Yesterday, FBI Director James Comey admitted for the first time that there is an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign and its ties to the Kremlin. And while Comey would not confirm whether specific individuals were being investigated as part of the FBI probe, there is already chatter that it could very well ensnare the likes of Paul Manafort and Nixonian hatchet man Roger Stone. And yet, it appears that very few Republicans are treating this scandal seriously, instead choosing to grill Comey on the illegality of the White House leaks.
So one can’t help but remember the reaction of conservatives to Comey’s October Surprise shortly before the presidential election. During an investigation of Anthony Weiner, authorities came upon emails between Hillary Clinton and Weiner’s estranged wife Huma Abedin on their computer. Comey revealed to Senate Republicans that he would be reopening his investigation of Clinton to determine if the 650,000 emails contained any pertinent information. They didn’t, but that didn’t stop hysterical cries from Trump supporters.
Republicans were already muttering about impeachment, and fringe conspiracy sites supposedly had it on good authority that Clinton would be indicted on day one if elected. And, in the brief window in which it appeared the FBI might find evidence of wrongdoing, one of the loudest warnings against a Clinton presidency came from an article published at Breitbart on October 29, 2016.
Written by anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo, the article demanded that Hillary Clinton step down in order to avoid what he called a “constitutional crisis.” Tancredo wrote that the FBI announcement that it reopened its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server was “more than an embarrassment”: “It is a ticking time bomb that could do more damage to our country than the Watergate scandal if allowed to explode.”
He then described what he saw as the nightmare scenario that could occur following a Clinton victory:
It is not at all clear that the FBI has not already been hopelessly compromised: Did the FBI have knowledge of Barack Obama’s participation in the illegal email server and the president’s lies about it to the public? Who will investigate the investigators?
What happens if Clinton wins the election and is then indicted on criminal charges prior to January 20? What happens if the FBI again fails to recommend criminal charges but the House of Representatives finds her in contempt of Congress and asks the Department of Justice to prosecute her for perjury? What happens if the Congress holds up all presidential appointments and all Democrat legislation until a nonpartisan Special Prosecutor is appointed?
He went on to claim that the “likelihood of a constitutional crisis grows each day that Clinton continues to lie about her classified emails and continues to avoid criminal penalties for her possible perjury,” and that, should Clinton win, she “could defy the Congress and either refuse to appoint a Special Prosecutor or appoint someone who would rubber stamp her criminal behavior.”
The best part of Tancredo’s rant is his solution to prevent this “constitutional crisis” that could damage our country more than Watergate. He advised, in all seriousness, that Clinton do the “patriotic thing” by resigning and allowing her running mate Tim Kaine to take her place. He complained, of course, that the “national Democrat [sic] Party is not famous for its fidelity to constitutional norms.”
He continued in this vein, stating of the Watergate scandal:
In the Watergate scandal, Republicans in Congress put the truth and the rule of law above politics. Democrats do not behave that way; Democrats put politics above everything, including the Constitution. Besides, the Clintons have been here before and survived. In 1998, Bill Clinton committed perjury — and obstruction of justice – and got away with it because, as Democrat Senators admitted publicly, they would not remove one of their own for merely telling a lie. After all, they said, Bill Clinton’s lie was not about policy, it was about sex with a White House intern.
Yes, a scandal more damaging than Watergate. A looming constitutional crisis. One of two major political parties putting politics above everything, even the Constitution. The possibility that members of that party will close ranks and protect a possibly corrupt or criminal president at all costs. A refusal to select a Special Prosecutor.
One wonders what Mr. Tancredo and other conservatives think about the current spectacle that has enveloped the White House and Congress. The concept of a president, presidential advisers, and campaign staffers possibly colluding with a hostile foreign power. Republicans mainly going out of their way to protect Trump and, for the most part, defend every inane lie he peddles on Twitter. One would hope Mr. Tancredo et al would want an immediate resignation.