Republicans are scrambling for cover as the controversy widens.
A vulnerable House Republican is openly fretting about how “horrible” the “optics” are surrounding Trump’s new abusive policy of ripping apart families.
“Not only is the current policy unacceptable, but the optics of pulling kids from their parents is horrible for any party,” Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) told CNN on Monday.
Even though Denham critiqued the policy itself, his focus on “optics” seems out of place given how cruel and damaging family separation is.
“Removing children from their mother, and keeping them apart for days or weeks or months, devastates the most basic human relationship we know — that of child and parent,” stressed the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Still, political realities do exist. The issue is shaping up to be an unintended albatross around many Republicans’ necks this year, especially Republicans like Denham who are running for re-election in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
A GOP operative recently told NBC that the issue will “absolutely” factor into the midterm elections, and that “the images are devastating’ for the GOP.”
Added a second Republican strategist, “The media will broadcast these images of brutality and chaos and the public will associate them with the Republicans that run the House and the Senate — but most of all with President Trump.”
To date, Denham is among the very few non-retiring Republican members of Congress who are speaking up about the widening scandal. Notably, Latinos make up nearly 45 percent of the population in Denham’s district and 26 percent of the current electorate.
Republican leaders in both the House and Senate have remained mostly mum on the topic, apparently too nervous about upsetting the White House.
Last week, the House tried to cobble together a new immigration bill that would address the issue of ripping families apart at the border. But at the last minute, Trump publicly signaled he wasn’t interested in signing it.
So it’s unlikely that even Republicans in Congress understand what Trump’s position is, as he alternates between defending the policy and falsely blaming Democrats for being responsible.
Trump’s incoherence and his refusal to walk away from the destructive border policy means Republicans in overwhelmingly blue states, like Denham in California, may face political peril in November.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is putting children in peril every day.