You’d hardly know anything was amiss in the White House if you relied on the Wyoming congressional delegation to keep you informed. Maybe they can’t decode the smoke signals coming from the dumpster-fire on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Barring their unanimous support for hiring Robert Mueller to investigate possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia, our representatives have generally stayed mum as the leader of their party repeatedly shames himself, the GOP and our nation.
You might think Republican Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Rep. Liz Cheney would want to get out in front of the scandal machine in the oval office. Why let themselves be tied to his failures? They don’t need his support to win.
But no, our trio in Washington, D.C., hasn’t offered the slightest criticism of Trump. And in this case silence is far from golden.
Trump dismantles the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, promises to save it, flip-flops some more and then tells the “dreamers” he intends to deport them — crickets.
Can you imagine Barrasso, Enzi or Cheney not fully apoplectic with outrage if Barack Obama — or anyone else for that matter — appeared to have paid hush money, to a porn star, through a shady fixer who then accepted millions in “consulting fees” from corporation and foreign entities. No, you can’t imagine it. Because it would never happen. So what’s different?
Enzi and Barrasso are sure to reflect upon their years of service at some point in the future, perhaps during cozy retirements. Not all of their decisions will have aged well. But of all the bad calls they’ve made I imagine their failure to defend a colleague might be the hardest to live with.
When a White House staffer dismissed Sen. John McCain’s (R-Arizona) criticism of CIA Director Gina Haspel’s involvement in torture programs by saying “he’s dying anyway,” Trump not only didn’t disavow the comment, he threatened to find and fire whoever leaked it. And our senators’ response to the presidential afront? They issued no public statements, held no press conferences, penned no op-eds and demanded no apology from the man who dodged the draft — five times — while Sen. John McCain was tortured in the Hanoi Hilton.
They chose sides with their silence. They chose poorly.
I could spend a day and most of the night outlining why Trump has already staked his claim as the worst president in the nation’s history and deserves to be impeached. What I want to focus on, though, is his recent attempt to convince the public that there’s a great conspiracy against him because he’s been subjected to a year of investigations.
That’s simply what happens to a corrupt president. He makes Richard Nixon and his staff of crooks and liars look like saints.
The thrust of his defense appears to be to repeat “there’s no collusion” as a mantra and to claim that Mueller’s probe has been nothing but a “witch hunt.” And he may pull it off – a poll last week found that 59 percent of Americans believe the special counsel hasn’t uncovered any crimes.
No, Mueller has just indicted 19 people and three companies with more than 100 charges, including Trump’s former campaign manager and his national security adviser. The special counsel also arranged deals for the acceptance of five guilty pleas. Nope, nothing to see here, folks. Let’s pack it all up and go home!
I am glad to see that our Wyoming delegation hasn’t joined the growing chorus of Republicans calling for the immediate end of Mueller’s probe.
Sure, that’s a reasonable request. Why shouldn’t we ignore evidence that the Trump campaign was willing to accept any offer of help from foreign governments, even our enemies? Or that it appears the president’s personal attorney had been selling corporations access to Trump? Or that the president’s son-in-law was somehow able to get millions in loans following White House meetings?
Trump and his legal team believe they discovered spin-doctor gold when they learned that the FBI had a “confidential informant” who talked to several members of his campaign. What seems to have been forgotten is the motive for enlisting such an informant. The FBI was following up on reports that several of Trump’s campaign staff had shady dealings — reports that are bearing out these many months later in the form of indictments and guilty pleas.
You know where else the FBI has confidential informants? The mafia, drug cartels and international spy rings.
Trying to find out if those claims are true is standard FBI procedure to keep the nation secure. The agency also warned Trump officials to be wary of any Russians who might be trying to recruit them to switch sides.
Trump is screaming “Spygate!” and claiming what the FBI did “is a disgrace worse than Watergate” so he can muddy the waters and divert attention from his actions. His congressional cronies succeeded in making the Department of Justice back down and release information to them from the special counsel’s investigation.
Apparently the president has confused the DOJ and FBI for his personal protectors who must do anything he wants, including punishing his enemies. It’s a terrible precedent to set since it means our law enforcement won’t be able to recruit confidential informants because they won’t protect their sources. The president can’t demand to see material gathered against him or call for a separate investigation to discredit Mueller’s probe.
Of our three-person congressional delegation, Barrasso has been the most willing to defend the DOJ’s investigation early on, before the focus shifted to hush money and money laundering. “The American people deserve answers,” he said shortly after Mueller’s appointment. “We’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
But Wyoming’s junior senator seems to accept every offer he gets to step in front of a TV camera, and he never uses those opportunities to question Trump’s conduct or decisions.
Enzi has taken a noncommittal approach, stating he won’t judge anything about the investigation until its report is submitted. Meanwhile, earlier this year Cheney criticized the FBI for being biased against Trump, but at the time of this writing she hadn’t weighed in publicly on the alleged “Spygate.”
Wyoming gave Trump his biggest margin of victory in 2016, but it’s way past time to start holding him accountable for his shameful misbehavior. One critical constitutional role of our legislators is to check the powers of the executive branch. Ours are failing to fulfill that vital responsibility.