The Current

Why the Republican Party won't break ranks with President Trump

American conservatives say Republican lawmakers defending the president may face a choice of career over country or party over patriotism.
'We have an obligation to carry out our oversight no matter what party is in the White House,' U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a news conference, May 17. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

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While most Republicans in Washington have been sticking by their president thus far, recent events — from the firing of FBI director James Comey, to reports of Trump sharing intel with Russian officials — are testing the patience of the party faithful.

MSNBC host and former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough warns the party it's time to choose between the party and country.

"He is going to leave town at some point. and you are going to be stuck with the reputation that you can either destroy over the next several months or you can make. It's your choice," Scarborough said May 17, in a speech to Republicans.

People want to find scandals and it's quite sexy to talk about the president that way.- Republican Adi Sathi
Adi Sathi, former vice chair of the Republican Party in Michigan, is appalled by Scarborough's public warning. Calling Scarborough a "lone ranger," Sathi says he's happier than ever that there's a Republican president, Senate and House of Representatives serving his country.
Adi Sathi, former vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party, stands by U.S. President Trump. (CBC)

He tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that stories like Trump sharing intel with Russians are not true.

"I just think that people want to find scandals and it's quite sexy to talk about the president that way," Sathi declares.

He points to a history of presidents who are questioned about their background and integrity and compares the "birther" movement of the Obama presidency as an example.

"A false equivalency," Tremonti argues.

"People want to hear something come out of the White House that makes news on some level and I want to make sure that people are clear that there are a lot less serious allegations than what they are hearing," Sathi explains. 

He says President Trump has been mistreated more than any other president in the modern era and feels it's unfair.

"People want to be able to say these things that aren't even true. That's it. That's where I stand."

Conservative principles have basically been pushed aside in order to serve this particular individual agenda.- Charles Sykes, conservative commentator

Long-time conservative commentator Charles Sykes pounds his head on the desk as he responds to Sathi's comments — what he refers to as a common display of a conservative's "cult of personality."

"What you just heard there is the mindless loyalty that you're seeing among some ranks of Republicans who have decided to create this alternative reality in which Donald Trump can do no wrong and are committed to defending —basically writing out a blank cheque — defending things that are, I would say, indefensible." 
Conservative Charles Sykes finds Republicans loyal to President Trump 'indefensible.'

But Sykes tells Tremonti he does think there are Republicans who understand the constitutional issues and grave political consequences at stake.

"However you're not going to see congressional Republicans break with President Trump until the Republican base moves. And the Republican base … deeply emotionally invested in this presidency and they will tell themselves what they need to tell themselves in order to stay loyal."

As a conservative, Sykes says it's difficult to watch the GOP putting the party ahead of the country.

"Conservative principles have basically been pushed aside in order to serve this particular individual agenda," he says.

"That's really part of the tragedy of American politics right now."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Howard Goldenthal and Lara O'Brien.