1. GOP's War On the Constitution: Lack Of Impeachment Over The Emoluments Clause Indicates Republicans Don't Respect The Constitution
2. Even More Proof That The GOP Are Defying The Constitution ( And Their Oaths Of Office) By Not Impeaching Trump
3. A Sitting President CAN Be Indicted As He/She Is A Citizen Like Everyone Else (In The Constitution, No One Is Above The Law)
Just more proof the GOP shouldn't be considered a constitutional or even an American party.
Mika: Top GOP reaction to allegations are disgraceful Some top Republicans including Kevin McCarthy, Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley are dismissing the allegations that then-candidate Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to make illegal hush money payments to two women during the campaign.
Comey points to GOP leaders’ ‘everlasting shame’ over 2016 inaction
Former FBI Director James Comey sat down for a long, rather candid interview with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace on Sunday night, and the two covered quite a bit of ground. The Twitter thread from NBC News’ Mike Memoli is well worth your time if you missed the event.
That said, there was one exchange in particular that stood out for me.
Speaking about the period before the 2016 election, Comey was unsparing of Republican congressional leaders who he said opposed making public intelligence community concerns over Russian interference.“To their everlasting shame, the leaders – (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell, (House Speaker Paul) Ryan – refused,” Comey said. “I think they’re going to have a hard time explaining that to history.”
I’m glad this comes up from time to time, because the GOP leaders’ role in this fiasco is too often overlooked.
Perhaps this is a good time for a refresher. As regular readers know, the Obama White House, swayed by the evidence compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies, wanted bipartisan support to push back against Russian intrusion, and in mid-September 2016, the then-president dispatched counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, then-FBI Director James Comey, and then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to brief top members of Congress.
Obama didn’t want to be seen as using intelligence for partisan or electoral ends, so he sought a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against foreign manipulation of our democracy.
That didn’t happen – because McConnel refused.
As the Washington Post previously reported, when national security officials told congressional leaders about Russia’s interference, it was McConnell who not only didn’t want to alert the public, he also questioned the validity of the intelligence.
Brian Beutler put it this way: “McConnell ran interference for Trump during the campaign to stop Obama from warning the country about things Trump was lying publicly about.”
By way of a defense, McConnell’s office points to the September 2016 letter, signed by congressional leaders from both parties, which was sent to the president of the National Association of State Election Directors. It warned state officials about possible hacking efforts.
But this wasn’t the statement American intelligence officials wanted elected leaders to endorse, and the letter made no reference to Russia’s attack, which Republicans were briefed on at the time.
Denis McDonough told NBC News’ Chuck Todd in March that this statement was “dramatically watered down” at McConnell’s insistence – and he has no idea why.
Around that time, the Senate majority leader told reporters he’s “perfectly comfortable with the steps that were taken back then.” As Comey reminded us over the weekend, he shouldn’t be.
Leading GOP senator suggests Trump’s misdeeds were rookie mistakes
Ordinarily, when a modern White House is facing serious scandals, a president’s team will take proactive steps to prepare its allies. Officials in the West Wing realize that the media – and the public at large – will ask questions about ongoing controversies, so the White House will prepare talking points, host messaging calls, and brief lawmakers and like-minded pundits so that everyone is on the same page.
Except, that’s not what’s happening now. As Donald Trump faces fire on multiple fronts, including being directly implicated by federal prosecutors in a felony, his team isn’t doing much of anything. Officials in the president’s orbit don’t see much of a point.
“A war room? You serious?” one former White House official told the Washington Post when asked about internal preparations. “They’ve never had one, will never have one. They don’t know how to do one.”
The result is an awkward dynamic: a bunch of Republicans are running around trying to defend Trump, but they’re not at all sure what they’re supposed to say. The result is a cringe-worthy mess: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for example, is equating the president’s alleged misdeeds with misfiled paperwork, while Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is arguing that he simply doesn’t care whether Trump broke the law or not.
This defense wasn’t much better.
“These guys were all new to this at the time,” Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 Senate Republican, said of the Trump campaign team. “Most of us have made mistakes when it comes to campaign finance issues. In many cases, campaigns end up paying fines and penalties.”
Oh. So, Donald Trump directed his personal attorney to silence alleged former mistresses shortly before the election, and the lawyer created a shell company to make illegal hush-money payments to a porn star. Everyone involved then lied about it in the hopes of covering up what had transpired.
This unfolded, the incoming Senate majority whip believes, because “these guys were all new to this at the time” – as if they had no idea their actions were wrong.
Part of the problem with the defense is that’s factually incorrect. Trump may be a political amateur, but “these guys” who helped oversee his 2016 campaign included plenty of political veterans – Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, Paul Manafort, Cambridge Analytica, et al – who’d been through plenty of campaigns and who knew where the legal lines were. Trump chose his own course, which allegedly included illegal acts.
For that matter, as federal prosecutor in New York argued in their court filing on Friday, Michael Cohen knew what his actions were illegal, but he executed his scheme anyway.
But I’m also struck by the frequency with which Republicans roll out the argument that Trump and his team are just ignorant and inexperienced rookies, as if this were a compelling excuse for their transgressions.
It’s really not.
Asked about allegations against Trump, senator says, ‘I don’t care’
It’s easy to lose sight of just how remarkable the revelations were on Friday afternoon. Federal prosecutors explained in court filings that the sitting President of the United States directed his attorney to commit a felony to help him win an election. It’s not the sort of development Americans have traditionally been confronted with.
How would members of Congress respond to the realization that Donald Trump is currently seen by law enforcement as an unindicted co-conspirator? Well, it depends on whom you ask.
Some Republican senators are taking a cautious approach. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), for example, said yesterday, “We’ll just have to wait and see where it lands.” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) added, “We’ve just got to see where it goes.”
These are predictable, though not altogether satisfying, responses to extraordinary circumstances. GOP officials aren’t prepared to call for their party’s president to resign or face impeachment, so they’re content to take a wait-and-see posture.
And then there was Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who spoke with CNN’s Manu Raju yesterday on Capitol Hill.
Asked if he had any concerns that Trump was implicated, Hatch told CNN: “The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president.” Informed it was alleged by federal prosecutors in New York, Hatch said: “OK, but I don’t care, all I can say is he’s doing a good job as president.” […]“I don’t think he was involved in crimes but even then, you know, you can make anything a crime under the current laws if you want to, you can blow it way out of proportion, you can do a lot of things.”
The retiring Utah Republican added that “we ought to judge” Trump on the health of the economy, not on his suspected crimes.
I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a sitting senator express wholesale indifference to the rule of law in such stark terms. Confronted with possible criminal allegations against the president, Hatch’s first instinct was to blame Democrats. Reminded that the allegations were raised by non-partisan federal prosecutors serving in the Trump administration, Orrin Hatch – the Senate pro tempore and the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – explicitly said he simply does not care.
It’s effectively the “evidence, schmevidence” position.
Twenty years ago, when it was Bill Clinton accused of obstruction of justice, Hatch demanded that Congress remove the sitting president from office, insisting that “committing crimes of moral turpitude such as perjury and obstruction of justice go to the heart of qualification for public office.” The Utahan added at the time, “This great nation can tolerate a president who makes mistakes, but it cannot tolerate one who makes a mistake and then breaks the law to cover it up. Any other citizen would be prosecuted for these crimes.”
It apparently didn’t occur to Hatch to ask Americans to judge the Democratic president on the health of the economy in 1998.
While Hatch’s stated position yesterday was unusually brazen, he wasn’t necessarily alone. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the current chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. John Kennedy(R-La.), a member of that same panel, both sounded skeptical about Trump’s alleged misdeeds, saying they don’t trust Michael Cohen’s word.
But as the senators really ought to know, there’s no need to simply accept Cohen’s claims at face value. Prosecutors have put together detailed information documenting exactly what happened, when, and why. Trump’s lawyers haven’t made much of an effort to contest the available information, except to argue about his motivations.
Republicans who want to wait for additional information have taken a somewhat defensible posture. I’m not sure what more they want to know, but “we’ll just have to wait and see” isn’t crazy.
But willful apathy about allegations that the sitting president is a criminal is awfully difficult to defend.
Investigation-loving House leader urges Dems to leave Trump alone
As Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) prepares to make the transition from House majority leader to House minority leader, he has some advice for the Democrats who’ll soon run the chamber: don’t investigate Donald Trump.
“Well, it’s a challenge,” McCarthy told Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer when asked about Democrats’ return to the majority in January. “It looks like what they’re going to focus on is just more investigations. I think America’s too great of a nation to have such a small agenda.”He added that there are “other problems out there that we really should be focused upon” and that “both sides have come up with nothing” in investigating Trump.
The surface-level hypocrisy is hard to overlook. The House Republican conference that McCarthy helps lead is still examining Hillary Clinton’s email server protocols – a topic GOP lawmakers have investigated endlessly for years – and she hasn’t held public office since 2012.
For that matter, McCarthy was delighted when House Republicans scrutinized Benghazi conspiracy theories in ways no other single event has ever been investigated in congressional history. Indeed, it was the California Republican who effectively admitted on national television that the House GOP’s Benghazi committee was a taxpayer-funded political operation intended to undermine Hillary Clinton.
As for McCarthy’s belief that “both sides have come up with nothing” in investigating Trump, I’d remind the Republican leader that Democrats haven’t had subpoena power – and the GOP investigation from the House Intelligence Committee was a pathetic joke.
But stepping back and looking at McCarthy’s comments at a distance, there’s a related concern that comes into focus: Republican leaders sure do seem worried about House Democrats conducting oversight of Donald Trump’s White House.
Shortly before the midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged Democrats not to use their power to investigate presidential scandals, condemning the practice as “presidential harassment.”
Shortly after the midterms, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who’ll soon chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned House Democrats that if they conduct investigations into Trump, he’ll investigate the Justice Department and its connection to his anti-Clinton conspiracy theories.
Two weeks ago, the president himself started making related threats, insisting that if House Dems conduct detailed oversight of his administration’s controversies, he’d declassify “devastating” information about his domestic political enemies.
It’s almost as if Republicans are filled with anxiety about what the House Democratic majority might find.
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