It is late Tuesday afternoon as I write this article. Monday night and Tuesday morning each featured “bombshell” political news. Other than timing (and in the latter case circumstances) neither surprised me. Both were bad for America. Let’s explore.
Monday evening the news broke that the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee unilaterally and sans prior notification of the Democrats on the committee decided to shut down the Committee’s Russiagate investigation. Furthermore they already had the first draft of what is promised to be a 150 page report finished in which they will declare that after what they purport to be a complete investigation they find no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the 2016 election.
While the circumstances and conclusion are shameful I’m actually glad the investigation is being shut down. For some time now it has been abundantly obvious that because of the defiant ignorance displayed by the Republican members of the committee the House investigation was a sham whose only purpose was to try to give Trump cover. My concern was that the Committee would somehow mess things up for the only investigation that counts; Robert Mueller’s. (I’m old enough to remember Oliver North getting his criminal conviction overturned on appeal because of a congressional committee’s error.)
The House Intelligence Committee failed to call several material witnesses and let any Trump allies who pleased answer only the questions they chose to. The “immunities” offered for not answering included attorney client privilege when neither party was an attorney, executive privilege without invoking said by name and just plain refusing to answer questions from certain time periods. This would be akin to police detectives investigating a crime while ignoring the likely suspects, not ascertaining where the witness was at the time of the crime and simply accepting an initial proclamation of claim as fact.
When all is said and done I predict not only will this committee have produced dueling memos; it will produce dueling and contrary reports. If I were a professor I’d have to decide whether to give the Devin Nunes led committee and incomplete or an F. They never completed their assignment and they certainly failed the American people.
Rex Tillerson was simultaneously the worst Secretary of State America ever had and one of the best members of the Trump Cabinet. While that seems like an oxymoron, this administration is so bad that it is simply fact. Tuesday morning Trump fired Tillerson, apparently by tweet. (This is the same President who fired his FBI Director by a letter delivered to an office he knew the Director was out of. Even then he had to send his personal thug to deliver it. James Comey discovered his firing by seeing the crawl at the bottom of a television screen as he was addressing subordinates.) Trump lies to portray himself as a tough guy when in reality, like most bullies, he is a coward.
Pending Senate confirmation Mike Pompeo will be the new Secretary of State which will accomplish one thing; it will bump Tillerson out of the bottom of the rankings in short order. Tillerson has been rumored to be on his way out for some time. He will probably be best remembered for his accurate assessment of Trump when he called him a, “(Expletive) moron”.
Making a contrary statement to Trump’s hasty acceptance of a meeting with Kim Jung-un and coming to the verbal defense of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May were apparently the final straws with Trump. God forbid the American Secretary of State be suspect of a foreign adversary or give comfort to one of our most valuable allies angered by Russian aggression on their soil.
There you have it; a Republican controlled House Committee that is more interested in covering for an incompetent President of their Party than in defending the United States against a foreign attack and a President who fires a Secretary of State who can to at least a small degree differentiate between friend and foe. The net result will be that the line of Presidential succession may soon be Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Orrin Hatch and Mike Pompeo. Here is the really bad news: it looks like it will get worse before it gets better. All that said, I’m disgusted but not surprised.
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