A GOP senator's cowardice shows how Republicans let Trump become a monster

A GOP senator's cowardice shows how Republicans let Trump become a monster
PBS NewsHour

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been trying to get Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify about his department’s annual budget for nearly a handful of months. But securing Pompeo's testimony took on even greater significance after allegations recently surfaced that the department's longtime inspector general had been axed by Donald Trump amid a probe he was conducting into potential Pompeo malfeasance. In fact, Trump himself made it crystal clear that he had fired department watchdog Steve Linick at Pompeo's urging.

In short, Pompeo's testimony would have provided a target-rich environment for probing allegations against the secretary of state, which included everything from misusing taxpayer funds to improperly pushing through an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Perfect timing then for the GOP chair of the Senate Foreign Relations panel, Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, to give Pompeo a pass on testifying.

According to Politico, Risch's staff director, Chris Socha, held a phone call last Friday with top aides to Republican members of the committee to tell them Risch was simply dropping his quest for Pompeo's testimony. The decision was framed as an effort of preserve "political capital," which effectively means Risch didn't want to work too hard to actually investigate wrongdoing by Pompeo.

Trump's new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has now mandated that administration officials get his permission before testifying before Congress. In order to force Pompeo's hand, Risch might have had to subpoena Pompeo, undercut the department's budget, or block other executive branch nominees from being confirmed.

But Risch was clearly much more invested in letting Trump and Pompeo off the hook scot-free. This type of GOP cowardice is exactly what turned Trump into a monster. Republicans never held Trump accountable for anything and he soon learned he could get away with everything—including trying to steal the 2020 election by enlisting the help of a foreign government and ordering federal troops to gas American citizens.

Typically cabinet secretaries testify before congressional committees of jurisdiction once a year to justify their annual budgets. Apparently, the supposed party of fiscal responsibility doesn't give a damn about the budget anymore, not to mention any waste, fraud, or abuse being perpetrated by Trump and his top administration officials. No wonder Trump’s a monster.


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