americans with coronavirus to fly home with other passengers: report MORE said the administration withheld defense aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders defends Castro comments in wake of backlash from some Democrats Klobuchar releases medical report that says she's in 'very good health' Candidates face pressure to exit presidential race MORE and his son Hunter.

“Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney declared at a press conference in a high-profile admission that left GOP lawmakers cringing.

Mulvaney later argued that his comments were misconstrued, but a bruising interview with Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallacePresident Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks Steyer: 'I do for sure' have to finish in top three in South Carolina Pence chief of staff: 'There's not intelligence' saying Russia wants Trump reelected MORE on “Fox News Sunday” showed the damage was done.

Another big moment came Tuesday when William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, delivered a damning 15-page opening statement to House investigators detailing a secretive effort led by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHouse panel says key witness isn't cooperating in probe into Yovanovitch surveillance Pennsylvania Democrat says US Attorney's Office should prioritize opioids rather than 'Russian propaganda' from Giuliani Bill Barr is trying his best to be Trump's Roy Cohn MORE to use military assistance to Ukraine as political leverage.

Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills Senate votes to rein in Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican leader, later admitted to reporters the picture painted by Taylor’s testimony was worrying, even while he also criticized House Democrats for running the investigation behind closed doors.

“The picture coming out of it based on the reporting that we've seen is, yeah, I would say not a good one,” Thune told reporters Wednesday.

Trump’s actions at times have left his GOP allies dumbfounded, such as earlier this month when he called on Beijing to investigate the Bidens.

Even Graham admitted in an “Axios on HBO” interview that “that was stupid.”

And the president stepped in it again earlier this week when he compared the House impeachment inquiry to a “lynching,” a charged word that recalls the nation’s darkest episodes of racial violence.

Many Republicans scrambled to disavow Trump’s choice of words.

“Given the history of our country, I would not compare this to a lynching,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer on Trump intel shakeup: 'Disgrace,' 'closer to a banana republic' Bottom Line The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders's momentum puts Democrats on edge MORE (R-Ky.) said somberly, reflecting broad dismay within his caucus over the language.

Other Trump allies say the president’s frequent zigging and zagging makes it tougher to defend him against Democratic attacks, even though they also acknowledge that past efforts to tamp down on Trump’s tweeting have proved unsuccessful.

“I think it could be helpful to have a more professional, coordinated communications effort. However, you have to be very careful to not prohibit Donald Trump from being Donald Trump and that’s the risk you run when you start institutionalizing these things,” said Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerTrump Fed nominee stirs controversy ahead of hearing Senators, bruised by impeachment, hunt for deals Plan to probe Bidens sparks GOP divisions MORE (R-N.D.).

But Cramer said Trump’s unpredictability makes it tougher for GOP allies to defend the president.

“The reason it’s difficult is sometimes he changes in midstream and when that happens you find yourself out on a limb that has suddenly been cut off,” he said. “The lack of that sort of institutional discipline does make it more difficult for the rest of us, if you will, as we’re trying to carry his message.”

Thune on Thursday expressed his hope the White House messaging operation would become more organized in the weeks ahead.

“It always is an advantage to make sure that you are as organized, prepared and coordinated as you possibly can be. And to the degree they can step up the efforts, that’s great,” he said.

“I’ll leave that to them and I’m sure they’re preparing,” he added. “We’ll see if the House proceeds. If they do, they’re going to have be able to respond and put on a defense.”

As damaging revelations pile up, more and more senators such as McSally and Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman Tim Scott: Sanders would be toughest challenger for Trump House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime MORE (R-S.C.), who both declined to comment on impeachment-related questions Thursday, are opting to stay quiet rather than defend the president.