On MSNBC today during Stephanie Rhule’s show, former President George W. Bush’s ethics attorney Richard Painter battled with conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt over the recent revelations that EPA chief Scott Pruitt rented out a lobbyists condo for $50 per night, thus raising the issue of unethical favorable treatment in lieu of a quid pro quo. Although Mr. Painter is a lifelong republican, it should be noted that he recently launched an exploratory committee for a possible run for senator of Minnesota as an Independent. That being said, Painter belongs to a select group of long time republicans who have been out front, increasingly critical of the unethical, corrupt and chaotic Trump administration. He joins others such as former Bush speechwriter David Frum, former McCain campaign strategists Nicole Wallace and Steve Schmidt, and other prominent conservative talking heads like Bill Kristol, Rick Wilson, and Michael Steele, who have all been publicly critical of the daily circus surrounding the administration. Unfortunately they all have one thing in common: none currently hold elected office. The ‘crickets’ we hear from most republicans currently in congress speaks volumes. The deafening silence leaves us to ponder whether or not the republican leadership would, together with their democratic colleagues, confront this president if Special Counsel Mueller finds impeachable acts worthy of action. In other words, would they act as the congress did during Nixon’s final days or would they sit on their hands and do nothing? Unfortunately, the latter seems more likely.
While there have been a few republican politicians who have criticized the President, it seems as though only those who have decided not to seek reelection such as Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, or Congressmen Trey Gowdy, have been more pointed and outspoken in their comments. To Be Fair, John McCain and Lindsay Graham have also had their moments of truth concerning the President but by and large the leadership, especially of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, have failed miserably to hold Mr. Trump to account. Adding to the uncertainty is the constant berating of the Justice Department by Mr. Trump and his many defenders in congress. At this rate, avoiding a constitutional crisis seems desperately out of reach.
On August 7, 1974, three Republican politicians, Senator Barry Goldwater, U.S Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, and U.S House Minority Leader John Rhodes went to the White House to inform Richard Nixon that his fate was all but determined. Some have said that they all urged him to resign. Others have said the three merely informed Nixon of his fate and it was Nixon who finally reached the conclusion that resignation was the only answer. Whatever the actual particulars of that story, the fact is those three leaders directly confronted the President of the United States. They chose country over politics. They did the right thing and history has borne this out.
On the most recent Homeland episode, airing currently on Showtime, the fictional President is confronted in the Oval Office by the leadership of Congress, two Democrats and two Republicans. All four of them urged the ‘President’ to resign. Because their current climate was so toxic, and to spare the country from irreversible damage and a blistering Congressional hearing, they concluded that resignation was the only viable solution. Bottom line: Would today’s Republican Party do the same thing?