The far-right House Freedom Caucus Republicans plotted to embarrass the deputy attorney general. They failed. Badly.
Well, that didn't last long.
On Wednesday, members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus introduced articles of impeachment to remove Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from office.
On Thursday, they changed their minds.
Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the group, told reporters Thursday that after discussions with his party's leadership he had decided to table the impeachment fantasy for now.
"I think it is our desire to have more of a contempt process," he said. But of course that would also require the agreement of leadership — and so far, he doesn't have that either.
Meadows and other members of his caucus, including co-founder Jim Jordan, have been talking openly for weeks about how to get rid of Rosenstein. They have concocted all sorts of conspiracy theories that Rosenstein — a Republican who was appointed by Trump — is somehow part of the imaginary "deep state" that is out to harm the administration.
Their real gripe, of course, is that Rosenstein has resisted pressure to shut down special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
So on Wednesday, they finally followed through with their threats and officially accused Rosenstein of deliberately hiding information that they think will prove their "deep state" theories. While the members of the House Freedom Caucus are gung-ho about trying to remove Rosenstein, it turns out no one else in their party thinks it's a good idea.
Speaker Paul Ryan shut down the impeachment fantasy Thursday morning.
"Do I support impeachment of Rod Rosenstein? No, I do not," he said, listing multiple reasons why it's a bad idea and a waste of time, including that he doesn't think Rosenstein actually committed a high crime or misdemeanor, since the Department of Justice has largely complied with document requests from the House.
Meadows, Jordan, and their fellow Freedom Caucus members have been determined to attack the investigation into Russia's interference in the election — and Trump's attempts to obstruct that investigation — for months.
They, along with Trump himself, claim everyone involved in the investigation is some kind of hyper-partisan lefty out to get Trump. (Never mind that most of the people involved in these investigations are registered Republicans.)
Their attempts, however, to help Trump paint the whole thing as a "hoax" or a "witch hunt" have thus far failed. That's in large part thanks to Trump's own words and behavior in public, which continue to make him look unbelievably guilty.
A poll this week, for example, showed that a majority of Americans believe Russia has compromising information on Trump. And 68 percent of American voters are either "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about Trump's relationship with Russia.
It seems Republican attempts to smear the investigators and top law enforcement officials cannot outweigh the damage Trump is doing to himself. Not that they will stop trying.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.