A Dangerous Day For Trump
Congress is not getting back in high gear on Tuesday after its two-week break, but it could actually turn out to be quite a dangerous day for President Trump.
His first concern should be seeing what comes out of the mouth of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at 3 p.m. when the Senate comes back in. The only business on the calendar is a cloture vote on the the nomination of Barbara McConnell Barrett to be Secretary of the Air Force. But McConnell issued a tough statement Monday on Trump's destabilizing Syria withdrawal, and his first remarks on the floor should give a clue as to how angry he is.
McConnell's state of mind matters a lot right now because, as he said in his statement Monday, there is a supermajority of senators opposed to premature departures from Syria or Afghanistan, and some of those Republicans see the abandonment of the Kurds in Syria as a betrayal not just of allies who effectively battled ISIS, but of the U.S. forces who supported them. McConnell has the votes to rebuke Trump -- and that comes as Republicans are at least privately uneasy with all that's emerging in the impeachment inquiry into Trump's Ukraine actions.
Stepping back just a little, the recent indictment of Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman allege the two were using money to influence U.S. elections provided by Russia as they worked with Giuliani to get Ukraine to target Joe and Hunter Biden. Mitt Romney, at least, has been vocal in condemning such actions. Now pair that with clearing the way for Turkey to attack the Kurds, and Trump's belated announcement of sanctions against Turkey Monday. It leaves a situation where NATO member Turkey is harmed, and Russia strengthens the position of its vassal, Bashar al Assad. Throw in the anger among American soldiers, and the discontent of the GOP foreign policy establishment, and there is the beginnings of a Republican constituency for impeachment.
Certainly, observers have predicted trouble for Trump before over previously unthinkable statements and actions, but taking steps that appear to have the primary net effect (regardless of any provable motive) furthering the interests of Russia and Vladimir Putin will be tough for the GOP to swallow.
Trump also faces pushback over his soft stance against China on Hong Kong. The action Tuesday is coming in the Democratic-controlled House, but four of eight bills on the suspension calendar (where measures need two-thirds votes because rules are suspended) are aimed at China, and have a strong bipartisan flavor.
They include H.R. 3289, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 offered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); H.R. 4270, the PROTECT Hong Kong Act from Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA); and two resolutions. One, Rep. Brad Sherman's (D-CA) H.Res. 543, recognizes "Hong Kong’s bilateral relationship with the United States, condemning the interference of the People’s Republic of China in Hong Kong’s affairs, and supporting the people of Hong Kong’s right to protest. The other, Rep. Mike McCaul's (R-TX) H.Res. 521, focuses more on Huawei and says it's "Commending the Government of Canada for upholding the rule of law and expressing concern over actions by the Government of the People’s Republic of China in response to a request from the United States Government of Canada for the extradition of a Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., executive."
All this comes as the Senate Intelligence Committee meets behind closed doors and the House Intelligence Committee continues to dig in on Ukraine in the impeachment inquiry.
That's not even all the Russia news that will be surfacing Tuesday. The House Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing in Illinois to look at how the Land of Lincoln is shoring up its election system after the alarming Senate report on how Russians hacked into the system in 2016. It's a stark reminder of the stakes.
On a more mundane front, the Science Committee is holding a field hearing in Bloomfield, N.J., on dealing with the lead-in-water crisis so dramatically revealed in Flint, Mich. Bloomfield and nearby areas have had their own struggles with lead in the water.