Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Written by Heather Digby Parton

There are so many lawsuits and criminal investigations involving Donald Trump in the news right now that it’s hard to keep up. The indictment he announced was coming on Tuesday didn’t materialize but by all accounts, it is imminent, possibly even today. If that happens Trump won’t be immediately handcuffed and extradited to New York on Con Air. Prosecutors will arrange for him to appear for an arraignment which, according to the New York Times will disappoint Trump as he is looking forward to the spectacle so that he can “show strength.” I don’t buy that but I can certainly see that he might look forward to bilking his loyal following for another chunk of their social security checks by playing the martyr.

Lucky for him, his defenders have circled the wagons and are preparing to fight fire with fire.

At the moment they are concentrating their efforts on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump himself has called him every name under the sun, of course, but his defenders are homing in on a complaint that he is abusing his power out of partisan animus (which is hysterical coming from them.) House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., went on record immediately denouncing the case as “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical D.A. who lets violent criminals walk as he pursues political vengeance against President Trump.” Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky distilled Republicans’ feelings on Tuesday into one basic cri de guerre: Lock him up.

No, not Trump — the District Attorney.

Perhaps they can join his trial with Hillary Clinton’s and Dr. Fauci’s to save money.

McCarthy directed the House of Representatives to begin an investigation into Bragg and his office, citing some interest in knowing whether he was funded by the federal government which is a reach. Nonetheless, Committee chairs Jim Jordan, Bryan Steil and James Comer immediately sent a letter to Bragg saying “your decision to pursue such a politically motivated prosecution—while adopting progressive criminal justice policies that allow career ‘criminals [to] run[ ] the streets’ of Manhattan — requires congressional scrutiny about how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law-enforcement agencies” and demanded that he immediately come to Washington to testify before the committee. They may have to “de-fund the prosecutor” you see in order to prevent him from abusing his power.

What other jurisdiction they believe they have for doing this is obscure and Oversight Chairman James Comer doesn’t seem to know what it is either:

If you can make heads or tails out what he’s trying to say there, good luck to you. But at this moment nobody knows what charges or under what laws Bragg may be bringing so this whole federal pushback is premature, to say the least. A respectable Oversight Committee chairman would hold his fire until he has the facts. But James Comer is not a respectable Oversight chairman and in that he is upholding a long-standing GOP tradition.

The Times published a long profile of the new chairman on Tuesday, in which he’s extolled as a major political talent with a huge future ahead of him — and also revealed him to be exactly the kind of hypocritical, hyper-partisan operator he appears to be. For instance, Comer admitted that as a candidate for governor, he was involved in a devious plot to discredit a girlfriend who alleged he had abused her and helped her get an abortion — by siccing a prosecutor on to a blogger who had been publishing the information. (He seems to know a lot about how abuse of power works.)

He is obsessed with Hunter Biden and what he commonly refers to as “the Biden Crime family” but he knows it’s all a lie. He’s just giving the MAGA folks what they want. It’s clear that he is completely devoid of integrity. But lest anyone get the idea that he is something unique to the Trump era, he is not. He is following in the footsteps of one of the great GOP Oversight Committee reprobate chairmen in history: Dan Burton of Indiana.

Dan Burton ascended to the powerful chairmanship in 1997, immediately after Bill Clinton’s re-election victory and he didn’t waste any time in going after what was the right called “The Clinton Crime Family.” (They do believe in recycling their insults.) He’s especially remembered for his pursuit of the idiotic rumors emanating from the right-wing fever swamp about White House aide Vince Foster’s suicide, famously saying of Clinton, “if I could prove 10 percent of what I believe happened [regarding the death of Foster], he’d be gone. This guy’s a scumbag. That’s why I’m after him.” He even re-enacted a fantasy of the alleged crime in his backyard by shooting a canteloupe with a gun and causing unfathomable misery to Foster’s family with his endless sensational probing of the tragedy.

In 1998 Burton was one of Clinton’s most vociferous critics during Special Prosecutor Ken Starr’s investigation — until it was reported that had secretly fathered a child in an extra-marital affair years before. (There were a lot of Republicans caught in that particular trap that year.) He spent millions of dollars investigating allegedly corrupt Democratic campaign fundraising even as he was an incorrigibly corrupt fundraiser himself and delivered openly for those who funded him. One of Donald Trump’s top advisers David Bossie first came to national attention working for Burton as his “investigator” when he was exposed for editing some transcripts causing even then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich to denounce the investigation as a “circus.” He was anti-vax before anti-vax was cool.

It’s hard to believe, I know, that a quarter century ago, the House GOP was just as batshit as they are today but they were. There may have been more sane ones but they behaved the same way the vanishing few behave today. They just let it happen.The Times article ends with a most telling anecdote about the man who is on TV every day railing about “abuse of power”:

Mr. Comer recalled a local deputy sheriff who had recently pulled him over for speeding but let him go when he realized who he had nabbed — only after leaning in to ask one question.

“We going to get Biden or not?”

At least he didn’t call him a scumbag. I guess that’s progress.
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About the author
Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon.

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