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Opinion Ben Sasse should do more than talk and tweet

Senate Judicary Committee member Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) listens to witnesses during a subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election on Capitol Hill last year in Washington. (Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

The Post reports:

President Trump attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department on Monday in connection with the indictments of two GOP congressmen on corruption charges, saying they could hurt the Republican Party in the midterm elections.
“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” he said on Twitter. “Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time.”
“Good job Jeff……” he added, in a sarcastic comment. Calling the agency the “Jeff Sessions Justice Department” is the president’s ultimate insult, Trump advisers say.

Recently, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was indicted on insider trading charges, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) was charged with misusing campaign funds.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) released this statement responding to Trump:

The United States is not some banana republic with a two-tiered system of justice — one for the majority party and one for the minority party. These two men have been charged with crimes because of evidence, not because of who the President was when the investigations began. Instead of commenting on ongoing investigations and prosecutions, the job of the President of the United States is to defend the Constitution and protect the impartial administration of justice.

But that is precisely what we are becoming — because Republicans have signaled to Trump that there are no real consequences for his actions. Republicans in the House and Senate now face voters increasingly upset about corruption and abuse of power, both of which will not abate so long as spineless Republicans hold the majority in both houses.

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There are many things that Sasse and fellow Republicans could do beyond just issuing press releases.

  • They could pass a declaration in both houses of Congress deploring the president’s outburst and advising that if he fires Sessions, impeachment hearings will commence.
  • They could decide to hold up on all nominations — for courts, the Justice Department, etc. — until such time as they receive and take action on the report from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. (Trump’s clownish TV attorney Rudy Giuliani is threatening to somehow stop release of the Mueller report by executive edict; a resolution declaring that to be impeachable conduct would also be in order.)
  • They could begin holding actual oversight hearings (!) on the grotesque conflicts of interest, emoluments clause violations and other instances of corruption that are also turning the U.S. government into a tinpot dictatorship.
  • They could demand that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh answer specific questions, including whether Trump’s moves are in accord with our constitutional system. If he refuses to answer and refuses to recuse himself from consideration of Trump-related criminal and impeachment issues, they can hold up Kavanaugh’s hearing.
  • They could expel one or both of the indicted congressmen from the House.

Sasse is now the subject of ridicule from Democrats and private eye-rolling from right-leaning pundits for his penchant for grand, empty pronouncements and complete deference to the White House. If he wants to take the challenge to align himself with something bigger and better than his own career and the survival of the Trumpian GOP, he can lead one or more actions. To quote President George W. Bush, “We are better than this. America is better than this.” But is Sasse?

President Trump is attacking the rule of law, but columnist David Ignatius says the country's system of checks and balances will withstand the assault. (Video: Gillian Brockell/The Washington Post)