Logically speaking, it’s been clear all along that Donald Trump had to have signed off on Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with Russian government representatives to try to alter the outcome of the election. The big question was whether it could be legally proven. Now that Michael Cohen is willing to testify to having witnessed the exchange, it’s becoming clear that Trump is going down on some ugly criminal charges – and maybe sooner than expected. Accordingly, the Republican Congress is already trying to lay the groundwork for when it happens.
When Donald Trump signed off on the Russia meeting at Trump Tower, he committed a number of felonies. They included attempting to receive stolen goods, attempting to receive a foreign campaign gift, and of course conspiracy against the United States, among others. That’s enough to send him to prison for the rest of his life, before getting into the numerous other criminal angles in the Trump-Russia scandal and his other scandals. So how is the GOP planning to spin this?
The notoriously shifty Darrell Issa has become the first Republican Congressman to try to categorize Donald Trump’s treasonous felonies as merely being politics as usual. Issa appeared on Fox News and made this utterly ludicrous categorization of Trump’s treason: “If he’s proven to have not told the whole truth about the fact that campaigns look for dirt, and if someone offers it, you listen to them, nobody’s going to be surprised.”
This feels like a trial balloon. Darrell Issa is retiring anyway, so if his decision to defend Donald Trump’s treason with Russia brings political blowback against him, it won’t matter. But if Issa can get this pro-treason rationale to stick with the Fox News crowd, then we’ll see Republican leaders begin pushing a similar mantra. The same GOP leaders who pretended that Hillary Clinton’s fully legal use of email was a crime, are now insisting that Trump’s treason was just business as usual. No one outside the shrinking base will buy it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report