Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Please Proceed, Trumpelthinskin

Andy Borowitz incisively laid down how Trump gets his news.  It works something like this:
1) Trump has a paranoid idea.
2) Trump shares that idea with Steve Bannon.
3) Bannon shares that idea with Breitbart.
4) Breitbart publishes a story on the paranoid idea.
5) Trump reads the story and exclaims, "I knew it!"

This is how we get Twittler firing off baseless allegations that Obama wiretapped his phones.  We do have some evidence that the FBI/NSA may have tapped the phones of some of his more Russophilic advisers, such as Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone.  This was done as part of the investigation of the Russian hacking of the DNC, as there were very, very worrying signs that some in the Trump campaign were involved, even after the fact, in these hacks.  For instance, right before every Wikileaks dump, guys like Roger Stone would prime the press for the revelations.

Trump has now, amazingly, called for an investigation into whether Obama ordered Trump's phones tapped.  Obama has denied this, former DNI James Clapper has denied this, your "senior US official" said no wiretaps took place.  Again, presumably this is solely tapping Trump's phone, as there is some pretty good evidence that his aides were subject to FISA court approved surveillance.  By October, both Manafort and, I think, Stone were no longer with the campaign, so that would be significant, too.

But Trump's call for an investigation has to be making Congressional Republicans uncomfortable.  If they launch an investigation solely into Obama tapping Trump's phones, without investigating Trump's many ties to Russia... I mean there has to be a limit to the hypocrisy even of odious human toadstools like Jason Chaffetz.  At townhalls, when constituents have called for investigations, the lame response has been, "You people just want to investigate every little thing."  That line of defense becomes untenable, even for the most morally flexible members of Congress.

The options are obviously limited now.  They can ignore the call for investigations, putting them at odds with their president.  Perhaps they could simply ask the FBI/FISA court to provide any information and then take their word on it without following up. However, Trump's psychology is about "dominance" and "winning."  Sweeping this under the rug would be a personal insult to him.

They could launch a narrow investigation into Obama, but again, how do you pull that off with a straight face?

Or, perhaps there are MoC who think that Trump is a terrible embarrassment but don't want to be the first (OK, aside from Lindsay Graham) to call for an overarching investigation to the entire election and Russia's involvement therein.  For them, Trump just gave them cover to launch exactly the investigation that Democrats and third parties have been calling for.

I've felt that GOP MoC who care about their jobs and their majority should try ripping the band aid off when it comes to Trump.  He's manifestly unfit for office and corrupt as shit.  They are married to this guy, because they fear his voters.  But if he himself called for an investigation, and it exposes real and tangible wrong doing, they can possibly save their majorities in 2018, but not if they wait too long.

Meanwhile, this does seem like a perfect opportunity for the Democratic leadership in Congress to screw this up somehow.

UPDATE: Balloon Juice has aggregated the best of Twitter here, here and here.

No comments: