More GOP Lawmakers Turn On Trump: ‘Stormy Daniels Is Telling The Truth’, ‘He’s a Danger To Democracy’
While few Republicans in Washington are willing to go head-to-head with President Trump, there is one band of GOP members willing to stand up to the leader of their own party, including Rep. Ryan Costello (Pa.) who said that his frustrations with the Trump administration led him to announce his retirement.
Since his retirement announcement last week, Costello has unloaded on Trump in a series of interviews in the media, saying he believes Trump had an extramarital affair with adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and criticizing the president for threatening to veto a government spending bill.
“I think she is,” Costello replied after MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked if he believed Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is telling the truth.
“Whether it’s Stormy Daniels, or passing an omnibus spending bill that the president threatens to veto after promising to sign, it’s very difficult to move forward in a constructive way today,” Costello told the Daily Local News.
Costello said he no longer feels obligated to respond to every single Trump tweet or White House scandal — something that had been a source of frustration for him prior to his retirement announcement.
“If I have something insightful to say, I’ll say it. But I don’t need to,” he told The Hill.
But Costello is not first Republican challenging the White House since announcing his exit from Congress.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has turned some heads in Washington with his pointed comments aimed at Trump.
The conservative hard-liner recently jabbed Trump publicly over the federal investigation into his campaign and Russian election meddling, telling him, “When you are innocent, act like it.”
Gowdy, who announced his retirement in January, also blasted fellow Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove Russian President Vladimir Putin preferred Trump during the 2016 presidential race, and he just launched a probe into Pruitt’s $50-a-night housing arrangement on Capitol Hill, according to The Hill.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has also been one of the biggest thorns in Trump’s side. There have also been some non-retiring lawmakers like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who have panned Trump, though Graham is not up for reelection this year.
Flake delivered a blistering Senate floor speech when he announced his retirement, torching members of his own party and loudly denouncing the Trump administration.
“Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior has become excused as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous and undignified,” Flake said. “And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy.”
That same uninhibited attitude was on full display this year at the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual congressional dinner, where Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) took several jabs at Trump.
“I know what the problem is: We really haven’t seen the long-form birth certificate of [Trump’s] hairpiece. That would put you all at ease,” she said.
Ros-Lehtinen went on to say the Trump campaign was shocked to learn that they actually won the 2016 presidential election.