For the past week the Republicans in Congress have been furiously trying to smear the reputation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in an attempt at sabotaging the perceived legitimacy of whatever evidence he ends up presenting against Donald Trump. This has led some observers to conclude that the GOP is ready to hitch its wagons to the toxically unpopular Trump heading into the midterms. However, the GOP’s actions behind the scenes say the opposite.
Over the past few days, as it’s become clear that the Republicans in Congress have enough votes to pass their tax scam bill, they’ve begun making a series of moves against Trump. First, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and John Kennedy began rejecting Trump’s most incompetent judicial nominees. This marks a striking reversal, as up to now, the GOP had been ramming through all the embarrassing picks that Trump served up, so long as they were all conservatives. Now a different group of Senators has made a higher profile move against Trump.
The Senate Banking Committee has voted to reject Trump’s nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank, according to a Los Angeles Times report (link). Famously anti-Trump Republican Senator Bob Corker sits on this committee, but it turns out two Republicans on the committee voted against the nominee. That means at least one of the other Republicans – Michael Crapo, Richard Shelby, or Pat Toomey – also voted “no.” None of them are known to be anti-Trump in general.
What we’re seeing here is a clear pattern of action. The Republican Senate has begun moving to block Donald Trump’s nominees and reduce his power. Why? Maybe they want to be able to go into the midterms pointing to some anti-Trump moves they made, in the hope that mainstream American voters won’t eat them alive. Maybe they think Trump will be gone soon, and they’re looking to wait and let “President Mike Pence” fill these positions instead. Either way, this behavior is not consistent with the theory that the GOP is looking to oust Robert Mueller so Trump can magically survive his criminal scandals. Instead the GOP is moving in the opposite direction.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report