In recent remarks to The Washington Examiner, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) shed light on the reason his party treads carefully when it comes to the possibility of President Donald Trump firing special counsel Robert Mueller: the tribal mentality of Trump's supporters wouldn't approve of blatant action.
What kind of blatant action?
Some Republican lawmakers have indicated that Trump firing Mueller would be a problem -- Senator Lindsey Graham (R-KY) recently said it would be the beginning of the end of Trump's presidency -- but none have proposed what consequences the president might expect should he choose to terminate the special counsel.
“The president is, as you know — you’ve seen his numbers among the Republican base — it’s very strong. It’s more than strong, it’s tribal in nature,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who decided to retire when his second term concludes at year’s end, after periodically sparring with Trump.*
“People who tell me, who are out on trail, say, look, people don’t ask about issues anymore. They don’t care about issues. They want to know if you’re with Trump or not,” Corker added.
Trump has amassed a cult-like following, and Corker hits the nail head on: "They don't care about issues."
They just want to know if politicians are members of the tribe.
Corker has basically conceded that Republicans believe it would alienate the GOP base to signal that removing Mueller would meet with specific consequences. But if this is the case, and Trump does try to shut down or hamstring the probe, that would only further rally Republican voters behind him. Why would it be any easier to inflict consequences at that point? If, as Corker says, what matters most in this calculus is what GOP voters think of lawmakers’ tribal loyalty to Trump, it would only get harder. And really, why would Trump take any other lesson from what he’s seeing right now?