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Republican Lawmakers Privately Considering Dumping Donald Trump, MSNBC Guest Says

Republican lawmakers are growing increasingly nervous as special counsel Robert Mueller’s net closes around President Donald Trump and his inner circle, even considering dumping the president to save the party, according to a guest on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House program.

Speaking to host Nicolle Wallace on Monday, Eli Stokols—a White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times—said that concrete evidence of wrongdoing by Trump could make continued Republican support for the president untenable.

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“There is some understanding, I think, inside the White House of just how dark it may be getting,” the reporter said, adding that there were “private conversations people there are having with Republicans on the Hill who are starting to be concerned.”

Stokols continued, noting that Republican lawmakers “are starting to tell me privately—some of them—if there’s obvious evidence, the bottom’s going to fall out. They’re not going to be able to stand by this White House and that’s a looming problem for the president.”

In U.S. District Court for Southern District of New York last month, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to making misleading statements to Congress during testimony detailing his contact with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.

In a sentencing memo released last week following Cohen's most recent plea, Mueller noted that the lawyer—who has already been convicted of campaign finance violations—provided “credible” and “useful” information for the ongoing special counsel probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Cohen had already pleaded guilty in August to illegally using campaign funds to make non-disclosure payments to two women alleged to have had affairs with Trump. Last week’s memo noted he had done so at the direction of “Individual 1”—i.e., Donald Trump.

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Stokols said the Mueller investigation and the Southern District of New York both “probably have a lot more evidence than just the word of Michael Cohen, and that has to worry the president.”

Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani have been characteristically stubborn in the face of the allegations. Soon after the sentencing memo was published, the president tweeted, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!”

“Yes, he and Rudy Giuliani on some level believe that they can continue to attack the investigators, to try to convince the public that there is something nefarious and something politically motivated about this,” Stokols told Wallace.

“But when all the facts are laid out and people can see the investigators’ work, I think it’s going to be very problematic for this president.

Wallace noted that the Southern District of New York prosecutors could, “without all of the hoopla and politicking and attacks from the president…transmit their findings to Congress if they want to.”

Stokols confirmed that they could do so, explaining “it’s much harder to stop what’s happening in that office as opposed to with the special counsel’s investigation.

“This train has left the station, there’s really nothing that this White House can do about it,” he said. “I think that’s a source of frustration to the president, and also it’s difficult to politicize. It’s difficult to go out and demonize that office because, as you pointed out already, that’s a Trump appointee running that office.”

On Sunday, Chris Christie—Republican former New Jersey governor and long-time Trump ally—told ABC’s This Week that the president and his inner circle had good reason to be concerned. “The language in the sentencing memo is different from what we've heard before,” Christie told host George Stephanopoulos.

“The language sounds very definite. And what I'd be concerned about is, what corroboration do they have?” he continued. “When prosecutors sound that definitive they've got more usually than just one witness.”

This article has been updated to include comments made by Chris Christie.

GettyImages-1071067554 President Donald Trump talks to reporters before boarding Marine One as he departs the White House on December 8. A White House reporter told MSNBC that concrete evidence of wrongdoing by Trump could make continued Republican support for the president untenable. ALEX EDELMAN/AFP/Getty Images

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