Every single time we have learned that sedition-backing Donald Trump likely committed a crime, it takes no more than a day for House Republicans to begin planning out how they will best defend him. Every single time, the chosen defense is not that Trump didn't do whatever astonishingly crooked thing investigators have uncovered; instead, they declare that whoever discovered the corruption is part of a vast conspiracy against the career con artist, and that the investigators are the ones who need to be punished and/or jailed.
And every damn time, a coatless Rep. Jim Jordan flings himself in front of the news cameras to be the loudest person whining about it.
Now the House Judiciary Chair, which is about as neat a summation of Republicanism's decline as you could ask for, Jordan is already leading the House Republican charge to sabotage the new federal indictment of Trump under Espionage Act charges. He and his fellow Republicans have settled into a pattern; Jordan is using his perch in Congress to demand that the Justice Department turn over documents about the active criminal case. CNN is now reporting that Jordan is "exploring ways to force [special counsel] Jack Smith to testify or provide information" about the criminal case, and that Jordan has declared that "all options are on the table" when it comes to forcing Smith and others to comply.
This is the now-standard means by which House Republicans look to undermine all investigations into Trump's various acts of corruption; Jordan and House Republicans turned to it immediately after Trump's indictment in New York for cooking Trump Organization books to hide hush money payments during his 2016 campaign. It quickly came to light that House Republicans were coordinating with Trump himself in their efforts to discredit the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
The reasons House Republicans have been demanding investigators turn over their evidence are, of course, obvious. The intent is to share that evidence with Trump, either directly or by leaking it to the general public, and to identify key witnesses against Trump so that they can be publicly marked and demonized, and to tease out the direction of any ongoing investigative threads so that those, too, can be leaked and Trump's team alerted. All while undermining federal prosecutors and the judicial system itself.
The House Republican pattern is now rote, in fact. Rep. Devin Nunes made a name and career for himself before Jordan took the reins; this was the go-to Republican plan during the Robert Mueller investigation into Russian espionage and election interference and during Trump's first impeachment, as well as during every other lesser scandal.
The catch now, however, is that Jordan is not attempting to sabotage a federal probe or an impeachment trial. Jordan and his fellow House Republicans are attempting to sabotage state and federal criminal cases against Trump; in demanding that the indicting prosecutors turn over their notes, their witnesses, and their evidence, Trump's Republican allies are plainly attempting to obstruct prosecutors, not investigators. And that is usually something that is a really top-notch, prison-worthy crime for anyone who is not a sitting member of Congress.
There's really no question that the intent is obstruction, either. CNN also notes that sedition-backing House Republicans like Jordan and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz are pushing colleagues to defund the special counsel's office and otherwise strip funding from the Justice Department in order to pressure the department into dropping the charges against Trump.
As for why attempting to obstruct an ongoing criminal probe and indictment isn't illegal if you're a member of Congress, that's a hell of a question. Republicans are relying on congressional speech and debate protections to blur the lines, but those protections wouldn't protect Matt Gaetz or the others if they were, say, indicted on federal drug charges or for participating in a sex-trafficking ring, or for taking bribes or punching reporters or any number of other actual crimes. Demanding prosecutors expose their case strategies, evidence, and path of their ongoing investigations isn't a criminal act of obstruction, though? We'll have to have the experts explain that one to us all.
It needs to be again emphasized, though, that Republicanism now defines itself around the notion that Republicans get to do crimes. The latest Trump indictment is the most serious charge against him so far; Trump was caught hoarding an array of classified documents describing some of the country's most closely guarded national security secrets and, when federal officials attempted to get them back, took repeated steps to hide the documents from the government and his own lawyers so that he could keep them. At Mar-a-Lago. In publicly accessible rooms.
This is an extraordinary crime no matter who was doing it; it is one thing to misplace such documents, but it is unquestionably a crime to intentionally attempt to keep them by lying to the federal government about their whereabouts. It's also a much more straightforward crime than "seditious conspiracy" might be, and is trivial to prove compared to charges that might revolve around "intent" when pressing state election officials to "find" new votes on Trump's behalf.
It is a big-boy crime, a big-boy federal crime that prosecutors appear to have caught Trump and his aide dead to rights on, and one that may very well be amended in the future with actual espionage charges, if Trump had the sheer audacity to share the documents not just with aides and ghostwriters but to Saudi or other foreign officials he was trying to impress. That is the investigation and indictment that House Republicans are attempting to obstruct.
They're not doing it for Trump. Nobody gives that much of a damn about Trump, not really. Jordan and the others leap to the same defenses and the same obstructive acts whenever any powerful or half-powerful Republican faces a new corruption scandal. House Republicans are devoted to the idea that Republicans get to commit crimes and get to charge their political opponents with false ones, and they've got an entire fascist movement egging them on with that.
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Donald Trump is facing even more legal jeopardy and the sharks in the Republican Party seem to sense there is some blood in the water. Chris Christie has made his campaign all about going directly at Trump, and Ron DeSantis seems to be closer and closer to becoming completely isolated from the field.