Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) has fashioned himself as an independent Republican who’s willing to stand up to Donald Trump—despite that fact the he votes with the president more than 87 percent of the time.
Now, Sasse is out with a new book titled Them: Why We Hate Each Other—and How to Heal that aims to bridge the widening divide between left and right in America. But when he sat down with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night’s Late Show, the host was not about to let him get away it.
Colbert began by raising the new revelations that Ivanka Trump has used a private email account for government business, reminding Sasse that he previously called Hillary Clinton’s similar behavior “a serious matter that deserves our serious attention.” So he must feel the same way about the president’s daughter, right?
Sasse hemmed and hawed a bit, making the point that Clinton’s private server apparently contained classified information while the same charge has not been made in Ivanka Trump’s case. “If Ivanka Trump has classified information on a private server, it’s a big deal,” he said eventually.
“How would we find out?” Colbert asked. “Perhaps with a… a congressional investigation?” Sasse would not commit to backing that idea, basically admitting to the idea that the entire concept of “checks and balances” hasn’t been working out so well under Trump.
Unlike some other members of his party, Sasse did acknowledge that the Democratic takeover of the House was at least “wave-ish” but at the same time said that since Congress swings back and forth during most midterm elections it simply proves “the people aren’t comfortable with anybody in Washington having a long-term leadership plan.”
After a detour about Nebraska vs. Northwestern football, Colbert steered the conversation back to more consequential political matters, namely Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general. “Do you think that a guy who hasn’t been approved by the Senate can hold that job?” the host asked.
“I think the president should have made a different choice,” Sasse said, adding, “I think the best thing is for the president to only put people into principal officers of the U.S. government roles who have been confirmed by the Senate.” But he would not go so far as to say he would join the left’s lawsuit that would force Trump to do so. “I don’t know that bringing the third branch into it would solve it as quickly as the president just nominating someone for the job.”
“So you’re counting on the president to do the right thing,” Colbert replied, quickly.
All Sasse could say in response was, “I get the joke.”