Chuck Grassley hits the panic button

Apart from perhaps Steve Bannon, no one in national politics has had a tougher week than Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham. They each recently and suddenly became cartoonish Donald Trump cheerleaders, and days ago they conspired to try to bring phony criminal charges against the author of the Trump-Russia dossier. Now that Palmer Report and others have pointed out that Grassley and Graham have been acting like they’re being blackmailed, Graham is stammering like a fool and Grassley is hitting the panic button.

After Dianne Feinstein released the Trump-Russia dossier transcripts yesterday, Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham both seemed to have been thrown off script. Grassley whined that he was disappointed in Feinstein, while Graham said it was a good thing. Graham then took to Twitter today and kept trying to revise his position with six separate tweets. Grassley has taken a different approach entirely.

Donald Trump fired Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for New York City, early last year in an attempt at preventing Bharara from exposing his financial crimes. The plan all along was that Trump would appoint one of his own loyalists to the position who would decline to investigate him, and that the Republican-controlled Senate would rubber stamp that nomination. Trump just recently got around to nominating someone with close ties to a bank that launders Russian money. Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York officially objected to the nomination.

Per Senate custom, that means the nomination should be scuttled. Based on his actions of late, it seemed fairly clear that Chuck Grassley would use his position as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee to ignore Gillibrand’s objection. But now, in an almost stunning move, Grassley says he’ll honor the request after all, and reject Trump’s nominee. This is a major blow that could end up causing major legal trouble for Trump back home in New York, yet Grassley is siding against Trump anyway.

Why is Chuck Grassley suddenly going against Donald Trump in such a major way? The only explanation is that, after he took his pro-Russia antics too far last week when he began trying to bring phony criminal charges against those who might be able to take Trump down, he’s panicking and trying to cover his tracks. We still deserve answers as to why Grassley and Lindsey Graham are suddenly acting so deeply out of character, and who may be influencing them to do so. But for now, at least, Grassley appears to be pulling back out of fear.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report