Yesterday in this space I commented on the Trump scandal de jour, which was his blabbing of secret information to Russian diplomats, and noted that some prominent Republicans were beginning to jump ship in order to distance themselves from their leader. That story fit a developing pattern with the administration's handling of leaks: a story breaks in the press, there is an immediate "White House" denial, and then Trump finally comes forward, usually in a tweet, and says essentially, "Yeah, I did it - and so what are you going to do about it?" When all else fails, let loose the bully.
But today is a new day, and, of course, we are now knee-deep in another scandal. Late yesterday it was reported in the press that last February, one day after he fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump pressured FBI Director James Comey to drop his agency's investigation of General Flynn and his ties to Russia. The "White House" has denied the story, and now the country is waiting impatiently for Trump to own it - and dare anyone to do anything about it.
Here's what is known: Director Comey was invited to the White House for a meal and conversation in mid-February. Also present with Trump and Comey were Vice-President Pence and Attorney General Sessions. After the meal, Trump dismissed Pence and Sessions so that he could have a private talk with Comey. According to a memo for record written by Comey after the meal - and then shared with other officials at the FBI, Trump said the following regarding the FBI's investigation of Flynn:
"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go. He's a good guy. I hope you let this go."
Pressure, pressure, pressure! Comey, however did not let it go, and three months later he was fired by the man who had tried to get him to drop the investigation.
If the GOP rats were jumping ship yesterday to get away from the ever-expanding Trump drama, today they are in full stampede mode and trampling one another as they rush to save their scandal-scarred hides. Fox News, long a stable for Republican talkers, could not find any member of the GOP willing to say more than "no comment" regarding today's scandal. CBS This Morning reached out to twenty prominent Republicans to comment on air on the Comey memo - and all twenty declined.
But a few are talking.
Now some Republicans are even letting the word "impeachment" slip into their running commentary on the collapsing Trump administration. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan was asked by The Hill if the Comey memo was true, would it merit impeachment? Amash's to-the-point answer was "Yes."
Crusty old John McCain, who yesterday had been "disturbed" by Trump leaking classified information to Russia, now says that allegations against the Trump administration have reached "Watergate size and scale." (Journalists hungry fro a good quote know that Johnny Mac can always be relied upon to go well beyond a puny "no comment.")
John Dean, who as a young man was Richard Nixon's White House lawyer, is still kicking - and talking. Dean says that the Comey memo is the "smoking gun" that could bring Trump down - "like Nixon."
It's getting wide and it's getting deep.
Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the head of the House Oversight Committee, has suddenly kicked into gear. The once reluctant investigator on behalf of the American people, now seems to have taken an interest in finding out what is really going on in Trumpland. Yesterday he sent a letter to the acting head of the FBI requesting all "memoranda, notes, summaries, and recordings" of discussions between Trump and Comey. Chaffetz noted in his letter that he has he "subpoena pen" at the ready. He set a May 24th deadline for the FBI to voluntarily comply.
Politicians, like rats everywhere, know a storm is coming. As the dark clouds of impeachment begin to gather on the horizon, their survival instincts are kicking into gear and they are running for high ground. Some will make it, others will get trampled, and still others will be pulled under by a desperate despot as he flails in vain to make himself great again.