Not surprisingly, Connecticut’s congressional delegation has shown a pointed dislike for Donald J. Trump, starting well before he became the Republican nominee for president and began in earnest his unlikely quest for the White House.
But much has happened since the last time I weighed in on the subject back in December. Most of the delegation held off with the harsh criticism, perhaps in an effort to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, or maybe because they thought it would be unseemly to go after Trump after he won what he laughably called a landslide electoral victory.
This was before Trump’s inauguration, when he sent his newly minted press secretary Sean Spicer out to lie about the crowd sizes at the first event of his boss’s presidency.
Spicer is gone now, having resigned last week in protest over Trump’s hiring of a financier who looks great, but has little communications experience. So what better job to give him than running the White House communications shop? Not to worry. Good looks from central casting, coupled with incompetence and nepotism, are par for the course in the Trump administration. Besides, it’ll probably take Melissa McCarthy only a few days to come up with the pretty good impression of the new flak, Anthony Scaramucci.
Of the Trump critics in the state delegation, the two senators, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, stand out — though 4th-district Congressman Jim Himes is giving them a run for their money.
Blumenthal, who was just elected to a second term in November but is nonetheless the state’s senior senator, has been particularly aggressive, using his skills honed by four years as U.S attorney for Connecticut — and another 20 as the state’s attorney general — to prosecute the case against Trump in the court of public opinion.
Lately, Blumenthal has taken to the airwaves (when has he not taken to the airwaves?) with dire warnings of what might happen if Trump tries to fire special prosecutor Bob Mueller. He told CNN that if Trump makes such a move, “There will be a firestorm reaction. And I would lead an effort to legislate a special counsel, as was done during Watergate.” Furthermore, Blumenthal indicated that Donald Trump Jr’s emails concerning a meeting he and other campaign bosses had with a Russian attorney could show intent — a key component of proving collusion.
In addition to Blumenthal, several members of the state’s delegation, including Reps. Joe Courtney and Elizabeth Esty, blasted Trump for his tweet announcing a ban on transgender people serving in the military. Even Gov. Dannel Malloy, besieged as he is by state budget woes, felt compelled to respond.
Not to be outdone, Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has appeared on cable news at seemingly every available opportunity. But while criticizing the conduct of Trump and his team in the Russia matter, Murphy has done a much more thorough and effective job than Blumenthal of examining the president’s other transgressions, including the attempt by Trump and Republican Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, insisting that Connecticut residents are “scared stiff, with good reason” and that the repeal would cause “devastation in our state.” He has further suggested that Trump’s continual attack on his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, are little more than an attempt to distract the American people from the unpopular attempt to dismantle Obamacare.
Murphy has even localized his offensive with a recent challenge to Trump’s immigration policies, cleverly urging the president to visit New Haven and meet with Nury Chavarria, an undocumented state resident from Guatemala and the mother of four U.S. citizen children who had sought refuge in a Pearl Street church following a deportation order.
For his part, Himes has become a favorite of Morning Joe, the political chatter show on MSNBC. He has challenged Trump on the Russia matter at every turn. On Wednesday, he appeared on the show as a member of the House Intelligence Committee to give viewers some insight into a closed-door appearance before the committee by Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is a central figure in the Russia scandal. To his credit, rather than attacking the elusive Kushner, the always fair-minded Himes described Kushner as “very forthcoming.”
It’s no surprise that Blumenthal, Murphy, and Himes have been the most aggressive and visible anti-Trumpers among members of the state’s delegation. At 71, Blumenthal has the gravitas. And Murphy and Himes are the most telegenic and ambitious of the remaining lot.
If you’re someone who is opposed to Trump’s agenda, you’d have to give them high marks for performance and substance. Indeed, I’d give them an A.
Contributing op-ed columnist Terry Cowgill lives in Lakeville, blogs at ctdevilsadvocate.com and is managing editor of The Berkshire Edge in Great Barrington, Mass. Follow him on Twitter @terrycowgill.
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