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Mitch McConnell's Trump Defense Strategy Is Proof the Republican Party Is an Authoritarian Outfit

The president is destroying any institution of democracy that could provide a check on his power, and Republicans in Congress are helping him.

They're led by Mitch McConnell, who's done far more damage to American democracy than Donald Trump and started the job well before the Tangerine Generalissimo pried his way into the Oval Office. (Photo: Tom Williams/ Getty)

They're led by Mitch McConnell, who's done far more damage to American democracy than Donald Trump and started the job well before the Tangerine Generalissimo pried his way into the Oval Office. (Photo: Tom Williams/ Getty)

One day after the President of the United States released his latest authoritarian trial balloon, his allies in the Senate have sought to make it clear, in case there was any doubt, that they have jettisoned their obligations to defend the Constitution and will instead defend The Leader.

On Monday, Donald Trump helped to float the idea that two years of his term had been "stollen" by the Russia investigation, which he and his allies are now calling a "coup," and that his term should be extended as a result. This might seem a bit absurd when you consider the supposed shadowy cabal trying to take down the president opted not to press charges, and to leave the decision on whether he obstructed justice to a Congress that is half-controlled by his Republican allies. Just don't think too hard about it!

That's what the Senate Republicans are hoping you'll do. They're led by Mitch McConnell, who's done far more damage to American democracy than Donald Trump and started the job well before the Tangerine Generalissimo pried his way into the Oval Office. The Kentucky senator is the archetypal megalomaniac, deploying weaponized nihilism to secure tax cuts and stuff the courts full of conservative ideologues in service to big-money campaign donors, who will, in turn, help maintain his place as one of the three most powerful people in America. Ol' Mitch plans to make an exciting announcement on the Senate floor today, which his aides leaked to the press this morning.

 

"McConnell will take to the floor this morning to say it’s time to move on from the Mueller probe and call the 'case closed,' per his office," according to CNN's Manu Raju.

 The case is not closed. The Mueller Report details 10 incidents that may constitute obstruction of justice. A group of 450 former federal prosecutors signed a letter this week declaring that, based on the evidence outlined in the Report, Donald Trump would have been charged with obstruction if he were not the president. (Current Justice Department policies dictate a sitting president cannot be indicted, which Mueller cited in the Report to explain his non-decision.) The Fox News Judge agrees. You do not need to be charged with any underlying crime to be charged with obstructing the investigation, which the Justice Department proved just this week in the case of an FBI linguist. Yet Attorney General Bill Barr, who runs the Justice Department as Trump's pet toad, suggested the president can obstruct justice if he's upset.

Beyond all that, Congress should be interested in the dozens and dozens of contacts between Trump's campaign and a hostile foreign power that attacked our elections. Why don't Republicans want to know? It's almost like they're an authoritarian outfit that sees no limits on what you can do to win elections, be it suppressing votes or rigging district maps or straight-up (alleged) election fraud.

 

If you're keeping score at home, Republicans fabricated the issue of in-person "voter fraud" to justify voter-suppression tactics like voter ID, while multiple Republican congressional campaigns have now been accused of actual election fraud. Oh, and the response from Republicans in states like Wisconsin and Kansas where they lost the governor's race to a Democrat was to try to strip the governor's office of its powers. Considering all that, what's the problem if Russian ratfucking gets you over the line? Winning and power are virtues in and of themselves. The ends always justify the means.

The Republican Party in Congress has abandoned all pretense of performing its constitutional duties.

McConnell's orders seem to have been delivered to the rest of his caucus. Last week we were subjected to the antics of Lindsey Graham, the political parasite whose noxious hypocrisy was exposed on both impeachment and Donald Trump himself. Lindsey's opinions on what constitutes obstruction of justice, whether it's an impeachable offense, and whether Donald Trump is fit to be president have all changed since Donald Trump became president and he obstructed justice. And now here's John Cornyn of Texas, via CNN's Manu Raju.

"I think it probably would be healthy for the country to move on. Because otherwise the charade is just going to continue to try to parse and pick apart every sentence and punctuation mark of that."

What, man? It's better for the country to just accept that the president will abuse his power to shield himself from accountability for what he's done? And whatever happened to the idea that The Mueller Report was a COMPLETE EXONERATION! of the president? Why don't they want the Report's author to testify before Congress so he can put this Long National Nightmare Behind Us? It's almost like it was all a bullshit PR stunt spearheaded by the president's pet toad of an attorney general to try to diffuse public outcry about the Trumpian behavior detailed in the Report.
 

One of the senior leaders of the Republican Senate majority has dismissed the oversight functions of Congress as a "charade," possibly because that is how Republicans used them when Democrats controlled the Executive Branch. That's how you got the Benghazi farce, where Republicans in Congress used the deaths of four Americans in Libya to weaken Hillary Clinton's expected presidential bid—something now-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy openly admitted on national television. It went on longer than the Mueller probe and ended with an 800-page report that found exactly nothing. But it brought down Clinton's poll numbers. If everything is nihilistic power politics to you, maybe you assume it's the same for your opposition.

Oh, and the Russia investigation led to indictments for, or guilty pleas from, 34 people, including six former Trump advisers, like his former campaign manager and deputy campaign manager and White House National Security Adviser. What a charade!

The sad fact of the matter is that the Republican Party in Congress has abandoned all pretense of performing its constitutional duties, choosing instead to fall in lockstep behind a leader who engages in daily attempts to undermine or destroy the institutions of democracy that might serve as a check on his power, and who has embraced political violence from the rally podium. Now he's musing about getting his term extended for reasons just as fabricated as those he used to deploy active-duty troops on U.S. soil.

Jack Holmes

Jack Holmes

Jack Holmes is Associate Editor for News & Politics at Esquire.com, where he writes daily and edits the Politics Blog with Charles P. Pierce. He also does a dash of sports and some feature writing. His work has appeared in New York magazine and The Daily Beast.

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