As more and more information becomes available through the release of sworn testimony concerning the shakedown of Ukraine perpetrated by the President of the United States and his minions, the Republicans in Congress have become increasingly desperate in their defense of his actions.
They have used arguments ranging from the ridiculous to the downright dishonest. Recently, three Senators that I thought were relatively straight shooters, even if I didn’t usually agree with their ideas, grovelled in front of Mr. Trump in public. At campaign rallies, Rand Paul (KY) and John Kennedy (LA) made speeches demeaning others in terms that would get any fourth grader in trouble as Mr. Trump stood behind them grinning his “look what I’ve made them do” grin. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) increasingly is getting desperate in his attempts to be Mr. Trump’s bestie. When asked about the most recent incriminating testimony from witnesses in the House of Representatives, he stated that he refused to read the transcripts. In other words, a future juror in the president’s trial (should he be impeached which I think he deserves to be) refuses to even look at the evidence, much less give it due consideration. Appalling.
Next week the public hearings in the impeachment inquiry begin. After weeks of complaining that it was a secret “Soviet style” proceeding, the president and his underlings now claim that the hearings should not be public. Because they know that unequivocal evidence exists that an orchestrated shakedown occurred? Perhaps they fear that the public will continue the trend towards supporting impeachment if they hear the truth?
According to several reports, House Republicans are now contemplating claiming that the president did not know what his flunkeys, specifically Mr. Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Mick Mulvaney, and Ambassador Gordon Sondland, were doing. They went “rogue.” Nice try. Mr. Trump himself released a Memorandum for the Record (MFR) that captures in his own words the shakedown of the President of Ukraine. Numerous individuals with direct knowledge, including listening to the phone call, have testified that there was a months long effort to make it clear to the Ukrainian government that to get what they so desperately needed to fend off Russian aggression was a public statement by the Ukrainian president. According to the sworn testimony of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent that statement must include three words. “Investigation.” “Biden.” “Clinton.” No statement, no reward. A shakedown at the direction of Mr. Trump. Also known in legal circles as extortion.
In the Senate, it appears that their defense of Mr. Trump will boil down to a three pronged response. “He did it.” “So what?” “Get over it.”
The evidence will continue to show that the president abused the power of his office. He probably is used to doing business this way in all of his endeavors. Additionally, there was a concerted effort, as outlined in sworn testimony, to cover it up. We all know enough about Mr. Trump that if he gets away with this abrogation of the public trust he will do it again.
The story is not very complicated. In the coming weeks we will hear it for ourselves. All Americans believe that no one is above the law. That is now being put to the test. Impeachment and removal from office is a sobering responsibility given to the Congress through the Constitution. It should be approached with the utmost care and with a full understanding of the consequences of such an action. Trivializing the process with playground epithets and unserious rationalizations should not be a part of the process. One would expect both Democrats and Republicans to understand the stakes and to live up to their oaths of office. Undertake due diligence. Review the evidence. Treat career diplomats and military officers testifying under oath with respect. And yes, search their souls for the strength to do what they think is in keeping with our national values and laws. We should expect nothing less from our elected officials. Unfortunately, one party is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Trump, Inc.
He did it so get over it is not a defense. It is a desperate short-term effort to retain power that is unworthy of American values and our faith in the rule of law. Politicians should rise to the occasion and reflect our better selves. Unfortunately, I expect that the road ahead will only get lower and muddier.