Opinion | White House

Juan Williams: The high price of working for Trump

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As we approach Easter allow me to ask Republicans in Congress and the cabinet a question that comes from the gospel lessons.

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and suffers the loss of his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)

Let's check in on Kirstjen Nielsen as our most recent example of a suffering soul in the aftermath of working with President Trump.

Nielsen, a career bureaucrat, rose to prominence when she accepted Trump's offer to become Secretary of Homeland Security.

Last week Trump fired her even though she tortured the nation's conscience as she tried to implement his cruel, zero-tolerance immigration policies.

That included separating immigrant children from their parents. Many of those children have yet to be reunited with their parents.

But it wasn't enough. Trump wanted her to break the law and begin turning away people with legal asylum claims, according to several reports.

When she refused to break the law, Trump made her the scapegoat for his failed policies.

More families and children are now trying to cross the border in reaction to Trump's constant threats, including his call to close the border. To repeat, Trump has made the situation worse.

Given this failure let me ask you:

Was Nielsen the person who told Americans that Mexico was going to pay for a wall on the border?

Did she send troops to the border after falsely saying that there was an "invasion" of terrorists, gang members and diseased people?

Did she shut down the government in a failed attempt to get the Congress to pay for the wall?

Of course, those futile gestures all belong to Trump.

But it is Nielsen who exited the public stage in disgrace.

Jeffrey Toobin of CNN summed up Nielsen's soul-crushing experience as "a great example of what happens when you go to work for Donald Trump."

"He is the great reputation killer. Here is this woman who was a reasonably admired bureaucrat. For the rest of her life people will look at her and think, 'Oh, that's the woman who put children in cages,'" explained Toobin.

Many former Trump officials have sacrificed their once-honorable reputation.

It is hard to recall but former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was a celebrated business leader as the CEO of Exxon Mobil before he joined Trump's cabinet. He left Washington humiliated, insulted and unceremoniously fired.

Jeff Sessions, a leading Republican, was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump for president. He was mocked and nearly in tears when he was forced out as attorney general.

Former White House chiefs of staff Reince Priebus and John Kelly had eminent careers in politics and the military before signing on with the Trump train. They too got run out by Trump.

Pressure to make excuses for Trump is now a daily burden on nearly every Republican in Congress.

The most shameful exhibition has been Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who refused to criticize the president even when Trump mocked his dead friend - the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Graham limited himself to tweeting that McCain's service to the nation as a military hero and political leader will never be "changed or diminished."

Why did Sen. Graham say nothing more about Trump's false attacks on a dead man?

"President Trump has been good to me in the sense that he's allowed me in his world," Graham told CNN last month. "He's made decisions, I think, based on some input I've given him."

Excuse me, senator, did you really say that Trump gets a pass because he "allowed you in his world?"

You are the senior senator from South Carolina.

"I am waiting for Republican members of the Senate who served with [McCain] for years and allowed him to be the point of the spear on so many issues [to stand up for him]," said John Weaver, formerly a top adviser to McCain.

A cynic might look at Graham as just another Republican in Congress worried about a primary challenge from a pro-Trump candidate this cycle.

So, is this all about retaining power while losing your soul, senator?

Michael Cohen, who worked as Trump's personal attorney, told Congress earlier this year that "I've lost it all," as a result of covering for Trump.

"I did the same thing that you're doing now for 10 years. I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years," Cohen warned congressional Republicans at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in February.

"I can only warn people, the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did blindly are going to suffer the same consequences that I'm suffering," Cohen added.

Several people close to Trump are suffering the same consequences as Mr. Cohen - there will be jail time for Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Michael Flynn. After his trial, Roger Stone may face jail too. But others, like Kirstjen Nielsen, are suffering a different type of consequence: public shaming and the loss of their reputations.

The question is when will Republicans, having already lost control of their party to Trump, realize that in the words of the gospel they will inevitably lose their personal reputations and risk their souls too before the end of the Trump show.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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