A week after the president’s joint news conference with Vladimir Putin Monday, there have been signs of a schism within the Republican Party based on different opinions of U.S. relations with Russia.
Hours after the president said he believed Putin’s claim of no Russian involvement in the 2016 elections, Belmont County in Ohio, Republican Chairman Chris Gagin resigned in protest.
“The president is entitled to GOP party leaders, at all levels, fully committed to his views and agenda,” Gagin tweeted. “Following today’s press conference with Pres. Putin, as well as certain policy differences, most especially on trade, I could no longer fulfill that duty.”
In Tennessee, Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker both denounced the president’s appearing to side with Putin over the findings of U.S. intelligence.
But Trump did have one bedrock of support within his own party — the House Republican Freedom Caucus.
At their monthly “Conversations With Conservatives” meeting on Tuesday, Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R.-N.C., was asked about remarks by former CIA Director John Brennan branding Trump’s remarks at the press conference as “treasonous.”
“Being treasonous means doing something to undermine who we are as a nation,” replied Meadows, “I never saw a press conference do that.”
He added that Brennan “has not exactly been a champion of this administration.”
Rep. Andy Harris, R.-Md., observed that “the same criticism of [the Trump-Putin] meeting is the same criticism we heard that the president shouldn’t meet with the leader of North Korea. The world is a safer place today because these two leaders met.”
“It would have gotten [Trump] nowhere to get in Putin’s face with election-meddling,” said Harris. “There is no evidence of any collusion but this is the main story of the liberal press.”
Speaking of his constituents in Ohio, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said “taxes are down, jobs are high, and the hostages [from North Korea] are home. We’re out of the Iran deal, Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court, and Kavanaugh has been nominated to the Court. People are pleased. That’s what I’m hearing back home.”