The challenge facing congressional Republicans in delivering on their ambitious health-care, budget and tax ideas keeps getting steeper.
To meet their goals — putting in place a replacement for Obamacare by Easter, then a new budget and then sweeping tax reform by August — Republicans need a strong partner in President Donald Trump to push past political obstacles. But Trump's wild weekend wiretapping accusations against his predecessor weakened him.
At the most rudimentary level, Trump's evidence-free Twitter tirade immediately dominated the attention of the political world. They threw fellow Republicans on the defensive in responding to allegations from Trump that both FBI director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper immediately moved to discredit. Republican lawmakers were tepid at best in standing up for the president.
More significantly, the credibility of an American president is an indivisible asset. Trump began his presidency laboring under widespread skepticism about his truthfulness; an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll last week showed only 34 percent of Americans rate him highly for honesty. Anything that further erodes faith in his honesty makes it more difficult for him to persuasively advocate for Republican priorities — including on health care and tax reform.