Home National Politics Trump and the Republicans, or, How to Treat Gangrene

Trump and the Republicans, or, How to Treat Gangrene


This piece is running in newspapers in VA-06, my very red congressional district represented (or mis-represented) by Bob Goodlatte.

Here are the words of our congressional representative, Bob Goodlatte:

“I have a constitutional duty to follow the truth wherever it leads. The truth in this case leads me to believe that the President knowingly engaged in a calculated pattern of lies, deceit, and delay in order to mislead the American people [and] impede the search for truth… Therefore, I have no alternative but to support articles of impeachment against [the] President…”

It’s refreshing to hear Mr. Goodlatte talking about “constitutional duty,” isn’t it? Especially after watching him put party loyalty ahead of the duties to the nation for so many years.

But wait! That quote is from 1998! The President then was from the other party.

Now, in 2017, as the nation confronts the much larger, and much graver “pattern of lies” – and obstruction of justice – in the conduct of a President of his own Party, Mr. Goodlatte is mute.

The presidential lies that led Goodlatte then to speak so piously posed no threat to the nation: they concerned merely a president’s disreputable private conduct, having nothing to do with the powers of his office.

By contrast, the deceit and obstruction from the current president strike at the core of our constitutional order. Trump has been

  • Denying the unanimous conclusion of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies regarding the Russian interference in our election on Trump’s behalf.
  • Demanding personal loyalty from the Director of the FBI, according to officials there– a violation of a fundamental American value that “we are a nation of laws, not of men.”
  • Asking the Director of the FBI to back off of investigating one of his closest allies, who is also among those apparently most closely tied to the Russians.
  • Firing a success of public servants, of proven integrity, involved with investigating possible misdeeds in Trump’s orbit – e.g. Sally Yates, Deputy Attorney General; Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney with jurisdiction over Trump Tower and money laundering; and most recently James Comey, leader of the main investigation into the Trump/Russia questions.
  • Falsely calling these historically serious matters “a made up story.”

None of these, however, have prompted Goodlatte to say anything about constitutional duty.

It could not be clearer what governs Goodlatte’s choices:  not “constitutional duty” but partisan loyalty.

If the President is a Democrat, try to destroy him. Never mind how irrelevant are his misdeeds to the need to protect and defend the Constitution.

If the President is a Republican, try to protect him. Never mind how alarming is his pattern of conduct– assaulting the Constitution and the rule of law.

It matter more now, than back in 1998, what Goodlatte chooses. Then just a regular congressman, now — with his party loyalty rewarded with the plum position of Chair of the House Judiciary Committee — he occupies the very spot from which any inquiry into impeachable offenses must begin.

I shouldn’t be too hard on Goodlatte, however. With but a few noble exceptions, all the Republicans in Congress are choosing likewise: to protect the president rather than the Constitution they swore an oath to defend.

Back in the days of Watergate (1973-74), the Republican Party was different. That Party still had some conscience. That’s why the investigative hearings into President Nixon’s misdeeds were as bi-partisan as they were.

But of conscience in today’s Republican Party, there is no sign. The great majority of these elected Republicans will do whatever is politically advantageous, “constitutional duty” be damned.

Even so, I believe they are calculating their political advantage foolishly.

They seem to believe that Trump can ride this out. Time might prove them right. (But I hate to think of what kind of nation we would then be, if the President can attack our constitutional order and – by deception, intimidation, and abuse of power — get away with it.)

My bet is that impeachment will eventually come.

With so many offenses already visible, and being compounded so regularly; with so many in America (citizens and institutions) activated and mobilized to protect the gift our founders gave us; with the President’s approval numbers so low and apparently still eroding—the pressure to rescue the presidency from this man likely will eventually become irresistible.

And how will it be then for these careerist Republicans, who have maintained too long their connection with this gangrenous President?

With gangrene, the choice is often clear and urgent: amputate the affected part, or the whole body will be infected and die.

And so it is for the Republican Party: the longer it remains attached to this President, the more profound the damage to the Party.

More important, the longer they prop him up, the more damage to our nation.

  • Poor, poor Donald Trump…such a poor little victim, what a horrible life.


    • Gail Nedrick

      He’s a pitiful self absorbed, pathetic cry baby, whining about how bad he’s being treated as he’s giving a speech to all those young people who haven’t seen a fraction of the opportunities and good fortunes he had.

  • VirtueOhSo

    Well said, as usual, Andy. I continue to be amazed, and frustrated, that the national news media keeps giving Goodlatte a free pass – never points out his key role as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee – a Trump protector and prince of the plutocracy.

  • Dan Rather:

    And then the dam broke.

    A flood is coming that will shape the future of our Republic in ways no one can predict. Except that the speed with which this has all happened, just a over a hundred days into President Donald Trump’s dumpster fire of an administration, means it was all very predictable. And no one who played a role in normalizing this President should be allowed to forget it.

    We have news that the Department of Justice, under Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, will appoint a special a Special Counsel to investigate the Russia interference scandal. Apparently the President was only given a 30 minute heads up, and it came while he was interviewing new heads for the FBI. The Special Counsel will be former FBI Director Robert Mueller. These types of investigations tend to stir up more dirt than anyone thought was there. We will see if that happens now.

    The stock market plummets. The White House staff is in chaos. The chorus of Republicans suddenly eager to be on the right side of history gets louder. Most of the time Washington moves in slow motion – except when it doesn’t. And this moment is one of those times. We are living in a news cycle that can be measured in nanoseconds.

    And amidst the news, another blockbuster report by the Washington Post. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy apparently said last June that he thought Putin pays Trump. At which point Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who was also there, stopped the conversation and swore those who were present to secrecy. When the Post asked about the incident, spokesmen for both representatives denied the story on the record. When they were informed that the Post reporters had heard a tape of the exchange, they changed their tune – saying it was a joke.

    What all this makes clear is that the concerns which now threaten the integrity of our government were well known and played for cynical theater. Well the curtain may be coming down on this act of this tragedy. New actors wait to take the stage for a drama for which the script is yet to be written.

  • Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA 10) statement on Mueller appointment:

    Last week I called for an independent investigation that the American people can trust. With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel, the American people can have confidence in a fair and thorough investigation as well as confidence in the eventual outcome.

  • Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA 02) statement on Mueller appointment:

    Just last week, I stated that the American people need to have the confidence that our most trusted public institutions are independent and objective arbiters of justice. Considering this decision was made by the Deputy Attorney General on the basis of public trust in our process, and not from pervasive partisan politics, I completely support it. Let the facts lie where they may.

  • RELEASE: Joint Statement from Senate Intel Committee Leaders on Special Counsel Appointment

    Wednesday May 17, 2017

    WASHINGTON –Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today made the following statement on the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel:

    “The appointment of former FBI Director and respected lawyer Robert Mueller as special counsel for the Russia investigation is a positive development and will provide some certainty for the American people that the investigation will proceed fairly and free of political influence.

    “The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will continue its own investigation and to the extent any deconfliction is required, we will engage with Director Mueller and our expectation is that he will engage with the Committee as well.”

    • RobertColgan

      I SO hope there is no “deconfliction” (a neo-conned word if ever there was one) required———-but conflict between that Senate Select Committee and an independent counsel spells doom for the independence of the special investigation. I trust Congresscritters about as much as I trust nocturnal animals staggering in the midday sun and frothing at the mouth.
      Let’s pray Mueller tells them to go fuck themselves.

  • Rep. Donald McEachin statement on Mueller appointment:

    “I’m pleased to see that the Justice Department has decided to appoint a special counsel. That is one small step toward the honest, transparent, thorough and expeditious investigation that the American people deserve. I would like to reiterate the importance of also having an independent commission. Most importantly, the work of the Special Counsel and the Commission must be thorough and include the precipitous firing of former FBI Director James Comey in the scope of the investigation. I hope my Republican colleagues are finally recognizing the gravity of the situation and the necessity to put principle over Party and partisanship.”

  • RobertColgan

    Thanks, Andy.
    At the risk of damage to the nation…..which is already considerable given the fact that a Republican-dominated Legislature will be loathe to undo Trump’s heinous de-regulations (economic,environmental, women’s rights, healthcare, LBGTQA rights, minority rights, etc) ———- another argument could be advanced that the longer Trump is maintained in the WH, the more damage is done to the idiots surrounding him and sitting in Congress who continue to attempt to rationalize his outré madness.
    We need public anger.
    We need people to turn against their handlers who should be Constitutional servants:
    the better to reverse that poisonous majority rule, the better to cathartically purge a lot of that incumbent deadwood.
    I would like to see the American electorate so pissed off at the shenanigans of their elected officials———–they finally start thinking about what it means to have a “representative Republic.”
    Maybe things have to devolve horribly before effective healing can finally begin………
    Midterm elections are still quite a long while away and voters now tend to have extremely short shortterm memories.

    • Andy Schmookler

      I agree that there is a trade-off between 1) protecting the nation from the danger of Trump (having the nuclear football, for starters), which calls for ousting him as soon as possible and 2) wanting the infection from the Trump gangrene to spread as far as possible into the GOP generally to do maximal damage to the atrocity that the Republican Party has become, which would be accomplished more by prolonging the process.

      In any event, the choice will be the Republicans’. Trump is there until they decide that protecting him costs more than it benefits them– if indeed that time will ever come.

      And that choice will depend in large measure on public opinion. The numbers on the general public will matter. But what will matter most, I would guess, is a serious breakdown of the roughly 88% of Republican voters (at least that was the most recent figure I’ve seen) who still support Trump.

      The gap between the general public and the deluded Republican base may be the thing that ultimately swallows up this grotesque political party.

      • RobertColgan

        I saw of those who originally supported him 84% still support him…..but the number of those who STRONGLY support him is dropping……getting lukewarm. . .so it’s shifting, albeit slowly.
        As we said before, the real challenge is to move that heavily indoctrinated Trump base toward critical thinking… . . participatory with consciousness.

        AND, I agree, there is always that risk, as we saw with the Cheney/Bush cabal among other administrations, that war is declared to shore up flagging support. So, yes, it might be far more in everyone’s interest to remove an imbalanced POTUS before regret fully takes over.