Former Republican Leader Says By the Time Party Members Agree Trump Has Crossed the Line 'It'll Be Too Late'

The former chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele issued a scathing rebuke of GOP lawmakers in Congress saying they are "so afraid" of President Donald Trump that by the time they stand up to him "it'll be too late."

Steele, the former Lt. Governor of Maryland who served as his party's chairman from 2009 to 2011, called out Republicans Monday during a segment of MSNBC's Morning Joe. The former GOP leader has been a frequent critic of Trump and his administration, and he reiterated that criticism, urging Republicans to consider the values they originally espoused when they ran for office.

"I don't know if there's anything that I could say or any of us could say at this point that hasn't already been said. But I would ask this. Is it worth it? Is it really worth it? Is the value of democracy, the rule of law, the very ideals and principles that you've espoused for your entire political career, that you ran on as a freshman congressman or a two-term senator as a leader both in the party and the country, is it worth it?" he asked. "Is this one man [Trump] worth all that you're sacrificing right now?"

Michael Steele
Michael Steele talks at the Republican National Congressional Committee's midterm election results watch party at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on November 2, 2010 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

"Where are you going to draw the line?" Steele continued. "If you didn't draw it at Charlottesville, if you didn't draw it at Baltimore, if you didn't draw it at locking kids up in cages, if you didn't draw it at, you know, a Muslim ban, where are you going to draw the line? Because that, as an American, not as a Republican, not as a partisan, as an American I want to know from my leaders where you draw the line," he asserted.

"If you haven't drawn it yet, please let us know when you do," he said. "I betcha it'll be too late though."

The ex-RNC chair accused Republicans in Congress of being "so afraid of this one man that they're willing to sacrifice everything that they've stood on." He also slammed the GOP lawmakers who have suggested impeaching and removing Trump would launch a "civil war."

"Are you really prepared to sit down with your constituents and support a, quote, civil war because Donald Trump is in political trouble because of his own problems, what he's done?" Steele asked. "You're going to stand up for that?"

Some Republicans and conservative commentators have threatened that Democratic-led efforts to impeach Trump would lead to a "civil war." Trump retweeted the warning issued by Pastor Robert Jeffress at the end of September, drawing significant criticism from Democrats and some Republicans. It was repeated by GOP Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas last week after the House of Representatives formally voted—largely along party lines—to approve the rules governing the impeachment inquiry going forward.

"I don't want to ever have participation in, it's a civil war. Some historian — I don't remember who — said, 'Guns are only involved in the last phase of a civil war,'" Gohmert said.

Steele blasted the civil war threats during a Saturday interview with MSNBC as well.

"I don't know what the hell is wrong with these people," he said. "Who started this silliness? Over Donald Trump? Are you freaking kidding me?"

Trump is widely expected to face impeachment in the House, which is controlled by Democrats. An impeachment vote only requires a slim majority of lawmakers to vote in favor to pass. However, it is seen by most analysts as highly unlikely that Trump will be removed from office by the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. The Senate also requires a two-thirds majority in order to formally remove the president. The upper chamber of Congress is composed of 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats.

The impeachment inquiry facing Trump centers around his efforts to improperly pressure Ukrainian leaders to open investigations in a bid to damage his political rivals. Although Trump and his supporters have insisted that the inquiry is baseless, numerous Trump-appointed diplomats and national security officials have testified in closed-door depositions to corroborate many of the central allegations against the president.

Former Republican Leader Says By the Time Party Members Agree Trump Has Crossed the Line 'It'll Be Too Late' | U.S.