Republican lawmakers are trying to delegitimize a Hillary Clinton presidency before it’s clear there will be one. They’re threatening to block her Supreme Court nominees, investigate her endlessly, and even impeach her.
The effect that all this would have on the nation seems to be of no concern to Republican Party officials. Their focus is strictly on partisanship and revenge, not the greater good. Their rhetoric is all-the-more striking because newly elected presidents traditionally enjoy a honeymoon period with Congress and the public. For Clinton, the honeymoon is over even before it’s clear she’ll be elected.
It’s come to this: The best argument Republicans can make for Donald Trump is that if Clinton is elected, they’ll do nothing but persecute her — public business be damned!
Charging Clinton with “high crime or misdemeanor” is how Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin described the GOP’s agenda in a Clinton presidency to the Beloit Daily News. Forget creating jobs, addressing gun violence, the growing threat of global terrorism. The Republicans’ goal is is to take out Clinton — quite literally according to Trump, who’s virtually called for her assassination in a couple of stump speeches.
GOP Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, in Fox News interview, gleefully predicted that Clinton’s use of a private email server as Secretary of State would lead to her impeachment. He was all but salivating on camera at the prospect.
GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Richard Burr of North Carolina and John McCain of Arizona have suggested that they’ll oppose any and all Supreme Court nominations Clinton might make. It apparently hasn’t occurred to them that they’re threatening to shirk their constitutional duties. Shouldn’t that behavior be an impeachable offense? It’s certainly more destructive to our democracy than charges of mishandling email — charges that have been dismissed once already by the FBI.
“You’ve got some Republicans in Congress already suggesting they will impeach Hillary. She hasn’t even been elected yet!” an astonished President Obama told a crowd in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “How does our democracy function like that?”
Well, it goes like this. In the House, Republicans have already spent more than two years and $7 million investigating Clinton’s role while secretary of state in the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Never mind that Clinton’s prosecutors are the same budget hawks who believe government overreach and wasteful spending are the deadliest of sins — and never mind that they belong to the party that, based on phony evidence, created the most perilous global crisis since the Civil War.
None of Clinton’s obsessed GOP opponents seem concerned about the inevitable and potentially far more serious investigations certain to be leveled at Donald Trump following the election. Trump’s potential “high crimes and misdemeanors” are also getting a publicity pass from the FBI, even though, unlike allegations against Clinton, “many of Trump’s are fully documented in court cases and legal proceedings,” as The Atlantic pointed out.
Trump faces a civil trial for fraud and racketeering under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act over his disgraced “Trump University.” He faces child rape charges in this month. A dozen women have charged him with sexual assault.
Trump’s ascendancy to the White House could potentially open — or reopen — thousands of cases deriving from his shady business dealings: stiffing of contractors and investors, avoiding taxes, hiring illegal immigrants, skirting trade laws, misusing his so-called shell of a “charity,” and so on.
Clinton’s transgressions, if true, as pretty par for the course for someone who’s spent decades in public life and political office. Trump’s, on the other hand, are off the charts for anyone considering a run for even a minor political office.
Yet GOP lawmakers, who are likely to retain their majority in the House, show no sign that they see the glaring imbalance. Some pundits have suggested that their end goal is to get veep candidate Mike Pence in the White House, where he can culminate their efforts to take abortion rights away from American women, reignite pogroms against LGBT Americans and, most especially, ensure that the corporate lords of GOP campaign coffers can continue to advance their grip over society.
Sadly, the threats against Clinton by right-wing congressional leaders are nothing new. For eight years they’ve struggled to delegitimize President Barack Obama’s presidency and to block nearly every effort he’s introduced to help working Americans. If Clinton is elected, the nature of their work in Washington will not change one iota; it will merely be redirected from a black man to a woman. When they say that a Clinton presidency will be a continuation of the Obama administration, they know what they’re talking about, because they’re the very people who will ensure that it is.
Perhaps all this is why the GOP’s top congressional leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, have passed up opportunities to dispute some of the outlandish anti-Clinton comments from their rank-and-file. Instead, they’ve co-opted those crazy charges to help make their closing argument on why to vote for Trump, which is essentially this: “If Clinton wins, we’re going to waste the next four to eight years trying to find her guilty of something.”
Not only is that the most cynical, negative and irresponsible idea underpinning a campaign in American history, but, given Trump’s cartloads of legal baggage, it’s also among the most disingenuous.