President Richard Nixon resigned in August, 1974 because his Republican confidantes said he would be otherwise impeached. He said two things over and over before his demise. The first was “I am not a crook.” He was. The second was to refer to the Watergate investigations as a “witch hunt.” They were not.
President Trump uses the same second phrase over and over again, with his confidantes, sycophants and subordinates echoing the line. The Russian thing is a “witch hunt” or it is a “Russian witch hunt.” As with Nixon, this is not a witch hunt. Robert Mueller has indicted thirteen Russians and five people, four of whom have some relationship to Donald Trump. Three of the four have confessed to lying to the FBI, with one serving jail time. The most egregious offender per the indictments thus far, will stand trial.
But, as we consider the thirteen Russians indicted, help me understand that if this was a witch hunt, why did the US government include those thirteen people in specific sanctions when the President finally succumbed to pressure to act? Call me crazy, but that seems to be a direct admission by this administration that Russian meddling occurred. So, how could that be a witch hunt?
One of the sad truths about what is transpiring is the House Intelligence Committee making intelligence gathering political. The leader of this committee, Congressman Devin Nunes, has done several unethical things and had to step aside for awhile as one action was investigated as a breach. While cleared of wrongdoing, it did not erase the lack of ethics in the first of several questionable actions by Nunes to mask the truth.
His lack of ethics was the subject of a conversation between Senator Richard Burr, the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committee and Speaker Paul Ryan. Burr told Ryan his committee did not support the conclusions or the release of the famous Nunes’ memo on a report he never read. Burr also said that Nunes had defamed with false accusations another Senator who happened to be a Democrat.
Yet, the purpose of Nunes’ politically partisan efforts was to give the President a prop to waive and tweet about. Fortunately, the Senate committee has been far more thorough and bipartisan. And, the Senate Judiciary committee has passed a bipartisan bill to give a fair hearing to Robert Mueller if he is fired by this President. It is sad the Mitch McConnell won’t bring this bill to the floor for a vote, which is highly political as well.
But, the one clear action of the President over the last sixteen months is to consistently change his story about things related to the Russian meddling. Why? Quoting Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, “if the President is innocent, it would help his case of he acted like it.” Gowdy answers his own statement in the first part of the phrase.
Just paying attention to this issue and what the President and his confidantes have said, I see a man who is guilty of obstruction of justice at a minimum. His own words and changing story to as late as yesterday indicate this. I see a man, at a minimum, who is an unwitting participant in Russian meddling, so says a CIA agent who testified in front of Congress. Yet, I will not be surprised if he is guilty of worse. A man who cares about his image and what people think of him would be interested in what was going on around him to get elected. Plus, there are those many financial relationships between Trump and Russian investors.
So, this is not a witch hunt. The FBI and Justice Department are not the bad guys. I find Trump’s attack on honorable law enforcement people a disgrace. But, I will say, if someone has done witchy things like this President does and appears to have done, he may want to watch out for falling houses.