Greatly influenced by his father, Lawrence Hogan, a Republican congressman who was the first representative in his party to call for Richard Nixon’s impeachment, Hogan told CBS, “I probably learned more about integrity in one day from watching my dad during that crisis than most people learn in a lifetime.” He observed, “I do believe that there are people in Congress and other leaders in the Republican Party who have not stood up when they disagree or when they think that the president is doing something wrong. I’ve not been afraid to do that.”
Hogan thinks more Republicans will step forward if the special counsel’s final report is especially damning. Frankly, he may be giving his fellow Republicans too much credit. If they didn’t break with Trump after his assertion that there were “very fine” people among neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville or after revelations he ordered Michael Cohen to pay hush money to women (and conceal the payments from voters) or after we learned Trump had lied about “no deals with Russia” or after Trump sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence community, what makes you think they won’t discount Robert S. Mueller III’s report or simply accept Trump’s blanket denials? If they haven’t uniformly denounced a power grab based on a bad-faith assertion of a border crisis that undermines the separation of powers, don’t put it past Republicans to shrug when the Mueller report comes out and then cheerlead for his reelection.
Hogan might consider following his father’s example by calling for Trump to leave office. Whether it is Trump’s pattern of obstructing investigations (e.g., threatening to fire the special counsel, seeking to get the Southern District of New York U.S. attorney and former attorney general Jeff Sessions to un-recuse, concocting phony cover stories to explain his firing of FBI Director James B. Comey or the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, dangling pardons in front of potential witnesses against him), his self-enrichment and receipt of foreign emoluments, his predilection for hiring Russian stooges and ethically challenged advisers or sublimating American interests to those of Russia (e.g., giving away highly-classified information, echoing Russian talking points on their interference with our election and its invasion of Afghanistan 40 years ago), Trump has failed time and again to “take care the laws be faithfully executed” as required in the Constitution. He has refused to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” Whether by resignation, impeachment or defeat in 2020, Trump must be stopped from doing further harm to our democracy.
That’s the message I hope Hogan will convey, and in doing so challenge his own party to follow in his father’s footsteps. Collectively, Trump’s betrayal of the country, interference with ongoing investigations and support for the United States’ principal international foe dwarf what Nixon did. Hogan is the ideal person to deliver that message.
More power to Hogan if he joins former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld in a primary challenge, but just as important would be Hogan’s recruitment of primary challengers to take on Trump’s worst enablers who will be on the ballot in 2020 — Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), David Perdue (R-Ga.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to name a few. (These are in addition to Trump’s quieter enablers who have betrayed promises to constituents — e.g., Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado — and who should face primary challenges as well.)
It’s not enough to challenge Trump; those who have acquiesced in and encouraged his attacks on democratic norms and refused to hold him accountable for overt racism and lies need to be defeated as well. In other words, every Republican senator on the ballot who, say, votes against the resolution to end the emergency declaration or who ignores all the facts the final Mueller report lays on the table, should be challenged by a true, conscientious Republican in the primary.
Yes, by all means challenge the ringleader but just as important would be Hogan’s effort to raise an army of sincere center-right candidates to take down Trump’s foot soldiers. That’s the only way to rescue the GOP — and, even if it is beyond rescue, to serve the greater national interest in restoring our democracy.