Senate Republicans are not only enabling Donald Trump’s criminal behavior, now they are setting up a firewall for the fraudulent president against special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, a lawless move to block Democratic constitutional duty to probe on the president’s conduct as described in the document.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Monday set the tone for his caucus’s rank and file, signaling the GOP will join the White House in casting Democratic attacks emanating from the Mueller report as being all about the 2020 campaign.
“If this were legitimate oversight, that would be one thing, but I think this is more like harassment and it’s all politics,” said Cornyn.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, said House Democratic subpoenas and demands for senior administration officials to testify are unnecessary and downplayed Mueller’s finding that Trump ordered then-White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller, arguing “there wasn’t any crime committed.”
“Any conversation that a president has with anybody is between him and his colleagues,” Grassley added.
The GOP arguments are a departure from some comments made by Republican senators in the days after the Mueller report was released.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), in comments a day after Mueller’s full report with redactions was released by the Department of Justice, said he was “sickened” by the “extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection” by people working for the highest office in the land, including the president.
“I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia,” said Romney, who has feuded with Trump in the past and was the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.
Since then, criticisms of Trump from Romney and other Republicans have been muted, suggesting the GOP is getting on the same page as the party seeks to contend with investigations launched by Democrats and will not take any legislative action in response to Mueller’s report.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday: “I don’t care what happened between him and Don McGahn.”
But defending Trump could be tricky for some Republican senators up for reelection in blue states next year. Political experts warn that Republicans have to be careful not to defend Trump so ardently that it might come back to hurt their candidates in tight races in 2020.
Senate Republicans will have to defend 22 seats while Democrats have to protect only 12.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday challenged Republicans to take action in the wake of Mueller’s findings.
“What are my Republican friends going to do with it?” he asked on the Senate floor.
Schumer argued that Mueller likely stopped short of pursuing an obstruction of justice charge against Trump because of the Justice Department’s policy against the indictment of sitting presidents. He noted 10 instances detailed in Mueller’s report where the president may have obstructed justice as well as findings that Trump’s campaign advisers were aware that Russia was trying to alter the outcome of the 2016 election.
Democrats are also pointing to FBI Director Christopher Wray’s warning Friday that Russia will continue to use social media to have an impact on American politics.
“They use social media … to try and spin us up and pit us against each other, and to undermine Americans faith in democracy,” Wray said at an event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations.