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    Dems Will Dig Down to Find Anything They Can to Impeach Trump - Ex-US Diplomat

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    The new acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker has warned that Robert Mueller's Russia investigation risks "going too far". Whitaker has taken over the position at the US Justice Department following US Attorney General Jeff Sessions' resignation from the top post at President Trump’s 'request' on Wednesday.

    Sputnik discussed the development with James George Jatras, a former US diplomat and advisor to the US Senate Republican leadership.

    Sputnik: Jeff Sessions' replacement Matthew Whitaker has previously called for ending the Mueller investigation. How likely is the newly-appointed acting Attorney General to impact the probe?

    James George Jatras: It's hard to say right now, first, we don't know if he'll be confirmed, especially if the nomination hangs over until the New Year when there are more Republicans in the Senate then I think his prospects will be better.

    I think the main question right now is what does it mean for the Mueller probe and will it wrap up even before the end of the year. I think generally people expect that it's going to be a dud, there's not much there, he'll look for some additional scalps to hang to the wall but in terms of actual "collusion" there isn't anything there. I think actually the Democrats, now that they've taken the House, are more anxious to get on to other things that they can use to justify impeachment.

    Sputnik: Reports have suggested that Whitaker could act as acting Attorney General for over 200 days while someone else's nomination is pending; is that realistic, 200 days? Every time Donald Trump uses or names an individual as a replacement it seems to cause lots of condemnation and bad feeling. We had the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination and that took forever in terms of going through court proceedings. Do you think 200 days is realistic or could we be waiting longer than that?

    James George Jatras: I think it will happen sooner than that. I don't think there's any reason why it would be that prolonged, either the votes are there to confirm him or they're not. And as I say, in January his prospects will look better, where you don't have to worry about only one or two Republican senators whose votes you might not get, as was the case with Kavanaugh, so I'm not concerned about that.

    The bigger question is the Democrats, for example, already calling on Whitaker to recuse himself from the Russia probe the same way that Jeff Sessions had which, of course, is what poisoned Sessions' relationship with Trump in the first place, even though Sessions had been one of his earliest and most loyal supporters during the 2016 campaign.

    Sputnik: In your view who can actually be a nominee for the position? Are we looking at other individuals?

    James George Jatras: At this point I think it's Whitaker, unless there's some reason that he becomes not viable but at the moment I think that's who Trump has in mind, but who knows, maybe he just wants him there as the placeholder till he names somebody else, I don't think that's the case though, but with President Trump one never knows.

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    Sputnik: Jeff Sessions was one of the earliest supporters of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, how can his departure now impact on the President's administration? Is it going to cause bad feelings within the Republican Party?

    James George Jatras: Well first off, remember that a whole lot of the Republican Party doesn't like Trump at all. If you look at the very strong neo-con, never-Trump wing that didn't want him there in the first place and that's actually what I think is his bigger problem is.

    The Democrats now with the House will be digging down to find anything they can on his tax returns, on his business life back in New York to find some reason to impeach him, and a lot of people say well that's OK because there's no way they can get it through the Republican-held Senate.

    I don't agree with that, I think there's any number of Republican Senators that would jump at the chance to put their knives in Donald Trump's back and put Mike Pence into the Oval Office and return what they see as normalcy back to the Republican Party.

    So I think that it's not so much a poison within the party but how much of the party now has been transformed into a populist, nationalist party in Trump's image, which I think is actually the majority of the party and how much of the old guard who have this cozy, I would say, corrupt relationship with the Democrats want to go back to the pre-Trump era.

    Sputnik: Do you think the Republicans and Democrats have got any room to corporate now? I think Donald Trump was alluding to the fact that he was hoping that there could be a bit more cooperation, a bit more harmony, I fail to see where that's going to come from, but after taking the House of Representatives the Democrats have vowed to investigate the Trump administration, we know that's going to happen. But the President's fired back in terms of probing the Democrats in return. How do you see relations playing out between the two parties for the last two years of his term?

    James George Jatras: I don't think that there's anything positive that can be done. I wrote a piece recently likening this to a cold civil war, that this is Clausewitz on his head; politics now is civil war carried out by other means. There's no common ground, this is a very, very divided country. By the way, Trump did not cause that; Trump is simply a product of the fact that this division has been going on for a very, very long time and it is scorched earth.

    To the Democrats and their supporters, Trump is literally Hitler and all they can do is try to remove him, and they will try to do so with everything in their power.

    Sputnik: Back in 2010 and 2014 former President Barack Obama lost both the chambers of the Congress, so how significant was this year for the Democratic Party? We know that they've lost the upper chamber of Congress to the Republicans but they've gained some votes in the House, how significant is the fact that they've actually gained votes in the House? Is that not important for the Republican Party? Perhaps you can just explain to our listeners difference in the power between the two houses?

    James George Jatras: You have to get legislation passed by both houses in order to get anything through, which means we have absolute gridlock, virtually nothing will go through, except maybe more sanctions on Russia because that's always popular with both parties.

    So they can always agree on something if it's really, really bad, but other than that nothing useful will get done. In terms of the passage of legislation, of course, tax legislation has to originate in the House, impeachment has to originate in the House, but the main thing that I think is in Trump's benefit is that the Senate is necessary for confirmations, for judicial appointments, for cabinet appointments, for many other appointments that he can make.

    He doesn't need the House for that, so that's a big plus for him. I think the main thing with draw from this election though is that the losses the Republicans had were far less than what Obama experienced during his first off-year election: about half the number of losses that Obama suffered in the House and, of course, the Republicans even picked up seats in the Senate. So that's a much better performance than Obama's and really bodes well for Trump's re-election in 2020 if he survives until then.

    Sputnik: In your view who can actually be a nominee for the position? Are we looking at other individuals?

    James George Jatras: At this point I think it's Whitaker, unless there's some reason that he becomes not viable but at the moment I think that's who Trump has in mind, but who knows, maybe he just wants him there as the placeholder till he names somebody else, I don't think that's the case though, but with President Trump one never knows.

    Sputnik: Jeff Sessions was one of the earliest supporters of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, how can his departure now impact on the President's administration? Is it going to cause bad feelings within the Republican Party?

    James George Jatras: Well first off, remember that a whole lot of the Republican Party doesn't like Trump at all. If you look at the very strong neo-con, never-Trump wing that didn't want him there in the first place and that's actually what I think is his bigger problem is.

    The Democrats now with the House will be digging down to find anything they can on his tax returns, on his business life back in New York to find some reason to impeach him, and a lot of people say well that's OK because there's no way they can get it through the Republican-held Senate.

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    I don't agree with that, I think there's any number of Republican Senators that would jump at the chance to put their knives in Donald Trump's back and put Mike Pence into the Oval Office and return what they see as normalcy back to the Republican Party.

    So I think that it's not so much a poison within the party but how much of the party now has been transformed into a populist, nationalist party in Trump's image, which I think is actually the majority of the party and how much of the old guard who have this cozy, I would say, corrupt relationship with the Democrats want to go back to the pre-Trump era.

    Sputnik: Do you think the Republicans and Democrats have got any room to corporate now? I think Donald Trump was alluding to the fact that he was hoping that there could be a bit more cooperation, a bit more harmony, I fail to see where that's going to come from, but after taking the House of Representatives the Democrats have vowed to investigate the Trump administration, we know that's going to happen. But the President's fired back in terms of probing the Democrats in return. How do you see relations playing out between the two parties for the last two years of his term?

    James George Jatras: I don't think that there's anything positive that can be done. I wrote a piece recently likening this to a cold civil war, that this is Clausewitz on his head; politics now is civil war carried out by other means.

    There's no common ground, this is a very, very divided country. By the way, Trump did not cause that; Trump is simply a product of the fact that this division has been going on for a very, very long time and it is scorched earth. To the Democrats and their supporters, Trump is literally Hitler and all they can do is try to remove him, and they will try to do so with everything in their power.

    Sputnik: Back in 2010 and 2014 former President Barack Obama lost both the chambers of the Congress, so how significant was this year for the Democratic Party? We know that they've lost the upper chamber of Congress to the Republicans but they've gained some votes in the House, how significant is the fact that they've actually gained votes in the House? Is that not important for the Republican Party? Perhaps you can just explain to our listeners difference in the power between the two houses?

    James George Jatras: You have to get legislation passed by both houses in order to get anything through, which means we have absolute gridlock, virtually nothing will go through, except maybe more sanctions on Russia because that's always popular with both parties.

    So they can always agree on something if it's really, really bad, but other than that nothing useful will get done. In terms of the passage of legislation, of course, tax legislation has to originate in the House, impeachment has to originate in the House, but the main thing that I think is in Trump's benefit is that the Senate is necessary for confirmations, for judicial appointments, for cabinet appointments, for many other appointments that he can make. He doesn't need the House for that, so that's a big plus for him.

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    I think the main thing withdraw from this election though is that the losses the Republicans had were far less than what Obama experienced during his first off-year election: about half the number of losses that Obama suffered in the House and, of course, the Republicans even picked up seats in the Senate. So that's a much better performance than Obama's and really bodes well for Trump's re-election in 2020 if he survives until then.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

     

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