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A service for political professionals · Tuesday, December 10, 2019 · 504,445,926 Articles · 3+ Million Readers

The Gutless See-No-Evil GOP Members of Congress

By Joe Rothstein — September 24, 2019

Two headlines on page 8 of my Washington Post today.

“Trump’s GOP takeover causes many House Republicans to Head for the Exits.”

“House Democrats Decry ‘Weak’ Oversight of President.”

Two headlines and two story lines prominent in today’s political media coverage.

But here’s the actual story, and where the focus should be:

“Republicans Abandon Duty to Uphold the Law.”

Trump is lawless in plain sight. He’s already been named as a criminal conspirator for his role in paying hush money in a scheme to hide his sexual behavior. He’s already been called out for obstructing justice in the Mueller investigation. Illegally leveraging his office to personally profit his hotels and golf courses is such a long-running story it seldom makes front pages any more.

And now, without even a nod to the irony of it, while his own family members line their pockets through presidential influence, he is obsessed with Joe Biden that he is willing to trade Ukraine’s security for a cupful of political dirt on Biden's son.

Yes, Nancy Pelosi is moving cautiously about impeaching Trump. She has every reason to be. Without any. Repeat, any Republican support, impeachment becomes a Democratic Party effort to remove a Republican president. Republican members of Congress are well aware of Trump’s lawlessness. How could they not be? But instead of agreeing to even consider looking beneath the headlines, they are, as the Washington Post says, “heading for the exits.”

Has there ever been a comparable case of wholesale political cowardice?

No push back when Trump turned their party from its free trade roots to economic isolationism. No push back when Trump trashed our long-time allies and fell in love with the world’s worst dictators. No push back when he diverted taxpayer money to pay for a wall Congress rejected. And now, no push back even as Trump withholds money Ukraine needs to fight Russian military aggression, just to undermine Biden’s candidacy.

In criminal law-speak, aiding and abetting a crime also is a crime. In that sense, all Republicans in Congress, including the ones scurrying to the exits rather than upholding their oaths to defend the Constitution, should be indicted. In fact, that’s Nancy Pelosi’s preferred solution to the Trump lawlessness threat. She says he should be in jail, not impeached.

Despite Pelosi’s well-founded reluctance, we may be heading there any way. Democrats are feeling too much heat from their own supporters not to ramp up their investigations. And if they do, perhaps it will crack the stone wall of Republican resistance. One promising note was sounded over the weekend by a Republican who could marshal a significant number of followers: Mitt Romney. Here’s how he was quoted in the New York Times:

“Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, was more critical, deeming it “critical for the facts to come out” and saying, “If the president asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme.”

Extreme. Yes, that’s an appropriate word for a president who cares nothing for the law, except how he can flaunt it without consequences.

(Joe Rothstein is a veteran political consultant and author of the acclaimed thriller, The Latina President. His new novel, “The Salvation Project,” will be released in November)

Joe Rothstein is editor of U.S. Politics Today. His career in politics spans 35 years, as a strategist and media producer in more than 200 campaigns for political office and for many political causes. He was a pioneer in professional political consulting and one of the founding members of the American Association of Political Consultants. During his career Mr. Rothstein has served as editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Anchorage Daily News and adjunct professor at George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. He has a master's degree in journalism from UCLA.