John Dean, the former White House counsel to Richard Nixon, famously told the select committee on Watergate that there was a “cancer on the presidency.” The words perfectly illustrated what was going on between 1972 and 1974. Today, more than 40 years later, there’s a cancer on the presidency, yes, but it’s advancing and metastasizing far more rapidly than it has ever before.
The cancer metaphor is just about perfect when it comes to Trump, especially in terms of the seemingly unbreakable link between the White House and the congressional GOP. The Republicans don’t appear to notice that new tumors are popping up every week, and, without treatment, without the GOP taking positive steps to extract the source of the cancer, the Republican Party could be in serious jeopardy.
Today, the latest Trump malignancy has somehow managed to top the previous one. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that former FBI Director James Comey was asked by Trump to kill the bureau’s probe into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. The source of the story comes from a memo written by Comey following the late-February meeting, which took place the day after Flynn was fired. Furthermore, we learned that Trump told Comey that the then-FBI director should start arresting journalists who received leaked classified information.
Once again, Trump’s attempt to wiggle out of a crime creates yet another crime. This time, it’s obstruction of justice — again. Not only did Trump try to kill the Flynn probe, but he also admitted to trying to kill the related probe into Trump/Russia. At this point, the entire Trump presidency is merely a succession of crime upon crimes. The more he squirms to escape the deepening quicksand of the Trump/Russia story, the more he sinks into it.
The same can be said for the Republicans who refuse to demand this cancer to be summarily excised. The deeper Trump descends by the inescapable gravity of his own political toxicity, the worse it’ll get for the Republicans, too, each of whom is on record defending Trump, either by official statements or by deafening silence in the face of this expanding madness. Early on, I get it. Reagan’s 11th commandment: thou shalt not speak poorly of another Republican. But this is beyond anything Reagan ever could’ve imagined. Just ask some of his former advisers who’ve all come out to condemn Trump.
At some point — a point that seems to be closer to the past than the future — the Republicans need to cut bait or die with Trump. Better to walk away now than to wait another week, month or year in which we can’t even predict what Trump will do to up the ante of incompetence and treachery. In other words, they can either have the cancer cut out of the body politic now, while it might still be curable, or they can wait until it’s inoperable. Then, when the impact of Trump’s blunders reaches a death spiral, no voter ID laws or purges or gerrymandering — maybe not even the Russians — will save the GOP in 2018 and 2020.
Of course, they won’t listen. And with every passing gaffe, scandal, egregious breach of national security, and high crime, the Republicans will be indelibly characterized as politically complicit, if not guilty by association.
Oh, and by the way, since the White House is denying the Comey memo story, we can probably expect Trump to confirm the reporting tomorrow.