George W. Bush, who declined to endorse Donald Trump (or anybody) in 2016, and made muttered elliptical criticisms of the 45th president, has thrown himself into the task of covering up Trump’s many crimes. Bush, reports Politico, is raising money for candidates who are committed to maintaining the cover-ups.
To be sure, Bush doesn’t put it that way, and almost certainly doesn’t think of it that way. But it is syllogistically true. The Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress have followed a course of non-oversight, blocking disclosure of Trump’s tax returns, allowing him to to be paid by figures at home and abroad known only to him, and preventing investigations of multiple cases of misconduct. Working to maintain Republican control of Congress is ipso facto working to maintain the cover-ups.
The most striking thing about this choice by Republicans is how little attention it has received. Kris Kolesnik, a former GOP staffer, wrote an op-ed in the Hill lamenting, “There are no Republicans left in Congress, that I know of, who know what is or isn’t credible oversight.” A handful of conservative pundits have argued for voting Democratic as the only recourse for checking the administration. But, for the most part, the entire party has closed ranks around the no-oversight agenda. Republicans recently circulated a list of Trump scandals that would be investigated if Democrats win a chamber of Congress. The argument that such investigations must be prevented was not the conclusion but the premise.
This very much includes the parts of the party that see themselves as quietly resisting Trump. David Drucker’s reported story for Vanity Fair is quite typical. It notes sadly that the midterm elections are “likely to cast out of Washington precisely those Republicans most resistant to Trump and his darkest impulses.” Drucker’s Republican sources mourn that Paul Ryan and his colleagues “forced Trump to govern as a ‘conventional conservative.’” And they warn that Trump is not sufficiently worried about the prospect of Democratic control: ““He will not fully understand the incredible headache it will be, in terms of House oversight.”
Nothing in the story explicitly acknowledges the decision Republicans made to quash oversight of the Executive branch. It is all treated as implied, which is why Drucker and his sources can blithely describe Ryan’s priorities as tax cuts and deregulation without listing the protection of Trump as a key — arguably, the key — priority of the Republican Congress.