The more evidence that emerges for Trump’s unfitness for office, the more tightly the Republican Party circles the wagons in his defense:
Bannon made himself the scourge of Republican Party officials, and McConnell in particular, by working to support a bunch of loathsome Republican primary candidates. But the decision to drive a wedge between him and Trump on this particular issue reveals something critical about the GOP’s disposition toward Trump’s misconduct. The Republican establishment is running tighter cover for Trump over historically scandalous and likely criminal actions than the man who stood by Trump, and later Roy Moore, after learning they were sexual predators. Party leaders view allegations of legal wrongdoing against Trump not as a potential problem for their party and the country, but as a kind of betrayal of Trump himself. If and when full documentation of his crimes emerges, they will go to great lengths to make sure he faces no repercussions.
And, both exemplifying and furthering their decision to go all-in for Trump, they’re out-Nixoning Nixon using the federal legal apparatus to attack Republican enemies:
There are two ways for a president to corrupt the vast powers of federal law enforcement. The one that has commanded the greatest attention so far is the defensive corruption of curtailing investigations into the administration and its allies (by, say, firing Robert Mueller). The other is offensive, by directing investigations into the administration’s political critics. And while this form of corruption has attracted less attention, Trump appears to have made far greater headway here.
Republican senators Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham have made a criminal referral to the Justice Department against Christopher Steele. It is unclear what crime they have in mind. Steele’s underlying offense is having been hired to investigate Donald Trump’s murky connections with Russia, and then having the leads he compiled published without his knowledge. While the FBI had other reasons to investigate Trump besides Steele’s reporting — reportedly the investigation began after Trump aide George Papadopoulos shot off his mouth to an Australian diplomat — Steele’s dossier became a source of humiliation for Trump. The president has been raging for the last year about the “fake” dossier — the veracity of which has been unverified, though many of its elements have been borne out by subsequent reporting. And now two Republican senators, one of whom chairs the Judiciary Committee, have taken up Trump’s demands to treat the dossier’s author, a well-respected British intelligence agent, like a criminal.
In the meantime, the FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation. It is conceivable they have found evidence of genuine criminality. But years of investigations into the foundation have found nothing more than a typical pattern of fundraising and access.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is reportedly probing Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server again. “A former senior DOJ official familiar with department leadership’s thinking said officials there are acutely aware of demands from President Donald Trump that they look into Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of State—and that they lock up her top aide, Huma Abedin,” reports Betsy Woodruff. It is impossible to imagine any new lead or legitimate reason to reopen an investigation that was completed last year, other than to satisfy Trump’s lust to criminalize his opponents.
This is a truly unexpected development. Why, with the Notably Rare Exception of most Republican elected officials, many wealthy donors, the FBI, and most affluent white people, the American elite was fervently united against Donald Trump!