The New York Times editorial board finally makes the call on Trump that they should have made more than 18 months ago.
News reports point to a growing possibility that President Trump may act to cripple or shut down an investigation by the nation’s top law-enforcement agencies into his campaign and administration. Lawmakers need to be preparing now for that possibility because if and when it comes to pass, they will suddenly find themselves on the edge of an abyss, with the Constitution in their hands.
Make no mistake: If Mr. Trump takes such drastic action, he will be striking at the foundation of the American government, attempting to set a precedent that a president, alone among American citizens, is above the law. What can seem now like a political sideshow will instantly become a constitutional crisis, and history will come calling for Mr. Hatch and his colleagues.
For months, investigators have been examining whether Mr. Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government to undermine American democracy, and whether the president misused his power by obstructing justice in an effort to end that investigation.
Until the last few weeks, Mr. Trump had shown restraint, by his standards, anyway. He and his lawyers cooperated with investigators. Mr. Trump never tweeted directly about Robert Mueller, the special counsel, and spoke about him publicly only when asked.
Alas, that whiff of higher executive function is gone. Mr. Trump is openly attacking both Mr. Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, appointed by Mr. Trump himself. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing the Russia investigation and signing off on Mr. Mueller’s actions.
Of course, this president has been known to huff and puff, to bluff and bluster, and he may be doing no more than that now. He may choose not to fire either man. We know he has already twice told his aides he wanted Mr. Mueller fired, only to be talked out of such rash action.
But if the president does move against the investigators, it will be up to Congress to affirm the rule of law, the separation of powers and the American constitutional order. The miserable polarization and partisan anger that have been rising in American life for decades will hit a new crescendo, and that will present congressional Republicans with a heavy burden indeed.
They go on to plead with congressional Republicans, starting with Senate president pro tempore and Judiciary Committee chair Orrin Hatch, to do the right thing for America's sake should Trump make the move we all at this point expect him to make on Rosenstein and Mueller (and possibly Jeff Sessions being taken out by the ensuing collateral damage as well).
I wouldn't hold my breath on Hatch doing anything at all. Mitch McConnell will see to that. Paul Ryan in the House? Well, he's heading for the hills. Don't expect anything there either.
This was always going to be up to Republicans in Congress, and there's nothing that I've seen that makes it even remotely feasible that they will choose country over party. Perhaps in January with a new House and Senate controlled by the Dems, but the one we have now, no way.
And let's not forget we have an entire media empire devoted to keeping Trump in power no matter how far he goes.
The 2018 elections may be our best hope, and even then by the time they roll around it may already be too late.