Budowsky: GOP summer of scandal

Budowsky: GOP summer of scandal
© Moriah Ratner

With midterm elections approaching and President Trump plagued by unprecedented disapproval, my thoughts turn to Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyCummings demands documents about Conway's flights with Price Dems call for 'emergency' hearing on Trump's hurricane response Democrats unveil bills to ban Cabinet members’ private jet travel MORE (R-S.C.), who spent recent years spearheading a House Republican inquisition of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies DNC, RNC step up cyber protections Gun proposal picks up GOP support MORE and now appears to be acting more like a defense attorney for Trump than a seeker of facts about Russian cyberwar against America.

The grave dangers to the GOP in the midterm elections were dramatized on Tuesday before the House Intelligence Committee, some of whose Republican members have not distinguished themselves in the eyes of concerned voters as guardians of American security against Russian cyberwar and espionage.

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When Gowdy repeatedly questioned former CIA Director John Brennan, the outcome was predictable.

The headline emerging from the hearing was that Brennan told the nation of numerous contacts between Russian operatives and operatives representing the Trump campaign that he found so worrisome he alerted the FBI. This led to the dramatic investigations by the FBI and Congress that Trump repeatedly calls “fake news” and Gowdy appeared strangely uninterested in investigating on Tuesday.

Every so often, Washington and the nation become embroiled in a summer scandal. The summer scandal of 2017 has begun early this year. It is destined to bring a politically scorching summer that will resemble a combination of the Watergate hearings and the O.J. Simpson trial.

Imagine if the Senate Intelligence Committee conducts a hearing with a panel including former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsDon’t throw the baby out with the BATwater Overnight Cybersecurity: DHS bans agencies from using Kaspersky software | Panel calls Equifax CEO to testify | Facebook pulling ads from fake news Mueller investigation focusing on social media's role in 2016 election: report MORE and NSA Director Michael Rogers.

Imagine if these witnesses are asked for a show of hands about whether Trump tried to influence them to falsely clear him and his 2016 campaign aides in the Putingate investigation, and they all raise their hands in the affirmative.

Televised hearings revealing even more aggression in the Russian cyberwar against America, new developments in the FBI investigation, investigative news stories alleging financial conflicts of interest in the Trump administration and intense debate about potential obstruction of justice will receive saturation media coverage across the nation and around the world during the summer of scandal of 2017.

Meanwhile, Trump’s former head of the National Security Council, Michael Flynn, who once despicably said “lock her up” about Hillary Clinton, has already taken the Fifth Amendment and is reportedly trying to cop a plea and turn state’s evidence.

Meanwhile, the president is hiring a defense team involving the law firm that includes former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who, whatever his virtues, must not be nominated or confirmed as the next director of the FBI that is investigating Trump.

On Wednesday I wrote a piece for The Hill’s Contributor section, titled “Trump acts like a president guilty of impeachable offenses,” about the criminal law concept of “consciousness of guilt.”

House Republicans have a big problem. They would be wise to conduct themselves like the late and great Republican Howard Baker (Tenn.), who diligently investigated Watergate as a senator in the 1970s and helped save President Reagan from the Iran-Contra scandal as White House chief of staff in the 1980s by getting all the evidence out — not like Gowdy and certain other Republicans in 2017.

Meanwhile, Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.), in a move that further endangers House Republicans, has aligned them in lockstep with Trump, a fatal attraction that could lead the GOP to political devastation in the 2018 midterms. In addition to the danger to Republicans of potentially appearing to cover up Russian crimes against America, Ryan led Republicans to pass their hugely unpopular repeal of ObamaCare, which could be the longest political suicide note in history.

The summer of scandal for the GOP will be a four ring circus of white hot congressional hearings, dramatic new revelations about ties between Russia and Team Trump, major investigative news stories suggesting financial conflicts of interest and town meetings where Republican members will be under siege from extremely unhappy constituents. 

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.