Anyone who’s watched law and order TV shows, including the actual “Law & Order” series and their offspring (all over cable TV if you look beyond the paid programs for skin cream and boner pills) knows the drill: a suspect will first deny any knowledge of the alleged crime. “I had nothing to do with it; it’s all bullshit.” Then under questioning and faced with the evidence, the line will shift to “Well, maybe I did know something, but it wasn’t me.” Then with more evidence, such as pictures or recordings, it becomes “Well, yeah, okay, but there was nothing wrong with it; it was just two people talking. Can I see my lawyer now?”
I think we’re getting to that last part now with Trump and the whistle-blower and Ukraine. He’s gone from claiming it never happened (“Fake News”) to admitting — boasting — that he did bring it up more than once in his phone call in July with the president of Ukraine.
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump told reporters Sunday morning. “And Ukraine, Ukraine’s got a lot of problems.”
And while Trump and his minions may try to cling to their stories as well as their Miranda rights, a large number of Republicans are making tracks.
Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows, nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements including former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), and some, such as [Rep. Paul] Mitchell, who are simply quitting in disgust.
As the article in the Post notes, as they go, the party is remaking itself in the image of Trump. That means that for every Republican that retires or quits, there’s a bench of MAGA-hat wearing xenophobic evangelical hypocrites and know-nothings who will rush in to fill the void, especially in blood-red districts where fear and loathing of Others runs rampant even as their businesses and crops go rotting thanks to Trump’s tariffs and immigration deportations continue.
That scenario may be making it easier for the Democrats to take control of the House by a wider margin than they have now, and take back the Senate. But that’s more than a year away, and meanwhile, we have a White House that is being run like a bad spinoff of “The Sopranos.” And our adversaries are watching it.