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Trump's comments on civil war, whistleblower spark further controversy

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-30 18:31:15-04

As President Donald Trump's tenure faces a precarious future as House Democrats dig into an impeachment inquiry, one member of Trump's own party expressed concern and displeasure with one of the president's recent tweets.

On Sunday night, Trump shared a quote from a Fox News pundit that impeaching the president would cause a "civil war like fracture" in the U.S. That tweet prompted Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., to call Trump's comments "repugnant."

"I have visited nations ravaged by civil war. @realDonaldTrump I have never imagined such a quote to be repeated by a President. This is beyond repugnant," Kinzinger wrote.

Kinzinger largely stands alone as far as Republican members of Congress speaking out against Trump. Justin Amash, I-Mich., a vocal critic of the president, left the Republican Party over the summer, and is running next year as an independent.

"President Trump and his defenders tell us not to believe our own eyes and ears. We read or hear the president’s words, and we’re told to reject the natural and ordinary meaning. We see evidence of wrongdoing, and we’re told it proves virtue," Amash said last week.

On Monday, Trump said that the White House is "trying to find out" the identity of the whistleblower who went to an internal government investigator about Trump's request to the Ukrainian president to help in an investigation of presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The whistleblower's attorney expressed concern as the whistle blower followed federal whistleblowing procedure and has protection under law.

"The Intel Community Whistleblower is entitled to anonymity," attorney Andrew Bakaj claimed on Monday. "Law and policy support this and the individual is not to be retaliated against. Doing so is a violation of federal law."

Trump's comments come as there appears to be rising support for Trump's impeachment. According to a CNN poll, 47 percent of Americans polled by CNN support impeachment compared to 45 percent who oppose. The margin of those who support impeachment compared to those who oppose is within the margin of error of 3.5 percent.

CNN conducted a similar poll in May, after the Mueller probe was released, which showed support for impeachment at 41 percent.

Although polling would suggest a shifting in public opinion on impeachment, Trump's allies remain behind the president.

House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy was among those who went to bat for Trump on Sunday. McCarthy echoed a common refrain from Trump's surrogates that the whistleblower did not directly hear the phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.

"The whistleblower wasn't on the call, McCarthy said on CBS' '60 Minutes.' "The IG, inspector general, didn't read the call. But you and I have all the information we need. The president did nothing in this phone call that's impeachable."

White House policy adviser Stephen Miller offered a sharp rebuke of the unknown whistleblower.

“The president is the whistleblower here," Miller said. "The president of the United States is the whistleblower. And this individual is a saboteur trying to undermine a democratically elected government.”

After host Chris Wallace reminded Miller that the Inspector General found the whistleblower's report was "credible," Miller fired back.

"And they’re wrong,” Miller said. “This is a deep state operative, pure and simple."