Too Late?

It is the late afternoon of Friday July 27th as I begin to write this article. The 2018 mid-term elections are approximately 100 days away. Today, for the first time in his presidency President Trump convened the National Security Council to discuss defending the election against the Russian attacks that have already commenced. Also it looks like the Republicans have made a few politically pragmatic moves this week. Is it all too late? Let’s explore.

I don’t know what will come out of the meeting. Any president’s number one duty is to keep America safe. I won’t insult my readers with a lot of discussion. Let me sum it up with a single question: Is dereliction of duty an impeachable offense?

Led by Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina a group of the most extreme members of the House Republican Caucus have for some time threatened to file articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Last week they finally did so. Despite threats to the contrary they did not go the discharge petition route which would have forced Speaker Paul Ryan to bring the matter to the floor for a vote. Speculation is that Jordan and Meadows realized they couldn’t get the necessary 218 signatures to go the discharge petition route. Some time ago I speculated that despite a sizeable Republican majority in the House it was highly likely that the necessary votes for impeachment didn’t exist.

Ryan seems certain not to bring the articles of impeachment to the floor. He is reasonably certain to would fail, he knows conviction in the Senate with its removal of Rosenstein from office is a pipe dream and most importantly he knows it would blow up in the GOP’s face by providing Democrats with a winning campaign issue.

Almost simultaneous with the filing of the article of impeachment Jordan announced his candidacy for the Speakership. Ryan is retiring at the end of the session creating an opening. Jordan is counting chickens before they hatch. There is a very good chance that the Democrats will control the next House in which case no Republican, and certainly not Jim Jordan, will be elected its next Speaker. Jordan is currently embroiled in a scandal dating back to his time as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State where mounting credible evidence alleges that he had knowledge of the team doctor molesting his athletes and chose to do nothing about it.

In a politically astute move Ryan will never allow the articles of impeachment to come to the floor. There was an interesting “inside baseball” GOP political reaction to their filing. Steve Scalise said he would have voted for them; Kevin McCarthy remained silent on the matter. Scalise and McCarthy are the two most likely successors to Ryan if the Republicans retain the House. Scalise seems to be betting that if the Republicans retain control it will be by a smaller margin and the next House Republican Caucus will be even further right.

With the fallout from his debacle in Helsinki still not over Trump invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the White House only to have John Bolton effectively revoke the invitation (until the “Witch hunt” is over after the first of the year). I think that was Trump’s out. Having Putin visit before the election would have been a gift to the Democrats. If Trump, Bolton and company think the Mueller investigation will be over by the end of 2018 I think they are in for a surprise. I certainly expect it to be going in January of 2019 unless Trump resigns before that and I don’t think he will.

Interestingly on Friday Putin extended an invitation for Trump to visit him in Moscow. At this writing Trump says he would consider it but is waiting for a formal invitation. That was Putin’s excuse which allowed the Bolton bailout.

Trump is hot on the campaign trail trying to get the vote of his diminishing faithful out for GOP candidates in November. It appears he is staying in his comfort zone by addressing friendly audiences rally style. He is also staying true to form by, if not outright breaking the letter of the law certainly violating the spirit of it by actively and openly campaigning for GOP candidates on supposed official business tours paid for by the taxpayers.

On Tuesday while addressing the VFW convention in Kansas City he called Republican Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley up on stage to say a few words. During a Thursday appearance in Granite City, Illinois Trump toned it down just a bit when he told the crowd, “You’ve got to vote Republican, folks, you’ve got to vote Republican. Vote for these congressmen, they know what we’re doing. They know what they’re doing. They’re tough and they’re smart.” At least Trump neither summoned the three Republican Representative accompanying him on the trip to the stage nor did he name them from the podium. A sitting President campaigning for candidates of his party is nothing new nor is it illegal. However it should be paid for by the candidate or a branch of the party.

I am certain that the “effort” to combat the Russian attacks on the November election is too little, too late. (I fear by design.) The jury on the political maneuvers is still out and will be for another 100 days or so.

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