On Thursday evening, the Republican Senate abruptly and unexpectedly canceled its expected tax bill vote – suggesting that something was afoot. Barely an hour later, the New York Times published a major bombshell story detailing a prolonged obstruction of justice effort involving Donald Trump and several key members of the Republican Senate. Moreover, it appears the story may have been timed to derail the tax vote.
At 7:49pm on Thursday evening, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein tweeted “BREAKING: Republicans just canceled tonight’s vote on their tax bill. They still don’t have enough votes to pass this awful bill.” Shortly thereafter, the New York Times published a story titled “Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry.” It details how Donald Trump spent the summer asking everyone from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Senator Roy Blunt to derail the Trump-Russia investigation.
This bombshell story connecting several Republican Senate leaders to obstruction of justice comes just as the Republican Senate was about to vote on a tax bill which it believed would pass. The delay of the vote on Thursday night strongly suggests that the GOP had already learned that it didn’t have the votes it thought it did. But the timing of the NY Times story (link) suggests that Senate Democrats already had this story lined up as a last ditch effort at spooking their Republican counterparts into backing down from putting themselves into the spotlight by passing the tax bill.
To be clear, the NYT story doesn’t implicate any of the Republican Senators for obstruction of justice. But it does make clear that they knew Trump was trying to commit obstruction of justice. Failure to report that kind of thing is considered to be “misprision of a felony” under the law, and is a felony in and of itself. In any case, this new bombshell marries the Republican Senate to the Trump-Russia scandal, and it changes the entire dynamic.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report