Trump keeps calling Republican senators and berating them for not running interference on the Russia investigation.
Donald Trump appears to be singularly obsessed with the unfolding investigation into possible ties between his 2016 campaign and Russian operative, and Republicans in Congress have been feeling the sting of his paranoia.
At least five GOP senators have been personally contacted by Trump this month, as he franticly berates them for not properly protecting him from the burgeoning Russia controversy, according to press reports.
Tension over Russia reached such a volcanic boiling point this month and Trump got into a "profane" telephone shouting matching with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to The New York Times. “One source said the primary cause of Trump's frustrations with McConnell has been the GOP leader's failure to protect Trump on the Russia issue,” added CNN.
But McConnell isn't the only Republican senator under pressure. Trump has reportedly also reached out to Arizona's John McCain and Jeff Flake, Tennessee's Bob Corker, and North Carolina's Thom Tillis to express his Russia frustration.
“Trump's chewing out of GOP senators, according to people briefed on the calls, reflected the president's frustration that fellow Republicans would make moves that could damage him, particularly on an investigation that he detests,” according to Politico. "It seems he is just always focused on Russia," says one senior GOP aide.
Trump’s sense of panic over Russia is only likely to increase.
On Wednesday, CNN revealed that “congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide that referenced a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
That aide is currently serving as Trump’s deputy chief of staff.
Meanwhile, Congress is moving ahead to protect special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s independent investigation:
— New Day (@NewDay) August 24, 2017
Earlier this month, Trump was forced to sign the Russia sanctions bill, which prevents Trump from easing restrictions without express consent of Congress. The initiative passed the House 419-3 and the Senate 98-2.
He made his contempt for the bill known by issuing a bizarre statement concurrent with the signing. In it, he denounced the bill, downplayed Russia’s election interference, and bragged about what a successful businessman he is. Days later, he blamed Congress for damaging the United States’ relationship with Russia.
Trump’s obsession with getting Republican senators to run interference for him clearly represents part of a larger pattern, where Trump is willing to take reckless, extraordinary actions in order to protect himself for the burgeoning investigation.
Early in his term, Trump requested that then-FBI Director James Comey pledge his loyalty to the president, and urged Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn, who was at the time serving as Trump’s national security adviser. Flynn was ousted in February when it became publicly known that had mislead people about previously undisclosed contacts with Russians during the Trump campaign, which made him susceptible to blackmail.
In May, Trump fired Comey over the Russia investigation, which he has condemned as fake news and a hoax. But reports this summer that Mueller had convened a grand jury for the Russia investigation confirms the probe is no joke.