GOP ex-gov to Republicans: Call on Trump to step down

A former New Jersey governor is urging fellow Republicans to call on President Donald Trump to resign following his embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki summit last week.

In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week, Christine Todd Whitman wrote that Trump’s recent behavior toward Russia and his performance at the Helsinki summit reveal that he is “unfit for office.”

“We must put aside the GOP label, as hard as that may be, and demonstrate the leadership our country needs by calling on the president to step down,” Whitman wrote.

Whitman also defended special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and called on Republicans to stand for “country over party.”

“In this election year, opposing Trump is risky for GOP candidates,” Whitman said. “Invoking the need to choose country over party is an overused trope. But it is essential now.”

Trump was widely criticized for his performance in Helsinki, where he touted Putin’s denial of US intelligence findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 election in an effort to boost Trump’s candidacy. The resulting backlash led to several shifting explanations from Trump about whether he blamed Russia for the meddling, though he called the matter a “big hoax” in a tweet on Sunday afternoon. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders claimed on Monday that he was referring to allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia, not the investigation as a whole.

The day of the Trump-Putin summit, Whitman tweeted, “Mr #President, you should be ashamed. To deny your own country and government in favor of a foriegn leader whose country has, for decades, tried to undermine the #UnitedStates is irrational and dangerous. Please step down, you are not fit to lead this great #nation. #TrumpPutin”

Whitman is a frequent critic of the Trump administration and voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. She also clashed with Trump during her governorship in the 1990s over a road and tunnel project.