Richard Nixon was finished once he became so unpopular with the public that even his closest allies in Congress had to abandon him in order to keep their own political viability intact. Donald Trump isn’t quite there yet. But we saw a sign today that he might be closer than we thought. No, I’m not just referring to Michael Flynn’s request for immunity. I’m talking about Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s remarkable response to Flynn and Trump.
Chaffetz is as partisan as they come. He abused his position as a House committee chair to hold years of hearings into phony Hillary Clinton scandals that he had helped invent, all of which ultimately went nowhere. But thus far he’s refused to use his committee to hold any hearings into Donald Trump’s very real Russia and financial scandals. So when Mike Flynn asked for immunity this week in exchange for testifying in Trump’s Russia scandal, and Trump responded by publicly encouraging Flynn to do it, one might have expected Chaffetz to side with them.
Instead, Chaffetz is telling Politico that he disagrees with Trump’s stance that the Russia investigation is a witch hunt. In addition, Chaffetz is calling out Flynn’s sudden immunity request as being “mysterious” and he goes on to state his view that it should not be granted yet – echoing the same position coming from the bipartisan Senate Intel Committee. But just when you think Chaffetz might be strategically trying to throw Flynn under the bus as a scapegoat to protect Trump, it turns out Chaffetz is distancing himself from Trump as well.
“I don’t think Donald Trump should be weighing in on this at this point,” Jason Chaffetz says in the Politico piece (link). So now we’ve got Chaffetz, whose prior actions suggest he would really like to remain aligned with Trump if he can, now beginning to distance himself instead. It’s not that Chaffetz has had a moral awakening. It’s just that he wants to get reelected, and as Trump continues to sink, he’s hedging his bets. And when even Trump’s closest allies in Congress are now publicly backing away from him, it’s a callback to that Nixonian death spiral. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report