As the specter of impeachment looms in the House, there are whispers of a constitutional crisis in the air. The executive branch seems to have opted out of the whole “nation of laws” idea, and the only thing that stands between Trump and a short helicopter ride back to loudmouthed obscurity is the US Senate.
That body has been quiet through the last couple weeks, but on Tuesday the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by our own Sen. Richard Burr, released its report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and though it’s sparse on new information, it’s damning nonetheless.
The 35-page report concludes unequivocally that the Russian government unleased a “firehose of falsehood” upon the American public, utilizing “useful idiots,” “fellow travelers” and “agent provocateurs” to amplify the message. The goal: “to achieve a state in which the average media consumer says, ‘There are too many versions of events, and I’ll never know the truth.’”
The report also asserts that Russian internet activity “overly and almost invariably” favored the election of Donald Trump, over his GOP primary opponents and, finally, against Hillary Clinton in the months before the 2016 general election.
Remember, there’s nothing in here that people didn’t already know through news reports.
But it’s the first we in North Carolina have heard from our senior senator on this business in weeks. Burr has remained silent while the House initiated an impeachment inquiry, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to have subverted the Senate’s role in the process — he’s got a campaign ad out now vowing to fight Nancy Pelosi every step of the way — and while our other senator, Thom Tillis, has blindly supported the president and everything, no matter how improbable, he has claimed in the last couple weeks. Sen. Tillis has been tweeting about filing criminal charges against the people “who made entirely false allegations against Brett Kavanagh.”
Burr seems to believe his committee’s report.
But he has said nothing about whether he supports impeachment, nothing about the legality of a president asking other countries to interfere in our political process, nothing, really, of any substance at all.
Like a lot of Republicans who seem disgusted with their party these days, Burr in 2016 announced his retirement at the end of this term. Perhaps he’ll find his courage before he leaves Washington, DC and muster his fellow senators in this fight for our republic. Or maybe he’ll just shrug his shoulders, point to this report and pretend that he tried.