Budowsky: Warning to Senate Republicans

The midterm election landslide restoring Democrats to control of the House of Representatives offers an urgent warning to Senate Republicans. If they single-mindedly back President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE as House Republicans did in 2018, they will end up in the same position, which is where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE (R-Ky.) appears to be leading them today.

Senate Republicans must confront and address the fact that Trump has spoken more outright falsehoods than every previous president combined and does not govern as the president of the United States. He governs as the president of the Trump base, to the exclusion of all other Americans who he repeatedly and aggressively ignores, insults, berates or treats as enemies.

This is a formula for political disaster as House Republicans learned the hard way in 2018, Trump will learn the hard way in the 2020 elections, and Senate Republicans will learn the hard way unless they heed the warnings that are loud and clear from American voters.

ADVERTISEMENT

Consider the Trump government shutdown, so-named because the president is on tape claiming ownership of it during a meeting with Democratic leaders, caused by the infamous “wall” that is an unpopular fraud built on a proven lie, which House Democrats won a decisive mandate to defeat in the midterm elections.

Trump’s midterm campaign barnstorming brought a strident, hostile and obsessive attempt to create fear and hatred against the so-called migrant caravan, based on the fraud that it represented a supposed invasion of America by an army of Latin American criminals that required an unpopular wall on the Mexican border which, according to the great lie repeatedly told, would be paid for by Mexico.

House Democrats won a massive wave election mandate against this, and in favor of their call for stronger border enforcement without the wall.

Senate Republicans are now placed in the politically disastrous position of being asked to support a horribly wrong and unpopular shutdown that the president claimed credit for on tape, to support a terribly wrong and unpopular wall that many of them privately deplore.

If McConnell refuses to bring up any shutdown or immigration bill that Trump will not support, he is setting up Senate Republicans for a disastrously losing proposition.  Already Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King GOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King MORE (R-Utah) has strongly and publicly warned about the dangers of Trump, while a growing list of Republican senators has called for ending the shutdown without demanding the wall.

The smart move for Senate Republicans would be to pass a clean bill to end the shutdown without funding the wall, or a short-term bill to keep the government open and begin to expedite dramatic negotiations to enact substantially increased border spending without the wall, tied to ending to the cruel policy of separation of migrant families and providing decisive relief for the “Dreamers.” 

When McConnell refuses to support protection for special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE, he is setting Senate Republicans up for historic disaster if Trump fires Mueller — which would be a 20 megaton political bomb exploding in the hands of all Senate Republicans.

Senate Republicans should be alarmed and appalled that Trump named an acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, who has radically asserted that the Supreme Court is an inferior branch of government, and proposed a nominee for attorney general, William Barr, who appeared to lobby for the post by aggressively criticizing the special counsel investigation of the Russian attack against America and allegations of financial corruption by players under investigation.

Two senior Republican senators, Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMcConnell blocks House bill to reopen government for second time Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks GOP senators propose bill to pay 'excepted' workers during shutdown MORE (Tenn.) and Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsBudowsky: Warning to Senate Republicans The Hill's Morning Report — Negotiations crumble as shutdown enters day 17 Pompeo seen as top recruit for Kansas Senate seat MORE (Kan.), have already announced their retirement. Other major and dramatic retirement announcements are almost certainly coming.

While I would advise House Democrats to investigate wrongdoing assertively but withhold discussion of impeachment until the special counsel investigation is concluded, Republican leaders should seek a confidential meeting with the president to strongly warn him against actions that would destroy his presidency and his party in Congress.

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