Trump Is in the Process of Putting Heads on Pikes

The Washington Post deserves some credit for producing a video that should (but probably won’t) put an end to the ubiquitous claim that “both sides do it.” It features remarks from Bill Clinton and Donald Trump after their impeachment acquittal in the Senate.

Clinton humbly admitted his mistakes and called for unity, while Trump congratulated himself for beating the rap, even though many of the Republicans who gave him a pass have publicly acknowledged his guilt.

One of the people who was most undermined by Trump’s remarks was Senator Susan Collins, who said previously that Trump had learned his lesson from the impeachment process. She had to walk that one back almost immediately.

Meanwhile, the ink was barely dry on Senator Mitt Romney’s vote when the president started the process of seeking revenge and asserting his dominance.

Based on Trump’s remarks at his celebration and at Thursday’s prayer breakfast, it is clear that attacking Romney will be front and center for the foreseeable future.

Trump began needling Romney Thursday morning at the traditionally nonpartisan National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, chiding the senator’s declaration that his faith had helped guide him to convict the president. Faith, Trump said, was merely a “crutch” for Romney.

Hours later, speaking from the East Room at the White House, Trump cut down Romney as bitter about his failed 2012 run for president.

“The only one that voted against us was a guy that can’t stand the fact that he ran one of the worst campaigns in the history of the presidency,” Trump said.

Hours after that, the White House blasted out talking points to its surrogates, titled “Romney (Once Again) Ditches Principles to Seek Far-Left’s Adulation.”

“Sadly, Romney’s decision was unsurprising as this display of self-serving political expedience has come to define his political career,” it read.

The Republican close to the White House predicted that this was the opening salvo in a campaign to ostracize Romney.

But Romney isn’t the only one. Trump is also planning to go after the staff who had the courage to testify against him.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — a National Security Council aide who testified during House Democrats’ impeachment hearings — will be informed in the coming days, likely on Friday, by administration officials that he is being reassigned to a position at the Defense Department, taking a key figure from the investigation out of the White House…

Trump and his allies are considering doing more than just launching verbal fusillades at his perceived enemies over impeachment as the decision regarding Vindman shows. Some of the president’s aides are discussing whether to remove or reassign several administration officials who testified during the impeachment inquiry, according to aides and advisers who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.

Finally, it looks like acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who botched a press conference by admitting to a quid pro quo with Ukraine, is on his way out as well.

During the Senate trial (and yes, I use that word loosely), CBS reported that “senators have been warned — vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.” Given Trump’s obsession with revenge, that didn’t come as a surprise to most of us.

But as a Politico headline stated, Republicans were “livid” when Representative Adam Schiff mentioned the CBS report during his remarks in the Senate. As Senator Sherrod Brown suggested though, Schiff clearly struck a cord…and the truth hurts.

Of course, the Republican senators who have covered for Mr. Trump love what he delivers for them. But Vice President Mike Pence would give them the same judges, the same tax cuts, the same attacks on workers’ rights and the environment. So that’s not really the reason for their united chorus of “not guilty.”

For the stay-in-office-at-all-cost representatives and senators, fear is the motivator. They are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like “Low Energy Jeb” and “Lyin’ Ted,” or that he might tweet about their disloyalty. Or — worst of all — that he might come to their state to campaign against them in the Republican primary. They worry:

“Will the hosts on Fox attack me?”

“Will the mouthpieces on talk radio go after me?”

“Will the Twitter trolls turn their followers against me?”

My colleagues know they all just might.

Just as CBS reported, the president is in the midst of putting heads on pikes to demonstrate what happens to those who cross him. The fact that so many Republican Senators caved to that kind of threat is shameful, but perhaps instructive of what the GOP has become.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.