Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy
“No one would have known what happened.” That’s not the least bit true, Obama himself endorsed the original committees to look into what happened. I say original because I believe there is no official count on how many committees the House convened, but amazingly, each of them found no wrongdoing on the part of the administration, or Hillary – yet, here is Kevin McCarthy admitting to all the world that the entire point of the investigation was to drop Hillary’s “numbers.” It was never about the truth, it was about lowering approval ratings.
It is from this prism that the Right – including Republican politicians, but especially Republican voters – see all political fights. They are all based on nothing, and all are corrupt, the only intention being to bring down the person in charge. Thus, it is that Trump must be the victim of a cabal within the FBI and Democratic pols.
There cannot possibly be a real unprecedented crime at the heart of this.
In a wonderfully enlightening essay, Heather Digby Parton, of Salon (re-printed by Rawstory) elicits the parallels between the Trump investigation, as seen by the Republicans who orchestrated the Clinton investigation. We have seen many appropriate comparisons between the Trump investigation and Nixon, but that is not how Republicans view the matter.
Republicans began using scandal as a political tool during the early Clinton years, and the press (I am generally quite averse to blaming the press writ large for anything) ate up the entire endeavor. Recall that originally Whitewater stood for a land deal that Republicans suspected covered as an illicit investment for the Clintons. The original prosecutor Robert Fiske convened public hearings – 29 in all – and found no criminal wrong doing. But, a three judge panel, orchestrated to be highly partisan, refused the findings and appointed Judge Kenneth Starr who expanded the investigation to include, well, everything. Even Starr found nothing incriminating, and was about to wrap up his investigation, until two elements came together. The highly orchestrated sexual harassment suits financed by right-wing interests caught Clinton in a true perjury trap, asking about an affair with Monica, right at about the same time that Linda Tripp back-stabbed her friend Monica, and the rest is sordid history. Ken Starr had his “crime.”
Republicans see this as politics as usual, especially when dealing with someone they particularly dislike, “scandal as a political weapon.” Democrats have not caught on yet. Democrats still see the “scandal as weapon” as only something Republicans do, and thus trust the FBI would investigate properly and make proper findings.
In the penultimate paragraph, Parton writes:
We can certainly draw parallels between the Trump scandals and those of Nixon and Clinton. There are elements of both in their behaviors, from abuse of office to corruption and extramarital affairs. But neither of those presidents, as personally flawed as they may have been, were ever suspected of being dupes or agents of a foreign adversary in a plot to win their election, in a scandal so serious that one would think even the most partisan of players would sober up and take their duty seriously.
Instead, the Republicans are partying like it’s 1998 again, lost in the past, unable to adjust to new circumstances, assuming everyone is as vengeful and petty as they are. Now that I think about it, that describes the Republican Party of 2018 in more ways than one.
The summary rings true and yet comes up short in its appreciation as to what is really happening, or at least could be happening.
I wrote over the weekend that there is serious reason to believe that Lindsey Graham might have had his emails hacked by the Russians, and thus may well be blackmailed against coming out forcefully on the side of completing the investigation. We know the Russians hacked the RNC database, but as yet do not know what the Russians found. Wikileaks deals only in leaks it finds politically advantageous, it would seem. Or Wikileaks has no choice in the matter, either, Assaunge may be allergic to polonium.
You see? This is how deep we are stuck right now. We have let two years of near inactivity (outside of Robert Mueller’s investigation) pass without getting to the root of Russia’s reach. Are we paranoid? Do we see Russian handiwork where normal partisan politics is at play, i.e. Graham?
Who knows? That’s largely the point, we can’t know, until it is completely investigated.
We DO know a few things, of which we can be certain:
Trump will not oppose Putin under any circumstances
Republicans are starting to come around to the attitude that they’d rather be with the Russians than with the Democrats.
Our election infrastructure could not be more inviting to disreputable people from everywhere, and we have no real way to confirm whether votes were suppressed or even changed. I posit that we still cannot say with certainty that Trump legally won the election of 2016 just on votes cast – never mind the fact that Russia poured gas all over the weak points in our democratic fabric, fanning the flames of nationalism and racism. I also do not find it to be a coincidence that Russia went after our voting infrastructure at the same time that Republicans implemented their voter suppression techniques, Voter ID, gutting the VRA, and gerrymandering the hell out of districts.
We know that certain lawmakers, Devin Nunes, Congressman Rohrabacher (who is so close to the Russians they gave him his own code name), the NRA, Paul Manafort, and possibly Lindsey Graham, all have ties to Russia that keep rearing their heads.
But we cannot seem to get from here to there, as we would normally expect as Americans, because to Republicans and their voters, scandals have always been a political tool, nothing more. Thus, when Trump cries it is a hoax, Republicans are much more apt to believe him, not just because they don’t particularly care (so long as he beat Hillary), but because deep down they know they’ve used hoaxes to vex Democrats since 1993.
The country has one thing going for it, one thing it didn’t have in Kenneth Starr, or throughout the Benghazi hearings, or even through the Hillary Clinton email mess. It has a true national hero in Robert Mueller at the helm, a man who got shot in the leg recovering the dead bodies of soldiers in Vietnam across enemy lines, a man who has shocked us with the lack of leaks, the volume of work, and the undeniable specificity with which he’s been able to charge crimes so far.
It is just one thing. But it’s a damn big thing, and something I wouldn’t trade for all the Congressional committees on Earth right now. Funny – sort of – but it is because it is one big thing, that job number one in the Trump camp is to somehow ruin Mueller, get rid of the investigation altogether, attack his character, or the character of his investigation. So long as they are attacking him and the investigation, we can be sure he is doing his job well, and it is not just a scandal as political tool.
That’s important, since none of those other “scandals” involved a situation where the president could be under the thumb of a Russian dictator who steals elections.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.