“These constant tangents create distractions; they force our members to talk about statues and Nazis instead of tax reform,” one senior House GOP aide said Thursday. “Until this White House learns how to actually use the bully pulpit, they’re essentially useless.”

Added another senior GOP source: “The daily five-ring Trump circus hurts our ability to get things done.”

For dozens of Republicans, however, Trump’s recent words are about more than a mere distraction; they’re depriving the party of a much-needed leader.

Conservative lawmakers and outside groups, for instance, are already plotting their resistance to GOP leadership’s expected calls to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts. Ryan and McConnell will need Trump to give them political cover.