Imagine Democrats Did It

Republicans would be apoplectic if a Democratic attorney general did what Jeff Sessions did.

Imagine Democrats Did It

(Alex Brandon/AP)

By Peter Fenn | Opinion Contributor USNews & World Report

March 2, 2017, at 3:05 p.m.

As much as I would like to, I’m not going there on policy, personnel, plans or programs to help people if Hillary Clinton were in the Oval Office instead of President Donald Trump.

Instead, I am going there on how all hell would have broken loose if her first 30 days were anything like Trump’s. Really. The investigations. The press conferences. The attacks. The calls for impeachment, resignations, firings. We can only imagine.

First, think about what Republicans would say if Clinton had appointed billionaires and multi-millionaires from Wall Street and big business, many of whom have no clue about their jobs – the likes of Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Rex Tillerson or Linda McMahon. How about a cabinet nominee who didn’t pay taxes for an undocumented immigrant for five years and was accused of domestic abuse by his former wife?

What would Republicans say to a White House where a handful of iron-fisted aides attempted to justify “alternative facts” and choose to accuse the legitimate press of “fake news,” when this had been the modus operandi they and their alt-right crew had used throughout the campaign?

But the main event is now before us: the explosion of the “Russian problem,” wherein the nation’s highest law enforcement officer, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has failed to tell the truth to the United States Senate and to the American people.

So, what if one of Clinton’s earliest political supporters, the appointed attorney general, had lied to congress about his meetings with Russians during the campaign? Not just once at his confirmation hearing but twice, the second time in writing? What if he constantly refused to investigate relationships between campaign operatives and the Russians or to support the appointment of a special prosecutor? What if the president had called over and over for a special prosecutor to investigate the opposition candidate, just as Trump had for months?

Suppose Clinton’s national security advisor had talked repeatedly with the Russians during the campaign and before the inauguration, downplaying sanctions for Russian meddling in our elections, and then lied about it? And what if it was clear that hacking of the opposition and leaks of emails were a deliberate effort to sway the election?

Would the Republicans not be up in arms with investigations and shooting subpoenas left and right for the Clinton administration to testify? Would there not be calls for “getting to the bottom of this criminal and traitorous behavior”? If the dominoes were falling one after another and the national security of the United States were at stake, would not Republicans be attacking and holding hearings and calling witnesses?

Instead, we have an attorney general who has lied and is stonewalling. We have a White House that is attempting to control the damage, to cover up what John Dean so aptly called “the cancer on the presidency” during Watergate. This is so Nixonian.

Enlisting members of Congress to go out and rebut the press, even including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., goes down a dangerous path. Nunes warned of a “witch hunt” and now finds himself in a very awkward position as his committee tries to uncover the facts.

The White House, which also insists on placing low-level operatives to oversee Cabinet secretaries and report back to political strategist Steve Bannon, is making the Nixonian mistake of thinking this is about dictating. Trump and Bannon are not kings. As Nixon discovered, this does not end well.

We are seeing the splintering of those in Congress who know that Sessions’ lies will not stand, that keeping the lid on an investigation of Russian ties to the Trump inner circle is a futile endeavor, that our democracy won’t allow a Watergate cover-up on steroids.

Americans know that if Clinton were in the White House a Republican congress would be all over her. Even some Republicans know that it is time to have a full and complete investigation of the Russian activities, despite the attorney general’s actions and the Trump White House’s desire to deep-six any inquiry.