UPDATE #3: The Washington Post reports that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy talked openly that he believed Trump…well, just read for yourself:
A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.
UPDATE #2: Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican, has joined the calls for an independent investigation. From Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman:
Coffman, a Republican who cheered Trump’s election, told The Colorado Statesman that the conversation described in the memo raises “serious concerns.”
“The initial reports regarding a memo by former FBI Director Comey detailing his conversation with the President about the Michael Flynn investigation raise serious concerns requiring further examination by an independent third party,” Coffman said in a statement. (The attorney general is attending an international conference in Europe this week, her spokeswoman said.)
UPDATE: Washington Post reporting on today’s Trump-caused stock market crash:
The stock market on Wednesday took its biggest dive since before President Donald Trump’s election, as investors began to grapple with the increasing possibility that Washington would be consumed with chaos and fail to enact policies to boost the economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 368 points, or 1.8 percent to 20,611, as a broad array of other indexes all lost ground. Meanwhile, a widely followed measure of volatility known as the VIX, which had been remarkably subdued in recent months, spiked by a dramatic 21 percent, suggesting sharply growing anxiety by investors about a sense of rising political risk in Washington.
Perhaps this, at long last, will get Cory Gardner’s attention.
Politico updates with the latest word on President Donald Trump’s latest and deepest crisis yet–revelations that Trump indeed attempted to pressure FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn before firing Comey, bringing Trump closer than ever to obstruction of justice charges:
Republicans quickly split into factions — from defending Trump and blaming the media on one end, to calling for a special prosecutor and even raising the specter of impeachment on the other — as they responded to news that Trump allegedly pressured the former FBI director to drop the agency’s investigation of Trump’s ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Many others demanded that Comey testify and turn over private memos documenting his conversations with Trump.
Privately, Republicans are plainly distressed and even panicked over what a prolonged scandal could mean for their agenda and grip on power. Some wonder if Trump will still be president next year, while others are frustrated that the White House hasn’t done more damage control. Chatter has begun about what a President Mike Pence might look like…
[At] least three House Republicans — Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), and Walter Jones (N.C.) — have warned that the allegations against Trump, if true, could constitute obstruction of justice and an impeachable offense. Sen. John McCain compared Trump’s situation to Watergate.
“I think it could be” impeachable, Jones told POLITICO. “We have to see where the evidence goes. If the evidence proves — and there has to be a proof — that there is reason for a discussion on impeachment, then it needs to happen… If we don’t protect the truth and defend the truth, then there’s no hope…. This has probably been the four months that I have felt like my nation is upside down.”
In the Senate, Trump’s leading Republican detractor Sen. John McCain is freely employing the most damning analogy there is in American politics:
“I think it’s reaching the point where it’s of Watergate size and scale, and a couple of other scandals you and I have seen,” the Arizona Republican said Tuesday night. [Pols emphasis] “It’s the centipede that the shoe continues to drop. Every couple of days, there’s a new aspect of this really unhappy situation.”
McCain discussed the series of scandals that brought down Richard Nixon’s presidency at the International Republican Institute’s 2017 Freedom Dinner, where he was being honored. He shared his thoughts about the latest White House news on a panel moderated by former “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer.
But in an updated statement today, more stalling for time from Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado:
The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee has asked James Comey to appear in front of the committee, and they have asked acting FBI Director McCabe for any notes or memos prepared by Comey regarding communication with the Department of Justice and White House on the ongoing Russia investigation. I strongly support these bipartisan actions. We currently do not have all the information — and we need to see it before we comment further. [Pols emphasis] It’s also important that this does not impact the ongoing investigation into Russia.
Again, Gardner saw no need to wait for “all the information” before introducing legislation to strip Hillary Clinton of her security clearance last year during the presidential campaign. With hypocrisy flowing freely now as Republicans try to mitigate the widening damage from Trump’s compounding scandals, Gardner’s eagerness to vilify Clinton while giving Trump the endless benefit of the doubt stands out as one of the worst examples.
The bright side? Gardner might work up the courage to call out Trump after President Mike Pence is sworn in.