GOP Divisions Demonstrated By Cornyn’s Establishment Positions

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has touched off controversy inside the Republican Party with recent public statements.

First, he recently questioned the decision by House Republicans to investigate the political prosecution of President Donald Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy directed GOP-led committees to probe Bragg’s “outrageous abuse of power” in pursuing Trump with funding from George Soros. However, Cornyn suggested that the House focus on the “agenda that got them elected.”

Bragg’s office is reportedly still considering indicting Trump, which would lead to the first arrest of a former president in American history. This comes after Democrats exhausted nearly every effort to prosecute President Trump on any wild theory they could imagine.

Secondly, Cornyn has also drawn attention for comparing the current war in Eastern Europe to World War II when responding to criticism of U.S. involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war.
Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has exposed a division in the GOP by stating that the U.S.’s involvement in Ukraine’s war with Russia is not one of “vital national interests.” His comments align with former President Trump and right-wing GOP members, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL). However, they put him at odds with establishment Republicans like Cornyn and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who have criticized DeSantis’ stance.

DeSantis’ opposition to U.S. aid for Ukraine follows Trump’s trivialization of the conflict. He claimed he could end the war in “one day” and boasted about getting along with Putin. Greene has been even stronger against American involvement in the war, accusing Ukrainian President Zelensky of wanting American “sons and daughters to go die in Ukraine” and calling for an audit of U.S. aid to Ukraine.

Gaetz has introduced a “Ukraine Fatigue” resolution, co-sponsored by ten other conservative GOP House Members, calling for an end to U.S. military and financial aid to Ukraine.

Establishment Republicans issued a stern rebuke of DeSantis’ response to the Ukraine situation, with Graham warning that the U.S.’s involvement aims to stop Putin from engaging in warmongering beyond Ukraine. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 62% of registered Republicans see the war as a critical threat to U.S. interests. However, support for the U.S.’s involvement appears to be waning. A February poll shows only 48% supporting the U.S. sending weapons to Ukraine, down from 60% in May 2022.

The U.S. has spent over $113 billion aiding Ukraine in its war with Russia, which began just over a year ago. This includes around $67 billion in military aid and $46 billion to support the Ukrainian government, economy, and refugee resettlements. Joe Biden has vowed that “Ukraine will never be a victory for Russia.”

The GOP divisions over Trump’s prosecution and Ukraine support highlight the differing priorities among factions within the party. As the party gears up for the 2024 presidential election, these divisions may continue to shape the GOP’s policy priorities and messaging.

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