I should begin by admitting that I’ve been distressed by the recent attacks against Robert Mueller and the Trump/Russia investigations.
Distressed, first of all, by how dishonest not only Trump and Fox News but also Republicans in Congress (especially Bob Goodlatte and his allies on the House Judiciary Committee) have been in their attempts to impugn the integrity of the Special Prosecutor and the whole FBI.
Distressed as well by the deeper meaning of these attacks, which are nothing less than an assault on the rule of law.
But despite such distress, I also see how the Republicans’ protection of Trump may prove to be the means of their own undoing, and may hasten America’s return to decent leadership. There are two stages of this more hopeful scenario.
In the first stage, even if the Republicans succeed in protecting Trump in the coming months – making themselves perhaps accomplices in Trump’s firing Mueller and shutting down the investigation – the great majority of the America people, who are even now giving Trump his unprecedentedly high disapproval levels, will be outraged. Outraged, and therefore still more motivated to intensify the pro-Democratic winds sweeping across the American electorate (as displayed recently in Virginia and Alabama).
This can help the Democrats take control of the House, and perhaps even become the majority party in the Senate.
That leads to the second phase of how this Republican conduct might end up draining this unprecedentedly toxic Party of its power.
Not only would a Congress controlled by Democrats likely be able to revive, if necessary, the Mueller investigation, or something like it. They also would be able to initiate serious inquiries into impeachment.
It seems beyond doubt that Trump warrants impeachment. (I cannot imagine historians questioning the wisdom or appropriateness of removing Trump from office for a rich assortment of reasons.)
Many have expressed reservations about removing Trump because of their concern that the replacement – a President Mike Pence – would be terrible as well. Presently, it seems uncertain whether Pence’s own involvement in the misconduct and lies of the Trump gang warrant his being impeached along with Trump. Uncertain, but certainly possible: Pence seems likely to have contributed his own share of lies, publicly and likely deliberately told, to cover up the Trump gang’s involvement with the Russians.
And that leads to the punch-line.
If Pence proves to warrant being impeached, it is better for the Democrats for the whole process to unfold in 2019 than sooner.
If the Republicans were to fulfill their oath of office now and proceed to impeach, and if both Trump and Pence were removed from office, then the new President – according to the Constitution’s line of succession– would be Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House.
Not much to celebrate in that.
But, if the Republicans, through their efforts to protect Trump, delay the day of reckoning until after the 2018 elections, and if the Democrats take control of the House (which at present, according to the futures markets, appears more likely than not), the removal of both Trump and Pence from office would mean that the new President of the United States would be….
whoever the Democrats elect as their Speaker of the House!