Amidst an over-hyped testimony full of hypocrisy and overly emoting observations about sensibilities and feelings, James Comey made it clear that even in his estimation, there is no criminal case against the president either on Russia or related to obstruction of justice. In fact, a stronger case can be made that Lorretta Lynch obstructed justice in the Hillary email scandal, by Comey’s own admission. However, the White House, congressional Republicans, and outside conservative commentators remain concerned that Comey’s testimony was designed to keep this issue front and center as a political whip against the president, even though there is no there there. There is a simple solution, however, and all those complaining about it have the power to get Comey and Russia out of the news very quickly.
First, speaking directly to congressional Republican leaders and Intel Committee Chairman Richard Burr, it’s time to end this Russia nonsense. This was never a criminal investigation – and yesterday’s testimony confirms it. It was always a counterintelligence investigation and needs to be handled by the CIA and director of national intelligence, not the FBI. Congress needs to move on to issues of substance and actually use its mandate instead of doing nothing except passing a Democrat budget with control of all three branches.
Ultimately, Trump must be his own best advocate. He should demand action from Congress on dozens of immigration and homeland security ideas, passing each appropriations bill with his budget cuts included, raising the debt ceiling only concurrent with massive structural reforms, reforming the courts, punishing terror groups and terror-supporting states, strengthening the right to carry firearms, passing the Reins Act, and sending a supplemental spending bill to his desk for the border wall.
Believe me, were Trump to focus relentlessly on these issues and demand specific legislation from Ryan and McConnell, the last thing the media would be talking about is Comey. It’s time for Republicans to stop whining about the media and the Democrats and take their destiny into their own hands. If they start their own fires on favorable terrain, the media won’t have the time or ability to start fires on their vulnerable territory.
Some are complaining that the Russia business is sandbagging the GOP agenda, but in reality Republicans are sandbagging their own agenda, or don’t really have one. If they did things like pass right to carry, cut off funding to the PLO, defund refugees and fund the wall, and designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group, the media would no longer focus on the trivial stuff. There are more winning conservative ideas than they know what to do with – if they only cared to pursue them. As Cruz warned, “Ignore the political circus and let’s focus on delivering results. We have an historic opportunity.”
The basic blueprint is as follows:
Cancel the August recess: Trump should publicly back the Freedom Caucus push to cancel the August recess and demand that Ryan and McConnell keep the doors open. The recess should never get in the way of doing the right thing. Nor should it create an artificial timeline that boxes out good ideas.
Do something about the filibuster: Whether it’s enforcing the two-speech rule, going back to talking filibusters, or making further exceptions to the 60-vote threshold, Republicans cannot continue with full control and hide behind the filibuster. If we have reached the point when Democrats have the ability to block every single piece of legislation and Republicans accomplish absolutely nothing, yet are still perceived as holding all the cards, they will lose the 2018 elections resoundingly.
Fish or cut bait on Obamacare: With the GOP essentially agreeing to the Democrat premise on health care, Republicans have now made Obamacare popular even though it is failing worse than ever. Yet at the same time, it’s holding up progress on any other issue. Ideally, Trump would give the Senate RINOs holding up repeal the same Twitter treatment he gave House conservatives who actually wanted to fulfill the promise. But it has become clear that we are getting nothing but an excrement sandwich. Sadly, it’s time to give up for now, let it collapse, take names, and promote supply-side health care reforms (that are not contingent on insurance) in the states. Then move on to other issues.
Pursue anti-regulatory agenda: Given that they are not repealing Obamacare and unlikely to pass a worthwhile tax bill, the next best thing is regulatory reform, an issue that unites all factions of the grassroots and lobbyist classes. With the House already passing the REINs Act and partial repeal of Dodd-Frank, there is no excuse for McConnell not to immediately bring these bills to the Senate floor and get them to the president’s desk.
Get on the same page with debt ceiling and budget: Trump’s fiscal legacy will hinge on the debt ceiling and FY 2018 budget. Yet he has failed to make specific demands of GOP leaders, and some in his administration are on the wrong side of the issue, doubling down on the FY 2017 budget betrayal. They need to immediately come up with a strategy for downsizing government and publicly endorse it – watch the media heads explode.
Fire Koskinen, Cordray, and other Obama holdovers: Want to make sure the Comey firing won’t be viewed as politically motivated out of fear of the Russia investigation? Fire IRS Director Koskinen, CFPB Director Richard Cordray, and other deep staters, and watch the media go nuts. Except this time it will be clear the firing is over policy substance and draining the swamp.
Resubmit the Iran Deal as a treaty: Trump’s exit from the Paris accords is a great segue to an exit from the Iran deal and putting America first. When Obama was president, Republicans all said the Iran deal was a treaty, so why are they not following through with the campaign bluster now that they have the power? Trump should stick it to Iran and Russia and nullify the deal by submitting it to the Senate and subjecting it to a 67-vote threshold. The Democrats’ own Senate leader voted against it last time, and this would rapidly shift the news cycle to a favorable issue, place Democrats on defense, and completely absolve Trump of any allegation that he’s a puppet of Putin. If the president would resubmit the Iran deal to the Senate as a treaty and promise to ignore it unless it is ratified, the last the thing the media would be discussing is Trump collusion with the Russians, who, by the way, helped engineer the Iran deal. Democrats would be the ones siding with Putin.