Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, many prominent Republican lawmakers voiced opposition to then-candidate Donald Trump and his controversial, longshot campaign.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the Republican party would be "destroyed" and "deserve it" if they nominated Trump. Then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley decried Trump's failure to reject the endorsement of KKK leader David Duke.
In the four years since Trump's inauguration, the vast majority of these Republicans have become Trump's most unwavering allies, constantly contorting to spin his latest controversial remark or bold faced lie.
Republican Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse's fealty to Trump has been less consistent than many of his colleagues. Trump endorsed Sasse in 2019 only to accuse him of going rogue by occasionally criticizing the President.
But when it was most consequential—such as Trump's impeachment trial and the recent Senate Judiciary Hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett—Sasse sided with Trump.
But recently leaked audio released by the Washington Examiner just gave insight into how Sasse really feels about Trump—and it's not pretty.
Listen to Sasse's words in a tele-town hall with constituents below.
RINO Ben Sasse www.youtube.com
Sasse accused Trump of cozying up to dictators:
"I'm not at all apologetic for having fought for my values against his in places where I think his are deficient, not just for a Republican but for an American. So, the way he kisses dictators' butts, the way he ignores that the Uyghurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn't lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers. ... It isn't just that he fails to lead our allies, it's that the United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership."
His criticisms only got more unequivocal from there:
"The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor, the ways I criticized President Obama for that kind of spending, I've criticized President Trump for as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors, his family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity, he's flirted with white supremacists."
He went on to slam Trump's botched handling of the virus that's killed over 200 thousand Americans, saying that Trump treated it "like a news-cycle-by-news-cycle P.R. crisis rather than a multi-year public health challenge, which is what it is."
Sasse's words, however, didn't absolve him to his critics.
Sen. Ben Sasse hates Trump so much he's voted with him 86 percent of the time.
To the Senators who think they can start running away from Dear Leader just before the election: We. Will. Never. Forget. Or. Forgive. https://t.co/0zoE8TvvYI
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) October 15, 2020
Sasse voted to keep Trump president.
He owns every one of Trump's crimes against the nation in that office. Their names are tied in history. https://t.co/450J1VXdiZ
— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) October 15, 2020
Too late. When it mattered, and when he needed to get his butt re-elected without a serious Primary challenge, Sasse sucked up to this President. https://t.co/ssxGZ0xQXq
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) October 15, 2020
Whispering critiques behind closed doors is a sign of moral cowardice and is the opposite of leadership and of serving the people who elected him. And for Sasse...it's par for the course. https://t.co/6ihLchv7ws
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) October 15, 2020
Why do you want the person described here to be leader of our country for 4 more years @BenSasse? pic.twitter.com/ecsIKH8Uzp
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) October 15, 2020
Gotta love the courage of a man who criticized Trump when he thought he would lose, then supported him at every turn for years, then started criticizing him again when he thought he would lose again. https://t.co/xODX7iCgsI
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) October 15, 2020
With Trump's prospects in November looking grim, some think Sasse is the first of many GOP lawmakers who will begin decrying Donald Trump after enabling him for an entire term.
This kind of stuff is only going to grow the higher the chances of a Dem blowout, ending in GOP officials memory-holing their embrace of Trump https://t.co/ZKniNrn9Dd
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) October 15, 2020
Republicans are trying to run away from Trump even though they've kissed his ass and done everything he asked of them for four years. The stink of Trump will never go away. We'll make sure of it. https://t.co/jtQcn3hmyM
— Emily C. Singer (@CahnEmily) October 15, 2020
Sasse is accusing Trump of violating the constitution.
No, it's not your imagination. Republicans are breaking with Trump more and more frequently.
They're jumping ship because they see what's coming and want to save themselves.
— Santiago Mayer (@santiagomayer_) August 9, 2020
The Presidential election is on November third, but voting has already begun in at least 40 states.