EDITORIAL: An American tragedy

The York Dispatch
  • A national tragedy is unfolding, scandal by scandal and tweet by ignorant tweet.
  • Members of Congress must unite, regardless of party, to ensure our national security.
  • History will remember those who remained silent while our democracy was jeopardized.

How many Republicans are willing to sell their souls, and sell out their country, to score momentary political points?

President Donald Trump listens last week as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin speaks at the Treasury Department in Washington.

The answer, tragically — and yes, a national tragedy is unfolding, scandal by scandal and tweet by ignorant tweet — is most of them.

Senators and members of Congress swear an oath to defend America from enemies, “foreign and domestic.”

At this moment in our country’s history, there’s growing evidence we are under attack by both kinds of adversaries.

There are at least three investigations — by the FBI, and the House and Senate intelligence committees — into Russian meddling in last year’s election that was intended to help Donald Trump and harm Hillary Clinton.

AP Analysis: Trump thrusts US presidency into perilous area

Trump to Comey: Better hope there are no ‘tapes’ of talks

Trump says he planned to fire Comey all along

Analysis: Trump firing of Comey may fan the flames he hoped to control

Clapper: U.S. govt ‘under assault’ by Trump after Comey firing

Frustration mounting for Trump

Trump firing Comey shrouds Russia probe in doubt, turmoil

The U.S. intelligence community — 17 agencies — agrees this happened.

On March 20, then-FBI Director James Comey testified before the House intelligence committee that the agency’s probe “includes investigating … whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

If links are found, the offense arguably amounts to espionage against the United States, if not outright treason.

And if the trail leads beyond his underlings to Trump himself, it is certainly an impeachable offense.

It must be.

If conspiring with a foreign adversary in an attack on our democracy isn’t grounds for removal from office, then we might as well acknowledge a president is above the law.

Checks and balances have failed, as has our American experiment.

President Trump certainly behaves like a man who answers to no one.

He acknowledges it was his decision to fire Comey last week and he did so with the FBI’s Russia investigation in mind. That’s obstruction of justice and an impeachable offense in and of itself.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions supposedly recused himself from the Russian investigation after it was revealed he lied during his Senate confirmation hearing about contacts with Russian officials.

Yet he apparently was involved in the decision to fire Comey. If true, Session also needs to be removed from office — and then tried for perjury, as he should have been when his deceit was first revealed.

As long as Sessions remains, the FBI investigation is tainted.

New damning revelations are coming daily, sometimes hourly.

The latest example is the allegation that Trump shared classified secrets about Islamic State militants to Russian officials last week during a closed-door meeting, jeopardizing the source of the intelligence and betraying the ally that shared it with U.S. intelligence.

The information was “considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government,” according to The Washington Post, which broke the story Tuesday.

Where is the outrage among Republicans? Where is the full-throated demand for answers?

Except for a few, most Republicans are either silent or embarrassingly timid.

Trump’s meddling and the GOP’s lack of enthusiasm for a full accounting have shattered the public’s trust that the current investigations will be fair and thorough.

We can only hope we’re wrong. Perhaps indictments will be handed down or unsealed next week. Maybe deals will be cut, smoking guns revealed and jail cell doors slammed.

We’re not optimistic.

But if that happens, it will be no thanks to the GOP.

There is no reasonable explanation for why Republicans aren’t united with Democrats in calling for a special prosecutor or a truly independent commission to doggedly pursue the investigation wherever it leads.

The allegations are serious enough and Trump’s actions alarming enough that they should transcend party politics.

Every day it becomes more apparent that this is an American crisis and Americans need to unite to face it.

History will surely note those who stood up together at this perilous time — and those who remained silent.