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.