John Danforth
Getty Images
John Danforth
Now playing
00:43
Danforth: Trump has 'corrupted' GOP
CNN
Now playing
01:44
Sasse: I regularly think about leaving GOP
Senate TV
Now playing
01:57
Sen. Sasse: Trump's call to Putin weakened US
sasse tweet
CNN
sasse tweet
Now playing
01:52
GOP senator on tariff threats: This is nuts
CNN
Now playing
01:04
GOP official quits over Trump-Putin summit
GREAT FALLS, MT - JULY 05:  U.S. president Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Four Seasons Arena on July 5, 2018 in Great Falls, Montana. President Trump held a campaign style 'Make America Great Again' rally in Great Falls, Montana with thousands in attendance.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
GREAT FALLS, MT - JULY 05: U.S. president Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Four Seasons Arena on July 5, 2018 in Great Falls, Montana. President Trump held a campaign style 'Make America Great Again' rally in Great Falls, Montana with thousands in attendance. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:08
Trump mocks George H.W. Bush at campaign rally
Rep. Mark Sanford on New Day
CNN
Rep. Mark Sanford on New Day
Now playing
01:57
Lawmaker: Trump sent chilling message to GOP
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25:  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announces that he is retiring from the House and stepping down as Speaker at the end of October during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol September 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. After 25 years in Congress and five years as Speaker, Boehner said he decided this morning to step down after contemplation and prayer.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 25: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announces that he is retiring from the House and stepping down as Speaker at the end of October during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol September 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. After 25 years in Congress and five years as Speaker, Boehner said he decided this morning to step down after contemplation and prayer. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:24
Boehner: Trump presidency a complete disaster
CNN
Now playing
01:23
Sen.: Trump claim embarrasses GOP colleagues
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Make America Great Again Rally on March 10, 2018 in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Make America Great Again Rally on March 10, 2018 in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:35
Here's Trump's 2020 campaign slogan
senator flake 03142018
CNN
senator flake 03142018
Now playing
02:14
Sen. Flake calls for a GOP challenger to Trump
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24:  Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill after announcing he will not seek re-election October 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill after announcing he will not seek re-election October 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:04
Flake slams Trump's tweets, defends Schumer
Flake
CNN
Flake
Now playing
01:21
Flake: More Republicans will be speaking out
Now playing
01:56
GOP senator won't say if he backs Trump 2020 bid
CNN
Now playing
01:05
Trump: Flake smart for not seeking re-election
Now playing
01:15
Lawmaker: Don't want my kids talking like Trump
Getty Images/Win McNamee/Mark Wilson
Now playing
01:31
Bob Corker's biggest Trump criticisms
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Senators from both parties are scrambling to react to President Donald Trump's surprise dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Senators from both parties are scrambling to react to President Donald Trump's surprise dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.
Now playing
02:05
Trump wrong on Bob Corker and Iran Deal
Chip Somodevilla/Saul Loeb/Getty Images
Now playing
01:10
Trump to McCain: 'I fight back'

Story highlights

Trump's comments on KKK and transgender people are harming his party, a former senator argues

Danforth: "Trump is exactly what Republicans are not"

Washington CNN —  

Former GOP Sen. John Danforth warned Republicans that President Donald Trump has “corrupted” their party and that they must break with him in order to save it.

In an op-ed titled “Trump is exactly what Republicans are not” published by The Washington Post Thursday night, the former Missouri senator issued a stark warning to members of his party.

“To my fellow Republicans: We cannot allow Donald Trump to redefine the Republican Party. … But our party has been corrupted by this hateful man, and it is now in peril,” Danforth wrote.

He emphasized Trump’s divisive rhetoric as a main threat to the Republican message.

Frequently mentioning that the GOP is the party of Lincoln and the Union during the Civil War, the former senator wrote: “He stands in opposition to the founding principle of our party – that of a united country.”

Trump has been heavily criticized both on the campaign trail and since taking office for comments he’s made pertaining to minority groups and women. Most recently he’s announced plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military and has made ostracizing remarks equating white supremacists with counterprotesters following a violent rally in Charlottesville.

“His message is, ‘You are not one of us,’ the opposite of ‘e pluribus unum,’” Danforth wrote of the President’s disruptive rhetoric. “And when he has the opportunity to unite Americans, to inspire us, to call out the most hateful among us, the KKK and the neo-Nazis, he refuses.”

Danforth continued: “He is the most divisive president in our history. There hasn’t been a more divisive person in national politics since George Wallace,” the former pro-segregation Democratic governor of Alabama.

To stop what he sees as permanent damage to the GOP, Danforth urged members of Congress to actively challenge and break with the President.

“For the sake of our party and our nation, we Republicans must disassociate ourselves from Trump by expressing our opposition to his divisive tactics and by clearly and strongly insisting that he does not represent what it means to be a Republican,” Danforth said.