Former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman added her name to the growing chorus of Republican voices demanding that President Donald Trump resign over his refusal to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable for the 2016 election interference on Monday in a scorching op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.
Quipping that the President should rename his slogan from “America First” to “Russia First,” Whitman called upon her Republican colleagues to set aside their ambitions, shoulder the embarrassment of a failed presidency, and to do the right thing for our country:
“I am a lifelong Republican. I have campaigned and won as a member of the party, and I have served more than one Republican president. My Republican colleagues — once rightfully critical of President Obama’s engagement strategy with Russian leader Vladimir Putin — have to end their willful ignorance of the damage Trump is doing both domestically and internationally. We must put aside the GOP label, as hard as that may be, and demonstrate the leadership our country needs by calling on the president to step down.”
Whitman correctly pointed out that no matter how you spin it, the President’s behavior is indefensible at every level; the best case scenario is that he has exposed himself as woefully unqualified for the position and cannot be trusted to fulfill the duties of his office.
If the president did genuinely misspeak on Monday, it demonstrates his inability to articulate accurately U.S. foreign policy at the highest level, for the highest stakes. As the leader of the free world — as ridiculous as that title sounds when applied to Trump — his words matter. If he cannot take his place at a podium next to an adversarial foreign leader and stand up for America’s interests and principles, he should not be president.
Whitman finished by shaming our Republican officials for putting their own election prospects ahead of the good of our country and demanded that they take action to fix this disaster and not merely be content with chastising tweets, passive-aggressive Bible verses, and angry press office statements.
Yet many Republicans continue to defend him. In this election year, opposing Trump is risky for GOP candidates. Invoking the need to choose country over party is an overused trope. But it is essential now.
Those members of the party in Congress who have stood up to the president should be commended. More must follow, with more than private talk and tepid tweets. Only bold leadership can put the United States back on a path that values freedom and democracy, and truly puts America first.
Whitman is one of the most prominent Republicans to date who have dared to break with the herd and put her country over her party.
Coming on the heels of Rep. Jason Villalba (R-TX)’s stunning demand that his party impeach Trump for his defense of Russia, it’s clear that the tide is beginning to turn against the President as he goes further and further over the edge.