E. J. Dionne, Jr writes in the Washington Post,
Until this point, there was an underlying faith in much of the political world that if Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian collusion in the election turned up unmistakably damning material about Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress would feel obligated by their commitment to the country’s well-being to accept Mueller’s findings and challenge the president.
We would often hear recollections of how Republicans during Watergate — Sen. Barry Goldwater would inevitably come up — decided that the smoking guns were too smoky and that Richard Nixon had to go. They made clear to him that he no longer had the support of his party.
Lately, though, the GOP is attacking Robert Mueller and the FBI itself — something I thought I’d never see — if anything the GOP, authoritarian as it is, has idolized law enforcement in general and the FBI in particular.
But now? Now we have some really unhinged-sounding (to me) Congresspeople making bizarre, unheard of, unpatriotic and dangerous accusations — claiming that the FBI is the KGB (talk about ironic!) and slandering Robert Mueller himself — an erstwhile hero of theirs.
This is crazy and one wonders where it ends and how many of these nuts there are in Congress. Jordan is particularly radical and ugly — if you’ve seen him ranting on TV you’ll know what I mean. But he’s hardly alone. I personally think the rot is pretty much clear through. Lindsay Graham used to thought of as a patriot, a reasonable Republican — lately? Lately I wonder. I think John McCain remains old school patriotic but I’m not sure about the rest at all, probably Flake and Corker are OK. I’d like to say Collins too — we’ll see.
By “ok” I mean “not willing to destroy the Republic” which is a pretty low bar. And in defense of TRUMP? That’s insane. It’s totally insane — especially considering that he’s clearly compromised — it’s difficult, apart from his emolument issues and so forth, not to see conspiracy with the Russians. It’s just nearly impossible. The sanctions haven’t been enforced. He has long talks with Putin in public, in private and on the phone. Our foreign policy has eroded. The State Department is being gutted and he says his is the only voice that matters. We’re actually talking about nuclear war again, for the first time in decades — again, something really unthinkable.
Meanwhile what has been done to protect the 2018 elections from Russia and other ratf******? Nothing! They’re busy kicking Americans off the voting rolls. Unbelievable.
Only recently, it was widely assumed that if Trump fired Mueller, many Republicans would rise up to defend our institutions. Now, many in the party are laying the groundwork for justifying a coverup. This is a recipe for lawlessness.
We also assumed that Mueller’s findings would be respected because of his deserved reputation for fairness and independence. Just last May, Newt Gingrich called him a “superb choice to be special counsel” and praised his “honesty and integrity.” Now, pro-Trump politicians feel free to contradict anything they said in the past and to dismiss what they once saw as legitimate authority if those who hold it threaten their power. This is a recipe for autocracy.
Chillingly, Trump asserts that anybody who stands in opposition to him is bad, evil, and “being stopped.”
Trump himself told us plainly on Friday night in Pensacola, Fla., that he will do whatever it takes to hold power, and he should be taken seriously. “There are powerful forces in Washington trying to sabotage our movement,” he declared. “These are bad people, these are very, very bad and evil people. . . . But you know what, we’re stopping them. You’re seeing that right now.”
We are far closer to the edge than we want to think.