When one talks privately to some Republican members about a president who lurches from tweet to taunt; who, according to those who have worked closely beside him, is incapable of telling the truth even in mundane situations; who accepts the word of Vladimir Putin and rejects the unanimous judgment of our intelligence community that Russia launched a cyberattack at the very heart of our democracy; and whose toxic combination of egotism and insecurity distorts the basic process of governing, they express their disdain and even alarm at how he conducts the nation’s affairs.

Yet, the same members are reluctant to speak out publicly even in the face of behavior they would find intolerable by any previous occupant of the Oval Office.

Fear is a potent weapon. Today, Trump uses the accelerant of social media to rally and stir the passions of his supporters, even with information that is patently false. Technology’s ubiquity, speed and power, and other profound changes, make this a more complex time than the Watergate era was.

But Congress should not turn away from the central issue of whether Trump has, in word and deed, engaged in conduct that is fundamentally inconsistent with, and antithetical to, the highest office in the land.