Sunday, April 10, 2022


There's nothing surprising about this story, but it's the kind of story that makes you want to pound your head against the wall in frustration:
The leaders of the House committee investigating the Capitol attack have grown divided over whether to make a criminal referral to the Justice Department of former President Donald J. Trump, even though they have concluded that they have enough evidence to do so, people involved in the discussions said.

The debate centers on whether making a referral — a largely symbolic act — would backfire by politically tainting the Justice Department’s expanding investigation into the Jan. 6 assault and what led up to it.
I can't. I just can't.

To Republicans, the investigation of January 6 is already "politically tainted," because if you're a Democrat and you say it's a nice day today, Republicans say the radical socialist Democrat Party is politicizing the damn weather. The mere existence of a committee with Democrats in control is politicization as far as Republicans are concerned. Even an attorney general who appears to be slow-walking his own investigation is politicizing it by having the gall to investigate at all while being the appointee od a Democratic president.
The members and aides who were reluctant to support a referral contended that making one would create the appearance that Mr. Garland was investigating Mr. Trump at the behest of a Democratic Congress and that if the committee could avoid that perception it should....
Democrats recruited anti-Trump Republicans for this committee, and have made one, Liz Cheney, a political star, while downplaying the contributions of their own committee members so much that even most politically engaged Americans probably can't name any of the Democratic members of the committee -- and now they turn around and say, "Oh, but we shouldn't refer the president for prosecution, even though the attorney general doesn't have to act on any referral, because we'll look like evil partisan Democrats."

I'd understand if the committee members think it's futile.
The committee has made criminal referrals against four Trump White House officials for their refusal to sit for questioning or hand over documents, accusing them of contempt of Congress. But the Justice Department has charged only one — Stephen K. Bannon — frustrating the committee.
But that doesn't seem to be what's happening here. This seems to be fear of referring the Big Guy.

Republicans have no similar fears. A few weeks before the 2020 election, Rand Paul announced that he was sending a Senate committee report on Hunter Biden to President Trump's Justice Department for a criminal referral. Last year, he sent a criminal referral for Dr. Anthony Fauci. In 2014 (an election year), the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee sent a criminal referral for the former head of the Internal Revenue Service, Lois Lerner, accusing her of mistreating right-wing groups seeking tax-exempt status. In 2016 (a presidential election year), Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent a criminal referral asking the Justice Department to investigate then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her use of a personal server while she was secretary of state. In 2018 (again, an election year), several Republican members of Congress sent a criminal referral
to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and US Attorney John Huber, asking them to investigate several Obama-era officials for potential violation(s) of federal statutes. These officials include former FBI Director James Comey, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Acting Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Counsel Lisa Page, among others.
Among the leaders of this effort was then-congressman Ron DeSantis, who was running for governor of Florida at the time. Politicization. Republicans lean into it.

When Republicans who have reservations about Donald Trump express their support for him, what do they say? They say: "But he fights." I think that's what Republican voters like about all their favorite politicians -- DeSantis, Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene: They fight. Even if they don't win, they keep brawling. As a result, Republican voters believe Republican politicians are on their side.

What will Republicans do if they regain the House and Senate? They'll investigate Hunter Biden. They'll investigate Anthony Fauci. They'll investigate U.S. border policy. Maybe they'll investigate Hillary Clinton. And nothing might come of it except the impression that they fight.

Many Democrats seem to want to send the opposite message: Don't worry, we don't want to do anything vulgar or divisive, like fighting.

Republicans know they won't be able to get any legislation past President Biden for the next two years. So this is how they'll fight. Democrats ought to recognize that they haven't been able to get any significant legislation past Joe Manchin and Kysten Sinama in the Senate, and probably won't between now and November. So why don't they want to display a fighting spirit in the one way that's left to them? Why don't they want to convey to voters, "This is how we're fighting for you"?

No comments: