Ordinarily, bringing up the same topic for a third time would be like beating a dead horse. But, congressional Republicans keep the “horse” alive with their behavior that demands critical commentary. Let’s review what previous blogs have posited regarding the “protection” racket that they are running.
November 30, 2016
This blog identified three areas in which congressional Republicans have either blocked or ignored legitimate challenges to Trump’s presidential behavior: His withheld tax returns, flip-flops and conflicts of interest.
February 17, 2017; 2.0
In this blog, four congressional Republicans were singled out as playing a major role in the aforementioned “protection racket”: Jeff Sessions, Kevin Brady, Devin Nunes and Jason Chaffetz.
At the time this blog was posted, Sessions was Trump’s nominee for Attorney General (AG). Asked if he would recuse himself if it happened that Trump came under criminal investigation, the nominee demurred. As the AG, he then would have been in a position to block any such investigation. (1)
Brady, as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee had the opportunity to bring to a vote, a proposal to force Trump to release his infamous tax returns. He refused to even allow the matter to come up for debate.
The House Select Committee on intelligence is chaired by Nunes. This body might have been tasked with the job of assessing then National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn’s, outside, conflicting business interests. It never happened because Nunes concocted a transparently flimsy excuse to prevent that from happening.
Chaffetz chairs the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee. This group might also have taken on the job of pressing Flynn on his outside activities. But, like Nunes, Chaffetz ginned up an excuse which foreclosed on such a possibility.
March 22, 2017; 3.0
A preclude to yesterday’s events, 45 participated in an interview with Fox News Tucker Carlson. During that tete a’ tete, held on March 15th, Trump promised that in a matter of a “few weeks” there would be revelations supporting his claim that former President Obama had “wire-tapped” him. A day later, the new president expanded on this, saying that “wire-tapping” could involve any number of different forms of surveillance.
On the 22nd, Nunes (again) served as the “front” for the protectionists. From a source that he never identified, the congressman obtained some intelligence (2) which revealed that Trump and members of his administration had been “incidentally” named in some legally collected intelligence. To clarify, what that means is this: Suppose Russians A and B are chatting. One says to the other “Can we work a trade deal with The US?” The other replies “That would have to go through Trump (or another named member of his administration; say Secretary of State, Tillerson). ” On its’ face this is innocuous. Even more telling is the fact that by law, Trump’s name (or that of any other US citizen) would have been redacted in a print-out of the surveiled conversation.
What does Nunes do with this? He engages in an egregious lapse in judgment and a violation of longstanding committee protocol by skipping right past his Intelligence Committee members and going straight to the president. Having thus alerted 45 to this intel, Nunes then proceeded to hold a press conference and make the same material available for public consumption. Not surprisingly, when asked about all this, Trump allowed that he felt “somewhat vindicated”, referring to the assertion he made in the Carlson interview (see above).
As suggested immediately above, Nunes’ first order of business should have been to go directly to his committee and share this new information with them. That he did not prompted the committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, to state that Nunes must decide if he is going to chair a fair and impartial hearing or act as a surrogate of the president, noting that he can’t do both.
The bottom line is this: Nunes behavior provided 45 with a convenient “cover” for his thus far baseless claim that Obama had wire-tapped him. If there is one BIG positive that may come out of all of this, it is that Nunes has made it all the more obvious that we need a special prosecutor and independent committee to undertake an in-depth examination of possible criminal collusion between Trump, members of his administration, and the Russians as the latter actively tried to corrupt our 2016 election.
- As events moved forward, Sessions was left with little choice but to finally recuse himself and he did just that.
- The source of this intelligence has yet to be authenticated.