Remember two short years ago when Hillary Clinton was being investigated by the FBI while running for president? Remember how the mere fact the investigation existed was proof that she should never be trusted with the presidency?
Here is a sample of the Republican mood of the day:
Here’s Marco Rubio suggesting our country “can’t afford” to have a president under FBI investigation. “Think of the trauma that would do to this country,” said Marco. He hasn’t thought about it since.
Here’s Trump social media director (that’s right, all those crazy Trump Twitter shenanigans are monitored by a person who has not yet been fired) Dan Scavino, suggesting no one could possibly even run for the office while under investigation.
Here is Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, telling us, “Most honest people I know are not under FBI investigation, let alone two.”
And don’t forget the esteemed chairman of the Republican National Committee at the time, Reince Priebus:
The FBI’s decision to reopen their criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server just eleven days before the election shows how serious this discovery must be…This alone should be disqualifying for anyone seeking the presidency, a job that is supposed to begin each morning with a top secret intelligence briefing.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the thoughts of the Republican candidate himself:
I mean honestly, she shouldn’t be allowed to run. No she shouldn’t be.
Republicans were clear: the FBI is to be trusted so unanimously and completely that even being under investigation meant you should be disqualified from seeking the White House. Forget that Hillary was cleared before the election – didn’t matter. This was the FBI we were talking about. The FBI was of unimpeachable integrity, and we couldn’t let the presidency be soiled by someone impure enough to be investigated, regardless of the result.
Imagine how these folks must feel today, what with the sitting President of the United States staring down the following:
- felony campaign finance violations involving defrauding the American people out of information that could have swayed the presidential election, by the FBI’s SDNY office;
- felony tax fraud and tax evasion into the Trump Organization, also by FBI’s SDNY;
- felony fraud into the Trump Foundation, a “charitable organization”, by the NY state attorney general;
- felony obstruction of justice, by the DOJ special counsel (Robert S. Mueller III); and
- the mother of them all: collusion with Russia, for which Mueller has already brought over 100 criminal charges including several against members of his 2016 campaign team.
Republicans are blowing a gasket, right?
Republicans have decided many things, none of which include any kind of reprimand for the president. Here is a summary of their current arguments:
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT):
I don’t think he was involved in crimes but even then, you know, you can make anything a crime under the current laws if you want to.
Oh, you know, there are just too many laws to follow. That’s the real problem here. How could anyone go through life without the occasional felony?
Or Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
I don’t have any observations to make about that.
This one is more accurately described as a non-argument. We might have a major problem to deal with at the top of the federal government, but Mitch doesn’t want to deal with it, and nothing you or the FBI have to say can make him.
And the other senator from Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul:
I personally think that if someone makes an error in filing paperwork or in not categorizing a campaign contribution correctly, it shouldn’t be jail time. It should be a fine.
Saying a felony to conceal info they believed was vital to their election is a “paperwork error”, is like saying felony hit and run is a simple traffic violation.
Or Senator John Thune (R-ND):
These guys were all new to this at the time. Most of us have made mistakes when it comes to campaign finance issues.
This was having your lawyer set up a shell corporation two weeks before the presidential election so he could pay two women about 45 times the max legal campaign contribution each, then paying that lawyer back slowly over many months so as not to be detected, and lying about it when the world found out. Not a “mistake” by the new guy.
There’s Senator John Kennedy (not John F.) (R-LA):
Well, when I read the filings by Mr. Mueller, I was looking primarily for evidence of illegal Russian collusion. I didn’t see a lot of that.
Right. There’s just Trump’s lawyer lying about negotiations throughout the campaign to put an enormous Trump Tower up in downtown Moscow while the Russian government was offering “political synergy” and hacking Democrats’ emails, followed by two full years of everyone in the Trump campaign (seriously, 14 of them) denying they ever spoke to a Russian. It’s not “a lot” of collusion.
There’s Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):
It looks like what they’re going to focus on is just more investigations. I think America’s too great of a nation to have such a small agenda.
Kevin McCarthy is the #2 ranking Republican in the House of Representatives that still – 6 years later – has not finished investigating the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Wait, now Orrin Hatch would like to try again:
The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president.
Those sneaky Democrats will force a man to sleep with a porn star behind his wife’s back and commit a felony covering it up to win an election. The nerve of Democrats. Just then, someone told Orrin that federal prosecutors were alleging these things, not Democrats.
He gave it a third go:
Okay, but I don’t care. All I can say is he’s doing a good job as president.
I. Don’t. Care. This is certainly the Republican quote of the Trump era. Orrin Hatch started off with a terrible argument that didn’t make any sense, then immediately followed up with two worse ideas. They don’t even care if Trump is doing a good job as president, if we’re being honest.
These people don’t care about rules, laws, whether the president might be beholden to Russia, what they said two years ago, or one sentence ago. It’s all heads-I-win, tails-you-lose with these guys.
They are standing in front of microphones daring everyone in the country to vote them out by saying, “You’ll never make me throw the president out of office. Not if he broke the law to get there, not if he colluded with Russia, not if he’s owned by Russia. We won’t look at his taxes, no matter how much he lies, no matter how much evidence there is of fraud or anything else. Not if he fires the FBI Director, the deputy FBI Director, the Attorney General, the entire Department of Justice.”
It’s almost as if when Republicans claim the mantle of “Law and Order”, what they really mean is “Order”. As in, say and do whatever needs said and done to ensure Republicans stay in charge, with everything else – their own credibility, the FBI, free and fair elections, the concept of law itself – taking a backseat.
November 2020 can’t get here soon enough.