Precedent Setting with a Tail Between Your Legs

This is how I would describe the bizarre display in the Peter Strzok interrogation, which is far more of what it was than a testimony. Did Strzok make mistakes in his marriage and in his profession? Yes. Was he removed from the Russia investigation as a result of his actions? Yes. Did the Inspector General determine that the actions in the investigation were not altered by the bias of Strzok? Also, yes. So now what? What is the point of sitting through hours of hearings while thousands of children are sitting in rooms full of strangers wondering why their parents left them? What is the point of this committee having yet another hearing about Hillary Clinton’s emails without having a single one on the Russian interference that is currently going on in the attempts to disrupt their own midterm elections? After yesterday’s shameless display it became far more clear than ever before what the endgame is for Republicans, but they are setting a precedent that they may regret sooner than they think.

In the hearing we saw Chairman Goodlatte making rules up on the fly, refusing to hear points of order, refusing to hold prior witnesses to the same standard of responsiveness, filibustering instead of allowing the witness to respond, and even threatening contempt of Congress if Strzok consulted with attorneys before answering a question. The level of absurdity was paramount and yet Republicans do not seem concerned about how eager Democrats will be to use these same tactics in hearings to come if they gain the majority in the midterms. In true partisan fashion, the GOP will yell and scream when that day comes about how unfairly they are being treated and yet there will be reams of footage to roll back of them doing the same. In addition, the impeachment of government employees investigating this Russian act of cyber warfare based on their political inclinations is not only a violation of their civil liberties but is also setting the precedent that only friendly faces can investigate government officials. How that is a bedrock for democratic checks and balances, someone will have to explain to me.

The moment that stuck out to me was the questioning of Rep. Trey Gowdy and the statement of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman reminding him that this was not Benghazi. Until that moment, the entire hearing had me wondering why. Why are these Republicans willing to debase themselves and their party in defense of a man who many of them said was not morally principled enough to lead the party? Why would they put their reputations and entire careers at the feet of this man’s determination to end or undermine an investigation into himself? Suddenly when I heard the mention of Benghazi, I recalled the hours of questioning, the two years of investigating only to come up with zero indictments, zero citations and a bill of $7MIL to the tax payers of America. Suddenly the Republican dog-with-a-bone mentality with Clinton’s emails made sense. They are trying to save face. In the midst of Russian aggression and their attempts to meddle with the current elections, let alone the last one, the GOP has sold their soul to one singular cause of proving that they were right all along about the woman who lost the 2016 election.

Unfortunately for the global order, domestic politics is a game of checkers while global politics is a game of chess. While Republicans put the final nail in the coffin of the already dying bipartisanship in this country, Vladimir Putin is working overtime on his next chapter. One statement by Clinton Watts in the March 2017 Congressional hearing on Russian interference struck me and that was “They win because they play both sides”. If America thinks that this act of war was about getting a friendly face in the White House or helping the Republican party gain control of the country, people are deluding themselves. This was about discord, division and getting America to remove itself from a position of international leadership plain and simple. What would create even more discord than what we currently see happening? Getting an opposing party that is already galvanized and pissed off to take control of the legislative branch. Whether Republicans are naïve enough to believe their jobs are safe or apathetic enough to believe that the Intel chiefs are able to solve this problem without a unified executive branch won’t really matter if the world decides to keep turning without us.

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