In a column for Bloomberg, longtime political observer Jonathan Bernstein said there is not much more Donald Trump could do as president that would be more impeachable than his commutation of associate Roger Stone's sentence for lying for him -- and that Republicans who are either staying silent or cheering on the president will face the wrath of voters in November.
With only Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) taking the president to task for the commutation of the convicted felon's sentence in a tweet, labeling it, "Unprecedented, historic corruption: an American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” Bernstein said other Republicans should expect to be judged by their silence on such flagrant corruption.
"Clemency for a crony convicted of interfering with an investigation of presidential malfeasance is a flagrant abuse of power," Bernstein wrote, adding, "Stone, Trump’s friend and a longtime Republican political operative, was sentenced to more than three years in prison for lying to congressional investigators and witness tampering in matters related to inquiries about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign."
Pointing out that Trump's latest action comes after he has already faced articles of impeachment -- only to have the Republican-dominated Senate let him walk -- the columnist said there can be no doubt that the president has once again committed an impeachable offense.
"No more investigations are needed to establish that fact. Trump simply has given up on even the pretense of respecting the rule of law and honoring his oath of office," he wrote before suggesting that it is up to Republicans to hold the president to account -- then questioned whether they have the will to do so.
"The oddity of the situation is that the Stone clemency gives them a last chance that they don’t deserve. At this late date, with people starting to vote in the 2020 election in only a couple of months, the incentives for the party to stand behind their leader are extremely strong," he explained. "But if Republicans wanted an escape hatch — and they should, given how he’s dragging down the party and is apparently unable to do much these days other than feel sorry for himself — now they have one."
Bernstein wrote that Republicans might improve their 2020 election chances with Trump out of the way and an "unblemished" President Mike Pence at the top of the ticket, before saying it would only work "if they’re all in it together."
"But if only some of them speak out, then they will all suffer," he predicted before warning, "A united Republican Party finally ending this lawless presidency would be the best thing for the nation and for the party. It isn’t going to happen, and chances are that the failure will be punished harshly in November."
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