Today's Opinions, Tomorrow's Reality
Permeated With Filth
By David G. Young
Washington, DC, January 2, 2018 --
Republicans' unwillingness to impeach Trump risks bringing the party down with him.
Just why is special counsel Robert Mueller investigating President Trump? The answer to this question differs sharply depending upon whom you ask.
Trump supporters firmly believe that it is a political witch hunt by presidential enemies beating a dead horse. Trump haters hope that it will reveal evidence of criminal collusion -- evidence that can be used to impeach and remove the unpopular president from office. The rest of Americans simply accept that the investigation was authorized by Congress and is needed to find out who collaborated with Russia in its attempt to influence America's presidential election.
Unfortunately for America, the investigation is irritating a notoriously thin-skinned President. Trump appears obsessed with the probe, and has repeatedly attempted to stamp it out. His initial efforts to do so by firing FBI Director James Comey only made things worse by leading the Department of Justice to appoint Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate the issue.
Trump's continued obsession with the investigation led him to threaten to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who technically oversees Mueller's work, but has recused himself from the investigation. These threats appear to have been stopped by more sane-minded advisors with working survival instincts.
So the president has changed tack -- lashing out at his political opponents in an effort to distract and deflect. Yesterday, he called for the Justice Department to prosecute former Clinton aide Huma Abedin for her role in the Clinton e-mail scandal, and then also prosecute his old bogyman James Comey.1
For anybody who cares about the rule of law, the idea of a President requesting that prosecutors under his command go after his political enemies is cringe-worthy. Sure, other presidents like Nixon have been caught doing this in the past, but they at least said these things in private not overtly in public.
Trump's willingness to sully the Presidency and the ideal of prosecutorial independence is doubly disturbing because he does it as a useless political weapon. How could such threats possibly help him in his fight against the Mueller investigation? At best, the bombast will rally his dwindling base of true believers with no other effect. Many Republicans in Congress will be just as uncomfortable with these threats as Trump's opponents, threatening his support amongst those he needs to stay in office.
Let's face facts: the Mueller investigation is no real threat to Trump. Any damning evidence that might be uncovered by the investigation is useless to remove Trump from office unless the House of Representatives, with its Republican majority, is willing to impeach him. It is also useless unless the Senate, with its own Republican majority, also has the willingness to vote remove him from office based on the House's impeachment. If both Republican-controlled houses were so willing, there is already ample evidence of willful obstruction of justice to do so -- Trump has admitted on camera to firing Comey because of "this Russia thing".2 Anything new Mueller may find is just window dressing.
Unfortunately for the Trump-haters out there, the House and Senate simply don't want to remove him from office, despite mainstream Republicans' widespread loathing of the man during the presidential primaries. Since his election, many in congress have come around like obedient lap dogs. Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, for example, went from fighting Trump in the primaries and refusing to endorse him to recently become his best golfing buddy.
Why won't Republicans impeach Trump? Perhaps they have been afraid of hurting their chances in mid-term elections later this year. Perhaps they wanted to use him to further their agenda -- to repeal Obamacare and pass tax reform. Now that they have achieved one of the two, perhaps their feelings are more apt to change.
The consequences of Trump's embarrassing and destructive behavior are hard to predict. The longer congressional Republicans collaborate their once-hated nemesis, the harder it will be for them to turn their backs on him, and the more they will be forced to defend his indefensible behavior. Only a particularly eggregious outrage from the White House might prove sufficient for Vice President Pence to conspire with Congressional Republicans and oust the President.
Will this happen, and if so, when? If it doesn't happen soon, congressional Republicans will be so permeated with Trump's filth that they simply won't be able to shake it off. Such timing will likely decide both the future of the Trump presidency and that of the Republican Party.
1. Washington Post, Trump Urges Justice Department to ‘Act’ on Comey, Suggests Huma Abedin Should Face Jail Time, January 2, 2017