Voters don’t trust Congress to investigate a president they don’t trust

rooz Voters don’t trust Congress to investigate a president they don’t trust image

May 16 at 11:30 AM House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) address the media in Philadelphia on Jan. 26. (Mark Makela/Reuters) If you thought trust in government was low before President Trump’s election, look at where things stand less than four months into his term. Reuters reports on the latest Reuters-Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday:
According to the poll, 59 percent of adults, including 41 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of Democrats, agreed that “Congress should launch an independent investigation into communications between the Russian government and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.”
That compares with 54 percent of all adults, including 30 percent of Republicans and 81 percent of Democrats, who felt that way when the poll last asked the question in February. . . .
The Reuters/Ipsos poll also found that public confidence in the executive branch and in Congress has eroded since the Nov. 8 election. Thirty-six percent of Americans said they had “hardly any confidence at all” in the executive branch and 43 percent said they felt that way about Congress. That is up from 30 percent and 37 percent, respectively, who answered that way in a November poll.
The poll was completed before news that Trump allegedly disclosed highly classified information to the Russians visiting in the Oval Office. (The visit — you cannot make this up –was documented by Russian photographers because U.S. photo crews were not allowed in.) Voters who survive on a strict diet of Fox Non-News and still stew in a cauldron of resentment toward Trump’s opponents will brush aside anything unfavorable to the president. The rest of the country, however, is coming to see this president as fatally inept, compromised or both.
Trump’s own staff seems to be demoralized, according to multiple news reports. Daily Beast for example noted that an aide “described a scene at the White House as tense and ‘a morgue,’ where senior officials such as Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Stephen Bannon convened to sketch an immediate path forward in handling the aftermath.” Supporters no longer disguise their contempt for him:
Some administration officials who supported Trump during the campaign said they were appalled at his apparent divulging of U.S. secrets, and considered it a break from his “America First” campaign mantra.
“With news like this I’m beginning to wonder why Trump ran in the first place and if he really cares about the country,” said a senior Trump appointee involved in counter-ISIS policymaking. “I miss candidate Trump. Now he’s just a pathetic mess.”
The worse Trump looks, the worse Republicans who ignore and excuse his misbehavior look.
At this point, it makes perfect sense for Republicans in Congress to step away from Trump and try to cordon off the chaos. Why not support a special prosecutor within the Justice Department and a select committee in Congress to look into the president’s and attorney general’s post-inauguration conduct (e.g., firing FBI Director James B. Comey, potential obstruction of justice, Trump’s handling of classified information, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s apparent violation of his pledge to recuse himself on all matters relating to the Russia scandal)? At least GOP representatives would be on the side of public opinion and no longer be trapped circling the wagons around a besieged White House. They could refuse comment and refer all matters to the special prosecutor and/or select committee. If they don’t show some interest in policing an executive branch spiraling out of control, the voters will deliver House and maybe Senate majorities to Democrats. (An effective Democratic 2018 slogan might be: Stop the Madness !)
In sum, one way to restore trust in government would be for Senate and House Republicans to be seen as independent from the White House and truly committed to getting to the bottom of Trump’s multiplying scandals. Admitting they have a problem (untrustworthiness) is a prerequisite to solving it.