Paul Ryan
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) tells us what he’s hearing whispered behind the scenes in Washington.

“What I’ve heard from behind the scenes,’’ Moulton said during a telephone interview on Monday, is that Mattis and others who were left out of Trump’s decision-making loop on the immigration order are asking one another, “What will make you resign? What’s your red line?”

The question, “What’s your red line?” is something that all Republicans – not just members of Trump’s cabinet – should be asking themselves right now.

As David Brooks wrote last week, it is clear that Congressional Republicans have made a faustian bargain with the president.

Many Republican members of Congress have made a Faustian bargain with Donald Trump. They don’t particularly admire him as a man, they don’t trust him as an administrator, they don’t agree with him on major issues, but they respect the grip he has on their voters, they hope he’ll sign their legislation and they certainly don’t want to be seen siding with the inflamed progressives or the hyperventilating media…

But if the last 10 days have made anything clear, it’s this: The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.

I doubt that anyone but Brooks assumes that the stakes are actually about Republicans’ soul. The situation is much more dire than their individual fates, either here or in eternity. Another conservative, Eliot Cohen, laid it out more realistically.

Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better.

The issue here is what Cohen states in that first sentence…this is NOT going to get better. It is guaranteed to get worse. And it’s not about policy issues – although there will be plenty of those to disagree with. Donald Trump is a mentally unstable man. He sought the White House as a way to inflate his ego after a lifetime of bullying and intimidating anyone who didn’t pay appropriate homage. The presidency is no place for a man like that because, in the modern era, every move is subject to examination and critique. The more than happens to Trump – the more erratic and explosive he will become.

Congressional Republicans hold the keys to impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment because they are in the majority right now. That is why it is important for every one of them to consider their red line. How far will Trump have to go before they are willing to pull the lever? That is a question every one of them will have to face…eventually. Better now than after-the-fact.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.