Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Trump's New Indictment Could Further Complicate Kevin McCarthy's Life

It is not just the Republican presidential candidates who are stymied about what to do about Donald Trump's second indictment. It is causing Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) problems as well. As soon as the indictment was released, hard-line House Republicans demanded that McCarthy take action against the DoJ. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) called for dismantling the DoJ. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said: "Congress must act to restore norms." Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) wants congressional hearings to investigate Special Counsel Jack Smith. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) claimed that the DoJ did not follow protocols related to the search. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN) said of the Democrats: "This is the ultimate abuse of power, and they will be held accountable." We seem to recall these same people decreeing that there is zero chance that the law enforcement establishment has systemic issues, and that "defund the police" is a dangerous, commie idea. Hmm, wonder what changed.

What is McCarthy going to do with this? Introduce a bill to abolish the FBI or the DoJ? How will that play with independent voters in 2024? Tell the above members to go jump into the Reflecting Pool? There goes his much-desired speakership. It is hanging by a thread and he doesn't dare offend the hardliners, but he also can't aggravate the 18 moderates in districts Biden won.

There is nothing the Speaker can do to please everyone. The best he can do is make noises about how the DoJ is abusing its power, but actually do nothing to interfere. At most he could tell Jordan to hold hearings if he wants to, but otherwise ignore him. Basically, let all the hardliners grandstand and blow off steam but not take any concrete steps to actually do anything. Will the hardliners accept that? Unless they have 218 votes for a new speaker, they may have to just bloviate and leave it at that.

In contrast, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is keeping quiet and not facing a rebellion. He would greatly prefer that Trump just vanish from the scene, but hasn't said anything about the indictment. The difference between the House and Senate is in gerrymandering. Most House Republicans are from deep red districts so all they do is feed their constituents red meat all day. Most senators come from states with a substantial number of independents, so they are more careful about saying things that might upset them. Consequently, so far, no senator has openly called for the DoJ or FBI to be abolished and few are even defending Trump. Except for Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski, most are just watching things closely but not saying much. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates