Lawsuits involving Trump and his alleged mistresses, especially Stormy Daniels, are piling up and making the GOP nervous.
The sleazy saga has gone big time, and now the GOP is freaking out about what it means for November.
Already facing a hostile electorate that keeps electing Democrats in deeply red states and districts, Republicans are now being asked to play defense for their guy’s serial extra-marital affairs and the heavy-handed ways his fixers try to silence the women involved.
Some Republican House members, like Pennsylvania’s Ryan Costello, are quitting Congress rather than facing the likely wipeout this November — a wipeout Trump might be making worse with the unfolding Daniels circus.
“If I had a town hall this week, it would be question after question,” Costello told the New York Times. “‘Do you believe him or do you believe her? Why don’t you believe her?'”
Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko, the nominee for the seat suddenly vacated last December by Trent Franks, expressed concern at a recent debate about Trump’s many scandals involving women, including more than a dozen allegations of assault or harassment.
“I don’t know that he can lead on that issue, but he certainly needs to deal with it and it has to be investigated,” she said. “I don’t use his rhetoric, and I’m certainly not going to sexually harass anyone.”
The Daniels story, as well as Playboy playmate Karen McDougal’s very similar claim, seem to pose a new challenge for Republicans who have become accustomed to apologizing for reckless behavior.
This scandal is somewhat different because Trump has remained silent and therefore his allies in the GOP and the right-wing media don’t have any coherent talking points.
That’s why on Monday, some desperate Fox News talkers tried to suggest the Daniels saga could be good news for Trump.
But with lawsuits continuing to pile up involving Trump and his various alleged mistresses, the story isn’t likely to go away any time soon. And that’s bad news for his party.
Unlike the burgeoning Russia scandal, where Trump has been hammering “no collusion” rhetoric for more than a year, and where the White House has clearly coordinated with Republicans and Fox News to smear special counsel Mueller and the FBI, the Daniels saga has produced no blueprint.
Meaning, Republicans are on their own as they prepare to face voters in November.
Specifically, Republicans are preparing to face voters in November general elections (not just GOP voters inside the bubble primary contests), where a clear majority around the country don’t believe Trump’s Daniels denial.
“Sixty-three percent of those surveyed in the CNN poll say they believe the women who have come forward with the allegations of extramarital affairs with Trump, while 21 percent say they believe the president and 16 percent say they have no opinion on the matter,” Politico notes.
Most Americans also think Daniels should be freed from her non-disclosure agreement.
Daniels reportedly received a $130,000 hush money settlement just weeks before the 2016 election, banning her from discussion her relationship with Trump.
Daniels has said she is willing to give back the $130,000 in exchange for the right to talk about Trump without being sued by his attorney. Daniels reportedly faces a $1 million fine each time she discusses her Trump encounter, according to the non-disclosure agreement.
On Sunday night, Daniels called Trump’s bluff and went public with her story. Now Republicans have to deal with the mess.