The real reason Orrin Hatch is suddenly bailing

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, the Senate Pro Tempore and third in line for the presidency behind Mike Pence and Paul Ryan, announced today that he’s retiring at the end of the term. This marks a sudden and total reversal from Hatch’s recent position that he would run for reelection in 2018. Throw in a series of other curious developments, and it’s clear that Hatch knows something we don’t – and it involves Donald Trump and his Russia scandal.

Make no mistake: despite Hatch’s age, despite scattered signs that he may be losing a step mentally, this is too sudden of a reversal. He’s not simply walking away because he’s old. Nor is this some kind of personal scandal specific to him, or he’d be retiring immediately instead of finishing out his term. It also can’t just be the nationwide blue wave that’s coming in 2018, because it’s too early for him to conclude that he can’t get elected ten months from now in the rather solidly red state of Utah. There has to be more to it.

Consider the position that Orrin Hatch is in. His decades of seniority in the Senate give him access to classified information that most of his colleagues haven’t seen. Even if he wasn’t personally involved in the Trump-Russia election rigging conspiracy, by now he’s seen enough to know what went down. Throw in the fact that other senior Republican Senators have also made curious moves in recent weeks, and it adds up to something.

Mitch McConnell rammed through an unpopular and unfinished tax scam before the holiday break because he expected things to go south at any minute. Chuck Grassley suddenly began blocking Trump’s judicial nominees last month, giving off the impression that perhaps he’d rather have someone else making those decisions lat

It all points to the seniormost Republicans in the Senate – the ones who have seen the most evidence against Donald Trump – acting like they don’t think he’s gooto to make it to the midterms. And now Orrin Hatch seems to be betting that the fallout will be so catastrophic, he doesn’t think he’ll have any chance of getting re-elected in a red state in November. Throw in Trump’s bizarre demand this morning that pretty much everyone be sent to prison, and something is afoot here. What do they know that we don’t?

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