Following up on our piece and Rachel’s segment from yesterday, it’s hard not to wonder what will become of Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R-N.Y.) career. The fact that his fate is still uncertain is itself rather remarkable.
As things stand, the Republican congressman, facing a 20-count criminal indictment, has spent months insisting he’s the victim of a “political witch hunt” and that the charges against him have no merit. Yesterday, however, sources close to Grimm told reporters that the New York lawmaker is prepared to plead guilty to tax fraud, which is a felony, as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.
Grimm’s office has not officially confirmed these reports, but if they’re accurate, it’ll be interesting to see what the House Republican leadership intends to do about it. Or as Rachel put it on the show last night, “It is one thing to have someone with felony charges pending against them serving in Congress; it’s another thing for Congress to include a confessed, convicted felon among its members.”
Politico’s report noted that House GOP leaders, at least for now, aren’t saying anything about Grimm’s future, though the piece added:
[A] guilty plea by Grimm would make it hard for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top Republicans to support his continued tenure in the House. The Ethics Committee has held off from moving against Grimm while the federal criminal case unfolds. However, if Grimm admitted to a crime in federal court, then Ethics could begin proceedings against him, which could include expulsion, among other sanctions.Democrats are likely to put heavy pressure on the GOP leadership to call for Grimm’s resignation, hoping they can win that seat in a special election.
Remember, in April, the House Republican leadership urged Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) to resign after a video surfaced of the Louisiana Republican kissing a staffer. How the party could hold Grimm, soon to be a convicted felon, to a lesser standard seems inexplicable.
In theory, Grimm could make things easy for Boehner by simply volunteering to resign, but he may very well press his luck.
In fact, the New York Daily News reported this morning that if Grimm can avoid prison time, he is “expected to try to hold onto his seat.” The paper quoted a source “familiar with his thinking” who said Grimm would technically still be “able to serve” so long as he’s not incarcerated.
The “able to serve” phrase is of particular interest because, during his re-election campaign this year, the New York Republican specifically said he would resign if he were “not able to serve.” Grimm apparently may argue that he was being literal, and that so long as he can show up for work on Capitol Hill, he’ll stick around.
If House GOP leaders found this unsatisfying, they could move to expel Grimm, though that would take a while and serve as a pretty dramatic distraction for the new Republican-led Congress.
All the while, let’s also not forget that there’s still another federal investigation underway into Grimm’s campaign finances, which may or may not lead to additional criminal allegations.
House Democrats, meanwhile, have reportedly reached out to former Rep. Michael McMahon (D), who narrowly lost to Grimm in 2010, about running again in the event of Grimm’s departure.