The GOP war on law enforcement and the rule of law to obstruct justice

The Republican Party has abdicated its constitutional duties and patriotic loyalty to country, and instead has sworn fealty to an egomaniacal authoritarian madman who is the titular head of their party. GOP members of Congress are complicit in a conspiracy to cover-up and to aid and abet obstruction of justice by the Trump administration. They are accessories to a crime.

The Washington Post editorializes today, GOP leaders’ complicity grows as their members undermine the rule of law:

A FOREIGN power interfered in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. law enforcement is trying to get to the bottom of that story. Congress should be doing everything possible to make sure the investigation can take place. Instead, to protect the president of their party, who may or may not be complicit, Republican leaders in Congress are allowing and encouraging the baseless slander of the investigators.

It is a new low for the leadership, and one that could do lasting harm to the nation.

Cravenness in the Republican leaders’ response to Donald Trump is nothing new. During the presidential campaign, few stood up to his nativism and ugly ethnic slurs. Since he became president, even fewer have stood by their previous commitments to U.S. leadership abroad and fiscal responsibility at home. As he has trampled long-established norms, such as releasing annual tax returns, we’ve heard not a peep from the Article I branch.

But this moment is different. Republicans have embarked on a smear campaign of the FBI that can end only in a dangerous erosion of trust in law enforcement, the subjugation of law enforcement to partisan interests or both. For Republican leaders — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (Tex.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference Roy Blunt (Mo.) — to remain silent is to be complicit.

These men could, tomorrow, end this nonsense of secret societies, phony memos and missing text messages and let professionals such as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III do their jobs. Instead, they are allowing Fox News personalities, the president and loose cannons such as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (Calif.) and Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (Wis.) to turn the United States into a country where law enforcement becomes another pawn in the partisan war.

Mr. Johnson irresponsibly recycles nonsense about corruption “at the highest levels of the FBI,” offering no evidence because of course there is none. Mr. Nunes abuses his access to classified information as Intelligence Committee chairman, a title Mr. Ryan long ago should have revoked, to manufacture dark conspiracies.

“We learned today about information that in the immediate aftermath of his election, there may have been a ‘secret society’ of folks within the Department of Justice and the FBI . . . working against [Mr. Trump],” Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) says.

Then he adds: “I’m not saying that actually happened.”

No matter; the purpose is achieved. Doubts are planted, and a share of the country will discount anything federal law enforcement says about Mr. Trump.

These men are destroying something that won’t be easily recovered: faith in the idea of impartial law enforcement. It amounts to an assault on the rule of law. Mr. Trump openly wishes for an attorney general who will protect him, asks law enforcement officials whom they voted for, and fires or attempts to fire those he deems disloyal. He does not believe that FBI agents or anyone else is motivated by public-spiritedness or respect for the law, only by self-interest and personal loyalty to his or some other clan.

If Mr. Ryan, Mr. McConnell and others continue in their acquiescence, his cynical view may come closer to reality.

Christian Caryl expounds on this at The Post, Do Republicans still believe in democracy?

The American political system is in a full-blown crisis, and the proximate cause is President Trump. By now it should be entirely clear that the president is inflicting grave damage on our democracy.

Yet he could not do this without accomplices – and with each passing day he is finding more of them. They are the members of his own political party.

This week, Americans have watched in bewilderment as the Republicans have tried to twist the Russia investigation, which appears to be taking an increasingly threatening turn for the president, into a full-scale assault on the FBI. GOP leaders, backed up by Fox News, have used the faintest wisps of evidence to argue hysterically for the existence of an anti-Trump “secret society” within the bureau. They have tied themselves into argumentative knots to undermine special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe (ably assisted, it would seem, by Russian-controlled social media bots). And they continue to do whatever they can to play down the extent of Kremlin interference in the election.

Republican leaders are, in short, abetting a president who has been working overtime to undermine fundamental principles of our democratic system. These same leaders are staging a full-blown assault on the political independence of law enforcement. They are obfuscating one of the most serious attacks on our democracy in recent memory, and they are preventing the country from bolstering our defenses against future risks of the same kind.

And yet no one in the GOP is sounding the alarm. Even Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), once praised for his brave criticism of the president, has knuckled under. He recently joined his colleague Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) in calling on the FBI to launch a criminal probe of Christopher Steele, the author of the controversial Trump-Russia “dossier.” When The Post revealed this week that Trump had apparently asked his then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe in May how he had voted in the election, the chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, didn’t even bother refuting the allegation — one that, in an earlier, more innocent age, would have triggered days of anguished controversy. Trump’s meeting with McCabe, she said, was “just a conversation,” just a matter of “trying to get to know somebody.”

The establishment Republicans who once challenged Trump so eloquently — remember Marco Rubio proclaiming that he would never let a con man take over the conservative movement? — have either fallen into line or fallen silent. It’s Trump’s party now.

These leaders are merely the symptom of a deeper malaise. It is clear that Trump’s habits of thought are seeping into the rank and file of his party – or, perhaps, fertilizing tendencies that were already there.

Trump attacks the press? One poll this past July showed that 45 percent of Republicans approved of the government shutting down media deemed “biased or inaccurate.” Trump plays fast and loose with democratic norms? An August survey found that fully half of GOP voters would support postponing the next presidential election if Trump proposed it. Trump praises Russian President Vladimir Putin? A poll this past May found that 49 percent of Republican voters regard Russia as friendly or an ally. Trump expresses frustration with democratic constraints on his power? A Pew Research Center poll last year revealed that fully one-third of Republicans favor the idea of a strong leader who can govern without interference from Congress or the courts.

Anti-Trump Republican David Frum put it concisely in a recent discussion with Ross Douthat in the New York Times. “The authoritarian-nationalist system Trump is building,” he noted, “is not being built against Congress, but with Congress – and even more, with Republican Parties at the state level.” The myth of extensive election fraud fits the same anti-democratic pattern. Trump’s claim that millions of fraudulent voters opposed him in the 2016 election provides a useful excuse for subverting democracy through voter suppression mechanisms.

The willingness of evangelical Republicans to rationalize Trump’s questionable morals draws on the same ominous sources: Party is more important than principle. Libertarian GOPers such as Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) have entered into a Faustian bargain with the less-than-libertarian Trump in the hopes of achieving deregulation and tax reform. Have they ever asked whether the price might be too high?

The health of American democracy in its modern form is vitally dependent on legitimate competition among political parties. What does the future hold for us if one of the two major parties no longer subscribes to the rules of the game?

Trump displays contempt for democratic norms. That is frightening enough in its own right. That the Republican Party appears determined to follow his lead portends disaster.

As Greg Sargent of The Post noted, Trump and the great GOP abdication:

Something remarkable is happening in our politics right now. On multiple fronts, it has fallen to Democratic elected officials to step up and defend the integrity and basic functionings of our government — against Republican efforts to pervert and manipulate them in service of the goal of shielding President Trump from accountability.

It is up to Democrats and never-Trumper’s of all political persuasions to defend the Constitution and the rule of law, and democracy itself, against the moral decay and rot of an increasingly authoritarian and subversive GOP.

14 responses to “The GOP war on law enforcement and the rule of law to obstruct justice

  1. For Sure Not Tom

    Today is the deadline for Trump to impose congressionally mandated sanctions on Russia.

    He failed to meet the previous deadline in October. Why?

    If he does not impose the sanctions today, what does that say?

    That he’s Putin’s stooge, and that there are some dirty sheets in a hamper at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow.

  2. Sen. John Kavanagh

    I had no idea that you lived in such a binary world. I guess it makes live easier.

    PS Not the FBI but possibly some rogue agents.

    • Sen. John Kavanagh

      This was for FSNTom

      • For Sure Not Tom

        Wrong, based on the standards set by your party’s leader and the man you are defending my comments to you were very, very Presidential.

        And shame on you for attacking decorated war vets and LEO’s who have put their lives in danger for years to defend a coward who claims both to have been a great athlete and to have had bone spurs at the same time.

        He took five deferments while Mueller was in Vietnam. Your party’s fake Patriotism is exposed.

        Do you want to purge the FBI of all Democrats? Do you know what that’s called?

  3. In the meantime, Donald is concerned about what Jay-Z says about him…

    Donald J. Trump‏Verified account
    @realDonaldTrump

    Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!

    6:18 AM – 28 Jan 2018

  4. Sen. John Kavanagh

    What if some rogue agents in the FBI did do those things or some of them? They spied on MLK? What if ???? Is the FBI above suspicion because they are investigating President Trump?

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      The FAUX News (Trump TV) hysteria is that two agents engaged in an affair exchanged personal emails that demonstrated political bias against Trump. First, federal law enforecement agents have the same First Amendment rights as everyone else to have a political opinion, so long as it does not affect the conduct of their work. Second, there has been no evidence presented that the work product of these two agents was anything less than professional. And third, Robert Mueller removed these agents from his team when these personal emails became public to prevent even the appearance of impropriety to taint his investigation. These individuals were gone early on, and have had no role in the interviews and grand jury testimony conducted since last summer.

      The involvement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein in preparing a pretextual termination memo to replace the raving letter of termination dictated by president Trump to Stephen Miller that Trump’s lawyer then locked away in his safe, now that’s a law enforcement conspiracy.

      • AZBM, as I once said to FSNT: “Forget it Jake, it’s Kavanagh.” All the good Senator is interested in knowing is whatever drivel Faux Noise, Breitbart, & Info Wars spoon feed him along with the rest of the suckers. Oops, I meant their audience.

      • Sen. John Kavanagh

        You certainly have become a cheerleader and defender of the FBI and FISA ever since Trump has become a target. Not only do you not suspect foul play, which is your prerogative now, but you have prematurely ruled it out from any consideration. Wow!

        • For Sure Not Tom

          Settle down, Little Cryin’ Johnny, we get it, Russia is our friend and the FBI is our enemy.

          Donald Trump is a God fearing Christian man who goes to church twice a week never cheats on his wife(s), he doesn’t mean Tweet like a 13 year old girl and he never stole from investors or cheated anyone out of a paycheck.

          His hats and ties are all Made in America, he never released nude picture of his wife to the press, he never bragged about watching orgies on the Howard Stern Show, and his hands are huge.

          He’s not a Russian puppet, he just doesn’t want to enforce the sanctions Congress imposed on him by law because he has to go golfing with Tiger Woods and make the finest of deals.

          FFS, Little Cryin’ Johnny, you can’t see what’s right in front of you.

        • AZ BlueMeanie

          You make assumptions of foul play without presenting any objective evidence in support. Since the two FBI agents Trump TV has been smearing were removed from Mueller’s team last summer, how could they have influenced the Russia investigation? All of the interviews and grand jury testimony of witnesses that have led to two convictions and two indictments being filed (so far) occurred after they left the investigation.

          It appears to me that Trump TV’s real argument is that only Trump sycophants should be involved in the Russia investigation — because they will either look the other way or cover up any incriminating evidence, as some GOP members of Congress are doing — and that anyone who is not a Trump sycophant who would clear him is immediately suspect as being “politically biased.” This is a perversion of the rule of law and seeking justice.

          The New York Times today breaks down what is known to be included in the cherry-picked “Devin Nunes Memo” that Trump and Trump TV wants to use to discredit the FBI. Secret Memo Hints at a New Republican Target: Rod Rosenstein. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/28/us/politics/rod-rosenstein-carter-page-secret-memo.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

          Some key takeaways:

          Republicans have cherry-picked facts to create a misleading and dangerous narrative.

          No information has publicly emerged that the Justice Department or the F.B.I. did anything improper while seeking the surveillance warrant involving Mr. Page.

          It is difficult to judge whether Republicans’ criticism of the surveillance has merit. Although House members have been allowed to view the Republican memo in a secure setting, both that memo and a Democratic one in rebuttal remain shrouded in secrecy. And the applications to obtain and renew the warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are even more closely held. Only a small handful of members of Congress and staff members have reviewed them.

          Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, warned in a letter last week to the committee’s chairman, Representative Devin Nunes of California, that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release a memo drawing on classified information without official review and pleaded with the committee to consult the Justice Department. He said the department was “unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process.

          To obtain the warrant involving Mr. Page, the government needed to show probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. (Obviously the FISA Court was convinced here was probable cause in order to issue a warrant involving an American citizen).

          Carter Page, a former Moscow-based investment banker who later founded an investment company in New York, had been on the F.B.I.’s radar for years. In 2013, an investigation revealed that a Russian spy had tried to recruit him.

          [A] trip Mr. Page took to Russia in July 2016 while working on Mr. Trump’s campaign caught the bureau’s attention again, and American law enforcement officials began conducting surveillance on him in the fall of 2016, shortly after he left the campaign. It is unclear what they learned about Mr. Page between then and when they sought the order’s renewal roughly six months later. It is also unknown whether the surveillance court granted the extension.

          The renewal effort came in the late spring, sometime after the Senate confirmed Rod Rosenstein as the Justice Department’s No. 2 official in late April, 2017. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the Russia inquiry because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.

          [F]ollowing Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director (the following month) in May, Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller, a former head of the bureau, to take over the department’s Russia investigation.

          Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved an application to extend surveillance of a former Trump campaign associate shortly after taking office last spring. The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent.

          There does not appear to be any objective facts to support your Trump TV conspiracy theory. As a former law enforcement officer and someone who teaches criminal justice, you should be ashamed for advancing a conspiracy theory.

          This Trump TV conspiracy theory that the FBI is politically biased against Trump is counterfactual to what actually occured in 2016. Hillary Clinton is “the Antichrist personified to a large swath of FBI personnel” … “The reason why they’re leaking is they’re pro-Trump.” ‘The Antichrist personified’: ‘Open warfare’ and antipathy toward Clinton is reportedly fueling the FBI leaks, http://www.businessinsider.com/hillary-clinton-fbi-trump-2016-11 ; ‘The FBI is Trumpland’: anti-Clinton atmosphere spurred leaking, sources say, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/03/fbi-leaks-hillary-clinton-james-comey-donald-trump ; The anti-Clinton insurgency at the FBI, explained, https://www.vox.com/world/2016/11/5/13525698/fbi-clinton-trump-leaks-server-email-scandal ; If Bias of FBI Agents Is Issue for GOP, Let’s Talk About the NYC Field Office, https://ijr.com/the-response/2017/12/1034133-bias-fbi-agents-issue-gop-lets-talk-nyc-field-office/ — just a small sampling of numerous news reports at the time which have disappeared down the memory hole at Trump TV.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Trump has a long history of crime, and he brags about lying and cheating in his books.

      Trump’s casino’s paid big fines for money laundering, he ran the scam Trump University, he paid a 25 million dollar fine for that one, he stole from his shareholders as he went broke, and he filed for bankruptcy six times.

      Six times.

      So which is more likely, the FBI is corrupt, or the reality TV show actor and Manhattan realtor is corrupt?

      Don’t you teach some class in law enforcement or something? How are you this dumb?