He’ll get right on that. I saw someone speculate earlier that Dems moving quickly to defenestrate Conyers and Franken was in hindsight just a ploy to give them leverage against Trump. Yes and no, I think. Roy Moore’s their target right now and no doubt plenty of Democrats (and Republicans) sincerely want to see powerful abusers pay a price for creeping on women. But yeah, of course Trump lurks in the background of harassment politics in Congress. Why else do you think Laura Ingraham and Newt Gingrich would defend Al Franken, on Fox News of all places? They’re worried about the blowback to the president if a “believe the accusers” zero-tolerance ethic takes hold in Washington (it won’t) and are willing to look the other way at Democratic offenders to prevent that if need be.
It’s more likely that Democrats like Gillibrand are suddenly turning to Trump to take some heat off of themselves for ousting Franken, a decision that didn’t sit well with everyone on the left, than that they’re playing five-dimensional chess in assembling an anti-Trump offensive. The surest way to tamp down liberal grumbling about their hastiness to execute nice, funny Senator Al is to refocus on the left’s preeminent hate object. They want to close the chapter on Franken and restore party unity, although that may end up being harder than they expect:
“I feel sick about what’s happened to Al because I think that he legitimately would dispute many of the accusations that have come up but was trying to show that he respects women and believes they should be believed,” said one top-ranking Democratic strategist, who spoke candidly on condition of anonymity. “I bet you there are sitting Democratic senators, and many on the Republican side too, who are guilty of far worse things than him. So it does gnaw at you. But it had to happen anyway.”…
In private, Democrats on the Hill say that while Franken is responsible for his own fate, he also was the victim of bad political timing. At a moment when both parties are grappling with how to handle the accused within their ranks, Democrats felt determined to show no tolerance.
We’ll see how long zero-tolerance lasts when this reaches a Democrat from a state with a Republican governor who’ll appoint their replacement or, worse, a top candidate for the 2020 nomination. Gillibrand’s hoping to win that nomination herself, part of the reason why she’s been busy sounding off on this topic: She had a well-timed change of heart recently on whether Bill Clinton should have resigned as president over his own misconduct and was among the first Democratic senators who piled on Franken last week after his seventh accuser came forward. She’s a highly calculating politician and probably figures that she’s spent so much time trying to cleanse the Democratic stables lately, however belatedly, that it’s time for her to bank some partisan goodwill by going after the Republican-in-chief too. I doubt Trump will engage her on Twitter since he doesn’t want to give the media more of a reason to revisit the sexual-misconduct accusations against him, but the temptation may prove too great to rub Gillibrand’s face in the fact that she was a Bill Clinton fan for 20 years until it suddenly fell out of vogue to be one amid the Pervnado.
The newsworthy part isn’t her calling on Trump to resign, though. The newsy part is her suggesting that Congress should investigate the sexual misconduct allegations against him, coincidentally or not coincidentally the same demand made by one of Trump’s accusers on Megyn Kelly’s show this morning. There’s zero chance of that happening with Republicans in charge of Congress but a Roy Moore loss tomorrow would suddenly make the chances of Democrats winning back the Senate or the House — or both — next fall very real. If the Russiagate probe ends with Mueller finding no dirt on Trump, the new Democratic majorities will be left grasping for something to investigate the president over. They could (and will) start looking at business conflicts of interest, but that’s a subject many Americans won’t pay attention to. They assume politicians are corrupt already; Trump making money from his hotels by leveraging the power of the presidency to promote them will draw standard partisan reactions.
But a sexual-misconduct investigation of the president? That would be juicy and something people *would* pay attention to. Most Trumpers would stick with him come hell or high water but the stories about teenaged girls do seem to have hurt Roy Moore in the polls. Congressional testimony from Trump’s accusers would hurt his popularity too, it would make the left happy, and it would drive POTUS to distraction. It would parallel the Starr investigation of Bill Clinton insofar as both Starr and the Dems will have begun by focusing on allegations of corruption, i.e. Whitewater and Russiagate, and both would have ended up transforming into investigations of sexual predation. Given that there are more than a dozen Trump accusers, a Democratic House might even be able to muster a majority in favor of impeachment. It’ll be weird if the GOP’s rallying cry — well, rallying whisper — next fall is that we need to go out and vote Republican so that women who claim that Trump assaulted or harassed them don’t end up on C-SPAN. But that may be where we’re headed.