Nearly every reporter in washington has experienced it: A Republican member of Congress says, “Off the record,” shifts into a quieter voice, and expresses how much he or she doesn’t like President Donald Trump. Soon after, you watch this same elected official speak up in favor of the president—or, more often, avoid saying anything meaningful at all. Sometimes it concerns the same issue that they were complaining about to you in private. Sometimes within the same day. Sometimes within the same hour.

The battle to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a pivotal moment for these whispering Republicans in the Senate…

The secretly apostate Republican senators have two choices: They can support a president they think is a threat to American democracy while also violating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s invented 2016 rule about not confirming justices in an election year, or they can oppose Trump, enraging both him and their progressively cultish base, but do so at the cost of giving up what might be their last chance to secure a conservative majority for a generation.