It’s become de rigueur for members of Congress: another day, another request from reporters to comment on the latest crisis overtaking the White House.
This week, the questions centered on the momentous revelations that President Donald Trump gave classified information to Russia in the Oval Office — and that fired FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo saying Trump asked him to drop the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Democrats have been uniformly critical. But for many Republican lawmakers, navigating the halls of the U.S. Capitol has turned into an exercise in deploying deliberately cautious language — while also sounding increasingly frustrated with the Trump administration.
Take, for example, Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.
Curbelo, one of the most threatened GOP congressmen, is a frequent Trump critic who had been facing stinging criticism in his Democratic-leaning district for voting for House Republicans’ healthcare legislation. He backs the formation of a select committee to investigate the allegations against Trump.
Here was Curbelo reacting last week to Comey’s abrupt firing:
And here’s Curbelo on the Russia leak, first reported by the Washington Post:
By the time the New York Times broke the story about Comey’s memo, Curbelo had become a hot media commodity who raised the specter of a Trump impeachment over potential obstruction of justice:
“This isn’t good for our psyche,” he told CBS News.
“We should not be alarming people, because we still have to gather the facts. But neither is this something that we can sweep under the rug and dismiss,” Curbelo told CNN. “An important first step would be to get Director Comey here to offer public testimony — not behind closed doors.”
An even bigger Trump critic, Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, has been a staple on local TV news in English and Spanish for the past two days, as evidenced by her own Twitter feed.
The third Miami Republican in Congress, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents a more conservative district, has been more circumspect, on:
▪ the Comey firing
▪ the Russia leak
▪ and the Comey memo.
And then there’s Sen. Marco Rubio, a Senate Intelligence Committee member who has repeatedly refrained from jumping too deeply into the fray. As a Senate candidate last year, Rubio said he’d be a “check and balance on the excesses of the president,” but for now, he’s urged patience until more details to come to light.
“I’m not saying the news articles are wrong. I’m not saying that they are right,” Rubio said. “I’m saying that they raise an allegation, we have an obligation to look into them, but before we form opinions and advocate for action, we need to know what the facts are.”