Who do Republicans in Congress think they’re fooling with their phony memo purporting that the FBI is out to get Donald J. Trump?
Probably not the 65 percent of Americans who disapprove of Trump. Just the hard-core 35 percent who would remain loyal to him even if he had sex with porn stars, took golden showers with Russian hookers, had 22 women accusing him of sexual misconduct and was in bed with Russian oligarchs.
Now that we have had a chance to read the much-ballyhooed House Intelligence Committee memo, it’s clear to the sane majority that there is nothing there. It’s just an opinion piece written by Republican staffers, edited by Trump’s chief House flunky Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, and approved by GOP members of the committee who have not actually read the intelligence underlying the memo. You may recall it was Nunes who disclosed classified information in a desperate attempt to substantiate Trump’s false claim that Obama had the FBI wiretap Trump Tower. He has no credibility whatsoever.
That, of course, has not kept alt-right Internet trolls from howling that the FBI and the Department of Justice violated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act rules in getting warrants against Trump apparatchik Carter Page, this despite the fact that the FBI had had its eye on Page as a Russian spy since 2013. No, no, the Nunes memorandum is proof positive to the tin hat wing of the Republican Party, which is about all there is left of it, that a dreaded Deep State of sinister liberals exists within the bureaucracy and is determined to bring down Dear Leader Donald.
The Nunes nothingburger also has Trump braying “No collusion!” and “Total vindication!” apparently unaware that members of his team are being indicted and are pleading guilty to perjury left and right. Of course, a delusional narcissist, who can’t admit that his State of the Union Address drew millions fewer viewers than Clinton, Bush and Obama did, is not going to be capable of comprehending that a note from Devin Nunes does not excuse him from lack of class.
What should be of great concern to all Americans is that Trump may try to use the Republican memo as an excuse to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Republican who appointed Robert Mueller special counsel after Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who lied to Congress about his own Russian connections, had to recuse himself.
If Rosenstein and Mueller go, all hell could break loose. Trump doesn’t seem to understand that the Mueller investigation is the only way he can get the Russian monkey off his back. If he’s not guilty and he wants vindication, he better let Mueller complete his investigation.
This is all speculation of course. No one really knows what’s going on with the Russia investigation except Mueller and the FBI. I’m willing to believe that Trump is not personally guilty of collusion with the Russians and is unlikely to face impeachment on that charge, but if he can’t keep his big mouth shut he may very well end up being charged with obstruction of justice.
What’s hard to believe in all of this is that the GOP, once a redoubt of law-and-order patriots, has descended so far into lawless conspiracy craziness that Republicans in Congress are now more concerned about protecting Trump than they are about protecting American democracy. To ignore Russian interference with the U.S. election process because it might delegitimize a pseudo-Republican president is much closer to treason than Democrats failing to applaud that president’s State of the Union address.
Ultimately, it’s hard to imagine how all this can lead anywhere other than anarchy and violence. If Trump dismisses Mueller, the streets will fill with millions of Americans demanding justice. If Trump is somehow removed for cause, alt-right white nationalist militias will be up in arms.
The best we can hope for is that the November midterm elections neuter Trump by delivering Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Of course, Trump may start a war before then in hopes of preventing just such a blue wave.
If we keep going in the direction Trump has charted, we are headed for a police state in which walls are built along borders, government agents check citizen identity papers, people are sent into exile, tanks and troops parade through the capital in a show of military might and everyone is forced to applaud the man in charge.
Sound like anywhere we know? Certainly not the United States of America.
Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.