I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times: Donald Trump can’t be stopped.
With each passing day, Trump makes headlines by engaging in activities that would each be impeachable offenses if it were any other candidate. First, he abruptly fired FBI director James Comey, all while Comey was leading an investigation into possible collusion between Trump and Russia on election hacking (possible obstruction of justice). A day later, he went on national television with Lester Holt and admitted that Comey’s investigation played a part in his firing. The day after that, Trump tweeted that Comey should hope there were no tapes of their White House conversations (an act viewed by many as witness intimidation). Just when you thought the week had enough of Trump’s scandals, the Washington Post reported that Trump leaked classified, codename-level intelligence to the Russians. As icing on the proverbial cake goes, it now looks like Comey actually recorded Trump telling him to lay off the Flynn investigation.
By all measures, Trump should be doing a perp walk right now.
But even as Donald Trump moves from one scandal to another, I have conceded to the mind-blowing reality that as long as Republican lawmakers support him, he is – and will continue to be – impervious to political blowback from even the most reckless of behavior.
Like it or not, Trump has the leverage of both chambers of Congress and the Supreme Court, the branches of government to whom he is constitutionally required to answer. Democrats can make noise, kick up the occasional dirt, and propose a bill or two to reign in Trump’s behavior (of particular interest is Rep. Ted Lieu’s appropriately-named SWAMP act, which would force Trump to reimburse the government for his costly business trips). Maybe at some point, their methods will be executed effectively enough to drum up necessary support in time for the mid-term elections. But the foreseeable future belongs to Trump and the Republicans afraid to oppose him.
What makes Trump unbeatable is the unconditional, fanatical, and quite illogical support he continues to receive from his base. That base, not strong enough to win an popular vote outright, but potent enough to win individual districts, is who Republican lawmakers fear they would lose if they broke ranks with Trump. And, of course, they also hold on to the hope that staying loyal to Trump will translate into direct benefits for them (earmarks, for example). Far too many of them are putting their own ambitions ahead of the country and those they represent. They appear willing to sacrifice the nation’s integrity and standing in the world in order to save Trump.
In short, rather than jumping from a sinking ship, too many members of the GOP are purposely and cowardly serving as a flotation device for Trump.
It’s for that very reason why I think the comparisons to Trump and Nixon are off-base. Yes, they both committed impeachable offenses. But the significant difference between the two rests in the congressional support Nixon didn’t have, which Trump currently enjoys. By the last year of his presidential term, Nixon was squaring off against a Congress controlled by the opposing party. Trump, on the other hand has Congress on his side and, therefore, none of the meaningful checks and balances a president should have. If there is anything he can take away from the past week of scandal, it’s that he can do whatever he wants, without consequence. This isn’t the first time he’s made that observation: