So you think we’ve seen peak Republican crazy? I mean, surely we have, right? Shit can’t get any weirder than Devin Nunes.
Honey, buckle up.
The Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, where the impeachment action moves this Wednesday, make their counterparts on Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee look like Churchill’s war cabinet.
Let’s start with Nunes’ analogue here, ranking member Doug Collins of Georgia. You’ve seen him in action. A lanky fellow with a booming voice, he leans back in his chair and pronounces on the illegitimacy of anything and everything that presumes to challenge the king. He said this week that Donald Trump should not participate in this “sham” hearing. On Fox News Sunday, he said Schiff should be the first person called to testify. He also delivered this word salad: “Chris, [Trump] did nothing improper, there was nothing about a problematic giving aid to another country in which you're talking about corruption, which he’s required to do by law.” I’ve seen it reported that he sleeps on a cot in his office and showers in the House gym. No word on his diet, but it’s obviously heavy on the Kool-Aid.
If he hasn’t quite made the name for himself that Nunes has as a deep-state fabulist, it sure hasn’t been for want of trying. Back when the impeachment hearings were announced in October, Collins went on Fox to chirp out the usual talking points about the “real” scandal. “If we want to talk about the corrupt cabal in the Department of Justice, which the Democrats have all of a sudden put their head in the sand and forgotten,” he said. “The things that we have been talking about for two years actually were coming true. You want to see corruption? You want to see a corrupt cabal? Look at CNN contributor Mr. [Andrew] McCabe who now goes back and we see exactly what they were doing.”
And now, as fate would have it, events have conspired to make Collins really go for the gold here. Remember how Georgia GOP senator Johnny Isakson announced his retirement a while back? Well, the retirement is imminent, and Republican Governor Brian Kemp—the guy who narrowly beat Stacey Abrams last fall because he got to decide what votes counted—is about to appoint an interim successor. Kemp is leaning toward a financial services executive named Kelly Loeffler. But Collins has thrown his pith helmet in the ring, too.
Trump doesn’t like Loeffler (they apparently had a frosty meeting at the White House right before Thanksgiving). The right-to-lifers don’t like her because she was on the board of a hospital where abortions were once performed or something like that. Why Kemp’s so hot on her I’m not sure. Maybe partly that she can self-finance, and partly that he thinks she can broaden the party’s appeal and keep those Trump-wary Cobb County women from drifting into the socialists’ greedy little hands.
Whatever the reason, what it adds up to is this. Loeffler’s appointment is said to be imminent. This means that this week may be Collins’ last chance to impress Trump and ratchet up the pressure on Kemp to appoint him. So don’t be surprised if Collins ends up making Nunes look like Lincoln.
The rest of them? The usual gang of idiots, as Bill Gaines used to say. Jim Jordan’s on this committee, too. So we’ll see more of his theatrics. He may strip down to his bare chest by the time this round is over. John Ratcliffe will be there for his second shot at auditioning for a future Cabinet job should Trump manage to steal another election. Matt Gaetz, for God’s sakes. You think it doesn’t get worse than Gaetz? Think again; Louie Gohmert will be there. And Martha Roby, that woman Hillary took to the house so thoroughly during the Benghazi hearings. (But hey, she’s not the only woman—there’s actually a second one, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, a build-the-wall Trumpist; they’re surely plotting behind each other’s back to see which one of them will end up being this week’s Elise Stefanik.)
Judiciary is well known on the House side of Capitol Hill as a committee that attracts a certain type. You can’t fundraise off it because it has no jurisdiction over corporate interests, military contractors, all that. And while it covers lots of important stuff—civil rights, voting rights, numerous issues of constitutional import—it doesn’t have a ton of power. Certainly it’s nothing like the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has all that power over court nominations.
So it tends to draw two kinds of people. One, people serious about constitutional and legal issues. Two, showboats who know that once in a blue moon, Judiciary is, as it were, the hottest ticket in town. And it wouldn’t have been too hard for someone like Gaetz, elected to Congress the same night Trump won the presidency, to place a bet on the possibility that all this might one day come to pass.
So there we are, with the curtain about to rise on an assemblage of sycophants and bootlickers who undoubtedly have a few parliamentary tricks up their sleeve to try and turn everything into as big a circus as possible. Jerry Nadler has to be as emotionless as Schiff in not letting these clowns turn the hearings into a shitshow, which is the only way Trump can win. Jerry, the legislative gods gave you a gavel. Use it.