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Douglas Turner: Republicans trapped in the Trump vortex

WASHINGTON – It will be like this. Just as in 1974 when GOP leaders shambled into President Richard Nixon’s office, a squad of Republican sachems will settle into soft chairs in the Oval Office and tell President Donald J. Trump that it’s over.

The main difference between the 1974 visitors and today’s is that the earlier Republicans, who were in the minority, knew who they were. Many had patriotic stirrings and a hometown base. Many had fought in and had sons who suffered in the long and bloody World War II.

Too many in this generation’s GOP tribe have been chosen and preened by fabulously rich Washington-based interest groups with no military service. These Republicans are in strong majorities in the House and Senate and they cannot yet bring themselves to imagine they could lose all this newfound golden power.

They seem bent on suffocating every liberal program they can find, even some dating from the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower. Yet they are caught in a whirlpool ebbing into ever deeper water.

That vortex is of course Trump. He is beginning to talk like the anti-hero in the black comedy, “Dr. Strangelove,” the mad Air Force Gen. Jack D. Ripper. In his last message to the president before dispatching nuclear bombs at Russia, Ripper wrote: “We will prevail in peace and freedom from fear and in true health through the purity and essence of our natural [bodily] fluids.”

How different is that from Trump calling the investigation of ties with Russia a “witch hunt”? Special prosecutor Robert Mueller is among the last real men standing in D.C. A veteran of the Marine Corps, he was director of the FBI for a dozen years. Mueller is in the defiant stamp of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor fired by Nixon.

This column believes that Trump tried to pressure then FBI Director James Comey into dropping its well-established investigation into retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who gave paid speeches for the Russian-sponsored RT television network, and was secretly lobbying for the Turkish government.

How creepy was it for Trump to send out of the White House room the vice president and attorney general before making his pitch to terminate the FBI probes into this weird general? One had to be a 10-year-old child not to know something low-down and smarmy was coming. Comey’s reported contemporaneous notes, this column believes, confirm that Trump then committed a crime, an obstruction of justice. That’s just one impeachable offense. It will be Comey’s word of honor against Trump’s, as the 2018 congressional campaign grinds on.

Trump proposed something less criminal but just as vile to Comey at a White House encounter, according to Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan. Trump proposed jailing journalists who write about illegal security leaks, an idea unconstitutional in itself.

Not many days later, Trump spilled the beans of hard-won Israeli intelligence on ISIS in a casual talk with Russia’s foreign minister and ambassador.

Trump’s crudeness and willfulness are still inspiring some people. Such as the goon security guard who last week muscled the well-respected newsman John Donnelly out of a public Federal Communications Commission hearing because he asked a question.

But Trump and his complacent Republican defenders are now facing reports, and leaks from at least two congressional investigations and the parade of witnesses invited into Mueller’s grand jury room.

At some point, Republicans will have to decide that Trump’s hard base of 39 percent approval will not protect them against the broadest Democratic attack in decades, and that their congressional majorities are in dire jeopardy. Ordinarily, House and Senate races are local or statewide. Thanks to Trump, the Republicans in 2018 are facing not only a national wave election, but a tsunami.

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