Obstruction of Justice?

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Tim Peacock

A Few Brave Republicans

The leaders — Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell — have defended him. Rank-and-file members of Congress have too. Even Trump skeptics on the Hill, like John McCain and Ben Sasse, have largely kept their criticism to words rather than deeds.

It’s too early to know whether the latest bombshell — Trump’s interferencewith an F.B.I. investigation, revealed by The Times — will change the situation. His act, Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School writes for Bloomberg View, “is exactly the kind that the Founding Fathers would have considered a ‘high crime.’”

But here’s something to keep in mind if much of Congress continues to put party over country: That wouldn’t be historically unusual. It would be the norm.

Well into 1974, most Republicans stayed loyal to Richard Nixon, “after plenty of evidence of abuse of power and obstruction of justice,” as the political scientist Jonathan Bernstein pointed out on Twitter. A majority of Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted against every count of impeachment. Many Republican voters also continued to support Nixon to the end.

And yet this seemingly dispiriting history is actually a reason for optimism. Why? Because the minority of Republicans willing to back an honest investigation of the president four decades ago was enough to make the difference, as Bernstein explained. Once a small portion of Republicans dropped their unqualified loyalty, the political dynamic changed, and Nixon was held accountable.

Today, once again, the country needs a few principled and patriotic Republicans — to conduct a truly independent investigation of Trump, his campaign, his business, Russia and the resulting abuses and cover-ups.

Senator Sasse? Senator McCain? Senators Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, Lisa Murkowski, Cory Gardner, Dean Heller or Bob Corker? Are you willing to stand up to an out-of-control president?

In The Times, Michelle Goldberg urges Trump aides to leave before their good reputations become tarnished, as H.R. McMaster’s and Rod Rosenstein’s have already been. “To serve this president is to be diminished,” she writes.

Ross Douthat says it’s time for Republican leaders to recognize the danger of Trump’s unfitnness and invoke the 25th Amendment.

The Editorial Board asks whether Congressional Republicans “might at last consult their consciences, and recall that they took an oath to uphold the Constitution?”

Tom Friedman offers his own answer: No. He writes that the relevant question is instead: “Are there tens of millions of good men and women in America ready to run and vote as Democrats or independents in the 2018 congressional elections and replace the current G.O.P. majority in the House and maybe the Senate?”

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