Many in GOP reluctant to criticize Trump’s actions abroad

Associated Press


Republicans in Congress are often hesitant to publicly criticize President Donald Trump, even when they have strong disagreements. And the reaction after his outbursts over the Group of Seven summit was not much different.

Trump badmouthed the prime minister of Canada. Abandoned a joint statement with longtime trading partners. And soured relations with top U.S. allies in one of the most startling outbursts ever, at the typically diplomatic G-7 summit.

Yet Republican leadership in Congress said little. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined public comment, as did House Speaker Paul Ryan. In fact, only a few Republicans said anything at all.

“There’s just some movies you don’t want to see again,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. “It was what it was.”

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said he wanted to know what provoked Trump, saying the president doesn’t usually attack first, but is more of a counter-puncher. Still, he doesn’t like “that kind of language any time.”

“It’s better if we keep those kinds of comments and those arguments with friends, in private,” said Rounds.

That left the heavy mop-up mostly to those who are retiring from Congress.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., was among those willing to speak his mind, and the ailing Sen. John McCain has rarely been one to shy from a fight.

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values. Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t,” McCain said on Twitter. Some Republicans say it’s protocol not to criticize the commander in chief while he’s traveling abroad – especially now, as Trump begins the historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Others remain fearful of provoking Trump, worried they will become the subject of his presidential tweets. Many have said their overall strategy in dealing with the White House is to steer the administration toward shared goals.

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