Last week was the week the Russia conspiracy theory fell apart, and this was the week Washington, D.C. lost its collective minds all over again.
Congress, the media, and the “deep state” are taking actions that have no foundation in reality, and which have potentially disastrous consequences that few care to contemplate.
On Wednesday, the president reluctantly signed new sanctions against Russia, which Congress made very difficult for him to reverse. The bill passed nearly unanimously, making any veto pointless.
Notably, Congress did not wait for its investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to conclude. Gone is the pretense of waiting for investigations to run their course. The text of the new law takes for granted the “assessment of the United States intelligence community” that Russia intervened, which has often been exaggerated, but has never been fully vetted.
Note that Congress never showed the same courage or independence when it came to passing new sanctions against Iran. When the Obama administration argued against new sanctions so that it would have room to negotiate with the ayatollahs, Congress did not simply override the administration. Russia may be — as Mitt Romney famously argued — a greater geopolitical rival, but Iran is a much more hostile enemy, one that prides itself on killing Americans.
Congress would never have passed the new sanctions had Hillary Clinton won the election. The Russian meddling would have been the same, but there would have been no interest in tying the new president’s hands in dealing with Russia, whose cooperation we need to deal with Iran, Syria, and the Islamic State.
Congress has seized the reins of foreign policy, but it has not applied any rational thought to what it is doing. This is just bipartisan revenge against Trump.
As David Goldman noted this week at PJ Media, the sanctions could easily backfire, because they will force Europe to move closer to Russia to protect its economic interests. The sanctions also remove a bargaining chip the president had hoped to use to urge Russia to stop its aggression in Ukraine and to stop protecting the Iranian regime. “It is the dumbest and most self-destructive act of economic self-harm since the United States de-linked the dollar from gold on August 15, 1971,” Goldman argued, adding:
Not Trump, but his domestic opponents have set in motion an unprecedented disturbance in Atlantic relations, and effectively put Berlin, Paris and Rome in the same camp with Moscow in opposing American policy. … Now, for narrow political reasons, Trump’s enemies propose to undo the whole structure of relationships that won the Cold War and drive Europe into the arms of the Russians and Chinese.
Congress was not done. On Thursday, the last day before summer recess, Sens. Tom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced legislation to prevent President Trump from firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller by allowing him to challenge his termination before a three-judge panel. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a similar bill that would allow Mueller to challenge his termination before it could become official.
The bills are, on their face, ridiculous. They call for an unconstitutional transfer of power from the executive to the judiciary, while at the same time giving part of the executive the power to veto the president.
Moreover, to pass, the bills would need a veto-proof majority in both houses. If a bill reached that, the president could simply pre-empt it by firing Mueller. Indeed, if either passes, he should fire Mueller before signing it, to make the constitutional point.
The media gloated Thursday when news of the new bills was swiftly followed by word that Mueller had empaneled a grand jury to investigate the Russia allegations. There is no evidence, at least publicly, to substantiate allegations of collusion with Russia.
But that is not, and was never, the point. The Democrats and the media simply intend to destroy the Trump presidency, as did former FBI director James Comey, who schemed to have Mueller appointed.
No one in Washington seems to care, or even think about, the consequences of these actions. The country rejected Bill Clinton’s impeachment in the 1990s, even though everyone could see that he had committed a felony. Imagine the response if a president elected to reform Washington were prevented from doing so by a feckless Congress and a vindictive bureaucracy.
Americans will begin to lose faith in democracy itself — that is, if they have not already.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.