Pretense as Defense: The GOP on Trial

Trump clearly has no real defense against impeachment. Instead, his GOP defenders have chosen to focus on deflection, denial and silly objections about the “process.”  As a defense, this is pure pretense.

As to process, the GOP has stood by while Trump has violated tradition, precedent and process on every other issue.  Suddenly, they care passionately about “process.” One by one, the GOP’s fact-free ploys have been shown to be nonsense. The process being used today is basically what Republicans used in endless Benghazi hearings.   

The GOP complained there was no official vote to launch an inquiry—then there was. They complained the hearings were secret, then they weren’t. They complained they weren’t allowed to question witnesses—but they were. They claimed that the initial Ukraine investigation of Trump was illegitimate because it began with the “whistleblower.” In fact, the “whistleblower” has proved to be extremely accurate. A rock-solid case against a mob boss might begin with a tip from a drunk criminal. You don’t throw out the resulting conviction because of that. The GOP complained about the lack of “fact witnesses,” yet these are absent on Trump’s instructions. Republicans know all this. They know better.

When asked on this page why he continued to defend Trump, a Trump defender responded: “You are asking the wrong question.” This predictable deflection was premised on the idea we should deal with Trump’s crimes by talking about something else. This page has hosted even more bizarre propositions. One writer claimed that Trump was the only one who would “tell us the truth.” Given Trump’s record of telling over 13,000 lies since his inauguration, that’s hard to believe. Other Trump fans wrote that Trump “couldn’t be bought.” Everything about Trump’s presidency has been for sale since day one. It is a “pay to play” scam on an enormous scale. All this echoes the deflection, denial and pure pretense that has so far been the core of Trump’s impeachment defense.

The very last line of defense is shaping up as “it just doesn’t matter.” It all takes me back to the late-night comedy of SNL’s Gilda Radner. In her role as Roseanne Roseannadanna, she would first get the facts on some story hysterically wrong. Then she would engage in a violent attack on the straw man argument she had created. Finally, when confronted with the facts, she would lapse into her trademark, whiny voiced “Oh well, never mind.” The difference between then and now is this: Roseanne at least admitted she had gotten it wrong. Today’s GOP continues to recycle the same worn out, discredited lies long after they have been thoroughly debunked.  Like a jack-in-the-box, they just start over.

The GOP seems far more interested in prosecuting the potential perception of possible past private wrongdoing by Hunter Biden than they are in investigating the real, serious, demonstrated, witnessed and attested ongoing state crimes of Donald Trump. If you consider the facts, these include bribery, extortion, abuse of power, and obstruction of congress and justice: totally impeachable and worthy of it.

The final line of Trump’s defense is that impeachment somehow overturns “the will of the people.” That doesn’t fly. In 2016 the “will of the people” was reflected by a 3 million popular vote victory for Hillary Clinton. Trump is not president by the “will of the people,” but because of the archaic mechanism of the electoral college. The 2018 election, which ejected 40 Republicans from Congress, reflects the updated will of the people after two years of Trump. It is that updated congress that is impeaching Trump. Finally, the constitution created impeachment for a reason. The Democrats are simply enforcing the will of the people as expressed in the constitution.

Impeachment today is not (as Republicans claim) about reversing the 2016 election. It is about protecting the integrity of the 2020 election. Democrats are protecting that election, and the Republicans are trying to help Trump corrupt it. That tells you all you need to know about who is truly patriotic.

John Dean called Watergate “a cancer on the presidency. Today, Trump’s presidency is a cancer on the country. We must treat it now or face the consequences.

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