The wagons are circling. The panic thermometer is rising. The GOP is behaving like panicked chickens with a fox in their midst. House Republicans are trying to sabotage any meaningful investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in the Judiciary Committee and by the House Intelligence Committee. [LAT] Senators of the Republican persuasion are covering themselves in ignominy (and not just a little bit of hypocrisy) as Senators Grassley and Graham want to launch a criminal investigation into British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. [BI]
Meanwhile the Diversion, Distraction, and Delusion of the administration is on full display as the GOP/Trump haul out the long debunked “Cllinton foundation investigation” and the….wait for it….Clinton E-mails. It can’t be too long before the Republicans start investigating Benghazi again. In short, this is a very limited amount of ammunition being expended as the hordes (of investigators working for Special Counsel Mueller) press against the castle walls.
First, I’m noticing that there is nothing new on offer. There is absolutely nothing new about investigating the Clinton Foundation, a charity with some of the highest ratings granted by those organization which track such things. The charges were bogus to begin with, the “linkages” so tenuous that only great leaps of faith (and fevered conspiracy dreams) can make them whole, and the topic has been done to death. The Emails? They aren’t missing, they aren’t important, and they too have been overcooked in the fevered imagination of right wing Republicans.
Secondly, the attack on the former member of British intelligence is too obvious. Let’s allow the participants to speak for themselves:
“Based on the information contained therein, we are respectfully referring Mr. Steele to you for investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, for statements the Committee has reason to believe Mr. Steele made regarding his distribution of information contained in the dossier.”
The criminal referral does not pertain to the veracity of the dossier’s claims and “is not intended to be an allegation of a crime,” a press release from the committee says. [BI]
“Regarding his distribution of information…” we might interpret this to refer to statements Steele may or may not have made to members of the press? Frankly, it isn’t clear. And then there is that press release — “...is not intended to be an allegation of a crime…” So, the Senators are not “alleging” any crime took place but they’d like the Department of Justice to investigate to see if there might be one? Somewhere, anywhere, anything. Please! Further, what do we make of “The criminal referral does not pertain to the veracity of the dossier’s claims,” other than we (the GOP) don’t want to touch the substance of the assembled memos with a barge pole but we will gleefully attempt to sully the reputation of the person who shared the information with US law enforcement officials.
Aside from being gratuitous and almost silly, the “referral” on Mr. Steele sounds like GOP attempting to argue that instead of investigating the person who tried to burn your house down the authorities should be investigating possible criminal charges against the person who called the fire department.
There will be a steady drumbeat of GOP talking points, most of which are as old as the lyrics to Mariah Carey’s rendition of Dream Lover, some of which are manufactured from the whole cloth by which the GOP would veil the antics of a failing, flailing, presidency.
Meanwhile, this nation is no closer to answering some truly crucial questions:
(1) By what means did the Russians attempt to interfere in US elections? Are those means still being employed today?
(2) What steps should be taken by US election officials to protect our physical election systems and databases from interference in future elections?
(3) What assistance can and should be made available from the Federal government to state and local election officials so that future attempts to interfere are prevented?