Category: Politics

What if Mueller catches Trump — and it isn’t enough?

What if Mueller catches Trump — and it isn’t enough?

The Washington Post
By Eugene Robinson
Image courtesy of Christopher Gregory/Getty Images

We need to prepare for the eventuality that the Mueller probe catches President Trump, family members and associates red-handed — and Republicans in Congress refuse to do anything about it.

This is beginning to look like a possible or even probable outcome. With a cravenness matched only by its arrogance, the GOP is Trump’s party now. It no longer has any claim to be Lincoln’s.

Witness the cowardly about-face on the subject of Roy Moore’s candidacy for the Senate. The party initially took a position in line with its purported values: that a credibly accused child molester, who haunted the local mall seeking dates with teenage girls when he was in his 30s, is unworthy of the high office he seeks.

But then Trump endorsed Moore — given that more than a dozen women have accused the president of sexual misconduct, the phrase “birds of a feather” comes to mind — and Republicans changed their tune. The flow of money from national party coffers to Moore’s campaign, briefly interrupted, was resumed. Moore’s fitness became a matter that no longer troubled the GOP’s moral conscience, or what was left of it; only “the people of Alabama” could decide the difference between right and wrong.

Here is the distinction between our two major parties in 2017: Democratic leaders are forcing Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), both accused of harassing women, to resign. Republican leaders are trying to put Moore, accused of harassing teenagers and molesting a 14-year-old, in the Senate.

Given that context, it is naive to assume that anything special counsel Robert S. Mueller III uncovers will lead Republicans to choose principle over political advantage. Trump boasted during the campaign that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose support. As far as the GOP majorities in Congress are concerned, he may be right.

Mueller is doing his job. Ours is to elect Democrats and independents next year who will hold this appalling presidency to account.

Republicans are failing the Roy Moore test

Republicans are failing the Roy Moore test

The Washington Post
By Michael Gerson
Image courtesy of Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The prospect of Sen. Roy Moore has been both horrifying and clarifying. It would be difficult to design a more controlled, precise test of the moral gag reflex in politics.

In this political lifeboat dilemma, Republicans are being asked what principles they are willing to throw overboard in the interest of power. A belief that character matters in politics? Splash. A commitment to religious and ethnic inclusion? Splash. Moral outrage at credible charges of sexual predation against teen girls? Splash.

Those remaining in this lightened boat display a kind of shocking clarity. They value certain political ends — tax cuts, a conservative judiciary — more than ethical considerations. When it comes to confirming judges who oppose Roe v. Wade, the vote of a statesman is no better than the vote of a sexual predator — or, presumably, of a drug dealer or a murderer. This type of calculation admits no limiting principle.

So, in this view, it does not really matter that there is (as Ivanka Trump put it) “no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts” in Moore’s case. It does not matter that Moore’s explanations have been shifting and slippery. It does not matter that Moore has said that homosexual behavior should be illegal, or that he compared resisting gay marriage to resisting the Holocaust, or that he referred to Asians as “yellows,” or that he doesn’t believe former president Barack Obama is a natural born citizen, or that he believes there are communities living under shariah law in Illinois and Indiana.

Those willing to swallow all this — all the ignorance, cruelty, creepiness and malice — have truly shown the strength of their partisan commitment. A purity indistinguishable from mania.

The hope for American politics is found in the reverse, the photographic negative, of all these trends. In leaders who affirm and exemplify the nobility of the political enterprise. In arguments that elevate principle above expediency. In institutions that shape character, confront corruption, take the side of the exploited and echo the newly pertinent question: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

VA cuts program for homeless vets after touting Trump’s commitment

VA cuts program for homeless vets after touting Trump’s commitment

Politico
By Arthur Allen and Lorraine Woellert

Four days after Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin held a big Washington event to tout the Trump administration’s promise to house all homeless vets, the agency did an about-face, telling advocates it was pulling resources from a major housing program.

The VA said it was essentially ending a special $460 million program that has dramatically reduced homelessness among chronically sick and vulnerable veterans. Instead, the money would go to local VA hospitals that can use it as they like, as long as they show evidence of dealing with homelessness.

Anger exploded on a Dec. 1 call that was arranged by Shulkin’s Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans to explain the move. Advocates for veterans, state officials and even officials from HUD, which co-sponsors the program, attacked the decision, according to five people who were on the call.

The agency’s move came as HUD on Wednesday released its annual survey showing a 1.5 percent increase in veteran homelessness over 2016 — the first rise since 2010. Most of the jump occurred in Los Angeles, where housing costs are skyrocketing.

Advocates said cuts to the program were doubly foolish because the chronically homeless veterans it serves typically cost cities and the health care system hundreds of thousands of dollars for emergency room visits, ambulance runs and jailings that could be avoided if the veterans were reasonably sheltered.

Gadsden locals say Moore’s predatory behavior at mall, restaurants not a secret

Gadsden locals say Moore’s predatory behavior at mall, restaurants not a secret

AL.com
By Anna Claire Vollers
Image courtesy of AP Photo/Gadsden Times, Steve Latham

Roy Moore’s penchant for flirting with teen girls was “common knowledge” and “not a big secret” around Gadsden, according to some area residents.

The Senate candidate has denied any wrongdoing in the wake of a report from The Washington Post in which four women accused Moore of inappropriate advances – and in one instance, a sexual encounter – toward them when they were teens and he was in his early 30s.

One of the four women claims she was 14 at the time, making her the only one whose claim would represent a legal violation. Moore has said he never met her. A fifth woman came forward this afternoon.

Moore and other Republican leaders have questioned why it took so long for his accusers, now in their 50s, to come forward publicly.

And yet people who lived in Etowah County during that time have said Moore’s flirting with and dating much younger women and girls was no secret.

McConnell calls on Roy Moore to end Senate campaign following accusations of sexual misconduct

McConnell calls on Roy Moore to end Senate campaign following accusations of sexual misconduct

The Washington Post
By Sean Sullivan and Elise Viebeck

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that Republican nominee Roy Moore should end his Senate campaign in Alabama, following allegations that he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32.

“I think he should step aside,” McConnell said. His comments marked the most definitive position he has taken on Moore’s candidacy since The Washington Post reported the allegations on Thursday.

Asked by a reporter whether he believed the allegations, McConnell responded: “I believe the women, yes.”

Although it is too late to remove Moore’s name from the ballot before the Dec. 12 special election, McConnell said he is exploring the option of a write-in campaign by Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore defeated in the primary, or another Republican.

The Post reported Thursday that Leigh Corfman alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore has denied the allegations and has vowed to continue his campaign.

‘Canary in the coal mine’: Republicans fear Democratic wins mean more losses to come

‘Canary in the coal mine’: Republicans fear Democratic wins mean more losses to come

The Washington Post
By Robert Costa and Philip Rucker

A wave of Democratic victories ignited a ferocious debate across the Republican Party on Wednesday over whether President Trump’s un­or­tho­dox behavior and polarizing agenda are jeopardizing the GOP’s firm grip on power in Congress, governors’ mansions and state legislatures.

The recriminations sparked by Tuesday’s results — a decisive rebuke of Trump and his policies in Virginia and elsewhere — threatened the fragile GOP push to pass sweeping tax cuts by the end of the year and raised deeper questions about Republican identity and fealty to a historically unpopular president.

A year ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Republicans are increasingly uncertain about keeping their majorities on Capitol Hill and are worried about how damaging Trump’s jagged brand of politics may become to the party.

“Donald Trump is an anchor for the GOP,” said veteran party strategist Mike Murphy, a Trump critic. “We got that message in loud volume in Virginia. The ­canary in the coal mine didn’t just pass out; its head exploded.”

The unease was palpable among vulnerable lawmakers, especially in suburban districts with the kind of voters who roundly rejected Ed Gillespie in Virginia. The Republican gubernatorial nominee ran on countering gang crime and illegal immigration and protecting Confederate history — cultural issues that Trump has made a touchstone of his presidency — but lost to ­Democrat Ralph Northam, 54 percent to 45 percent.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said Tuesday’s contests were a lesson to Republicans that catering to the party’s conservative base with hard-line appeals and incendiary language turns off the moderate voters they need to win in states like his own. He said his party must choose between a political message of “blaming and scapegoating” or a more hopeful pitch centered around everyday issues such as health care and the economy.

“This is a repudiation of the politics of narrow,” Kasich said. In an apparent reference to Trump’s 2016 victory, the governor added, “The politics of anger may work for a moment in time, but it does not last, thank goodness.”

The discord comes after weeks of escalating tensions inside the GOP. Three prominent Republican senators — John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee — have publicly condemned Trump’s leadership and questioned his fitness for office.

It also comes amid an exodus of House Republicans. This week alone, Reps. Frank A. LoBiondo (N.J.) and Ted Poe (Texas) announced they would not seek reelection next year, joining a list of more than two dozen colleagues who are retiring or running for a different office. Democrats see many of those vacancies as ripe territory as they look to win back the House majority. Democrats will need to capture 24 additional seats next year to reach the 218-seat threshold to control the House.

Trump’s meltdown in anticipation of indictments is telling

Trump’s meltdown in anticipation of indictments is telling

The Washington Post
By Jennifer Rubin

President Trump and his surrogates — most especially the Fox News lineup (which includes a fleet of conservative pundits who disgrace themselves by facilitating a political distraction game for Trump), obsequious Republicans in Congress, old allies such as Roger Stone (who wound up getting banned by Twitter) and the talk radio crowd — have been frantically fanning Hillary Clinton non-scandals about Uranium One (it was baseless before and baseless now) and the dossier’s funder. (Fusion GPS initially was hired by the conservative Free Beacon, which at one time claimed not to know the identity of the Republican outfit that first hired Fusion.) The unhinged rants from Trump’s defenders demanding Clinton be locked up for one or both of these reveal how tightly Trump and the right-wing ecosystem that supports him rely on Clinton as an all-purpose distraction.

Upon a moment’s reflection, the non-scandals make no sense (Clinton was colluding with Russia to beat herself in the election?), have been debunked before and in no way affect the liability, if any, of current or ex-Trump administration figures. This is “whataboutism” run amok. It does expose the degree to which Fox News has given up the pretense of a real news organization, preferring the role of state propagandist. (And it’s not just the evening hosts; the non-scandals now monopolize the rest of the schedule.)

The intensity of Trump’s frenzy underscores the peril in which the president now finds himself. Beyond the indictments unsealed this morning, Trump does not know what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has uncovered; which witnesses are flippable; what financial documents have revealed about the Trump business empire; and whether, for example, Mueller finds support for an obstruction of justice charge from Trump’s own public dissembling (e.g., hinting at non-existent tapes of former FBI director James B. Comey). For someone who insists on holding all the cards and intimidating others, Trump finds himself in a uniquely powerless position.

It should surprise no one that congressional Republicans, who have demonstrated their spinelessness again and again, are silent.