Columns

Durbin Says He Hears 'the Silence of the Lambs' from GOP on Trump's 'Unstable Behavior'

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) during a break of Brett Kavanaugh's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on Sept. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) accused Republicans of “the silence of the lambs” over most of GOP senators’ unwillingness to publicly sound alarm over things happening in the Trump administration.

Durbin said this morning on NBC’s Meet the Press that there’s “a more important role for Congress to play and especially the president’s own party” amid reports claiming that officials within the White House are having to stop President Trump from taking impulsive actions that could harm national security. “This is a matter of great seriousness and gravity. We should not be dismissing it. It isn’t like his blizzard of bizarre tweets.”

Such claims surfaced last week in excerpts from Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book, in which he writes that White House staff sometimes remove signing documents from his desk, and in an anonymous op-ed by someone identified as a senior administration official published by the New York Times.

“We are talking about consistent reporting over and over again about unpredictable, unprepared, unstable behavior by this president. In a matter of great national security and defense can we trust this president to make the proper decision, to make a thoughtful decision,” Durbin said. “These are things that I think should be addressed by his own party. But instead we hear the silence of the lambs. Basically quiet. Have nothing to say when it comes to these events, except for a few. Bob Corker’s one of them, who’s stepped up and said a few things.”

“It’s inescapable that the president bears responsibility. He’s the one who gathered this team,” he added. “He’s the one who tries to keep them together, and yet there is genuine fear, obviously, among some of them that his behavior is going to result in some terrible things for America.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) told radio host Hugh Hewitt last week of the NYT op-ed, “It’s just so similar to what so many of us hear from senior people around the White House, you know, three times a week. So it’s really troubling and yet, in a way, not surprising.”

Sasse told NBC this morning that he’s “most worried” about the fact “our political culture isn’t focused on any long-term stuff.”

“And so the president was elected in 2016 because he wanted to disrupt everything and frankly a lot needed to be disrupted, but the question is disruption toward what end?” he said. “So, I’ve reflected more on the op-ed in the week since it came out or however many days it was. And I don’t understand the morality of the action, frankly. I don’t know why you would do it. If you’re worried that the president is too impulsive and paranoid, then how can this op-ed do anything other than drive more paranoia?”

“Those of you who are trying to help the White House, and the president has surrounded himself with a number of very good people doing good work and trying to persuade him to take a longer-term vision, I think those people are doing good work by trying to help the president think a little further down the road,” Sasse added. “Why you would write about it in this forum? I don’t get the morality of that.”

“…So, one adviser shouldn’t be substituting his or his or her wisdom for the president’s, but there should be a process by which the president gets some counsel and it feels like neither of those things are happening in the right way right now.”