Thursday’s New York Times contained an unusual op-ed. It’s not strange because of it’s conclusion that Donald Trump “is being manipulated by Russia,” or even it’s contention that Trump “actively participated in a Russian disinformation campaign that legitimized Russian denial and weakened the credibility of the United States.” Both of those statements seem solidly in the middle of the road following behavior in Helsinki that has caused numerous politicians and commentators to pull out the “T” word.
What made the Thursday column interesting was that it came from a Republican Congressman, Will Hurd of Texas. Hurd’s blunt declamation stands in stark contrast to the general Republican tip-toe response that has come following Trump’s return from the Humiliation in Helsinki. While some Republicans, like Newt Gingrich, have started out with what appear to be fairly strong statements that Trump’s behavior with Putin was at least somewhat embarrassing, they’ve been quick to sound an all clear when Trump offered to smallest of token gestures. Others, like Mitch McConnell, pitched their response as more hypothetical responses to an possible executive doing something theoretically bad, leaving out such details as the fact that it involved Donald Trump.
Hurd, an ex-CIA officer, had much less of an issue in pointing out that Trump’s behavior went beyond Not Normal, and into the realm of Extremely Dangerous. And he suggested something that hasn’t seemed to occur to other Republicans since Trump took office.
As a member of Congress, a coequal branch of government designed by our founders to provide checks and balances on the executive branch, I believe that lawmakers must fulfill our oversight duty as well as keep the American people informed of the current danger.
Republicans have over the last two years restricted that “oversight duty” to trying to cripple the FBI and launch new investigations of Hilary Clinton’s emails. So Hurd’s statement sounds pretty extraordinary … though the fact that Hurd scraped out a narrow victory in a district that Clinton won by over three percent and is looking at a Blue Wave bearing down on him this fall, likely concentrated his mind.
And that’s the secret, of course. Hurd’s op-ed is unusual only because it’s coming from a Republican. There are plenty of Democratic voices making statements that are even more strident and determined. It’s just that right now, Republicans are keeping them from acting.
Earlier this week, I wrote an article that included this statement:
The constitutional crisis is over. The Constitution lost.
It’s something that many took to be somewhat … defeatist. However, that wasn’t the intent. We’re not having a constitutional crisis at the moment, because Republicans have put the Constitution on hold. They’ve punted. Looked away. Held their nose over America’s plummet from world leadership in exchange for a tax break and the illusion of power. We never had that crisis because Republicans in Congress didn’t just lose their fight with Trump, they surrendered before a shot was fired.
In short: Republicans have taken their cue directly from … could it be Satan? Yes, it could. Satan courtesy of John Milton. They’ve decided that it is “Better to reign in hell, than to serve in heaven.” Even when that hell comes complete with Donald Trump, which is truly one of the lower circles.
Will Hurd’s column isn’t notable just because he’s at the far end of Republican statements. It’s because he’s not even close to where Democrats are on holding Trump accountable. The fact that we bypassed the Constitutional crisis on the way out was simply because Republicans were willing to let it slide. Democrats are not.
Electing Democrats in November can get us the constitutional crisis we should have had from the day Trump oozed into town. One that bolsters rather than attacks the agents conducting the Russia investigation. One that exerts proper restraint over Trump’s actions and fights back against his efforts to destroy the environment. One that remembers that there still is an emoluments clause.
And ultimately, one that will not hesitate to bring charges of impeachment.