It was May 27 and President Donald Trump had, for the umpteenth time in four years, set Republicans scrambling to defend him amid a controversy of his own making.
At that moment, the focus was MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough. The president had spent days reviving, via Twitter, a baseless conspiracy theory that Scarborough had something to do with the death of a female employee of his when he served in Congress two decades ago. It prompted the woman’s distraught widower to plead with Twitter to take the ranting messages down.
Arrayed at a press conference on Capitol Hill amid this blow-up were the top three members of House Republican leadership: the minority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, his deputy, Rep. Steve Scalise, and the GOP conference’s chair, Rep. Liz Cheney.