On Sept. 22, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney commented on the mounting evidence that President Donald Trump twisted American foreign policy in Ukraine to serve his own personal political ambitions: “If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme.”

Romney’s words were a straightforward assessment based on a sound reading of the law and a strong moral understanding of what a president should and should not do. It’s not as if he were calling for Trump to be impeached. Nevertheless, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee was immediately blasted by a volley of vitriol in conservative media and web sites. Sinister and patently false allegations were made against Romney that continue to reverberate through the right wing’s conspiracy-crazed echo chamber.

Then, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse declared that he was troubled by the revelations in the whistleblower’s report that has sparked an impeachment investigation of Trump. Like Romney, Sasse was instantly pummeled by the fanatically pro-Trump media for “stabbing (the president) in the back.”

The attacks Romney and Sasse have faced are an example of why most Republican elected officials keep their lips zipped when asked about Trump’s shenanigans, even if, in private, they express concerns about the lawlessness of the president. They do not want to be crucified by the extremist media mob that now polices Republican politics in the way the Taliban enforces fundamentalist doctrine in Afghanistan’s villages.

Republican leaders have brought shame on themselves with their cowardice, but it is easy to see why none of them wants to stick their neck out. They are afraid of losing their jobs, if not their heads.

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