On Tuesday, writing for The Nation, Joan Walsh scorched the GOP as a "party of thugs" for its complicity in President Donald Trump's shattering of institutional norms — and his post-impeachment rampage against intraparty figures and administration officials who he perceives to have wronged him.
"With his Friday 'reassignments' of Army Lt. Cols. Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, as well as his 'recalling' European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland, Donald Trump proved that his impeachment acquittal unleashed him to climb new heights of vindictiveness, and probably lawlessness, too," wrote Walsh. "Remember when Republican senators feigned outrage because House impeachment manager Adam Schiff referenced reports that Trump was warning that anyone who crossed him would find his or her 'head on a pike'? Good times."
Some Republicans pushed back, noted Walsh — but that pushback was suspiciously selective.
"The New York Times reported Saturday that a few politically vulnerable Republican senators — including perpetually 'concerned' Susan Collins of Maine, along with North Carolina’s Thom Tillis and Arizona’s Martha McSally, all up for reelection in November — tried to get Trump to let Sondland step down rather than be fired," wrote Walsh. "Apparently, they expressed no concern about the Vindmans, who were even more obviously vulnerable than Sondland. It makes sense, though. Sondland is a huge GOP donor who’s already contributed to Tillis’s reelection; the Vindmans are merely immigrants and career public servants."
"And what about the lone Republican who kept that Senate vote from being partisan, Utah’s Mitt Romney?" wrote Walsh. "We know Trump’s been trashing him on his Twitter feed since just after the vote. For my money, though, the most insidious insult to Romney came from Conservative Political Action Conference chair Matt Schlapp. Schlapp, former political director in George W. Bush’s White House turned Trump lapdog, had already disinvited Romney from the annual Knuckle-Draggers Ball. But on Sunday night he added an ominous warning: 'This year I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him,' he added."
"Let me state what should be obvious: If you are genuinely afraid that your party’s 2012 presidential nominee will not be physically safe at a gathering you’re sponsoring, you should be weeding out anyone you believe might harm him, not keeping Romney away," added Walsh. "And if you don’t genuinely believe that, saying you do constitutes a threat, not a warning."
"Jeff Hauser, who runs the anti-corruption Revolving Door Project, has been a persuasive critic of the Democrats’ narrow Ukraine impeachment focus," wrote Walsh. "He says the party’s leaders still need a multifront operation to thwart, or at least eventually punish, Trump and Co.’s rolling lawlessness. At minimum, regarding the Vindmans’ dismissal, he thinks the House Armed Services Committee should hold 'hearings with retired generals to create drama around impartial people attacking Trump’s misconduct.' More broadly, he thinks the House should be 'subpoenaing records now that could be the basis for prosecutions in 2021, across all departments—creating a paper trail that makes people nervous that there might be post-Trump consequences.'"
"Post-Trump consequences in 2021—if we get past Trump in 2020, that is," concluded Walsh ominously.
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