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Florida Republican Rep. Francis Rooney Expressed Concerns Over Mulvaney's Comments


And our congressional correspondent Sue Davis is back. She's been listening to this conversation. What do you make of what Congressman Rooney had to say?

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Well, when you think about how reluctant congressional Republicans are and have been to criticize the president, when one of them steps out to do that, it generally means that they are so personally offended or troubled by the president's actions that the political considerations be put to the side. Rooney is someone who, I think, is expressing what a lot of Republicans think inside but don't - aren't willing to publicly say, that there's a lot of reservations about how the president has conducted himself in this manner.

The one bit of caution I would say with him is he is a Republican that has been willing to break with the party and not step with the party line. He's someone who's been very out there on things like climate change and saying the party needs to embrace the issue of climate change and do more.

So he's comfortable in this role. But it is also going to raise a question of, if he's stepping out, are there going to be more like him?

CORNISH: Right, although his district was - went majority for Trump. So it's no easy answer there. Should we expect more Republicans to break with the president and speak out now?

DAVIS: I think he does speak to another reality is that the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, did some damage to the president this week. Those comments are going to linger, and they created real shockwaves on Capitol Hill, where Republicans who have very - worked very diligently to get behind the White House messaging line for the past three weeks - no quid pro quo, there was no collusion - that was all blown up in one fell swoop by Mick Mulvaney's comments.

And you see Republicans scrambling to constantly find the defenses of the president. Obviously, for him, he couldn't find anything to defend in what Mick Mulvaney said and spoke a truth that I think a lot of people say is, how do you walk that back, right?

Mulvaney did put out a statement clarifying what he said and saying what he said he didn't say, but I don't know if that was good enough. And it certainly wasn't good enough for Democrats who suggest it could be, you know, pushing them further down the side of impeachment. And it will raise the question if more and more Republicans are at least open to the idea of the investigation, if not impeachment itself.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Sue Davis.

Thanks so much.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.