Keeping Trump inside the guardrails

Before eyes turn toward a possible Washington summit with Vladimir Putin, and before the subject changes yet again, this week revealed some truths that even President Donald Trump can’t change.

Yes, Trump is doing and saying things regarding Russia that no president has before – raising questions about his competence as well as his loyalty. Yes, yet again, most of his party is going along with him, through all the White House’s contradictory and worrisome explanations.

But a handful of Republican officials – some in Trump’s own administration, some just sharing a party affiliation – offered up guardrails, if not quite limits, to the boundaries the president can stretch.

Trump’s handpicked FBI director and intelligence chief made clear that their loyalties are to American intelligence agencies, not necessarily to the whims or beliefs of the president.

On Capitol Hill, critical GOP voices were loud enough to be recognized, although not loud enough to force real action. It was again left to a retiring senator to go where few of his colleagues would publicly, pointing to the “dark mystery” that looms, even as Helsinki fades.

“Why did he do that? What would compel our president to do such a thing?” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., asked on the Senate floor. “Those are questions that urgently beg for an answer, and it is our job to find that answer.“

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