Republican leaders are warning this year's most vulnerable candidates to distance themselves from Trump, his enablers, and the culture of corruption that is tainting the whole party.
The indictments, guilty pleas, and convictions are piling up for Trump's inner circle and biggest Republican supporters in Congress — and that has Republican leaders worried that their whole party will be tainted by the corruption.
So they're advising Republicans in vulnerable races this November to distance themselves from Trump and his criminal cronies, to try to avoid being painted as part of the "culture of corruption."
That's the phrase Democrats used in 2006, when Republicans faced a similar wave of scandals and arrests, combined with exhaustion with the Bush presidency, which led to a Democratic takeover of the House and Senate.
Trump has managed to accomplish in less than two years what took George W. Bush almost six: fatigue with the near-constant stories of scandal and corruption surrounding him, his campaign, and his administration.
In the span of just one hour on Tuesday, his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight charges of bank and tax fraud. His longtime "fixer" Michael Cohen then pleaded guilty to eight charges as well — and implicated Trump directly in some of those crimes.
Later that day, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California — the second congressman to endorse Trump's campaign — was indicted for using campaign cash to support his family's various travel and living expenses. Hunter is the second congressman this month to be indicted; the other was Rep. Chris Collins of New York, who was the first to endorse Trump's campaign.
It all adds up to a very bad look for the GOP.
"Anybody who says this is not disturbing is not being honest," former Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who once ran the committee tasked with electing House Republicans, told the New York Times.
"It has been a really bad August," he added.
And that is why vulnerable Republicans are trying to set themselves apart from their party's corruption.
Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who is running for re-election in a district that voted for Hillary Clinton, called this week's convictions a "sad chapter in our country's politics."
New York Rep. John Kakto, another vulnerable Republican, said that the increasing evidence of Trump's involvement in criminal acts "raises it to another level of concern, there’s no question about it."
Congressional Republicans — led by House Speaker Paul Ryan and by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — have largely turned a blind eye to Trump's corruption.
Accomplishing longtime conservative goals, like ramming through the disastrous tax scam and packing the courts with far-right judges, has been much more important to Ryan and McConnell than fulfilling their constitutional responsibility to provide real oversight of the executive branch.
But it's increasingly difficult to ignore all the scandals and serious legal problems, as more members of Trump's inner circle, as well as members of Congress, are caught.
So now the most endangered Republicans are working hard to distance themselves for fear they will be portrayed as party of the culture of corruption that is the GOP in the era of Trump.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.